Ignatian Spirituality

ourway"We know that Father Ignatius received from God the singular grace of occupying himself freely in the contemplation of the Trinity and of reposing in it. . . . Father Ignatius received this manner of praying by reason of a great privilege and in a most singular manner; and also this, that in all things, actions and conversations he perceived and contemplated the presence of God and had an affection for spiritual things, being contemplative even while in action (a matter which he customarily explained by saying: God must be found in all things)."

— Jeronimo Nadal, SJ
Companion of Ignatius and best interpreter of his writings

During the European Renaissance, at the very beginning of the modern age, Christians were restless to find new kinds of holiness. They wanted saints who, though unworldly in their desires, remained fully in the world and wise in the ways of the world, searching for a spirituality that would combine the ancient Christian mysticism with dedicated and purposeful action on behalf of others in that expanding new world.

They were seeking a spirituality with the confidence of this new age, that embraced the beauty and goodness of the world, and trusted the power of thoughtful human enterprise to make good things happen in this world, shaping and reshaping it as best they could under the influence of God's redemptive love.

For more than 450 years, the spirituality of Ignatius of Loyola, based on his own mystical insights and realisations, and worked out at a deep schematic level in his Spiritual Exercises (a handbook, if you like, for undertaking a long retreat, usually for making a major choice in life), has drawn women and men into a deeper intimacy with God and a renewed energy in their service of others.
Ignatian spirituality has at its centre the life, the teachings, the death and resurrection of Jesus, acknowledged as the Christ, and invites people to come to know, love, and follow Jesus more wholeheartedly, as Ignatius did. This spirituality teaches us that while we live in a world of much darkness and brokenness, God is passionately involved with all creation, working to bring healing and reconciliation, justice and hope, forgiveness and love to everyone. It has been called a spirituality of service.

Holy Name of Jesus in Greek (IHS), ourway4combined with the symbols of his passion,
death and resurrection,
has always been the symbol
The abbreviation of the
of the Society of Jesus.


Ignatius taught that God could be found at work in every situation, relationship, and experience of human life — in the daily stuff of working, raising children, caring for neighbours, seeking justice in our community and world, protecting the earth, and building the human family, as well as in experiences of friendship, of solidarity in a common cause, in times of rejoicing and great happiness, times of sorrow and grieving, and times of loneliness and fear. It is a spirituality best summarised as finding God in all things.

Finally, Ignatius developed, out of his own experience, an original contribution to the practice of spiritual "discernment" in the Catholic tradition, a practice that enables people to understand more clearly God's movement in their hearts and God's purposes for their lives in order to make good choices.

Ignatian spirituality is, at all times, realistic. The world Christ faced, though God-given, was also a world of cruelty, injustice and the abuse of power and authority. Consequently, Jesuit spirituality affirms our human potential but also is dedicated to the ongoing, day-in-day-out struggle between good and evil. Our lives, our daily work, our calling and ministry, can never exhaust how good can be done; therefore all works are potentially ways to God. The Ignatian norm is: to find where God will best be served and where people will best be loved and helped.

ad maiorem Dei gloriam
"for the greater glory of God"
AMDG is the motto of the Society of Jesus, capturing Ignatius' desire
for more noble enterprises, better choices and greater service.

Those who adopt Ignatian spirituality —whether they be Jesuits, members of other religious orders, or lay men and women — find themselves more and more being "contemplative in action," finding God in whatever they do, if they do it with their whole being; finding God in whomever they serve, if they are fully honest and attentive in their service. Characteristically, they employ that Ignatian prayer, the Examen ("Review of the Day"), to heighten their sensitivity to God's presence and action.So too, in the Ignatian heritage, we seek to find God in friends and colleagues, with affection and gratitude; and in prayer, in song, in solitary thought, in periods of contemplation; and in working together with others for the transformation of the world and the liberation of all women and men from every kind of oppression.

— Oregon and Californian Provinces of the Society of Jesus (adapted)