There are many streams of spirituality in the Christian tradition each of these has a slightly different emphasis and all offer ways to more deeply live one’s commitment to God. For example, the Franciscan way emphasizes poverty and simplicity and the Benedictine, the rhythm of life and obedience. Ignatian spirituality emphasizes finding God in all the aspects of our daily lives experience, it is all about finding God. All these spiritualities harmonize with different sacraments, all having a different form of worship, a different form of prayer. People most often turn to prayer in times of crisis, because they know that there is He that is always watching over them and it is He who shapes and moulds his people to be the way they are and the situations that they are put in. In this TedTalk, I’ll be talking about the Ignatius spirituality and the sacrament Reconciliation and how they can make us closer to God, especially in times of crisis.
The Ignatian spirituality came out of the experience of a man called Ignatius of Loyola. St. Ignatius originated from a minor noble family in the northern Basque region of Spain. Trained in the courtly manner of the time of King Ferdinand, he dreamed of the glories of knighthood and wore his sword and breastplate with a proud arrogance. Ignatius was the opposite of saintly in his early adult life - he was vain, a womanizer and he gambled. As some have noted, he may be the only saint with a notarized criminal record: for engaging in a midnight brawl.
At the age of 30, Ignatius was a Spanish Army officer, protecting the fortress of the town of Pamplona against the French, who claimed the territory as their own against Spain. Ignatius was willing to fight to the death. He was standing at the fortress wall with his sword in hand when a cannonball passed between his legs, shattering one and wounding the other. As Ignatius fell to the ground, so did the bravery of his troops. Because the French admired his courage, they carried him back to recuperate at his home, the castle of Loyola, rather than to prison (LOYOLA UNIVERSITY CHICAGO, 2020).
He became very depressed during the long weeks of his rehab and called for some romance novels to pass the time. Unfortunately, there were non in Loyola Castle, except for novels of Christ's life and books on the saints. Desperate, he began to read. The more he read, the more he found it worth imitating the saints' exploits. At the same time, he kept having daydreams of fame and riches, along with visions of winning the love of a certain noble court lady. This lady's name has never been revealed but it appears she was of royal descendent (LOYOLA UNIVERSITY CHICAGO, 2020). Very quickly he realised that he was at ease and content after reading and thinking of the saints and of Heaven. In contrast to, when he would finish daydreaming of his noble lady which would leave him anxious and unsatisfied. This was the starting point of Ignatius’s conversion. He found that God functioned within him — prompting, guiding, inviting. Upon his healing, he travelled and learned that in the lives of all men and women, in the daily affairs of the universe, God was also at work. After some difficulty with the Spanish Inquisition Ignatius devoted himself to God, he began to fast, pray, work for charity, study priesthood and constantly sought penance for his early adult life. Through these acts and his dedication to God Ignatius became the founder of the Jesuits spirituality also known as the Ignatius spirituality (Who was St. Ignatius?, 2020).
Ignatius spirituality is a spirituality which seeks to imitate Jesus through prayer, discernment and action. It is a holistic approach to both God and to one which does not withdraw from the world to find God but seeks to encounter and respond to God through daily world experiences. Ignatian spirituality rests on several key beliefs of theological assumptions: God desires to be in relationship with each one of us, God is constantly communicating with us and show ing us more who God is and God is active in our world and in you and me.
We can come to know more of God’s hopes and desires for us through reflection and discernment. This is most effective when done through a daily review of one’s life called the examine or the examination of consciousness - this exercise involves reflecting back over the day to see where God is at work in those everyday experiences and encounters, which lead us to a better sense of faith, hope and love.
People from outside of the Christian tradition can benefit from some of Ignatius' key insights about how to increase our self-awareness and lead a more directed and fulfilled life. David Fleming an Ignatian writer says that ‘Ignatian spirituality is a spiritual way of proceeding that offers a vision of life, an understanding of God, being reflective and an expectation of finding God in all things. The Ignatian way is an essentially optimistic view of the world shot through with divine love.
The Ignatius spirituality harmonises well with the sacrament Reconciliation. Among other names, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is also called Penance and Confession. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a Catholic confesses his or her sins to a priest in the spirit of true repentance and receives forgiveness. The priest acts as a visible representative of Christ, who then forgives one’s sins through Him. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an expression of God's forgiving love that not only relieves Catholics from previous sins but, more significantly, gives God the chance to grant them the strength to make positive decisions in their lives. This sacrament allows Catholics the ability to consult with a priest about particular issues or personal concerns, in total secrecy. Through both, the Jesuit spirituality and reconciliation one can get closer to God because spirituality prompts one to remember God in all things and objects, it prompts one to keep God in mind and remember that he is guiding you through your actions, having God in you mind at all times can bring you closer to God. The sacrament nears us to God because it makes God’s mercy and forgiveness visible and presents, it also reminds us of the great love God has for us. That God’s love should inspire one to a greater love for Him. This sacrament increases one’s love of God each time whilst receiving it with humility and devotion (Hale, 2018).
When in times of difficulty and hardship most people turn to God for answers, guidance, protection, forgiveness or even just for support. An example of a crisis is Covid-19. The pandemic that started only at the start of the year has impacted the entire world over the course of six months. This crisis has turned neighbours against neighbours and caused the entire world to go into isolation. The pandemic has had huge impacts on religions in various ways, such as the cancellation of the worship services of various faiths, the closure of Sunday Schools, as well as the cancellation of pilgrimages. However, in these hard times, people have turned to prayer and God because prayer brings a sense of closeness to God, His wisdom and love which, in turn, quiets fear and anxiety about the challenges that are being faced. Other reasons why many people turn to prayer in times of crisis is because they feel they are being punished by God or have disappointed him through their actions and sins, therefore people ask for penance and forgiveness from God almighty and all-merciful, this also results in getting closer to God. Prayer may not be answered in the way we wish or as soon as we would like but God hears even the smallest prayer uttered in the silence of our heart that even we may not hear.