Over the years, Ignatius became expert in the art of spiritual direction. He collected his insights, prayers, and suggestions in his Spiritual Exercises, one of the most influential books ever written on the spiritual life. With a small group of friends, Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus — the Jesuits. Ignatius conceived the Jesuits as contemplatives in action. Pope Francis is the church’s first Jesuit Pope.
Ignatius was beatified in 1609, and then canonised, receiving the title of Saint on 12 March 1622. His feast day is celebrated on 31 July, the day of his death. He is the patron saint of the Society of Jesus, and in 1922 Pope Pius XI declared him patron saint of all spiritual retreats. Ignatius is also a patron saint of soldiers.
This website dedicated to help people experience Ignatian spirituality, shows how praying the way St Ignatius prayed, helps us discover God’s plan for each of us. When we are working along with God’s plan we are deeply happy and fulfilled. The question to be constantly asked in decision-making is: “What do I really want, deep down?” That’s what God wants too. God wants what is best for us.
A great way to pray is to look for God’s presence in your life. More than 400 years ago, St Ignatius Loyola proposed what has been called the Daily Examen to encourage prayer-filled mindfulness.
The Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and to discern his direction for us.
Try the Examen today.
- Become aware of God’s presence.
Look back on the events of the day in the company of the Holy Spirit. The day may seem confusing to you—a blur, a jumble, a muddle. Ask God to bring clarity and understanding.
- Review the day with gratitude.
Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights. Focus on the day’s gifts. Look at the work you did, the people you interacted with. What did you receive from these people? What did you give them? Pay attention to small things—the food you ate, the sights you saw. God is in the details.
- Pay attention to your emotions.
One of St Ignatius’s great insights was that we detect the presence of the Spirit of God in the movements of our emotions. Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. Boredom? Joy? Resentment? Compassion? Anger? Confidence? What is God saying through these feelings?
God will most likely show you some ways that you fell short. Make note of these sins and faults. But look deeply for other implications. Does a feeling of frustration perhaps mean that God wants you consider a new direction in some area of your work? Are you concerned about a friend? Perhaps you should reach out to them in some way.
- Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may involve a feeling—positive or negative. It may be a significant encounter with another person or a vivid moment. Alternatively, it may be something that seems rather insignificant. Look at it. Pray about it.
- Look towards tomorrow.
Ask God to give you strength for tomorrow’s challenges. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey what’s coming up. Are you doubtful? Cheerful? Apprehensive? Full of delighted anticipation? Allow these feelings to turn into prayer. Seek God’s guidance. Ask him for help and understanding. Pray for hope.
St Ignatius encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend. End the Daily Examen with a conversation with Jesus. Ask forgiveness for your sins. Ask for his protection and help. Ask for his wisdom about the questions you have and the problems you face. Do all this in the spirit of gratitude. Your life is a gift, and it is filled with gifts from God.
Here are two online retreats that go deeper into Ignatian spirituality:
Over eight weeks: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-spiritual-exercises/an-ignatian-prayer-adventure/
Over 31 days: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/31-days-with-saint-ignatius/