During our first Into the Deep blog series “Drawn to Ignatius” members of our writing team will tell us the ways Ignatian Spirituality has informed their lives, prayers, and their desire to go into the deep. Today Stephanie Clouatre Davis shares with us how both Dominican and Ignatian charisms have helped her go into the deep.
In a voice of wisdom and deep knowing, Sr. Mary Noel, OP drew me to St. Ignatius. Years ago when at Rosaryville, a beautiful but now closed retreat house, Sr. Mary would walk the paths around the retreat house in prayer. Her contemplation was visible. It was after these long walks that she would sometimes reveal the most profound words. Once she said to me, “Is that it?” I could see in her eyes that she saw more. St. Ignatius would call this the magis. I realized after several sincere invitations by Sr. Mary that God was inviting me to more. My sight has grown short through disappointments, failings, and natural disasters, like so many. God invites us all to more.
- More understanding
- More inclusion
- More grit
- More compassion
- More voices
- More courage
- More actions of justice
I like to think in my contemplation that St. Dominic gives me my spine and St. Ignatius gives me my heart to serve as a woman in the church today in these modern times. After working more than twenty years with Dominican Friars and Sisters, I joined the mission of the Dominican Sisters of Peace as an associate about five years ago. It was through my passion for living a life as a Dominican “preacher” that I found my path back into the heart of my original formation in Iganatian spirituality. As a spiritual director and retreat facilitator presently, I am graced in the great opportunity to accompany people as they encounter God.
St. Ignatius provides tools that assist us in seeing not only who Jesus is but how we are called to see Jesus’ way of love, forgiveness, and justice as a path laid out for our own lives. Ignatius draws us in and points us toward Jesus. Ignatius draws us in and invites us to try on the life of Jesus Christ. Sr. Mary echoes the words of Ignatius and Dominic. As a spiritual director and preacher herself, she speaks Dominican fire with an Ignatian heart.
Grounded in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, Sr. Mary spent more than a year reminding me of who I have always been in God. Inviting and sure, she illuminated the path like a true Dominican holding the light of Veritas for all, even including me, to see.
The Ignatian Way had long been in me, though. Place me in front of a group of people leading a retreat, and you will hear some of my old tried and true phrases:
- Close your eyes so your ears can hear
- Imagine you are in the scene with Jesus
- Think back over the last day, year, etc.
- Remember you are loved and created uniquely by God
All of these words are Ignatian inspired. In my early years as a teacher, youth minister, and retreat facilitator, I did not clearly understand that my spirituality was seeped in Ignatian spirituality. I felt drawn to curate an environment that allowed for an authentic encounter with God so that the young people gathered in front of me might be compelled into action.
Jesuit theologian Walter Burghardt describes Ignatian contemplation as taking a “long, loving look at the real.” I love this description because to be contemplatives in action we are called nearly simultaneously to give pause for the long view; be loving even amidst pain, misery, sin, challenge; look, even when we might want to look away; engage with the real even when the idealized or sensationalized might be easier. The Ignatian Way is neither contemplative or active alone. We are called to be contemplatives in action.
As I was being drawn into Ignatian patterns, I was surrounded by Dominicans. I worked at a parish run by Dominican Friars and schools run by Dominican Sisters of Springfield. It was a more recent venture as a minister in a retreat house run by Dominican Sisters of Peace who, in their great spirit of hospitality, invited me more deeply into my understanding of myself, that I discovered the theme of Ignatian Spirituality in my own prayers and thoughts. What a beautifully gifted experience to be tied to such rich and wise traditions.
The Ignatian Exercises are truly Exercises. Like any exercises one might undertake to become a better swimmer, dancer, actor, or mathematician, the Spiritual Exercises are exactly as they say they are: spiritual exercises. My spirit becomes stronger in every exercise of prayer, journaling, contemplation, experience in nature, and action of care for my family and the needy. Sts. Dominic and Ignatius can agree on that.
Illuminating paths that connect the Creator and the creature allows me to see the power of discerning our gifts and activating our call. This collection of Ignatian voices is a true testament to the more. I pray our voices give you depth so that we all sink closer and closer to God who beckons us.
You can learn more about being a contemplative in action here.
Photo by Ray Fragapane on unsplash.