Bits of Ignatian Wisdom: A Radically Lay Spirituality

July 31, 2017

Happy Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola! For over a decade, I pause on this day and offer prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of St. Ignatius and the 500 year old spirituality he left that guides many people in their relationship with God.  As I reflect on the last few years of my life, July 31st marked two major milestones for me.  In 2015, it is the day we left Dallas, TX and moved home to Baton Rouge, LA.  In 2016, it is the day I submitted my completed manuscript for Busy Lives & Restless Souls.   Both of these moments were birthed from living the principles of Ignatian spirituality, especially Ignatius’ discernment wisdom.  It’s a special day for me and our church, and I cannot think of a better day than today to start our next series, Bits of Ignatian Wisdom.  

This past year in my monthly spiritual direction peer supervision group, we studied the seven great schools of Catholic spirituality.  Ignatian spirituality was one of them, and looking at it amongst the other spiritualities in our church I was reminded of how thankful I am to have found my spiritual home that continually invites me into a deeper relationship with God, a better understanding of myself, and a clarity about what it means to be a disciple in today’s world.  Ignatian spirituality, like the wide variety of other spiritualities in our church, offers us a unique way of being and living in relationship with God.  In the upcoming weeks, we will explore the various elements of Ignatian spirituality.

Bit of Ignatian Wisdom #1:  It’s a Radically Lay Spirituality

In Fr. Tetlow’s book, Making Choices in Christ: The Foundations of Ignatian Spirituality, he captures the essence of what I mean here.

“Ignatian Spirituality is not only a worldly spirituality but also a radically lay spirituality.   It rose from the experiences of a layman and was developed for the sake of those who were busily engaged in everyday life.” – Joseph Tetlow, SJ

Ignatius’ conversion and many of his spiritual insights that ended up in the beautiful text we now know as the Spiritual Exercises happened as a layman.  The basis of his discernment wisdom came from his own noticing of the movement of the spirits in his own life that helped him leave the life of being a solider and to follow Christ.  When the Jesuits were founded, Ignatius was not yet ordained.

One of the many reasons I am drawn to Ignatian Spirituality is due to the fact that Ignatius’ core beliefs, foundations, and prayer tools are all easily lived out in our daily lives.  It is not a spirituality that invites us to live a cloistered life, but rather a spirituality that invites us to live in our worlds as we are.  Its roots are to empower service of God in the world.

For instance, my call is to live in the community of my family, to live out my call in my marriage and as a parent, and to live out my call in my professional life.  In each of these aspects of my life, Ignatian Spirituality invites me to find God present and active; while at the same time, I am being invited to participate in the sharing of the Gospel through my daily interactions.

Ignatian Spirituality invites each of us to find God present and active in the world in which we live and work.   At the same time, it invites us to bring the light of the Gospel into our interactions with those we encounter in our families, in our communities, and in our workplaces.  Ignatian spirituality, in my opinion, is a beautiful spirituality to help lay people, and those called to ordained life or religious life, be women and men of prayer in the busyness and in the realities of today’s world.

Go deeper?

Cultivating Space for God Together:  I often get emails asking about retreats I am facilitating that are open to anyone and not just the sponsoring organization.  I’m excited to share several upcoming retreats that are open to the public!  I hope you can join me!

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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  1. Peggy

    Today was a day of small revelations for me. I remembered why a Jesuit apostolate is my parish. I remembered my dear friend Eileen and how her passing showed me true wisdom from the Book of Wisdom, specifically Wisdom 9, like spark through stubble. I remembered my friend Bill, not a Jesuit, but priest and counselor par excellence. I realized that Ignatius led me to all of this. It was a great wonderful whooshing feeling. AMDG.

    • Becky

      Wow, Peggy, what an experience of being moved to gratitude at God’s work in your life! Thank you for sharing this, and I join you in thanksgiving for the gifts of your Ignatian friends. 🙂


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