Do You Speak Ignatian?

Ignatian (or Jesuit) Spirituality has a distinct vocabulary, used by Jesuits and their lay colleagues alike. The terms listed below are some of the more basic ones. I offer them to you who are not familiar with them and may hear them referred to in homilies or presentations, given at Gesu. For further information and terms, see Do You Speak Ignatian? (published by Xavier University Press, 2017)

  1. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556). Author of the Spiritual Exercises and founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Born in Loyola, Spain in the Basque area of the country. He was converted to following Christ after experiencing a nearly mortal wound in a battle against the French in 1521. Many Jesuit institutions bear his name, especially "Loyola."
  2. Spiritual Exercises. Ignatius' great contribution to the Church. A spiritual manual of meditations intended to lead one to a free and generous gift of self in service to others. The entire series of Exercises usually takes 30 days (roughly), though adaptations can be made in a weekend preached, or 5 and 8 day directed retreats. Or, the Exercises can be made over the course of 9 months or so (the 19th Annotation Retreat) for those who do not have 30 full days for an extended retreat.
  3. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. Latin for "To the Greater Honor and Glory of God." The motto for the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). You will find, for example, "AMDG" inscribed in the cornerstones of Jesuit schools, churches, retreat houses, etc., including Gesu.
  4. "Finding God in All Things." An expression born out of the experience of the Spiritual Exercises, i.e. that God, incarnate in Jesus Christ, can be found in all life's moments and events, ordinary though they might be.
  5. "Men and Women for Others." An expression used by Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., General of the Society of Jesus, in an address given to alumni of Jesuit schools in the 1970s. See #2 above for its source in the Spiritual Exercises.
  6. Discernment of Spirits. In the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius helps the retreatant "discern" the movements of the good (or holy) and evil spirits in his/her life. Ultimately, the goal of discernment is to experience and understand God's will in one's life.
  7. The General. The leader or head of the Jesuits is called, the "General" or "Fr. General." The term reflects the military background and culture of Ignatius and 16th century Spain. The current General is Fr. Arturo Sosa, S.J.
  8. Disordered Affections (or Inordinate Attachments). In part, the purpose of the Spiritual Exercises is to free the retreatant from these attachments which, whether good or bad, stand in the way of our relationship to God and others. Examples would include attachment to wealth, fame, honor, reputation or any type of physical or emotional addiction.
  9. The Suscipe. Latin for "receive." The concluding prayer of the Spiritual Exercises, "Take, Lord, Receive..." It is a prayer of self-offering to Christ who has offered himself so generously to me.
  10. The Magis. Latin for the "more." A guiding principle in Jesuit spirituality/ministry to always evaluate and adopt the most effective way of service to the Church and others. This entails, possibly, letting go of previous ways of service, in order to do that which is to God's greater honor and glory.
  11. IHS. The English variant of the first three letters of Jesus' name in Greek. The symbol for the Society of Jesus. This symbol is found in the upper church of Gesu. It is imprinted in the sanctuary carpet behind the altar, at the apex of the church's ceiling, and in the center of the rose window behind the choir loft.
  12. Cura personalis. Latin for "care for the person." Sometimes referred to as the entire or whole person, i.e. body, mind, and soul. But more directly, its focus is caring for the individual as an individual, that each of us has unique talents and gifts. We are not simply parts of mass society.

-Fr. Jim

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