Archive for the ‘Ignatian Spirit’ Category

Times of Discernment – Clarity

November 24, 2015

clear pathThere are moments in our lives when we are faced with a choice and we simply KNOW what we must do. There is a great clarity about what God is asking and we are freely able to respond because regardless of the consequences our path is clear.

St Paul’s conversion is a good biblical example – in a moment of clarity he was able to understand completely that God was calling him to change direction, and he responded. Perhaps you know more ordinary examples – people who experience ‘love at first sight’ marrying and remaining faithful throughout the whole of their lives to a single moment of clarity; people who have always had a certainty about a particular vocational choice, where even in spite of opposition or discouragement they have ‘known’ it was the right choice.

Some people may say that at these times discernment isn’t necessary – simply a decision. It may be more true to say that the discernment has already taken place in opening us up to God’s grace and enabling us to have the courage to respond freely and wholeheartedly.

The grace to trust and respond to God’s clear prompting comes through the daily opening up of our lives and the growth in trust that God is with me.


What have been the moments of clarity in my own life?

How can I grow in my ability to trust these moments and to act on them with confidence?

Discernment and Decision making – two good choices

November 19, 2015

DiscernmentHave you ever felt paralysed by a decision? Have you ever felt so aware of more than one really good possibility that it seems impossible to choose?

Although Ignatian discernment is so much more than simply a way to make decisions, the principles or guidelines inherent in an Ignatian understanding of discernment help us to understand the motivation behind our decisions and so to choose wisely.

In a few blog posts I am going to address some aspects of discernment in the Ignatian tradition and look at some of the ways in which we can cooperate or resist the action of God in our decisions.

Two Good Things

It seems obvious. St Ignatius reminds us that discernment only takes place between two or more GOOD things. We do not discern between something good and something bad. In fact our conscience should be alert enough to prompt us not to make a choice towards something which may lead us away from God.

This seems obvious, but in my experience it is often more subtle that in might at first seem. It presupposes an alert and attentive listening to our conscience. 

So the first step in discernment is that of waking our conscience… being aware of the ways we avoid issues, fail to be informed of the consequences of our choices, accept the status quo or even maybe take on attitudes and stances of the society in which we live without ever really questioning whether they are our values and attitudes.

Today’s challenge:

Recognise one area of my life in which I should try to become better informed before making judgement.




Laudato Si – Climate change and security

July 2, 2015

In the encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis repeatedly calls us to become aware not only of the immediate consequences of environmental degradation – deforestation, loss of habitats, etc. but also of the repercussions on the global community. In the paragraph quoted below he reminds us of the potential consequences of further multinational control of water resources.

Greater scarcity of water will lead to an increase in the cost of food and the various products which depend on its use. Some studies warn that an acute water shortage may occur within a few decades unless urgent action is taken. The environmental repercussions could affect billions of people; it is also conceivable that the control of water by large multinational businesses may become a major source of conflict in this century.[LS 31]

I read an article recently which looks at the main findings of ‘A New Climate for Peace‘ – an independent report commissioned by G7 members. The report refers to climate change as “the ultimate threat multiplier” in fragile situations, and looks at how related issues such as food insecurity, migration and competition for water can leave fragile states and regimes unable to provide for their citizens.

International and national security is very much on the political agenda, and the report acknowledges that there are multiple factors involved in any conflict, but it also recognises the significant impact of food and water insecurity in conflict.

Laudato Si – Addressing the throw-away culture

June 24, 2015

pc-dumpIn the next few weeks I invite us to have a look as some parts of Laudato Si to consider areas of personal conversion that each one of us is called to. Pope Francis reminds us that awareness enables us to discover what can be done.

Following a period of irrational confidence in progress and human abilities, some sectors of society are now adopting a more critical approach. We see increasing sensitivity to the environment and the need to protect nature, along with a growing concern, both genuine and distressing, for what is happening to our planet. Let us review, however cursorily, those questions which are troubling us today and which we can no longer sweep under the carpet. Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it. LS19

Pope Francis invites us to reflect on our current situation so as to allow the suffering of the world to become our own suffering.

One area that is addressed in the encyclical Laudato Si, is that of our throw-away society.

We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard. LS22

Change is certainly needed on a macro level, with industry and governments playing a key role. However we are reminded that the individual cannot abdicate responsibility and there are small lifestyle choices that each of us can make.

Perhaps as a practical step each one of us might consider the waste produced in our households each week. Are there choices that we can make with regard to food, clothing, transport etc that might reduce our personal consumption of the earths resources? Here’s are just a few simple questions that might provoke reflection:

  • Do we buy food with a lot of packaging?
  • Do we repair or dispose of damaged goods?
  • Do we compost or send to landfill?
  • Is all recyclable waste separated in our house?
  • Are we overly influenced by fashions – clothing, technology, etc?

The video addresses the question of manufacturing in a way that has less environmental impact.

Laudato Si – To begin our reflection

June 22, 2015

It is worth watching all of this presentation if you havent already, but in particular I invite you to watch Prof Schellnhuber from 1:00:00 – 1:18:50. (Much of the video is in Italian but the interventions, including Prof Schellnhuber, are in English)

It is not poverty that destroys the environment, it is wealth, consumption and waste.

[Prof.John Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute]

Our lives are cyclical

June 16, 2015

Although we are often aware of the cyclical nature of life, I guess that most of us think of our life in a linear way much of the time: Events happen, years pass, we have to plan for the future.

As we move towards summer in the northern hemisphere there are lots of daily reminders though of the cyclical nature of life – in our garden there are fledgling sparrows and robins and the blackbirds are still busy with their chicks. Caterpillars have stopped eating our gooseberry bush and are in that wonderful process of metamorphosis to butterfly. The lovely flowers of spring have died away and are beginning to set as fruits and ripen. There are daily reminders of life and death and life again. The seasons turn and nature renews itself.

butterfly3In ministry its also a time of change – students have completed degrees and are preparing to leave, whilst others are coming to open days and preparing to join the university. My planning, circles back to preparation for the new intake.

There is so much evidence around me of life coming from death, and letting go being a natural part of life … but still each letting go is a leap of faith – who knows if we will die or rise?

Camino Companions

June 8, 2015

camino Companions Flyer 2The new FCJ Project in Santiago de Compostela has begun well. Srs Katherine and Marion are welcoming pilgrims and providing a place of reflection, companionship and sharing on the experience of having walked the camino. There is space to pray, to be quiet and to notice what has been important before returning home to busy lives.

Here are some photos!

photo photo2 photo3 photo4 photo5

Freedom & Foundation – Week 1

July 1, 2014

God In All Things

This is Week 1 of Desires of the Heart, a 10-week series on Ignatian spirituality and prayer. The text below is meant to companion the audio teaching and meditation.Click play and feel free to follow along. You may also download a PDF this week’s “handout” here.

“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven: May your holy name be honored’” – Matthew 6:9 (GNT)

St Ignatius Loyola was considered minor nobility, but that didn’t stop him from leading a life of vanity, sin, and pride—being “of the world” he might say—indulging in gambling, duelling, and affairs. After a conversion while recovering from a battle wound, Ignatius began living a life of poverty and asceticism. He didn’t cut his hair or nails and wore shoes with no soles. His attachment now was not to vanity but to harsh penances.

Through prayer Ignatius learned that…

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The big decisions in life

June 28, 2014

pathIgnatian discernment is about a way of living that is attentive to the movement of the Holy Spirit. Living out of an Ignatian spirituality invites us to reflection each day on the signs and glimpses of Gods action.
But discernment is also about the big decisions of our lives, and whilst we may in theory accept this, in my experience of working with young adults, it can be extremely difficult to entrust these big life changing decisions to scrutiny from our spiritual selves. We are happier trusting rational thought… and yet our lives are far from purely rational!

So how might we bring these two aspects of our lives together in order to be open to hear where God may be calling us?

There are many good resources available on this subject so I don’t intend saying anything lengthy, but I offer just a few points that may be of use;

Consider ‘do I honestly want to do what God desires for me, or have I a long list of preconditions?’
Now consider that again. Notice where my inclination lies. Acknowledge it. Ask God for light and grace to become more free.

Think about the external pressures there are on me. (the opinions of others, career pressure, expectations of self etc). Speak with God about these. Which ones are revealing truth and goodness to me? Which are false prophets?

Talk with someone outside the situation. Share with them what your heart, as well as your head, is saying.

Choose. Don’t miss your life by waiting for certainty.

Look for confirmation. Maybe a feeling of peace, or an opening of opportunity that comes when the decision is made…

Don’t be afraid to be wrong! You are held in God’s love no matter what.

Images of God

May 16, 2014


I would like to share an image from physics with you. The first is an image taken by the Hubble telescope. It shows the Hubble Deep Field. What you are effectively looking at is a tiny patch of sky, but with a telescope that can see really really deep into space – That tiny patch of sky shows up hundreds of GALAXIES, collections of BILLIONS of Stars. Each star potentially having its own planetary system.

“Lord, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them?

This image from science expands my understanding of the psalm:

When I consider that at the time the psalmist wrote, they were aware of a universe in which Earth seemed to be the centre, and they were humbled …. and yet now we are aware of so much more – that Earth is just a tiny speck in the vastness of the universe – how much more can we say with the psalmist – ‘how is it, God, that you keep us in mind and care for us?’.