Leading up to the Feast Day of St Ignatius, we have shared a series of reflections on Ignatian Spirituality.
These reflections have been featured in the Parish Bulletin, the Parish Website and the Parish Facebook page. All contributions are welcome.
Next Sunday August 3 we will be celebrating the Feast Day of St Ignatius at our 10.30am Mass with a special Music Liturgy. Please come!
Sunday 3rd August 2014
“The Man of Loyola” by Justin Glyn SJ
“The Man of Loyola”
Today we celebrate the feast of St Ignatius, a man as insightful as he is misunderstood.
The stereotype of Ignatius (and of the Society he founded) is that of the “Soldier-Saint” – a disciplined trooper for the Lord. This is wide of the mark. The sad fact is that on the one occasion he had a go at soldiering he was utterly useless and went home with his leg blown off by artillery (one could say he was “canonised” twice!). Having had most of his men killed or injured (scarcely the mark of a talented general), his soldier days were over for good.
There was, however, a much more Mediaeval military metaphor which drove him. The Spiritual Exercises and his Autobiography are filled with imagery of the knight in shining armour, questing for the honour of his love – firstly his desired noblewoman, then Our Lady and Jesus. His imagination saw in the soul’s journey, a quest at the behest of a liege lord above and beyond all others. This is made explicit in the Exercises, where Ignatius has the retreatant imagine a king “so liberal and so kind” instructing his followers to saddle up with him and go forth to battle…and then reflect on how much more they should obey when the king is Christ himself. While there is much controversy over whether or not the seventeenth century Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes used Ignatius as the model for Don Quixote (his would-be knight out of time who charges windmills and makes a helmet of a basin), the image is appropriate. To the Basque saint, even the most everyday situation can become the field of play for the only quest that matters.
The “Man of Loyola”, however, was an eminently practical man as well as one endowed with imagination. Just think again of Cervantes, who balances Don Quixote with Sancho Panza (the peasant who keeps him grounded). Ignatius, however, demands that we embody both Quixote and Panza within ourselves. We are to keep Christ, the goal of the quest and our deepest love, in view and allow our imagination boundless play in the service of God, yes, but we must constantly relate the quest to the real world, the feedback we receive from people and situations and to the decisions we make as a result. Only in this way can we truly relate honestly to our Lord.
The quest awaits us all! Justin Glyn SJ
Sunday 27th July
“The Ignatian Perspective” by Phil Crotty sj
In 1995 the Jesuits, gathered in Rome for their 34th General Congregations, came up with this characteristic of what Ignatian/Jesuit spirituality is all about. It begins with a deep personal love for Jesus Christ, but how can a sinner like myself possibly achieve that?
This was their response:“In remorse, gratitude and astonishment – but above all with passionate love – first Ignatius, and then all his followers have turned prayerfully to “Christ Our Lord hanging on the Cross before me,” and have asked of themselves, “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What must I do for Christ? The questions well up from a heart moved with profound gratitude and love. This is the foundational grace that binds us to Jesus and to one another. “What is it to be a follower of Jesus today? It is to know that one is a sinner yet called to be a companion of Jesus as Ignatius was.”
Pope Francis, who took part in that Congregation, said in an interview when he was asked, “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” The reporter, Antonio Spadaro, writes, “The Pope stares at me in silence. I ask him if this is a question that I am allowed to ask. He nods that it is, and he tells me: “I do not know what might be the most fitting description…. I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner…… Yes, but the best summary, the one that comes more from the inside and I feel most true is this: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” And he repeats: “I am one who is looked upon by the Lord.”
As a Jesuit, aware of my own sinfulness, my heart resonates with those words of the Pope and of the Jesuits. I am a sinner, but a sinner who has been looked upon by God. It is this awareness that gives each one of us the courage to follow in the footsteps of Christ.
Phil Crotty sj
This is the prayer of St Ignatius:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my intellect, and all my will—
all that I have and possess. You gave it to me:
to You, Lord, I return it! All is Yours,
dispose of it according to Your will.
Give me Your love and grace, for this is enough for me.
Listen and pray the words of this beautiful Hymn from the Saint Louis Jesuits, Take Lord, Receive – written and performed by John Foley S.J.
Copy link into your browser: http://youtu.be/-ngqSG0RMWM
St Canice’s version of the Hymn
Our cantor, baritone Greg McCreanor sings “Take Lord, Receive” with Christine Moriarty providing piano accompaniment.
Sunday 20th July
Have you experienced personally the mystical love of Christ?
This week’s contribution is from Christopher Gration.
I squirmed when asked this question in early 2012. The truth was, though my God is personal, I hadn’t felt the intensity of love that St Ignatius and others speak of. Like most Australians, I’m not so comfortable talking about Jesus’ personal love for me! So the question made me pause. But I remembered the question.
18 months later, I joined an Advent retreat in daily life praying St Ignatius’ First Spiritual Exercises (ed. Michael Hansen, SJ). These were Ignatius’ first exercises for people coming to prayer. For me they were an extraordinary, intimate, unexpected and gentle unfolding over the weeks of Advent. I was invited to a commitment to daily prayer and reflection on a given passage, noting my journey, and sharing with a small group and guide once a week. What came was so unexpected! Freshness, wonder and a tender experience that made the life around me take on so much colour.
This was nothing like the direct, confronting question I’d been asked 18 months earlier. But there was this quiet, gentle budding of answer, and the shy sharing of it in growing trust with my small group of companions. And for me this small taste was enough to sense what I, we, are invited to. And to make me long for more.
Sunday 13th July
Finding God in a Pymble backyard
This week’s contribution is from Parish Pastoral Councillor Sue Wittenoom.
Over the past four years I’ve had a number of encounters with Ignatian spirituality: through my daughters’ school, with St Canice’s and the great joy last year of experiencing Ignatius’ First Spiritual Exercises with the North Sydney pastoral team.
Loreto Kirribilli holds Ignatian spirituality groups for parents that bring people together weekly over a school term. Although these groups were structured as a stand-alone event, a third of the people in my group were revisiting the chance to come together with the gifted psychologist Alex Gorman. These nights helped me see Ignatius’16th century wisdom in a contemporary context. What an extraordinary discovery to find spirituality built around mindfulness, discernment, life-generating dreams, gratitude, service and action learning.
St Canice’s opened up a number of pathways for me to build a greater understanding of Ignatian Spirituality by offering Ignus I and II – programs run by the Loyola Institute that provide a introduction to Ignatius and an orientation on the Jesuits in Australia. These have been held at St Canisius at Pymble. This former seminary has a rambling back yard with native bush land, and a maze that recreates the labyrinth on the floor of Chartres Cathedral. Each time we would break from a group session to reflect on our own, I would set out for the bush and the maze. And each time as I stepped slowly through the stone path, I was struck by the parallels between the unexpected turns of the path and the new voice that emerged in my head.
These encounters all gave me the opportunity to deepen my own relationship with God through conversation – actually through the interweaving of two conversations. The first is with God, through reflection, meditation and visualisation. Ignatius developed a range of structured approaches to prayer and reflection over his lifetime. Each group setting also offers the chance to listen and learn from others. And each group created a safe and prayerful place for this sharing – sharing that took the reflection to a new place. It’s been prayer as experience, not as performance.
Sunday 6th July
The first of our reflections has been penned by Caroline Coggins, Chair of the St Canice’s Parish Pastoral Council. Please click here to read.
The Lord is my Shepherd
Author: Caroline Coggins is the Chair of St Canice’s Parish Pastoral Council
I am in Wales, a place like New Zealand, where there are many sheep and many jokes about them. In this slowed down world I have the opportunity to observe what is happening around me. I listened last night to a story of shepherding in Palestine over 2000 years ago. Then sheep were mostly used for wool and less for meat, so the shepherd would have a long relationship with his animals and so tend them carefully. Shepherding was seen as a ‘calling’, not a job. The sheep knew their shepherd and the sound of his voice, and he knew each of his sheep to call them by name or whistle. At night the shepherd may pen his sheep, sleeping across the opening to protect them from predators.I was chatting with a shepherd in Wales when I was out walking, I had seen one of his sheep lying very still, and he said he was going up to get him and take him home. I expected this mean that he was culling him, but no, he was taking his sick animal home so that he could better care for it. I was and moved, but surprised by my own colouring, how often do our own experiences ‘make up’ reality around us.
And all of this is a long way from farming in Australia today!
Even so, in the early morning hours today I watched cows being pushed from one place to another, a dog was herding them and the farmer was on a motorised bike pushing them along. From the place where I sat and watched I could feel the fear, the blindness of the cows.
So these shepherds from long ago Palestine were a very different story to those of today. How different then that the sheep were called to the shepherd, they were not pushed from behind, herded by yapping dogs and mechanised men, going blindly, but instead led by the shepherd. The sheep would follow responding to their shepherd.
Today we go blind, groping forward, pushed away from what we don’t want. We can easily stay blind, for what can we rely on to lead us? Do we know what to trust, how to choose well, how to be moved and the follow what calls
us? Mostly we are pushed from: from fears of not having enough: to wanting to belong, but not being truly ourselves in case we stand out with values that are countercultural. Our health is seen as not being sick, it is a body thing, but rarely do understand that health is a flourishing of our emotional, spiritual and mental faculties.
We are part of a fast moving pack, but not necessarily a pack that we feel part of.
So what leads us, what draws our heart and our trust? Of course sheep get bad press, who wants to be a sheep?
The idea of recognising a voice and going because we trust, having someone lay down their own safety to keep us safe is probably not something most of us are familiar with. To be able to trust is a deep desire, as is to be worthy of trust. These are really old fashioned ideas, yet if I pick over my life trust is what has led me inwards and also outwards, being safe firstly and then learning to trust. The shell of ‘she’ll be right mate’ or ‘no I am fine’ is a ruse of independence, a protection of the soft underbelly.
Yet each of us knows, we are always looking for something, this is the way we are wired, we are alive and we desire aliveness as we feel ourselves forward in the hope of love and safety.
However we are not sheep and we do not live in Palestine and our culture has shaped us in a particular way. We are shaped to be independent, to think for ourselves, to provide many choices from which to choose, to expect things to stop working, to need to replace everything we own, even our relationships. We expect stimulation and entertainment, and to be free to choose as a sign of our freedom at each step of the way.
But the sheep hear only one voice, someone prepared to lay down their life for them, someone who will take them to places where they can graze. I imagine these sheep to be calm, not with the adrenalin pulsing through their systems which we are used to! What gives us any tranquillity and a settled peaceful mind which dares to hope? Are these values we care about any more? Can we imagine that these can exist for us?
Perhaps thinking about the values that bring justice to our lives and those around us are like a voice that calls and will us lead us, orientate and direct our decision-making, and importantly make us think more courageously about this gift of our lives. How will we honour it? Is there anything we would lay our life down for?
Sunday 20th July Chris Gration
Sunday 27th July Fr Phil Crotty SJ
Sunday 3rd August Justin Glyn SJ