Ignatian Spirituality for a World in Flux

Jesuits and lay co-workers came together at St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre at the beginning of Advent for the Ignatian Spirituality for a World in Flux conference.

The aim of this three-day conference, which welcomed 55 delegates, was to seek a means by which Ignatian spirituality can help make sense of and respond to our world in flux.

Ignatius of Loyola himself lived in a world in flux. The ‘old world’ as he knew it was suffering huge upheavals within the Church. Changes to religious belief were being harnessed for political purposes by the leaders of developing nation states. Islam and the Ottoman Empire were conquering eastern Europe.  At the same time the discovery of the ‘new world’ offered opportunities both for the material enrichment of Europe and the spiritual conversion of the new world peoples for the glory of the Church.

Today the Brexit vote and a Trump presidency are signs of similar change and upheaval which challenge our worldviews.

The conference brought together Jesuits, spiritual directors, co-workers at our spirituality centres and other Ignatian religious in order to examine the historical, psychological, theological and spiritual perspectives of the situation we find ourselves in and to ask: is there something particular that Ignatian spirituality has to offer the world at this time of flux, perhaps in the fields of discernment of spirits, of consolation, of understanding both what is happening and our reactions to it? 

Key speakers included Dr Philip Endean SJ, Dr Gemma Simmonds CJ, Dr Austen Ivereigh, Professor Helen Berry and Dr Steven Noone.

Fr Roger Dawson SJ, Director of St Beuno’s Spirituality Centre, reflected on how he thought St Ignatius might have responded to a world like ours, that is changing dramatically:

“St Ignatius was responding to dramatic changes in his own lifetime because it was the end of the middle ages, church in turmoil, political changes and the discovery of the new world. He had to respond in confidence and trust that God was at work in all this.”

On what Ignatian spirituality could offer the world at this time, he observed “I don’t think we’ve got any unique resources or special insights but I think we do have a way of helping people to find God in their own spirit and to find trust and hope in the future.”

The conference generated very interesting debate, and will be followed up by a similar event in 2019.