Reflection on ‘Living and Working in an Ignatian Way’



I recently had the privilege of attending a course at St Beuno’s Retreat Centre in Northern Wales, exploring ideas around what it means to live and work "in an Ignatian way".

I only discovered (or did I get discovered by..?) Ignatius and his spiritual legacy in the last five years or so, but I have found it resonates deeply with my lived experience. It has empowered me in this faith life journey I am travelling and I thank God that this man, living 500 years ago, stuck in a bed with only the lives of the saints and a book on Christ to read, was attentive enough to his own experience to notice what God was doing in him; and then was passionate enough to live it and want to share it!

All the participants on the course were lay people who are involved in or are embarking upon work with the Jesuits in some capacity. And for once, we were all young - something which, in the scheme of religious retreats, is not the norm. While I am in no way ageist, it was a real encouragement for me, as a young person (I'm 28) who feels called to live out my Catholic-Christian faith in this world where often I seem like a minority, to be surrounded by other young people in the same space. There was a real sense of companionship, sharing and laughter: of being part of something bigger than ourselves.

Deeply attentive to God's invitation

As lay collaborators with Jesuits, we were exploring what it might mean to live and work in an Ignatian way. We did this through exploring the image of a God who labours for all of us. The same God who was at work in Ignatius; in his early companions whom he inspired to pilgrim with him; in the Exercises that he gave and taught; in the history of the Jesuits through the next half a century; and here now in each of us participating in the course. In God's invitation to us to be there, in our 'Yes' to that invitation, in our particular gifts and charisms and in the desire to live them out in service.

One thing I will take away particularly from this course is the Ignatian understanding that God is at work in all individuals and in all of creation; and also that this work will be as unique and as nuanced as each individual. That means that not only is God at work in each person I meet; God is also at work in me. I feel invited to be more deeply attentive to what God is doing, and how I can collaborate with God in that, that it might bear fruit for others and the world. Just as Favre, Arrupe and Xavier (some historical Jesuits we explored in the course) were very different people in very different contexts who responded to this call to see God in all things, so I too, as a young person in the early 21st century in Britain, feel called to respond in this Ignatian way.

Iona Reid-Dalglish