What is Ignatian spirituality?

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Ignatian spirituality originates out of the experience of Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), a Basque courtier, who during a period of enforced convalescence from battle wounds, gradually awakened to the action of God in his life. Then, through a prolonged period of introspective struggle, this self-designated "pilgrim" came to an experiential understanding of how God works within the human heart. In works like the Spiritual Exercises, the Autobiography, the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, and his correspondence with his companions, Ignatius has left a rich store of spiritual wisdom. This wisdom centers on the conviction that God deals directly with any man or woman who seriously seeks meaning and direction in life and that God can be found everywhere.

For Ignatius God's action leads to peace and commitment, peace with oneself and commitment to help others.  Consequently, Ignatius emphasizes magnanimity, a generous willingness to work for great enterprises, especially those which help the greatest number of people and have the most enduring results.  For Ignatius, the prime example of a life lived generously for a great enterprise is Jesus Christ; and that conviction explains, in large part, his insistence that the order he founded be called the Company or Society of Jesus.

Throughout his spiritual teaching, Ignatius stresses the principle of adaptation.  By that he means that God works with respect for the freedom of the individual, with regard for the history, temperament, and talents of each man or woman.  Ignatian spirituality, then, is about encounter not performance, about freedom not manipulation, about individual choice not group pressure.  Consequently, Ignatian spirituality invites ecumenical participation, inculturation, and inter-religious dialogue.