As I begin this post, I need to declare that I am neither a professional Theologian nor even a bit player in the field of Ignatian Spirituality. I don’t play an Ignatian expert on TV and I haven’t stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in a long time. You have been warned! What you’re going to get here is my 2 cents worth and it may be off by more than a penny.
Ignatian Spirituality, although it was birthed in Ignatius’ family home in the Basque countryside and brought to fruition in a cave near the small town of Manresa, is — I believe – an urban spirituality. Unlike other spiritual masters who withdrew from the world into convents and monasteries in order to find God, Ignatius and his early companions went into the piazzas and market-squares of Europe to preach the Good News. Ignatian Spirituality, therefore, is an active spirituality which seeks to find God in all people, in all places and in all situations.
It is, however, also a contemplative spirituality because there is no hope of finding God anywhere if you are not attentive and ready. We have, then, a paradox: Ignatian Spirituality rejoices in the God who creates us moment-by-moment (“momently,” as someone expressed it beautifully) and seeks to have us labor with Christ in constructing the Reign of God. It is a busy option… and yet, one in which we are to be open, mindful and infused with prayer at all times. (As I write this I have an image of one of those people who simultaneously bangs a drum, plays the cymbals and beats out a melody on the harmonica!)
It can be done. I know people who are Jedi Masters as contemplatives in action and I also know that there are thousands and thousands of people like me who fall short every day, but who also have had enough glimpses of contemplation in action to keep wanting to try again and again.