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Ignatian Spirituality: Origin, Concepts, Attitude


The dynamic changes in the present-day society and a great number of international conflicts make many people realize the necessity of the social structure transformation. A lot of researchers in the social studies recognize the importance of spirituality in the life of individuals and collectives. The recent research investigates the issues of the human spiritual nature, its expressions, and significance. Ignatian spirituality provides a unique perspective on the nature of reality and the role of the human being in the social and personal life. Ignatian spirituality offers the citizens of the global community to practice awareness in their everyday life and provides them with the values of freedom, consciousness, and love. The concepts and ideas grounded in the peace-loving philosophy have a potential of becoming the keys to the creation of the social balance and improvement of the social interactions.

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The Origins of the Ignatian Spirituality

St. Ignatius of Loyola, a philosopher and a soldier, was a founder of the Society of Jesus. The Ignatius’s perception of the human spirit and nature is extensively described in his writings “Autobiography,” “Spiritual Exercises,” “Spiritual Journal,” etc. Ignatius was interested in theology and studied many of the theories, but his religious development “was not founded on imitation of others but rather on the main features of his own experience” (Coghlan, 2005, p. 92). Ignatius found God in all the things around him and learned from him. The perception of eternal God became the basis of the Ignatian spirituality. Based on his personal experience, Ignatius developed an original techniques and principles of practice and spiritual prayer.

The Concept of God

The specific elements of the Ignatian spirituality include the concept of God as a ubiquitous phenomena, spiritual contemplation, the responsive actions, and the spiritual practice. According to the Jesuit perception of the world, the God’s energy is in everything, and it can be regarded as a central subject of Ignatian spirituality. One can find God both in material things and intangible substances of the different character: social, cultural, intellectual, and others. In this way, a person can interact with God through his or her work, creativity, relationships, and even thoughts. The concept of ubiquitous God brings sublimity into the regular daily activities and elevates them to the spiritual level. The Ignatius’s focus on the importance of the spiritual practice inevitably ensues from his sublime attitude to life and the nature of things.

The Perception of the Spiritual Practice

According to the Ignatian tradition, a spiritual person is inspired to act “in a way that embodied a return of God’s love to God and to others” (Menkhaus, 2009, p. 448). It is not concerned merely with the acts of devotion or the religious offerings, but it is reflected in the way one responds to the daily situations in his life. God is embodied in every person one can meet in his or her life, and by treating people with the due respect and warmth, one is involved in spiritual practice. The consciousness is one of the crucial aspects of the Ignatius’s perspective on practice. When in a good mood, people mostly treat their companions in a good way, it may happen unconsciously and habitually. However, when a person chooses to behave in a particular way, it makes a great difference. Therefore, it is important to learn how to discern the presence of God’s energy in life.

The Concepts of Discernment and Contemplation

The discernment capability can be acquired through contemplation. The spiritual contemplation and the awareness can be regarded as the distinctive features of the Ignatian Spirituality, and they take a special place in it. Overall, contemplation can be understood as observation of one’s actions, thoughts, emotions as well as the observation of the external events, people, and natural phenomena. According to Ignatius, contemplation and the conscious approach help to reveal God. And when it happens, life acquires a new quality of peace and unconstrained devotion.

The Significance of Ignatian Spirituality for the Society

Although the Ignatian spirituality is religious in its nature and the expression of devotion to God is its main concern, the practice according to the Ignatian principles and the discernment of the spiritual nature leads to the improvement of personal and social life performance. The principles and main elements of the Ignatian spirituality are functional and can easily be adopted by individuals. The “ethics of understanding and respect” are of tremendous significance in the modern world (Menkhaus, 2009, p. 452). When the conflicts on the regional and global scales are frequent, the rates of the legal activities increases and the level of social injustice gathers momentum, the integration of the spiritual values into the social culture is of great use.


It is possible to assume that the adoption of the Ignatian values at the personal level leads to the psychological content and well-being. The methods of the spiritual practice offered by Ignatius of Loyola can help to cope with daily life challenges and problems more effectively and, as the result, the stress level can be reduced significantly. The integration of the Ignatian principles into the collective culture requires the official recognition and the rise of the public awareness. Although Ignatian spirituality may not be accepted by masses, the philosophy continues to draw the attention of those who are interested in psychological sustainability, scholars, and researchers. The further investigation of the spirituality will contribute to the in-depth understanding of the Ignatian conceptions’ impacts on the social performance and the psychological state of human beings.

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Coghlan, D. (2005). Ignatian spirituality as transformational social science. Action Research, 3(1), 89-107. Web.

Menkhaus, J. (2009). Ignatian spirituality and the just peacemaking theory. Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, 21, 448–456. Web.

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