St. Ignatius Loyola was born in 1491, one of 13 children of a family of minor nobility in northern Spain. As a young man Ignatius Loyola was inflamed by the ideals of courtly love and knighthood and dreamed of doing great deeds. But in 1521 Ignatius was gravely wounded in a battle with the French. While recuperating, Ignatius Loyola experienced a conversion. Reading the lives of Jesus and the saints made Ignatius happy and aroused desires to do great things. Ignatius realized that these feelings were clues to God’s direction for him. Over the years, Ignatius became expert in the art of spiritual direction. He collected his insights, prayers, and suggestions in his book the Spiritual Exercises, one of the most influential books on the spiritual life ever written. With a small group of friends, Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits. Ignatius conceived the Jesuits as “contemplatives in action.” This also describes the many Christians who have been touched by Ignatian spirituality.
Ignatian prayer is imaginative, reflective, and personal. St. Ignatius Loyola encouraged people to develop an intimate relationship with a God who loves them and desires the best for them. Ignatius Loyola trusted human desires. He believed that our deepest desire is to return God’s love. Ignatius Loyola also trusted feelings. He believed that feelings of joy and sorrow, peace and distress, were important indicators of the path toward fruitful decisions and deeper union with God. At the heart of Ignatian prayer are the Spiritual Exercises and the Daily Examen.
Letters of St. Ignatius of Loyola – “St. Ignatius Loyola”. Catholic Encyclopedia. 1913. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07639c.htm – St. Ignatius Loyola and Opus Dei – “Contemplation to Attain Love”, by Ignatius of Loyola – The Goa Jesuit Province of the Society of Jesus – Founder Statue in St Peter’s Basilica FamiliaIgnaciana.com – Comunidad de Ignacianos en los Estados Unidos – Saint Ignatius’ College – Finding God In All Things – “St. Ignatius of Loyola, Confessor” – The Life of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Confessor & Founder of the Jesuits – Biography of Ignatius of Loyola – The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius