2. … It is the particular calling of lay people to be immersed in the secular world and its activities; and so they have a God-given vocation to cultivate a fervent Christian spirit and to act as a yeast in the secular order. (310)
Decree on the Apostolate of Laity, Apostolicam Actuositatem — Paul VI, November 18, 1965,The Teachings of the Second Vatican Council
2. Jesuits should be more keenly aware of the importance of the state and vocation of laymen and their apostolate since in many areas of human activity and in many places the Church can be present to the world only through laymen. Let them strive not only to recognize the place which the laity have in the mission of the Church but also to promote it, and to hold in high esteem their just liberty.The laity help us to understand more fully the world and Christian truth itself, and give us a more vivid sense of our mission “for the defense and propagation of the faith.” At the same time they are a stimulus to our own continual conversion…
5. There are many ways in which we can be of assistance to the laity. It is especially necessary that we bend all our efforts to forming both youth and adults for the Christian life and apostolate so that they may be able to fulfill their mission and assume their proper responsibility according to the Church’s expectations.By means of special instruction and spiritual, direction we should communicate to those who can profit by it a fuller understanding of the evangelical life according to the Exercises of St. Ignatius, which are also very well suited to the lay state. Thus they may be able to direct all the acts of their daily professional, familial, and social life with a sincere mind and increased liberty to the greater glory of God…
Decree 33 of the Thirty-First General Congregation, 1966 — “The Relationship of the Society to the Laity and their Apostolate”
There are many books on the huge topic of Ignatian Spirituality (58 pages on Amazon.com), and I just would like to talk about one of them, the one shown above.
This small book was written by a lay person to introduce Ignatian Spirituality to other lay persons. The author was helped by many friends who generously commented on and contributed to it, — mostly lay people, all thirsting for spirituality and attracted by, or well-versed in, the Ignatian kind. Very much a manual, it is meant to be placed next to the chair where you pray or taken along as a basic guide for your prayer group.
I happen to know its author quite well: he is my husband of forty-two years. Paul grew up in a Jesuit parish, attended its school, then studied at a Jesuit Prep School and a Jesuit college. He was mentored by a Jesuit priest, Fr. James B. McGoldrick, who remains a grandfatherly figure in the life of our two daughters to this day.
Time passed. About twenty years ago, Paul & I attended a weekend Ignatian retreat in French, led by Louis Christiaens, SJ. Over a coffee break, we pointed out to him that many of our English-speaking friends in the Geneva region would be interested by such an approach to prayer. One thing led to another and we helped Louis start what is now the Ignatian Way in Geneva, a series of one-day Ignatian retreats, which draws Catholics and Protestants alike.
Our friend Louis did and still does believe in the involvement of lay people in Ignatian spirituality, and for the future of the Church. He trained several of us on how to present points for the times of prayer. A small core group developed over time. But life in Geneva is such that everyone moves away at one point or another. Two women who furthered their spirituality by attending St Beuno’s 30-day retreat transferred out. A religious sister returned to Sri Lanka. Paul & I started sharing our time between Geneva and Puerto Rico.
Louis and Paul realized that newcomers needed something in their hands to help them pray the Ignatian way, as much during the retreat as once they are back at home. This is how, several years ago this booklet started. (See the Table of Contents, Section I, “Basic Concepts of Ignatian Prayer”, and Section II, “Personal Spiritual Exercises”, on the Amazon link).
Later on, we became part of a prayer group and of a CLC-CVX community. From those meetings came Section III, “Ignatian Spirituality with Others” (for couples, families, prayer groups, group discernment, etc.)
I have seen this booklet used by a variety of people, whether individuals wanting to pray daily at home, attending retreats, participating in prayer groups and wanting to share the same spirituality, or again doing the Annotation 19 retreat over several months (Retreat in Daily Life).
The idea of placing this manual on Amazon came from two friends in Puerto Rico. The move to action was the result of a third friend needing many copies for a training in her Jesuit organization. The Swiss price was way too high for her budget; another way had to be found. Amazon was the answer. (In a couple of months, it will also be available in both French and Spanish.)
Finally, I want to mention that this Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality ends with additional material, such as various translations of Ignatius’ writings, as well as other Ignatian books and websites undoubtedly familiar to many of you, — to begin exploring the vast Ignatian universe. One never gets to the end of Ignatian spirituality, which sees life as “a continuous spiritual pilgrimage” (18).