March 29, 2017 - by Kevin O'Brien
(During this Lenten season, we are taking time to reflect on some of the values that are fundamental both to the Ignatian life and to our organization. We will take a look at spirituality, spiritual direction, collaboration, leadership, and mission, focusing on how these values are understood in the Ignatian tradition.)
It’s been said that the church doesn’t have a mission, the Mission has a church. In looking at what “mission” means from an Ignatian context, I find this helpful. For the concepts that make up what we understand as “Ignatian Spirituality” give us a way of perceiving the world and our place in it. Among these concepts are the goodness of creation and our gratitude for all around us; the acknowledgement that we are graced sinners and desire to be forgiven and made whole through God’s love; that we share that love with all around us; that Christ walks alongside us as we partner in building God’s Kingdom of justice and righteousness.
None of these concepts were necessarily original to Ignatius. Of course, he built upon the work of the women and men of the church who came before him. His great contribution to the church and the world was to unite all this into a coherent system as well as to give us some practical tools that make these concepts real in our daily lives. Prayer forms like the Examen, Ignatian Contemplation and of course the foundational experience of Ignatian Spirituality – the Spiritual Exercises – ground us in the reality around us, but also motivate us to become active co-creators of the new heaven and earth that was promised.
Thus, there is no “Ignatian mission” per se. We all share in the same mission, within and alongside the church. There are Ignatian inspired people and communities around the world who are committed to living out this mission from a particular perspective, that of freely sharing what we’ve been freely given, namely everything.