St Ignatius of Loyola established the Society of Jesus nearly 500 years ago. The Ignatian spirituality that we know today is based on his understanding of the notion of “finding God in all things.” This has led to a pathway of discerning God’s presence in our everyday lives. Jesuits often follow a handbook of Spiritual exercises designed by St Ignatius to make us more attentive and responsive to the world around us. We look at two people who have been involved with the Jesuits for many years in various job roles and how Ignatian spirituality has influenced their daily lives.
Paul Chitnis has been the Director at Jesuit Missions for the last six years but has been influenced by the Jesuits since his early school days at Stonyhurst. Fr Tony Moreno SJ is the President of the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific and former Provincial of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines and has been a part of the Society of Jesus since 1983.
Often people find it difficult to fit in daily prayer within their busy lives, however Paul says that, “One of the wonderful gifts of Ignatian prayer is that it can be done ‘on the go’ and doesn’t need to take long.” The traditional Examen for example asks you to list one thing you are grateful for, one think you would like forgiveness for and one thing you would like to ask for God’s guidance with.
Fr Tony Moreno takes his Ignatian prayer inspiration from the former Fr General Adolfo Nicolas who once said, “Try to enjoy silence. If you come to enjoy silence being alone, then you find out that you are not alone. Then you can begin a conversation. But if you don’t like silence, it will be difficult.” He says that it is very important to find a sacred time and space to pray. He also finds inspiration through collaborating with the people that he works with.
Paul has travelled widely with his job as director and has always been struck by the faith and resilience of the women he has met in some of the poorest and most marginalised communities. “I met a woman in South Sudan some years ago who had fled her home in the violence that is endemic to that country. She left everything behind. Her husband and all of her children had died in the conflict and famine which accompanied it. Yet she told me that she praised and thanked God for bringing her to safety. When I think of the joy and gratitude of some of the people I have met in these places, it gives me a different perspective on life.”
This month Jesuit & Friends is publishing their 100th edition of the free magazine where you will be able to read the full version of this article with exclusive interviews with both Paul and Tony.