In a world where digital connections abound and it seems easy to be hyper-connected, yet where genuine understanding often eludes us, Father Lissaint Antoine, SJ, provincial secretary, reflects on the wisdom of Ignatian spirituality. In his experience, Ignatian spirituality enables us to enter into relationship with others, always ready to listen to them and walk with them, in a spirit of openness and flexibility. This openness and adaptability are not simply arbitrary virtues, they are essential qualities, especially when real understanding ironically becomes a challenge in our interconnected world.
Within the Jesuit Province of Canada, these qualities resonate deeply, bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds on a common journey. This article in the “Being Ignatian” series (here, here and here) seeks to explore these encounters, the myriad ways in which Ignatian spirituality shapes, guides and connects lives. It’s a dance of reflection and awareness, of individual exploration and communal discovery, all rooted in the timeless teachings of Saint Ignatius.
Choosing the path of Ignatian spirituality means embracing a worldview marked by discernment, empathy, and a commitment to journeying alongside others, listening deeply and seeking genuine understanding in every encounter.
What does it mean to be an Ignatian person?
An Ignatian person is someone who lives his or her faith and relationship with God being guided by Ignatius’s teachings, Ignatian spirituality. Christ is central to the way we live our faith, and discernment helps us to seek God’s will in order to put it into practice.
To live Ignatian spirituality is to recognize oneself as a forgiven sinner—as during the first week of the Spiritual Exercises. At the same time, the Ignatian person is called to collaborate with Christ in the mission of bringing about the Kingdom of God, that is, in people’s everyday lives, to work for peace, justice, solidarity…, to witness in some way to God’s goodness.
To be Ignatian is to be a person for others. At least, that’s how I live it. It means always being at the service of others and listening to them, accompanying them wherever they are, learning to listen to them, learning to walk together, but also allowing oneself to be accompanied.
How does Ignatian spirituality shape your daily life?
I try to make tangible my relationship with God in my relationships with others. The dimension of discerning God’s will is then fundamental, because nothing is ever black and white: we have to discern, reflect, and try to really find what leads to the greatest good for the person, to their happiness and dignity. And it’s in our relationship with God that we’re going to discover the dignity of the human person. We sometimes experience stress, confusion and desolation, but I try to live it all in a spirit of joy.
To be Ignatian is to be a person for others.
Another Ignatian principle that’s also important for me is the effort to give the other person the benefit of the doubt, putting a positive interpretation on their words instead of condemning or judging them. I first try to understand what the other person is going through, what they know, what they say, what they do. There may be points of view I don’t agree with, but I try to understand them, to put myself in the other person’s shoes. That doesn’t mean that I agree with everything, but at least I try to understand the context, the situation, and why the person acted or thought the way they did. At the same time, I try to make myself understood as best I can.
Finally, an expression of Saint Ignatius that I like very much, and often repeat in Spanish, is personas, tiempos et lugares (person, time and place), in other words, be aware of people’s circumstances and specific contexts. In Ignatian spirituality, this dimension of person, time and place is important: it’s a way of being flexible that allows us to make room for others, to understand others. There’s no rigidity: in different contexts and with different people, I can say the same thing, but in different ways, in order to help the other person come to a better understanding. In my opinion, it’s this openness that Ignatius invites us to cultivate.
How does Ignatian spirituality impact your attitude in day-to-day life?
I would say that Ignatian spirituality as I live it leads me to live in gratitude and generosity on a daily basis. I am grateful to the Lord who never ceases to shower me with his blessings, and this is what encourages me to put myself more at the service of others, both locally in my Jesuit community and more universally in the Society of Jesus, in the Church and in society.