Living with Ignatius
Nikolaas Sintobin SJ, a Flemish Jesuit priest, has teamed up with Messenger Publications to write a small book on Ignatian spirituality. Living with Ignatius: On the Compass of Joy » is a concise and accessible introduction to the life and spirituality of St Ignatius Loyola, offering readers not a doctrine but a set of practical tools to live by.
The author claims that Ignatius, who inspired the founding of the Jesuits, shows a way of practising a faith that is alive to people’s changing emotional states and the challenges of a fast-paced, ever-changing world.
In chapter one, the author shows how Ignatius learned from an agonising cannonball injury to prioritise his life in a new way. He writes:
“A failure can be a new start. This applied to Ignatius and it applies to every human being. One of the keys here is that you dare to face your own reality instead of rejecting or repressing it, and then, that you are prepared to deal with your own experience in a ‘distinctive’ way, particularly with its affective dimension.
After all, it is at the level of the heart, of the deeper affective bed, rather than at the more abstract and impersonal level, that the unique humanity of each person is located.”
It it claimed that Ignatius’s attention to people’s spiritual and emotional life and his focus on the challenge of decision-making has kept him intellectually young for five centuries.
The author once again shows how Ignatius learned the hard way. He refers to the time when Ignatius let a donkey make the decision whether or not to kill a moor who he felt had dishonoured the Virgin Mary.
Later, Ignatius is seen to have gained much wisdom when in his Spiritual Exercises he distinguishes three methods or times in which a person can make a healthy and good choice. He encourages people to make their own choices with an open and inclusive heart.
The book invites people to come live with Ignatius, to welcome him into their everyday, twenty-first century world.
It is thought that the final chapters will be most useful in helping readers to integrate Ignatian wisdom into their lives. Chapter nine provides Ignatius’s unruly recipe for happiness involving an explanation of the dynamics of good and evil.
The last chapter offers readers ten tips for learning from their feelings. These include taking feelings seriously, focusing on positive feelings, navigating difficult feelings, and talking about feelings to trusted people.
Nikolaas Sintobin SJ has been a teacher and a chaplain in the Jesuit high schools of Paris and Antwerp, specialising in Ignatian spirituality and pedagogy. He has worked as an internet chaplain for the past 10 years.
Living with Ignatius: On the Compass of Joy by Nikolaas Sintobin SJ is published in Ireland and the UK by Messenger Publications. It is priced at €9.95/£8.95.