Ignatian scholar Brian O’Leary SJ is the author of a new book, Ignatius Loyola: Christian Mystic » which examines how Ignatius’s mystical experiences affected him and guided him on his life’s journey. He hopes the reader will intuit for themselves something of relevance regarding Ignatius’s mysticism in today’s world.
The author notes that mysticism exists in all faith traditions. It is accepted as a shared human experience as exemplified in the recent history of interfaith dialogue where the sharing of traditions of prayer and mysticism has turned out to be the most fruitful strand. However, each tradition’s experience is unique. They do not duplicate one another, nor are they modulations of the same melody so much as different melodies, according to Brian.
Likewise, the “five lessons” of mysticism taught by God to Ignatius are unique and O’Leary explores them in detail in his book. He says their purpose was to enlighten Ignatius on the central themes of the Christian faith. The sequence begins with a vision of the Trinity, followed by an insight into how God created the world and an instruction on how Christ is present in the Eucharist. Revelations about humanity of Christ and Our Lady are shared with him followed finally by the ‘great enlightenment’ on the banks of the River Cardoner. Click here to listen to a podcast by Brian O’Leary on Ignatian mysticism »
Ignatius is commonly described as a soldier-saint, a skillful organizer, and the author of the Spiritual Exercises. But more recently he has been recognised as a major mystic in Western Christian tradition alongside Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross.
Ignatius’ writings and other texts in this book give a clear and accessible account of how his mysticism was rooted within the context of his life. He suggests that ‘everyday mysticism’ is accessible to everyone in the form of spiritual growth and holiness.
Ignatius Loyola: Christian Mystic by Brian O’Leary SJ is published in Ireland and the UK, 15 September 2023 by Messenger Publications. Priced at €19.95/£18.95.