Of Ducks, God and the Ordinary (What exactly is Ignatian Spirituality?!?)

September 1, 2017


Years ago a friend shared with me how she had been struggling with not being able to experience God's presence in her life. Nothing, not mass/church services, private prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, nothing seemed to"work" as far as having any sense or experience of God being even remotely present in her life.


But then one day, out of the blue, an ordinary scene changed everything for her!  My friend was in the middle of town, walking across a normal, ordinary parking lot, when her eyes caught a glimpse of a family of ducks. There was mamma duck leading her charge of baby ducklings as they waddled across the pavement. I need to add here that there was absolutely no body of water—no marsh, ocean, river, pond, lake or even a stream anywhere nearby! There was no explanation as to why this feathered family had found their way to this particular spot on this particular day at this particular moment—except that for my friend it immediately became an experience of God's love and intentional presence in the very ordinariness of her daily life!  This beautiful story brings to mind one of the joys of Ignatian Spirituality. 


I'm often asked to explain what exactly is Ignatian Spirituality?  In short, it is spirituality for everyday life. St. Ignatius Loyola believed that not only is God “everywhere” (as most of us have probably been taught since our earliest days), but also that God is present and active in every aspect of our lives. Ignatian spirituality reminds us that God is constantly laboring for us, using any and every thing that we experience in our everyday comings and goings, relationships, hardships, joys and sorrows, to draw us closer to God. 


Ignatian spirituality is a vehicle for us to enter into deeper, often more meaningful, prayer and concrete relationship with God, helps us to develop and enhance our decision making skills (discernment), and stirs within us the desire to live an active life of serving others. Ignatian Spirituality helps us to develop an awareness of the holy, of God's presence in the ordinary in a way that we can realize God's extra-ordinary gift of self. Even when it comes wrapped in the guise of a family of webbed-footed friends. 


If you would like to explore more about Ignatian SpiritualityLoyola Press has a great website.  Here's a link to a series of short videos that introduce the main ideas of this beautiful spirituality.


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