The image of Ignatius the mystic has replaced that of Ignatius the soldier, according to Brian O'Leary SJ. The prevalence of the mystic image is quite recent, since the middle of the twentieth century but it is the dominant one today, he contends. And the mystical experiences of St Ignatius was just one of the topics he covered at the 2102 Spiritual Exerecises Network (SEN), held in Loyola Hall, Liverpool, 20-24 August.
Along with examining Ignatius life as a mystic, he also explored the role of mysticism today and expanded on these chosen themes for the biennial conference.
Other topics addressed by him were Everyday Mysticism and the Search for Meaning; the Jesuit Constitutions as a Resource in a practice for giving the Exercises and Ignatius and Prayer in the Constitutions (drawn from his new book, Sent into the Lord’s Vineyard; Explorations in the Jesuit Constitutions, The Way, 2012).
Besides discussion, workshops, sharing of data, and SEN’s AGM, the core of SEN2012 was Brian O’Leary’s input. And according to Belfast-based Jesuit Terry Howard, "Brian was at his brilliant best and it was very clear from the reactions of the people there that his material and his expounding of the topics over the four days ‘hit home’ and was deeply appreciated and welcomed by the almost 60 participants. We left ‘fed’!"
SEN grew out of the Ascot Conference of 1994 led by John English SJ, Guelph, Canada, and is promoted by the religious congregations which share an Ignatian spirituality. In particular, that Ascot Conference recognised that the present ministry of the Exercises is ecumenical, and involves many lay people as well as religious and clergy.