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Keeping Ignatian spirituality authentic

God Ever Greater: Exploring Ignatian Spirituality is the title of Brian O’Leary SJ’s latest book published by Messenger Publications. The book is the fruit of a life-long immersion in Ignatian spirituality from both an academic and experiential perspective.

In this interview with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications, Brian explains the two-part structure of the book. He suggests that the newcomer to Ignatian spirituality might be better starting with the second half of the book as it consists of a series of short reflections that can lead the reader into meditation and prayer in the Ignatian tradition.

The first half of the book is the solid foundation for the second half. It takes the reader on an exploratory journey of Ignatius’ writings and the main themes of his spirituality, including discernment, both individual and corporate.

The author offers a helpful explanation of the often-used (and indeed abused) term ‘spirituality’. He argues that one must know the meaning of the noun if one is to ever understand the adjective ‘Ignatian’ which accompanies it.

During a wide-ranging and frank conversation about the aim and content of the book Brian speaks of Ignatius the mystic, Ignatius the pilgrim, and Ignatius the aristocrat. He argues that Ignatius’ aristocratic background was responsible for a certain authoritarianism on his part that Brian himself finds less than appealing!

The author also voices his concern about the use of Ignatian spirituality today. He wonders if its popularity might have led to it becoming more person-centred and less God-centred. If this is the case, and he fears it might be so, then for him, Ignatian spirituality, which for Ignatius was utterly God-centred, may well be in danger of losing its authenticity.