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Ignatian Spirituality & Ecology Sandie Cornish The Loyola Institute
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Overview Background to We Live in A Broken World Ignatius Principle & Foundation Sin & the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises The Contemplation on the Love of God in the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises For reflection …
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 We Live in a Broken World In 1995 the 34 th General Congregation of the Jesuits called for a study on ecological questions that would provide an orientation for the Jesuits way of living and working. One of the matters to be covered was how Ignatian spirituality provides a foundation for response to ecological questions. After consultation with Jesuits with interest and expertise in ecology, workshops and discussion, We Live in a Broken World was published in 1999.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 We Live in a Broken World We Live in a Broken World is available online as Promotio Iustitiae, No 70, April 1999. Chapter 1 gives a reading of ecological questions, outlining some of the key issues at the time. Chapter 2 sets out how Ignatian spirituality can provide a foundation for responding to ecological questions.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 We Live in a Broken World Chapter 3 considers how the different apostolates of works of the Jesuits might contribute to response to ecological questions and how they might collaborate with others to do so. Chapter 4 looks at the implications for the lifestyles of Jesuit communities and the institutional decision making of Provinces. Chapter 5 sums up the orientations for ways of living and working suggested by the document.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 We Live in a Broken World We Live in a Broken World contains a series of useful appendices including: – –The text of Decree 20 of General Congregation 34 on ecology – –A brief timeline of international Jesuit concern for ecology – –A compilation of citations from GC 34 on ecology – –A list of Jesuits who contributed to the process of preparing the document.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 We Live in a Broken World Like We Live in a Broken Worlds reflection on Ignatian spirituality and ecology, we will focus on: – –Ignatius Principle & Foundation – –Sin in the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises – –The contemplation on the love of God in the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Ignatius Principle & Foundation At the beginning of his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius sets out the relationships between God the Creator, human beings, and the rest of creation in what he calls the principle and foundation. Ignatius expression is terse and philosophical and has sometimes been misunderstood as presenting an instrumental view of nature.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Text of Ignatius Principle & Foundation Man is created to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord and by this means to save his soul. And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created. From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it…
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Text of Ignatius Principle & Foundation For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Ignatius Principle & Foundation Like the other things of creation, human beings too are creatures. The other things of creation are companions to us helping us to attain the fullness of relationship with God. Unlike other creatures, human beings are given a share in Gods authority, a real part in establishing, maintaining, restoring order throughout the universe.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Ignatius Principle & Foundation The mandate to use the things of creation to help us to our end – to praise, honour and love God – is not a license to misuse the things that God has made. If our relationship with the things of creation is hindering our praise, reverence and service of God, we should let go of them. Indifference is not a matter of not caring for the things of creation but rather relating freely to them.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Ignatius Principle & Foundation Our choices in relation to the things of creation should be guided by whatever most helps us to attain the end for which we were created. For human beings there is no authentic search for God without an insertion into the life of the creation, and, on the other hand, all solidarity with human beings and every engagement with the created world cannot be authentic without a discovery of God. (Peter Hans Kolvenbach SJ, Discourse to GC 34, 6 January 1995)
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Ignatius Principle & Foundation Paying balanced attention to the three sides of the relationship, Ignatius avoids: – –An anthropocentrism independent of God and the environment (narcissism); – –A theo-centrism that ignores creatures and all created things (disembodied spiritualism); – –A bio-centrism that ignores the Creator and the Creators call to all people (atheism or pantheism).
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Sin & the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises The First Week of the Spiritual Exercises invites us to explore the destructiveness of sin and how it undermines the foundational relationship of God, humanity and the rest of creation. We look at our own personal sin and come to understand how we become part of a history of de-creation and a story of death and hell through our sin.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Sin & the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises Despite our sins and our abuse of creation, created things continue to show forth the mercy of God. Ignatius invites us to marvel at the heavens, with the sun and moon and all the stars, and the earth with fruit and fish and animals, and to consider how these created things sustain, nourish and protect us, keeping us alive even when we ignore God and refuse to praise the Divine Mystery, close ourselves off in isolation from other creatures, even when we refuse to serve God, abuse and misuse creation.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Sin & the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises Pope John Paul II summed this situation up: Instead of fulfilling his role of collaborator with God in the work of creation, man acts independently of God and ends up by provoking the revolt of nature, more dominated than governed by him. (Centesimus Annus, n 37)
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Sin & the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises At the heart of the ecological crisis is our denial of our relationship with God. A correct relationship with God is reflected in a respectful relationship with the environment. Living rightly within the environment includes a properly ordered relationship with God.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Sin & the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises In the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises we become aware that each one of us is involved in processes of sin at work in the world. Processes and structures of sin in the world may seem faceless and impersonal, but we can discern our personal and communal complicity in them and seek to disengage from them.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Contemplation of the Love of God & the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises In the Fourth and final Week of the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius returns to the three fold relationship between God, human beings, and the rest of creation. The exercise known as the Contemplation on the Love of God or Contemplatio asks us to consider how God the Creator is present or dwelling in all things.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Contemplation of the Love of God & the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises God is not only present in all things, but is actively working and labouring for us in all things. The Contemplatio proposes a reverential respect for all things. It calls for the relationships among God, human beings and the rest of creation to be not only innate but also intimate, not only respectful and generous, but also loving.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Contemplation of the Love of God & the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises The mysticism flowing from the experience of Ignatius directs us simultaneously towards the mystery of God and the activity of God in his creation. Both in our personal lives of faith and in our ministries, it is never a question of choosing either God or the world; rather it is always God in the world, labouring to bring it to perfection so that the world comes, finally, to be fully in God. (General Congregation 34, Decree 4, n 7)
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Contemplation of the Love of God & the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises The divine love of the Fourth Week is the opposite of the human sinfulness of the First Week. In the Fourth Week we go beyond admiring the things of creation because they have sustained us despite our sinfulness. Created things are not just screens that hide God behind a veil, nor are they just instruments that help us to move towards God and become useless as we progress.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 Contemplation of the Love of God & the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises We praise, reverence and love the mystery of a God who makes us a loving gift of Godself in all Gods creatures, and they in turn lead us to God.
© Sandie Cornish for the Loyola Institute, Australian Jesuits, February 2008 For Reflection … How do you see yourself placed in the cosmos? In what ways is human sinfulness involved in ecological questions? What relationship do you have / do you seek with the things of creation? Do you seek and find God actively working through all things?
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