The first of six meetings based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola took place last night at Westminster Cathedral. The meetings aim to communicate how spirituality can be brought into our everyday lives. Two people lead the meeting each week. One relates aspects of their lives and professional vocation to the themes of the Exercises. The other speaker, who will be an expert in Ignatian spirituality, deepens the connections between these life experiences and parts of the Exercises. Forthcoming speakers include politicians, an opera singer and a specialist in the care of the terminally ill. The speakers last night were the accomplished athlete and marathon runner, Geoff Wightman and Gerard Hughes SJ, spiritual teacher and author. In the first annotation of the Exercises, Ignatius expresses the benefit of physical exercises for the health of the body, and spiritual exercises to increase our response to the love of God through openness to the Holy Spirit. The speakers took the themes of perseverance, disappointment, determination and non-materialism. An athlete may strive for years to find success, with their desire to reach the destination maintaining their perseverance. Hughes suggested that the desire is all important, as God is in the desires. What do we really long for? Vague and unformulated desires started St Ignatius on his spiritual road. Hughes stated, through the example of Ignatius, that God's will closely connected to our own leads us to discernment. Through being more open to the Holy Spirit we become able to look disappointment in the face, question deeply why we are disappointed and find a way through to a greater truth. God delights in our delighting. The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius develop the practice of looking back at the end of each day on those things that have delighted or disappointed, particularly our moods and feelings about the day. As Hughes explained, it is helpful to go against the attraction of something when we are undecided about what road to take, in order to find equilibrium. Always pray for the greater glory of God and realise that praise reverence and serving were created not for ourselves but for God. Spend time looking at the things we have delighted in as they are from God. The session ended with a few minutes to share experiences with those sitting nearby and questions. This series of meetings is well worth attending. The next meeting is on Wednesday 14 May at 7pm. Check the Listings pages for more details.
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