A Jesuit Confluence – Ignatian PsychoSpirituality
April 12 – 16, 2011.
The first ever gathering of Jesuits from the South Asia Assistancy on the contemporary topics of interest to men from both streams of Ignatian spirituality and psychology was witnessed in Sadhana Institute from April 12 – 16, 2011. Among the invitees were tertian instructors, novice masters, spiritual guides, counsellors, research scholars and some provincials too, all who are interested or directly involved in one of the two streams of Ignatian spirituality or psychology. Forty-four of such Jesuits from various provinces in the assistancy responded to the invitation sent out by Sadhana Institute to take responsibility for further clarity about the streams of Ignatian spirituality and of psychology, both growing, popular and challenging in their own right yet apparently receptive to a confluence with the other. Over a span of five days these Jesuits speculated on the sangam of those two streams, in order to keep drinking and sharing consciously out of that river of evolving Ignatian PsychoSpirituality.
The following eight papers were presented by Jesuits involved in the fields of Ignatian spirituality and psychology. Four papers on Ignatian Spirituality and four on Psychology attempted to provide an observable connection as either possible or even existing between the two fields. Through their papers the Jesuits attempted to bring to consciousness that sangam or confluence.
1. Pierre Jacob:
The expansive spirituality - “For the Greater Glory of God” - of our founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, was experienced throughout the gathering as each one shared and listened to one another. It was a ‘home coming experience’ for all of us. Yes, ‘home coming’- returning back to the vast treasure of our founder to experience for ourselves the deeper meaning behind our spirituality in the light of a contemporary science, psychology.
At the end of the presentations along with the growth in consciousness of the existence of the confluence, it was unanimously agreed upon that the sangam between Ignatian spirituality and psychology does exist and needs to be nurtured. An open invitation is sent to all who wish to engage in this Ignatian PsychoSpiritual confluence.
Those present reported that the confluence was “a precious grace” through “a fraternal bond” of “deliberation and discernment” in a “multi-cultured Society in India.” One Provincial wrote, “We need to carry the Confluence forward.”
No vision statements were made, nor were any concrete courses of action decided upon. All felt the need for further meetings and dialogues while pursuing the confluence in their own lives and ministries.
2. Tony J. D'Souza, S.J.
"Call to a life of mindful and choiceful living"
Carl Rogers believes in the intrinsic goodness of human beings.
This understanding of human nature is not easily manifest
in our observance of human behavior in daily life.
We need to understand why human beings behave the way they do.
This understanding will challenge us to think of creative ways
of bringing out the best in every human being.
The mystery of human behaviour is hidden in the neurological
complexity of our 'wiring'. A study of our neurological
underpinnings will highlight the dynamics behind our behavior
and help us to discover our mystical dimension.
Our understanding of human beings will help us to improve
the quality of human lives and draw out the spiritual dimension
which connects us to one another and the universe.
3. Emmanuel Arockiam, S.J.
"Multimodal therapy by arnold lazarus". Multimodal Therapy (MMT), though sheltered under the umbrella
of Behaviour therapy, is an integrated and holistic approach
to deal with various modalities that influence our life.
Arnold Lazarus refers to the seven modalities in an acronym:
BASIC ID Behaviours, affective responses, sensory reactions, images,
cognitions, interpersonal relationships, and drugs and biology. All the
modalities are crucial as they exist in a state of reciprocal transaction.
MMT has a universal appeal with immense possibilities
to be technically eclectic and to tailor it to suit individuals. It is unique
because it could include spiritual and ethical deliberations regarding
existential dilemmas and angst, and it is not a truncated therapy to deal
with just one single aspect of etiology.
Multimodal Life History Inventory and use of modality and structural
profiles can be enlightening tools for individuals and for spiritual
directors to help anyone.
4. Joe Pulickal, S.J.
"The spirituality of the jesuit constitutions". Some key words and concepts of the Jesuit Constitutions are:
mission, discernment, indifference, union of minds and hearts,
obedience, the greater [magis], human instruments of God, loving all
things in God and God in all things, trusting in divine providence.
Our paper will examine some of these words and concepts and ask
if they correspond to the life and relationships enhancing principles
and approaches of psychology.
The Church has considered philosophy the handmaid of theology.
Perhaps psychology with its many great insights and techniques
could be a handmaid of Ignatian spirituality.
The Catholic Church's doctrine of grace and prayer which pervades
the Constitutions will tell us that spirituality cannot be reduced to good
psychology. Bent knees and praying hands just cannot be separated from
the spirituality of the Jesuit Constitutions.
5. Ambrose Jeyaraj, S.J.
"The interplay of affects and desire
in ignatian spirituality" Affects and desire play a central role in all our relationships,
including in our relationship with God. In fact, the duo defines
all our choices.
Even though psychology as a distinct discipline was developed in the
last century, Spiritual Exercises reveal that Ignatius was very much
in touch with his inner motions/movements. He was also very much
aware of the interplay between the affect and desire in human
experiences in general and in particular in his own defining moments.
Thus this paper is an explorative search into the inter-dynamics
between desires and affects in Ignatian Spirituality, specifically
in the Ignatian Exercises.
6. Dudley Mendonça, S.J.
"Psychological processing for the onward journey"The conception, birth and quality of nurturance of every human
gradually evolves into the division of an individual into ego and Self.
The outcome of such a developmental separation is the emergence
of a “split” or “wound” of varying intensities and/or depths.
There may be other subsequent woundings too, all of which
are always person specific.
Theories of Individual Lifespan stages, Family Systems
and particularly Psychodynamics which includes the Analytical
Psychology of Carl Jung form a helpful mix for engaging
in the healing process of the wound.
Enduring that psychological procedure hopefully and eventually
opens the unconscious to deeper spiritually accessible layers of the
psyche. This psychospiritual procedure finally restores a revitalized
and enriched relational encounter with the God Within
7. Jossie D'mello, S.J.
“panentheistic vision of reality in the contemplation
to attain love”. The paper focuses on the panentheistic relationship between God
(Love) and creation in the Contemplation to Attain Love. Since
Contemplation is in the unitive way, the exercitant experiences Love
(Trinity) in creation and creation in Love. Ignatius might have had this
vision of reality which is cosmotheandric at Manresa and at river
Cardoner. Here he began to see reality from the eyes of faith.
The panentheistic vision of reality highlights:
- The transcendent and immanent aspect of Love
- Creation as the manifestation of the Divine
(divinisation of cosmos)
- Love as active in creatures (Discernment of Spirits)
- Rootedness of Love in creation
- Love as the coincidence of opposites and communion of
the Divine, the human and the cosmos (holistic vision of reality).
8. Tony Da Silva, S.J.
"Humanistic psychology and the human spirit:
a fresh perspective". Humanistic psychologists Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and others
strongly emphasized the need to understand the human person
from a wholistic perspective.
Body-spirit-mind are viewed wholistically. Hence human behaviour
should not be analyzed in a reductionist manner as we do elements
of the physical world but by also incorporating the transpersonal
and the transcendental aspects of human experiences.
In my paper I shall attempt to demonstrate the value of the
humanistic approach particularly for us Religious, wherein the spirit
and therefore the"spiritual" has a vital role to play in our psychoreligio
The follow up program:
Ignatian PsychoSpirituality: A Process Retreat (March 18 – 29, 2012)
This retreat is a follow-up to a recent South Asian Assistancy level Jesuit Confluence on Ignatian Spirituality and Psychology. At the confluence, it was accepted that the two streams of Ignatian Spirituality and Psychology can and do meet for a person processing one’s inner world psychospiritually. As a way of applying that insight, this ten days Ignatian PsychoSpiritual Retreat will hopefully merge the two streams and provide such growth to the retreatant. A number of Jesuits interested in providing psychospiritual accompaniment will offer guided direction to two retreatants each during the ten days’ retreat. The retreat is open to anyone interested in making the psychospiritual directed retreat. The retreatant will be helped by the director to recognise how healing the psyche can enable spiritual growth as part of an ongoing psychospiritual process.
As a prelude to the above retreat, 10-12 Jesuits will dip themselves into the Ignatian PsychoSpiritual process for ten days to be churned and refreshed so as to draw on the wider and deeper understanding and implications about the confluence for their ongoing ministry.
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