Awesome Discipleship Program Based on St. Ignatius

Happy Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola! He’s touched my life in many ways through the years. I attended a Jesuit high school for a year and a half, and had my intellect opened to the connections between art, literature, religion, and history during my collegio classes at Seattle Prep. When I moved to Anacortes part-way through high school, a wonderful old Jesuit serving in the San Juan Islands, Fr. Steckler, gave Catechism lectures at my parish. Blew my mind! I had no idea there was such depth and richness, such a coherent, logical system, such beauty, truth, and goodness illuminating the truths of the faith. May he rest in peace. What a great man. At that time, Fr. Spitzer also gave a talk at my parish about Marian devotion. (Before he made it big.) Later, Fr. Spitzer would be the president of Gonzaga University while I was there.

During my junior year in Paris, I visited the church in Montmartre where Ignatius and a handful of men devoted to Jesus knelt and took vows, inaugurating the Jesuit order.

Back in Spokane, I did an M.A. in Religious Studies at Gonzaga, and, with my new husband, went through the “19th Annotation” of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, also known as the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life. (A four-week silent retreat is just not doable for most lay folk!)

However, perhaps the most personal and powerful way St. Ignatius touched my life is through this awesome Ignatian discipleship program: Sacred Story Institute’s “40 Weeks,” by Fr. Bill William Watson, SJ. It’s an amazing evangelization and personal growth opportunity. I want to shout from the rooftops how healing and transformative this brilliant adaptation of Ignatian spirituality is. It uses contemporary psychological insights (the good kind) to get at the root of what’s blocking Jesus’ grace in your life. It teaches you a method of regular prayer that makes an impact on how you live your daily life and how you grow in your personal relationship with Jesus. I was in the beta program six years ago at St. Mary Magdalen in Everett and have persevered in making this my (almost!) daily spiritual practice. Most days, Nathan and I pray the version of the Sacred Story Examen using an audio that Fr. Watson recorded. It brings deep peace; it helps you processing the day in the light of eternity and in view of your personal relationship with Jesus, and it gives you all the host of recorded physical, mental, and emotional benefits of meditation. You can use the book alone as an individual, which is what I did.  I started during the years while I was pregnant and nursing my youngest two daughters–so it was definitely a “just do my best, do what I can, don’t worry about doing it perfectly” effort. You can also do it with others in parish-based groups. It’s a great resource for pastoral associates in parishes looking for something to do for adult education and faith formation.

Watch the video at the bottom of the page to learn more.

On this feast, I also just want to give an internet thank-you some of my favorite Jesuits: Fr. Robert Spitzer, Fr. Steve Kuder, Fr. Fessio, Fr. Steckler of holy memory. And Pope Francis! Thank you for seeking to do the will of the Lord without counting the cost or hoping for reward. Thank you, Gonzaga University and Seattle Prep, for opening me to the Catholic intellectual tradition.

For the Greater Glory of God! A.M.D.G.

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