Director of Mission

How do we put our faith into practice in a contemporary secular society? How do we bridge the gap between what we believe and what we do? St Ignatius says in his First Principle and Foundation, that the goal of our life is to live with God forever in love. All that is created is a gift, a gift from a God who loves us and our response to this love should be to allow God’s gifts to flow from us. By doing this we are serving God. This Principle helps us to answer these questions. Everything we do each day in love, whether at work, home or elsewhere, is expressing God’s love for us. Ignatius says, “In everyday life…we must hold ourselves in balance before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some obligation. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God.”

Ignatius says that by putting our gifts to work each day with love, it is a spiritual expression of our love for God. By doing this we are doing what is referred to as ‘contemplation in action’. Basically this means contemplation (the spiritual life), a vision of the good (First Principle and Foundation) and loving action in the world. Applying some basic principles throughout our day helps us achieve this notion of being  contemplative in action; stopping and reflecting. Stopping gives us a chance to pause and acknowledge what we’ve been doing, it provides a chance to be still and rest, to gather our thoughts. Stopping also gives us the vehicle to move to the very powerful step of reflection. Reflecting on our daily experiences allows us to move more closely to love through reflecting on our choices and questioning whether these choices were the best option to allow God’s love to thrive. This reflection might point out to us that there are relationships that we have to work on and to improve. A key benefit of this contemplative action is that it allows us to renew our very active lives whether at work, home or during leisure times.

If we consider what we are called to do as Christians, and that is to respond to Christ’s call, then by sharing our love and gifts throughout the day no matter where we are, we are doing just that. It’s irrelevant whether the contemporary world is becoming more secular because as long as each of us as people of faith are responding to God in the way Ignatius expresses, then God’s love is present and working in and around us all the time. The amazing thing about this way of being in the world is that instead of actually serving God, we are working in partnership with God and a wonderful byproduct of this practice and way of being is that we are becoming a better version of ourselves.

There are many ways of adopting this practice and one way is the Ignatian Examen. It is a practice we use regularly at Loreto Normanhurst and we teach and encourage students and staff to practice and apply it to their daily lives and to their daily work. The Conversations that students have with their Advisors and Tutors are based on this Ignatian practice. The stopping and reflecting on our practice is so important to unlocking our potential and being all that God intended.

This year we celebrate the Loreto value of Sincerity. At the heart of Sincerity is self-knowledge and self-acceptance. It is about consistency, a radical consistency, between our inner self and our actions, what we say and what we do. It is, in Mary Ward’s words, to ‘be such as we appear and appear such as we are’. And this speaks right into the heart of our career and work choices and putting our faith into action. There is no simpler way to truly come to know yourself than employing Ignatius’ practice of stopping and reflecting and then putting into action what we have learned about ourselves. We have a ‘choice and are not bound by some obligation’ and that choice is our faith, our love of God.

 

“Learning from Mary Ward” – Chris Burke IBVM

We take time to reflect and pray …
We hold ourselves ready for whatever direction God wants to draw us …
We become attentive to our inner life …
We dare to be radically honest with ourselves and with God …
We do what we can in our present situation …
We wait for a sense of God’s peace …

 

Mrs Libby Parker

Director of Mission