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Posted by on Jun 19, 2018

The Human Person Fully Alive is the Glory of God – Psychology and Spirituality

The Human Person Fully Alive is the Glory of God – Psychology and Spirituality

Spirituality and Psychology - The Examen of St. Ignatius Loyola

In this issue of Theologika Digest, we will look at being followers of the Way of Jesus. In order to have “life to the full” as Jesus promised, we need to move toward God freely and knowledgeably. Psychology – the study of the soul – has many techniques and insights to help us on our journey. One of the great masters of spiritual psychology, St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), has given us a form of prayer and psychological searching to help us chart our way. It is called the Examen. We will use the Examen as our guide and see how it can help us move freely and fully into the very life of God.

Finding God's Dream for Us

God has a dream for each of us. As we journey through each day of our lives, we move towards or away from that dream. We move freely into  God's life and dream for us or we move away from God

How can we move freely and fully into God’s life every day? How do we know if we are on track or headed in the right direction? Once again Jesus has shown us the way and even explicitly told us to pray and to listen attentively with our heart, soul, and mind.

Read more ...

For Best Results ...

Ignatian spirituality is based on guidance from a qualified spiritual director. St. Ignatius found to his own peril that things can go from bad to worse without an experienced guide to accompany us on the journey. Looking into ourselves in very deep ways is not always helpful. People experience a wide variety of spiritual movements. Not all of them are good. This series is meant to be educational and to show how we can find God in all things. To go deeper into Ignatian spirituality, please inquire at a Jesuit retreat house, parish, or school.

Examen: First Point - Entering God's Presence

Our thankfulness can take many forms, but it is rooted in God’s love for us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and what that means for us. From the earliest times we enter the divine presence in song and dance.

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Examen: Third Point, Asking for Clarity about my Sins and Feelings

Pia Mellody, in her post on “Honesty and Accountability in Relationships,” underscores the core dynamic of human relationships that is also the core dynamic for our relationship with God. If I am honest and accountable, I will keep my word and commitments, accepting responsibility for my behavior without trying to justify it based on another’s behavior. 

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More on the Examen

Prayer of the Examen is characteristic of Ignatian spirituality and is included in the Spiritual Exercises.

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Papa Francisco nos recuerda ...

Papa Francisco nos llama a examinar la vida utilizando el don del discernimiento.

¿Cómo saber si algo viene del Espíritu Santo o si su origen está en el espíritu del mundo o en el espíritu del diablo? La única forma es el discernimiento, que no supone solamente una buena capacidad de razonar o un sentido común, es también un don que hay que pedir. Si lo pedimos confiadamente al Espíritu Santo, y al mismo tiempo nos esforzamos por desarrollarlo con la oración, la reflexión, la lectura y el buen consejo, seguramente podremos crecer en esta capacidad espiritual.

Gaudete et Exsultate - #166


Papa Francisco nos explica qué es el discernimiento

Papa Francisco nos explica qué es el discernimiento en este video publicado por en Marzo de 2018 por la Agencia SIC.

Fun Resources for Learning Serious Psychology

Discerning God’s Will – God’s dream for us requires an in-depth knowledge of how people grow and develop. In particular, if we are going to understand ourselves, which is our first step in responding to God’s grace, we need to know where we are in our development.

Read more ...

Additional Resources on Spiritual Direction

For more information on Ignatian spiritual direction, we recommend:

What is Spiritual Direction?

Spiritual Direction

Psychology, Spirituality, and The Glory of God

Spirituality is often seen as something separated from the everyday. It is something for the life beyond according to many. Holiness is sometimes seen as something not related to the physical. It is above the emotions and promises a respite from the messiness of daily life. From the earliest years of Christianity, we have a very different view.

We enter the mystery of God by following the grace and example of Jesus. In one of the earliest songs we have from the Christian community to whom St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians, the way of Jesus is complete self-giving in freedom.

Read more ...

Examen: Second Point, Be Grateful

Being grateful can help heal deep wounds, connecting us deeply with God so we can see the beauty and riches around us and within our souls. You can’t be grateful without feeling good to some degree about yourself ...

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Examen: Fourth Point, Asking for Pardon / Getting Rid of Shame

"Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior," according to Brené Brown, challenging us to recognize the difference, seeking forgiveness rather than condemning ourselves or anyone else. Invalidating or shaming others is a fundamentally evil act, since it contravenes God’s view of us and all creation as fundamentally good.

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Examen: Fifth Point, Resolving to do Better - Looking Forward

This seems like the easy part. I simply tell myself that I will do better next time. That’s okay as far as it goes, but how will I change? How can I change?

It’s all about hope.

Read more ...

A Word from Pope Francis

Pope Francis calls us to examine options and events through the lens of the gift of discernment:

How can we know if something comes from the Holy Spirit or if it stems from the spirit of the world or the spirit of the devil? The only way is through discernment, which calls for something more than intelligence or common sense. It is a gift which we must implore. If we ask with confidence that the Holy Spirit grant us this gift, and then seek to develop it through prayer, reflection, reading and good counsel, then surely we will grow in this spiritual endowment.

Gaudete et Exsultate - #166


Time for a little fun ...

Try your hand at this puzzle. Click on the picture to enlarge or print it. Answers are found in the articles in this issue of Theologika Digest. If all else fails, check here for the solution!

About Ignatian Spiritual Direction and Discernment


In the words of Jesuits William A. Barry, and William J. Connolly,  spiritual direction is:

“help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God's personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship”

The Practice of Spiritual Direction

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Thanks to our Contributors

The majority of the materials presented here were prepared as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Psychology and Spirituality class taught by Prof. Donald St. Louis, D.Min. at Santa Clara University, Spring 2018. We are grateful for all the insights he shared.

Susan T. Mahan, PhD. for her insights into the Examen and Discernment.

Pope Francis for Gaudete et exsultate

The many photographers who share their beautiful images in the public domain.


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