Reflection on an Active Spirituality for Today

By Patrick O'Sullivan


Until the time of Ignatius, deep union with God was mainly associated with contemplative prayer in convents and monasteries. Ignatius showed that God can be found not only in prayer but also in the marketplace, through a 'mysticism of service'. This kind of active spirituality, argues Pat O'Sullivan, needs three characteristics. It must:

  • maintain our motivation and zeal
  • help us make sense of the darkness
  • deepen our sense of Providence.


Ignatian spirituality, he argues, can bring all three together, and so help us find God in our everyday lives. We do not do this alone, but walk with others, and can act in ways that promote rather than impede their, and our own, journey to God.


And at the end of the journey, O'Sullivan says, we can make the epitaph for Ignatius' tomb our own: 'Not to be hemmed in by all that is great, yet able to be caught up in all that is small and tiny - that is truly divine.'


Published 1999.

God Knows How To Come Back Home

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  • Patrick O'Sullivan SJ is presently Instructor of Tertians for the Australian Jesuits, after working with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Africa. He has worked in university colleges in Queensland and Western Australia and served as Provincial of the Australian Jesuits, 1973-78. He was Director of the Secretariate for the Christian Life Communities in Rome, 1979-86, and Director of Campion Retreat House, Melbourne, 1988-94. From 1991-94 he was Editor of the magazine of spirituality, Madonna.

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