In his book What is Ignatian Spirituality?, David Fleming notes that Ignatius described his ministry with the Spanish word conversar. In English we think of conversation simply as a talk with another person (which may or may not cover matters of significance), but as Fleming observes, the Spanish word has the broader meaning “‘to be conversant with’ something or someone – that is, to truly know them deeply.”
That is certainly how Ignatius understood the term. Fleming writes:
Ignatius’ spiritual life developed around the idea of conversation. It is based on conversation with God in prayer. It is developed through conversation with others – spiritual directors, confessors, like-minded friends who share one’s ideals and way of life. It is expressed in conversation as ministry – sharing the Gospel with others. All three conversations are embodied in the Spiritual Exercises. The retreatant is guided through the exercises by conversation with a spiritual director who cultivates the conversation with God. The exercises nurture a conversation with God. The goal of the Exercises is to help the person get involved in a more fruitful conversation with others in ministry.
Conversation as prayer. Conversation as sharing the fruits of our prayer and our lives with our spiritual director (or the equivalent). Conversation as ministry.
How do you see these understandings of conversation playing out in your own life?
Note that this is a the eighteenth in a series of posts in celebration of the Ignatian Year, which began on May 20 of this year.