EPS 24: The Robust (Ignatian) Spirituality of Pope Francis

Right now, one of the most powerful and influential men in the world is undoubtably Pope Francis.

Pope Francis is the first Jesuit Pope, but too few people know the specific qualities of his Order (The Society of Jesus-Ignatian spirituality). His spirituality and training powerfully and uniquely guide his worldview, philosophy of vocation and work, and themes of his prominent, worldwide administration especially when compared with his predecessors.

Through his decisions, he influences Roman Catholics internationally (a staggering 1.1 billion people) and his ideas influence and inspire many of the 2.2 billion people who consider themselves Christian (specifically: a follower of the way of Jesus), including me.

What is most influential to Pope Francis?
His training in the Society of Jesus (the Catholic Order founded by Ignatius of Loyola 400 years ago). This is what guides how he see the world and makes all his important decisions that direct the Catholic Church and influence others worldwide.

Today, we will learn more about these teachings that often come out-of-sync with the ways and structures of established institutions of religion, politics, and power.




Spirutal Director, Jeanine Breault, trained in Ignatian Spirituality
Spirutal Director, Jeanine Breault, formally trained in Jesuit Ignatian Spirituality

Today, you will hear from my spiritual director, Jeanine Breault, a Roman Catholic who is formally trained in the Ignatian tradition. We converse about some of the salient characteristics of the Ignatian spiritual teachings and traditions.

Thus, you will find out the manner in which Pope Francis is directed spiritually by his own spiritual director within this 400 year old spiritual tradition; learn how Ignatian spiritual directors (and the current Pope) see the world and how God works in it, and more.


SHOWNOTES: EPS 24: The (Ignatian) Spirituality of Pope Francis

MIN: 1:00

Answering: What is Ignatian Spirituality?


Finding God in all things. We are invited to notice how God is at work. More than head knowledge but an experiential knowledge.


God is always at work for the good in my life and in my world and growing in that awareness. How can I respond to God’s call?


Ignatian Spirituality in contemplative in action.

Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic are major influences on Ignatius.

3:30 An Intimate relationship with God SO THAT I can labor with God.

Now that there is a Pope who is a Jesuit (the first in history) how does that shift the role and the the way he see the world as the head of the church.


On Pope Francis’s new letter “The Joy of the Gospel” and the Jesuit flavorings contained within and the influence on his life.


On the massive changes at the Vatican.


Who was Ignatius of Loyola? Ignatius_Loyola_by_Francisco_Zurbaran

The story of the man who founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) 

Born in 1491 and his message continues to changes peoples lives.

His war injury and what changed his life.


The mystical experience he had.


He work in the discernment of spirits (his work called the Spiritual Exercises) and how these forces work in our lives.


Discerning and choosing between two goods.


The rules for discernment that can be applied to anyone at anytime.


The basic of the rules of discernment.

When a person is oriented to God and desires to please God, then God confirms that and gives graces of peace, joy, and comfort. The opposite feelings do not come from God (fear, anxiety, discouragement, despair, etc).


Through the Ignatian spiritual exercises, one can figure out what is of God and what is not.


People coming to direction for the first time are really grappling with a sense of God’s love for them (and not really believing it.)


Coming to a spirit-led decision and grace is involved.


Overcoming the obstacle of unworthiness.


Working at cultivating people’s awareness. Asking questions that create space for inquiry, discovery and discernment.


We forget that God loves at at some level and it’s a continual process of remembering.


Her experience with guilt in prayer because of a lack of focus. Apologizing to God about being preoccupied. And the amazing thing God seemed to say in response.

The part of affirming the goodness of God and what God is doing in that person’s life is the job of the director.


The answer won’t expect to my question: “What do you say or do when people can’t see or sense God, or they have a blindness and are unaware?” (Maybe an “image of God problem”)


The “director” is not a good word. The Spirit of God is the actual director and it’s God’s business.


The parallel with gardening and patience for growth.


“God loves that person more than you do.”


On not “fixing” things and solving problems.


Compassionate listening and getting out of the way for God to work better.


What supervision of a spiritual director looks like so that good listening can keep happening for those directed.


Finding a director that is properly prepared to direct others is crucial.

Asking Jeanine, “What happens in your mind and heart when you find yourself wanting to solve problems and rescue someone?”


Remembering the kind of ministry direction is. A prevailing ope that God is at work and in control ultimately. It’s sacred time and time to stay focused. Setting aside things when they come up.


Do people expect you to be their counselor? And what happens when that happens during direction?


Helping people know what to expect from direction and how to find someone who is properly trained.

The international listing of trained directors. sdiworld.org

Director will work with people from any tradition.


The connection of Buddhism and Christian Mysticism in practice. Seeing the goodness in other traditions.


John O’Donohue and his comments of what Buddhism can brings to Christianity and vice versa.


Noticing the “now”.


Coming to a vibrant faith where (you realize) God is working in this very moment.


Relationships are the ways we become tuned to God and working out our salvation in real life and ordinary experiences.


Resources to continue on this path.

Ronald Rollhieser The Holy Longing and Prayer: Our Deepest Longing

Carmelite nun Ruth Borrows. Guidelines for Mystic Prayer

Anthony De Mello

Joyce Rupp

Learn more about Ignatius of Loyola here.

Episode 16 – It’s Apophatic, not Apathetic, Prayer

Shownotes Episode 16 – Apophatic prayer explained in a conversation with Dr. Laurie Mellinger.


Laurie Mellinger, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation and Christian Theology
Dean of Academic Programs
B.A. Millersville University; M.A.R. Evangelical School of Theology; Ph.D. The Catholic University of America

Get your spiffy guide to the ancient Christian prayer practice of praying using Scripture called Lectio Divina (latin for “sacred reading”). It’s the perfect go-to reference and resource to get started with the four movements of Lectio that lead us to praying without words and listening to God.

A donation of 50¢ or more will get you this essential Lectio Divina resource.
Click HERE to download it now!

Encountering and examining Apophatic (contemplative) Prayer

Conversation Notes

MINUTE 2:00 Apophatic not to be confused with apathetic


2 main ways of understanding God

Via Eminencia -The way of eminence

The highest of something we know as humans and elevating it. Power, strength “The most powerful”, omnipotent)

Via Negativa – The way of negation (Denying the limited or bad we can observe. God is Immortal (NOT mortal).


Katophatic (or cataphatic) vs. Apophatic Prayer

Katophatic  – What we can see and say in prayer.

Apophatic – We we cannot see and bri; and without our senses.

6:00 Meditation and how it relates to apophatic prayer

6:30 What is Lectio Divina

Reading scripture and prayer as we seek relationship with God

The four movements of this form of prayer.


Eastern vs. Western styles of Meditation

Experiencing vs. Word-driven forms


Contemplation 2 going definitions

1. To observe

2. Contemplative to look at with continued attention.


Contemplative vs. Discursive prayer


Breath prayer


Apophatic prayer as a way to pray without ceasing


Allowing God to be in every moment, even with every breath.

Laurie’s experience with the Jesus Prayer

Being carried along through pain knowing experiencing that God was with her.

Celebration of Discipline-Richard Foster


Prayer as a habit that changes you.

…Like holding hands as you walk…


What happens after the questions like: “I’m I allow to do this?”

The distractions and a flood of thoughts become the hardest part.

How to help that…

Examples: “eye floaters”, “balloons”


on being patience with yourself


Brian McClaren getting distracted and quoting from the dessert fathers.

28:30 Turning our face back to God





The discipline of being attentive to God allows us to be more present and attentive with others as well. 


People crave presence and can even be (un)used to it.


Learning how to listen. Simone Weil.



How we are over-stimulated. Children get overstimulated and need naps which means they get silence and solitude and lack of stimulation. Silence and solitude are restorative.


The demons we encounter in solitude or in the desert.


A clean and swept room, removed of clutter makes us more aware of new things that might be wrong.


New Testament Professor Douglas Buckwalter


Spiritual formation is not doing disciplines.

One kind of prayer isn’t better (per se), but God is forming and reform and transforms us back into the image of Christ. God must reform us. In God’s presence we will feel more loved and acceptance and he might put his finger on something to take care of.

Luke 11:24-26

24“When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25“And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26“Then it goes and takes alongseven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”


on…The messy interior work needed to be more like Jesus.

Letting God dig around.


Helpful and practical advice for getting started with apophatic and contemplative prayer.

Practice reading the Bible and using the text to help you pray and wait.  (Lectio Divina)

“That waiting (in prayer) is the entry into apophatic prayer.”

Breath Prayer

Centering Prayer (using a word to focus)

“Be patience with yourself. Just do it and God will meet you there”

Using a candle to bring our attention back.


Good focus is ill-fitting at first until you commit to the process.

Leonard Sweet

(paraphrase) “If you are still counting the steps, you aren’t dancing yet. You are still learning to dance.”


Prayer can become flow.


Union with God – The traditional understand of the goal of apophatic prayer.


God invites us corporately and individually as human beings into that (triune) relational and our participation in that relationship is what I mean by union with God.”

Sensing the presence and love of God more fully, and more and more fully. This is union with God.


Western goal in Christianity is often understand (first) as Salvation in terms of Penal Atonement and payment for sin. It is a more judicial angle compared to what Eastern Christians do. It’s much more about relationship restored.

Episode 15 Shane Tucker and the listening art of “soul friendship”

Today: A conversation with Shane Tucker!

Shane is a Soul Friend (Spiritual Director) with a focus on artists and creatives, be they “yuccies”, “slashies”, painters, musicians, or any one in need of deeper and more sustaining, soul-level communing.


How we find spark:
Together, we make the Spark My Muse podcast happen.
I prepare something and you digest it.

 I invite you to just listen, read the show notes and click on links, and give what you can.
That’s all. :)


• If it’s worth nothing…um what? Are you serious? This just got more awkward..Aw…snap! I sincerely apologize. Let me know what I can improve and please come back and listen again soon!

• If it’s worth one dollar, five dollars, twenty-five dollars, six hundred dollars, a billion-zillion dollars… you get the idea…

simply, tap into the river of gratitude in your heart and contribute what you can– HERE or use that Paypal button, over yonder.


(Of course, since money isn’t everything, you can say “thanks” and help with something that is not monetary, just let me know here. You make fruit pies, right?)

• Use the social share buttons, spread the word, leave a great a review at iTunes…these are all ways to help too.  Thanks in advance for your generosity!

Every little bit helps a lot.
Thank you, listeners for making the show heard in 96 countries and a,l 50 of the United States!

With Love,

SHOWNOTES with links and highlights.

Wine Segment:
MINUTE 1:30 On meade and Irish wine

Snapshot of the segment:

• Meade is fermented honey and herbs added.

• Irish wine is (usually) white wine, with some honey and herbs.
• It is still often used during the wine toast in Irish wedding ceremonies.


Sparking your muse!

Shane-@-Ross-2012-MA conversation with Shane Tucker:

His website

His Twitter

Shane is…
• An ordained Anglican Preist

• A trained Anam Cara (soul friend in the Irish Tradition).

• He lived with his wife and family in Ireland for 11 years!

Conversation (podcast) notes:


How Shane and his wife and family happened to live in Ireland for 11 years.

How God begins to grow dreams in us

Working at the Willow Creek Church

People have long said that still seems true. When foreigners come that end up being more Irish than the Irish themselves.


One of the most potent lessons learned from the Irish was the necessity to put people first. They take time to connect with each other and share life.

9:00 A sense of call to minister to artist and creatives.

9:40 On why he feels a passion to serve the creative community: “I believe the creative of today is the prophet of old”. It is a prophetic call.


“Creatives are called to paint a picture of the future that God is calling us all into. His Kingdom coming.”


“When a creative (person) using their gift…it taps into something deep inside of us and reverberates…and it feels like echoes of home.”


Jesus invites us to “walk with me and work with me.”


answering: What is Spiritual Direction (or soul friendship) actually?


A soul friend is “the best friend you’ve always wanted.”

and the Saint Bridgette quote…


A good picture is in the New Testament of the friends walking to Emmaus and then Jesus come in their midst. Unpacking life.


“The Soul Friend is someone who helps us see how God has been at work in our lives…so we can (as St. Ignatius says) “to recklessly abandon ourselves to his loving care.”


The problem with the phrase “Spiritual Director” on two counts so I use “soul friend”.


How he was trained in soul care and soul friendship


On becoming an Anglican Priest…


What he find to be the deepest needs of the creative community he works with?

Affirmation and Presence


Living in a Creative Age (moving from head to heart)


There’s an affective moving in society leading with Beauty first and then Truth that leads to freedom.


Alan Crieder

Behave Belong Believe (in which order should be in what era)


“What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies.”


The error of focusing too much on trying to convince people just intellectually.


Ignatian Spirituality

Celtic Spirituality

Soul Friendship
by Rev Ray Simpson (Church of England)

The Celtic Way of Prayer
by Ester De Waal

Holy Companions


on the hospitality and generosity of Irish spirituality.

The story of an Inn with 7 doors for the 7 roads.

Thank you so much for listening to the show!


To get alerts of the topics and the new and interesting folks coming to the podcast in future episode click HERE.

Here’s a tasting of who’s coming in the next few months:

Mako Fujimura

Nicole Unice

Shane Claiborne

and, yes, more!


Your thoughts are clouds not rocks

rock pile (a cairn)
rock pile (a cairn)


I was listening to a new podcast called Invisibilia and the hosts were discussing the topic of unwanted thoughts. (“The Secret History of Thoughts” is the episode title)


Any thoughts from the emotionally self-injuring ones, to violent ones, to obsessive thoughts and worries. Everyone has them and some people develop dysfunctions that make life difficult or unbearable. Anxiety has a lot to do with it too.


What thoughts really are and how meaningful they are has been up for debate by professionals over the last 100 years.

Here are the top 3.

• Theory 1: Thoughts are very meaningful and are red flags of something deeper and sometimes something more sinister. (Freud and his ilk)

• Theory 2: Thoughts are not as meaningful as we thought and the key is to compensate or overcome them with opposite (reforming) thinking over a period of time (Cognitive Behavior Therapy).

• Theory 3: Of the three top theories, a third one in particular is getting momentum right now. To me, it seems to have an “ancient/new” quality to it…

The advice goes something like this.

“Keep the good thoughts and let the others float away.”

Does that sound flaky?

Think of it as laid back. Chill.

• The idea flies in the face of modern psychology that has us dig around a lot and examine every negative thought. Analyze it, get to what you think is the root, dig some more, and pick it all apart. See if has something to do with a repressed issue, a dark secret, the bad parents we probably had, or primal urges to kill and hump, and whatnot.

• The third theory also is a very different tact than what happens with theory #2.

Maybe thoughts are like clouds.

Your thoughts are nothing to worry about. Probably.

So the new tactic for dealing with unwanted thoughts is about training our focus and being gracious with ourselves. Sounds like a spiritual discipline to me!


It’s a recollection of the ancient idea that what you feed, grows and dominates.

Some proverb like…

“There are two wolves fighting inside each of us. One is good and one is bad–and each one wants to rule the other. Which one will win? …The one you feed.”


Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.

Some times I assume my passing or repeating unwanted thoughts have larger meaning and import, but maybe they just move in and around like the weather. I make them weighty like rocks. Maybe that’s not helpful. We take these rocks and place them in a pile, sometimes, don’t we?

We worry about our worries. We worry about what is wrong with us. We make a big, sad pile to stand for something, like a reminder…or…

we make a cairn. But, the wrong kind. A cairn should be a trail marker or situate like standing stones marking the best of ourselves or our dreams. A cairn is about hope.

Your repetitive thoughts aren’t stones, they are clouds.

The good thoughts can get a upgrade to something more substantial…let the others drift away.

Creative commons photo by Samuel Betenholz.

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