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 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

If you’ve listened to the show…
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Spark My Muse
Thank you!

Shownotes for Episode 13  Wine lovers have God to thank + guest Doug Jackson

First, I want to feature the book Doug and I wrote …

entitled Dog in the Gap because of a C.S. Lewis quote “Man and his dog close a gap in the universe”.


And there’s a BONUS EDITION with lots of goodies!
Read a sample here!

Will you fan the spark?

Inspired by how musician Amanda Palmer put it, “Don’t make people pay [for art]. Let them,” I am altering how Spark My Muse stays alive…from bottom to top (literally).

How does it work?

It’s up to you. I need at least $75 per episode to keep it solvent.
Every little bit helps!
So, I invite you to just listen, read, and give as you can.


Thank you! Enjoy the show!

With love,



Who do we have to thank for wine?

God and the Church, actually.

Wine lovers in Western civilization have the Church in Europe (and the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire–which was neither holy nor Roman ) to thank for the large-scale production, the prevalence and the excellence of wine!


Because liturgy involving wine for communion was central to Christian religious practice. Wine was ingested as the saving holy blood of Christ (and bread as the holy body of Christ), usually each and every day. The sacraments of Communion served as saving grace afforded to the Church.

As Roman Empire became officially a Christian Empire (circa 313 CE) many vineyards had to be planted, properly cultivated, and harvested. Grapes had to be made into a lot of to support the daily practice of communion throughout the Empire.

Communion served as wine was the norm among Christians world-wide until recently–in the era of pasteurization. To keep juice from grapes in a state were they would not ferment meant it had to be sufficiently boiled so the natural yeast would die. 

Vehemently opposed to alcohol, Thomas Bramwell Welch, a physician, dentist, and Methodist pastor from Vineyard, New Jersey, figured out the process in 1869 with Concord grapes. Most churches did not accept the switch as proper and stayed with wine.

The juice later became more popular during Victorian era because of prominent values of abstinence. A shift then began in the U.S. that made grape juice the main communion beverage (at least among certain Protestants sects).

Several hundred vineyards operating in Europe today can trace their history to monastic origins.

In the 9th-15th centuries almost 1,000 monasteries dotted Europe. They were centers of education, stability, and technical innovation. Monks and nuns could read and write–this was quite uncommon then.

Monasteries cared for the sick, helped the poor, created places of education, and invented Universities. They could not fund all this through donations. Surplus wine was sold to finance ministry work (and also beer, fruit brandies, and cheese, among many other things..even prayers and Salvation ..which–in hindsight–appears to have been a mistake ) .

So, basically, thank God (and many monks) for wine!


Sparking your muse

 Enjoy the fantastic chat with Doug Jackson!


Douglas Jackson, D.Min.
Director of the Logsdon Seminary Graduate Program

Doug Jackson came to SCS in 2006, after serving as pastor of Second Baptist Church, Corpus Christi, since 1993. In addition to teaching courses, Dr. Jackson functions as a liaison between Logsdon Seminary and local churches in Corpus Christi. His areas of specialization include spiritual formation and pastoral ministry. Dr. Jackson has published and presented several articles and essays in religious and literary venues, including articles and lectures on the life and writings of C.S. Lewis.
• D.Min. – Truett Seminary (2006)
• M.Div. – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1985)
• B.A. – English Literature, Grand Canyon College (1982)

His blog is here.


Interview / chat notes:


MIN 8:00
on Doug preparing for a his Fall class.

A resource he is using by NT Wright – “The new perspective on Paul”
The covenant people God has saved.

Reformers and the necessary correction in contemporary times.

Confronting individualism
and thoughts on human flourishing.

on the idea of being “spiritual but not religious”

on his work about CS Lewis

Mere Christianity

The importance of imagination for understanding that isn’t covered by rationalism.

on his Oxford lecture
Owen Barfield an influential life-long friend of CS Lewis

Another lecture on Walter Miller – A Canticle for Leibowitz
Apologetic self-proclaimed validity on the rational scheme of knowing.

“Scholarship is about knowing more and more about less and less so that eventually you know everything about nothing.”

James Sire

Malcolm Guite https://www.facebook.com/malcolm.guite
Chaplain of Gerton college and Cambridge
“Faith Hope and Poetry”

He covers the imagination as a way of knowing (an epistemology).

Holly Ordway
Houston Baptist University
“Not God’s Type”

Her 2-track movement toward conversion

Brainpickings.com Maria Popova (an admitted secular atheist on a continual spiritual search)

on Spiritual atheism

….if we come up with a system that covers everything (Christians and Atheists alike)…

“Humans are sensitive and emotionally vulnerable to a wasteful degree evolutionarily speaking…highly valuing the arts.” (Lisa)

Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monk and Abbot
Philip Lawrence, New Mexico
…slipping in and out of atheism….

HG Wells, and the fundamentalist reaction to him and others of his ilk.

on how science and religious circles have had an absolute unwillingness to be in one another presence and (have not wanted) to admit any weaknesses and (instead) just shout louder.


“The best apologetics can do is make Christianity credible and I don’t think it can make it inevitable.”


22:30 “Any belief in any ideal is still a leap of faith for anyone… like Justice, Love, Hope…” (Lisa)

on How people appeal to a standard outside themselves. (CS Lewis)

Theories of “survival behavior value” for Morality and Justice kicks the can. or it lands on simple absurdity and meaninglessness where suicide becomes a valid option.


Doug answering the question….”Is fundamentalism evolving”?

Richard Foster’s classic over 50 years old “Celebration of Discipline”

A story of a crucial pivot point for Doug.

How the psalmists had to cry out to God when the answers didn’t suffice any longer. For us, this is a return more than a departure.”

“I have gained the gift of being able to respect other traditions and admire things they bring us, but I talk to people across that spectrum that have that experience.”


“We go from trusting our denominational address or theology address to trusting Christ but it doesn’t mean an abandonment of it. Choosing a room in the same house to live in.”

Spiritual disciplines most meaningful to him:
On solitude and privacy (the difference). Henri Nouwen explains the difference.
 Henri Nouwen explains in “Out of Solitude” 

Doug: Solitude is for battle. Privacy is to be alone.

Demons come in our solitude (Desert Fathers). The outcome is awareness and purification.

Wanting “the listening heart” (what Solomon really asked God for).
on the importance of listening to God…

My Stockholm syndrome at parties. (Lisa)


“(My) Inability to be with people was driven by a failure to have a real self.”

“you are nearer to me than my own self.” Augustine

Doug realized:

“My real Self can’t be with people because it’s threatened by them, because they’re going to colonize my Self and going to make me into something I’m not. As opposed to having a real Self that can listen because God is protecting that Self.”

Father Francis Kelly Nemeck wrote
The way of Spiritual Direction (his director)
…Doug and I discuss Detachment and Holy Indifference…

St John of the Cross
(Exploring the spiritually obscured times and darker emotions.)

“the nada” (God is “no thing” the silence before God

…on staying in the problems and not panicking.

…on the crucial lesson from his mom that revealed his theology

(unknowing) Apophetic theology

“John of the Cross didn’t want that we should abandon the metaphors but move through them.”


“We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology.”

(which is terrifying but life-giving)

Further exploration in a future episode of John of the Cross with Doug coming soon!


If you enjoyed the show please give it a stellar review on iTunes here!

Watch for new episodes each Hump Day (Wednesday).

What is Celtic (Christian) Spirituality?

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 8.31.12 AMIn recent years there has been renewed interested in the unique flavor of Christianity from the Celtic region. The Celts transformed their paganism into devote Christian practice and belief, but their connection to nature and to each other in community continued to flavor their understanding and practice of Christianity.


The ultimate Druid (their word for a priest) was then, Jesus, the Christ, Son of the Living God.


After the area was first introduced to Christianity, it became largely cut off from the world and also the massive changes in Christianity that happened once it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Subsequently, Christianity evolved and soon involved in the power and authority of the (Rome-based) Roman Catholic Church who dominated and influenced life and culture during the middle ages in almost all of the Western civilized world (except the areas that were not subjected to the influential jihads of Islam).

Most Protestants don’t realize the deep and prevailing influence that the Roman version of Christianity has on how they understand, and practice their faith. Many widespread notions in the Western church, even today, began during the Middle Ages and stemmed from Rome.

Empires have a knack of distorting things for their own gain. Religious empires are no exception.

It’s insightful to see how Celts lived out their spirituality and it can add to our own understanding and growth to learn some things from them.

Here is the wikipedia article to expand your general understanding.

Here are some distinctions:

Distinctive Features of Celtic Christianity:

-love of nature and a passion for the wild and elemental as a reminder of God’s gift.

-love and respect for art and poetry.

-love and respect for the great stories and “higher learning”.

-sense of God and the saints as a continuing, personal, helpful presence.

-theologically orthodox, yet with heavy emphasis on the Trinity, and a love and respect for Mary, the Incarnation of Christ, and Liturgy.

-religious practice characterized by a love for tough penitential acts, vigils, self-exile, pilgrimages, and resorting to holy wells, mountains, caves, ancient monastic sites, and other sacred locations.

-no boundaries between the sacred and the secular

-unique Church structure:

-there were originally no towns, just nomadic settlements, hence the church was more monastic rather than diocesan, resulting in quite independent rules and liturgies.

-also, Ireland was very isolated and it was hard to impose outside central Roman authority.

-influenced much by (original/early Christianity) middle-eastern and coptic monasticism.

-they celebrated Easter and Lent according to the ancient calendar system.

-Irish tonsure shaved the front of the head (like the druids).

-abbots had more power than the bishops.

-monasteries often huge theocratic villages often associated with a clan with the same kinship ties, along with their slaves, freemen, with celibate monks, married clergy, professed lay people, men and women living side by side. (Sometimes monasteries “raided” other monasteries, esp. during the period of the Anglo-Norman invasion.)

-while some monasteries were in isolated places, many more were were at the crossroads of provincial territories.

-women had more equal footing in ancient Irish law, thus had more equal say in church government. (Did St. Bridget receive Holy Orders and act as an Abbot?)

-developed the idea of having a “soul friend” (anmchara) to help in spiritual direction.

-invented personal confession.

-monks traveled as “Peregrinari Pro Christ” (White Martyrdom).

-many pagan practices were “Baptized” such as St.Stephen’s Day, and the resorting to holy wells, and many monasteries were built on pagan sacred site (as evident in the names Derry, and Durrow).


Read more here.


Prayer Attributed to St Patrick, missionary to the Celts:

I arise today, 
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of the sun, radiance of the moon.
Splendor of fire, speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind, depth of sea,
Stability of earth and firmness of rock.
I arise today,
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me.
From the snares of devils, from temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and near, alone and in a multitude

3 Theologies of Christianity

This is one of the handouts I got at my weekend graduate residency. It’s a spreadsheet summary of the book by Justo Gonzalez. Christian Thought Revisited: Three Types of Theology. Nashville: Abington Press, 1989.

The first one listed won out in most Christian cultures historically: Transactional (TYPE A). We might even take this approach for granted, but there are reasons this flavor of Christianity took hold the most in Western culture. Power is the big reason. The other theologies haven’t been lost completely and are important to recognize. We see a reemergence worldwide of TYPE C (Incarnational), the oldest approach to Christian theology and the one geographically closest to Jerusalem. TYPE B (Transcendent) is most often seen in Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions.

After you read through it, share something.

The Three Theologies

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