Ignatian spirituality is a spirituality for everyday life. It insists that God is present in our world and active in our lives.


To consider that fundamentally Ignatian Spirituality asserts that God`s reality and desires are to be found through our active lives, in the events, peoples, places and situation of our lives.


Participants to:

  • gain an awareness of Ignatian Spirituality and specifically in that God is present in all things

  • gain an understanding of what it means to be a Contemplative in Action

  • reflect and integrate what is useful of these models into their daily lives



Reflection on last week’s session

Contemplatives in Action

Prayer material

Individual Prayer and Break

Small group sharing and exploring

Gathering and final prayer

Review of the Evening

• ‘At Home’ work


Contemplation in action is about learning how to be, learning how to see, and learning how to love. Contemplation in action brings together our being, seeing, and loving—as people who were first made, seen, and loved by God. (Marko Milivojevic)

Living an integral spirituality, which brings together head (theological formation), heart (spiritual formation), and hand (missional formation), or bringing together contemplation and action….. Charles R. Ringma BD (Reformed Theological College, Australia)

A Contemplative in Action spends time in self-reflection and discernment to look within and make sense of their experiences. … In spending time in discernment and prayer, they will choose action that contributes to the work of justice for the Greater Glory of God. An active life feeds a contemplative life. (What is contemplation action? (psichologyanswers.com)

Ignatius has us consider how God dwells in everything, how God labors for us in all of creation, and how all good things and gifts come from God. If you come to experience the world in this way, then you are a contemplative in action—that is, one who finds God in all things.This Ignatian notion can be understood as analogous to the kind of friendship that develops over a long time between two people. They are aware of each other even when they are apart or not engaging directly with each other. Although they may not be talking, at some deep level they are in touch with each other. Ignatius’s contemplative in action has such a relationship with God. Engaging closely with God over time, we allow the Spirit to transform us into people who are more like the images of God we are created to be—that is, more like Jesus, who was clearly a contemplative in action. —Excerpted from A Friendship Like No Other by William A. Barry, SJ

There was an old Jesuit vocation poster that showed a cartoon of a Jesuit with his nose in a book while he was sawing a piece of wood with the teeth of a crocodile. The copy said, “Contemplatives in Action.” This is a bit of a caricatured understanding of what it means to be a contemplative in action, where your intellect is engaged as you go about doing the nitty-gritty work of the world. Being a contemplative in action is more than that, and it’s certainly not just for intellectuals.

In the Gospels we hear about Jesus and his disciples retreating every so often to pray. Their ministry didn’t seem to allow much time for it, but if they hadn’t stopped every so often they might have become mindless in their activity. This is the first step in being a contemplative in action: stopping.

Stopping gives you a chance to pause and acknowledge what you’ve been doing, whether in your work or personal life. It not only offers needed rest but also helps you move into the next stage: reflection.

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.” (Mark 6:30). Jesus and the apostles spoke to each other about all they did, they prayed and pondered, and examined their feelings and experiences. Reflecting on our daily experiences and our major ones helps us delve into their deeper meaning. This can be done alone using the Examen prayer, or it can be done as a group in intentional faith sharing. What did you learn from your experiences? What might God be telling you through them?

Next the disciples went back to their busy work, as we must do. The key here is letting your reflection and prayer time inform how you approach your work when you return to it. Perhaps you discover the need for more rest time or that you need to focus more on a particular relationship. Or maybe you find that the activity you’ve been up to has become dissatisfying. Or perhaps you discover a desire to reinvigorate your job.

Contemplation allows us to renew our active lives (work, play, relationships) so that all we do does not become mindless action but rather glorifies God. Then the cycle repeats. Your activity leads you again into a time of stopping, resting, reflecting, and then returning to activity with greater zeal and purpose. Being a contemplative in action means that your active life feeds your contemplative life and your contemplative life informs your active life. That is what contemplation in action means, and the cycle never ends.

Andy Otto, https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/contemplatives-in-action/

A. Stop

B. Rest

C. Reflect

  • Name some of the pulls and tensions in your life.

  • Where do the different tensions and demands in your life feel in a creative balance?

  • Where do the different tensions and demands in your life not feel in a creative balance?

  • How is God inviting you now?

D. Return to your activity

Jeremiah 18:6

He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.

Mark 1:35-36

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

James 2:14-18

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?

Can that faith save him?

If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them,

“Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well, ” but you do not give them the necessities of the body,

what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.


At the end of our days we will abide with your love and grace to heal our every wound.

Life will tempt us to count the cost of loving.

Winding paths taking their toll within us.

As we stumble once again over the same stone,

despairing that we ever will walk freely.

Yet we are children of a God madly in love,

who sows passion for truth within our being,

and gives us roots that search for living water

that branching forth, we greet your kingdom coming.

At the end of our days we will abide with your love and grace to heal our every wound.

In ourselves we will wage a conflict mortal.

Ranks of time will surround, pressing upon us.

While our hearts carry scars of every battle,

and rejoicing and music seem a lost dream.

Even so, we will be dancing together,

following your lead in crossing every border.

With a fire of hope we are in motion;

humanity with love divine uniting.

At the end of our days we will abide with your love and grace to heal our every wound.

In our weakness we still find strength and vision,

dreaming futures that ward off desperation.

We shall never lose sight of our tomorrow,

though wind and sea lash at the present moment.

If perchance, after taking up your standard,

we waiver in our common purpose as companions,

even in our weakness we shall walk beside you

because your good news is life to every nation.

At the end of our days we will abide with your love and grace to heal our every wound.

HEAL OUR EVERY WOUND Text © José María Rodríguez Olaizola. Music © Cristóbal Fones SJ. Translation © Phillip Hurley SJ.

  1. Complete any unfinished parts of what we did in the session.
  2. Complete the Reflection Exercise based on Andy Otto’s thought process in Section C above.
  3. Pray with any of the Scripture passages that speak to you in section D and enter into a heart to heart conversation with God, as one friend to another.
  4. Based on any one of the persons profiles in Section E you are invited to contemplate and to briefly encounter another person’s journey to God and to reflect on what they might say to you in the circumstances of your own life. Notice what gets stirred within you as you read or listen. Stay with what seems important.

Here are some questions that may aid your reflection. Please do not feel the need to answer each one but use what is helpful:

What do you find helpful or inspiring in what you read or heard? What challenges you or causes you to feel uncomfortable?

What in the person’s story strikes you? Is there something that touches upon your own experience of life? Of God?

God comes to us ‘disguised as our lives’. How did this person experience God in the circumstances of their life? How did they respond?


Resources to explore further the Jesuit Way of Contemplation in Action

LINK: S20: Entering into Ignatian History

LINK : Youtube video: “Jesuits Revealed!” – Fr. John Padberg, SJ – ‘Being a Contemplative in Action’ – YouTube


Book: Contemplatives in Action: The Jesuit Way, William Barry and Robert Doherty, New York: Paulist Press, 2002