Learning to pray in an Ignatian way
July has been a busy month at Jesuits in Britain’s office in London, as we have been preparing and running our 31 Days of St Ignatius. It has now been one week since the end of this year’s campaign and we are reflecting on the progress made and on the feedback we have been receiving from you.
The initiative started in 2016. "It came about a few years ago because we wanted to help people get to know the Jesuits in Britain," explains Ruth Morris, Digital Communications Manager of the Jesuits in Britain."We wanted to enable them to get involved in our work, develop their interests in education, social justice and prayer, all things that are focuses of our work in Britain."
We had the idea of a a month-long preparation to the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, celebrated on the 31st of July. The subscribers receive daily emails with content on a specific theme, dedicate some extra time to learn more and reflect on the Jesuits’ work and spirituality.
Our first year focused on different Jesuit-led projects in Britain. Parishes, education and spirituality centres, and social justice were the centre of the daily emails. 4,200 embarked with us on this journey in 2016.
For the second round, we looked at the participants’ feedback, to keep our content relevant and provide what could be most useful. The focus, then, shifted to Ignatian formation. Whether through formal education in Jesuit schools, through connection with our chaplaincies, parishes, and outreach programmes, we explored how Jesuits and many others have found a deeper relationship with God.
This time, we reached almost 5,000 people, building connections and spreading the word through our network.
As the road now seemed quite tested, we followed the same procedures for our third year. “The feedback from 2017’s campaign appeared unanimous in showing a desire to learn more about Ignatian Spirituality and how to pray in an Ignatian way” remembers Jane Hellings, the Jesuits’ Director of Development & Communications.
Pulling content mostly from Pray as you go, our dail prayer podcast, and our spirituality website, Pathways to God, and commissioning some new material, we created a unique exploration of different ways of Ignatian prayer, from Lectio Divina to the Examen, from Imaginative Contemplation to an overview of the Spiritual Exercises.
We also offered the opportunity to register for a ‘prayer journaling’ space where the participants could share their experiences in a 31 days community.
Daily emails were sent early in the morning, promoted through our Facebook pages and Twitter, and special memes have been created for our Instagram profile. The engagement, from subscribers and followers, has been incredible.
Elizabeth Harrison, Spirituality Resources Coordinator at Jesuits in Britain, says “it has been great to see the way that we can reach out to people and create a sense of community using the power of the digital communication, and people’s amazing responses to this.”
“Reading the feedback, there’s no doubt in my mind that online resources make a real contribution to people’s journey on their pathways to God, encourage a deepening of their prayer life. It is wonderful to see how people have found out more about St Ignatius and his Spiritual Exercises and responded to that. It’s exciting to think where else we can go with this!”
The feedback received so far, indeed, has demonstrated how varied our audience is and how valuable Ignatian Prayer is for everyone, no matter what ‘level’ of spirituality you are at.
Margaret enjoyed the daily posts as they provided with a rich resource for my prayer life, “I am sure I will return to these resources repeatedly.”
Beth told us “this has been a blessing as I haven't been able to go on a physical retreat this year.”
Terry wrote us “I have so valued, enjoyed, been challenged and so helped by sharing the 31 Days of St Ignatius. I have been on a weekend silent retreat and on a 6 days silent retreat at St Beuno’s so had some understanding of St Ignatius and his exercises; but pilgrimaging with the 31 Days has given me much deeper understanding of St Ignatius and his teaching on prayer and deepening my relationship with God. My spiritual life has been enriched by the 31 days and my prayer is that my life with God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit will continue to grow.”
On Facebook, Sandra commented: “I am so grateful for these days. This month has been a challenging and fruitful journey. Every single day I felt one on one spiritually directed. God in all things!”
And others, like Fr Peter, have also been impressed by our “full use of the electronic age!”
We have been pleased this year to have reached more than 7,500 subscribers!
So, what next for 2019? If you have taken part to our 31 days of St Ignatius 2108, please, take a few minutes to tell us your opinion by completing this short survey.
Our goal was to help you find God at work in your life by offering new tools for prayer and meditation. The 31 days will continue to be available on our spirituality website, Pathways to God, and we warmly invite you to take some time to explore further all the resources available.
This year as in the past, we also took the opportunity to ask for donations to support our spirituality outreach programme which was created in response to the demand of spiritual exercises. The aim of the outreach is to provide the spiritual exercises in non-residential environment like parishes and chaplaincies. We have so far received just over £6,000! Thank you to those that donated.
But there is still more that we can do. The donations we receive will help sustain the programme by making available printed guides for the training of new spiritual guides and to cover for transportation and other costs for the spiritual guides as they travel across the country.
If you have not yet donated and would like to stand with us in our mission to extend the gift of Ignatian Spirituality and bring many more people closer to God, you can donate on our website:
We thank you in advance for ensuring that Ignatian Spirituality continues to be a relevant and positive force in this world.