ST. IGNATIUS of Loyola’s philosophy of “finding God in all things” tells us that it is through our search for God in everyday endeavors that we can see the answers to our problems.

This is the focus of Fr. James Martin, S.J. in his book titled “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life,” which explains how one can develop a relationship with God amid the pressure and ordeals that has become our lives.

The book by the culture editor of America magazine tries to present the teachings of St. Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus (commonly known as Jesuits), to contemporary readers—Christians and non-Christians alike.

The 420-page book gives accounts and details on how the “practical spirituality” of St. Ignatius applies to all in finding freedom, living a simple life, working prudently, and having a deeper relationship with God.

Martin shows in the first chapter how Ignatius, through his charity and civic works, was able to help people discover joy, peace, and freedom.

The way of St. Ignatius (whose feast day is July 31) is about “finding freedom,” which is becoming the person you are meant to be to be able to make good decisions and experience the mystery of God’s love.

The second chapter deals with the six paths to finding God: belief, independence, disbelief, return, exploration, and confusion.

“The way of Ignatius is an invitation to those who have always believed in God, who believe in God but not in religion, who have rejected God, who are coming back to God, who are exploring, and who are confused,” Martin says.

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“Ignatius’ approach meets us on our path and leads us closer to God.”

Finding God

In the next four chapters, Martin shares his insights on how one can find God by discovering desire for the spiritual life, as well as establishing friendship with Him through prayer.

“Our deepest desires help us know God’s desires for us and how much God desires to be with us. Recognizing our desires means recognizing God’s desires for us,” he said.

The fourth chapter underlines the importance of “noticing” God’s presence in our lives, as well as St. Ignatius’ prayer method for the examination of conscience.

Martin summarized this examination of conscience in five steps: gratitude, review, sorrow, forgiveness, and grace. Before one begins prayer, one must remind himself that he is in the presence of God, he says.

“All of us are newcomers to prayer, because our relationship with God changes over time and is constantly being renewed,” Martin said.

Living a ‘simple life’

Martin also says that poverty, chastity, and obedience are the three ideas at the heart of the “Ignatian” vision, constituting a “vowed life” which embodies the example of Jesus of Nazareth. Ordinary people can practice them, he says.

Martin likewise teaches readers the “Ignatian way” of making decisions in matters of career, vocation, and life.

The last chapter of the book focuses on God as the goal of everyone, and ends with a prayer and a note saying “spiritual life is a constant journey.”

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