Matt EmersonOctober 17, 2015

In the winter 2014 edition of Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits, in his article "Mind and Heart: Toward an Ignatian Spirituality of Study," Nicholas Austin, S.J., asks, "[I]s it possible to see study as a spiritual experience? Because of what Ignatius has taught us in the Rules for Discernment, it is relatively easy to notice, name, and talk about the experiences of consolation and desolation in prayer. At least, this is a skill which Ignatian people learn, with help from spiritual direction. Yet how can one name one’s experiences of consolation and desolation in study?"

To address this question, Austin turns to a writer recently addressed at this blog: Simon Weil. Austin writes:

It helps to note here that the effort to cultivate our ability to be truly focused on a single field of attention, whether that be listening to a person intently, studying a difficult text, or even paying attention to God in prayer, is not merely a means to greater productivity or effectiveness, but is a “Spiritual Exercise” in the full meaning of that term. No one has expressed this insight more pertinently than Simone Weil in her classic essay, “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God.” She begins with this striking statement: “The key to a Christian conception of studies is the realization that prayer consists of attention.” 

For more of Austin's insightful essay on an Ignatian spirituality of study, click here.  

 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

The latest from america

I find Dave Chappelle’s concept of empathy for transgender people worth considering — both for what it includes and misses.
Jim McDermottOctober 25, 2021
Pope Francis is pictured during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Sept. 8, 2021. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Last year, Pope Francis said, “There can be no stepping back" from the church’s opposition to the death penalty. It is time to put this teaching into action and stop executions in the United States for good.
The worship of expertise, detached from any transcendent perspective, has already plagued modern life. Now rationality is becoming just another weapon with which to attack others.
Luke BurgisOctober 25, 2021
Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori presides over the closing morning prayer Sept. 23, 2018, during the Fifth National Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas.
“It’s clear that the pope does not agree with the president about abortion. He’s made that exceptionally clear.”