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 In preparation for his lead role Andrew Garfield asked America’s James Martin, S.J., to guide him through the Exercises as he prepared to play the lead role in Mr. Scorsese’s new film, “Silence.”

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NEW: Dreams and Desires,edited by Marlene Marburg, is an 84-page square paper-back anthology of poems and prose which showcases the important emerging consciousness of over 40 people from around the globe. When asked their dreams and desires in this changing world, the themes of love, justice and attentiveness emerged as paramount. The heart-felt responses will move the reader again and again.

Cost: Dreams and Desires is $18 + postage/handling ($5 per book within Australia; $7 per book to New Zealand/Asia; $10 per book to Europe/UK/USA)

TO PURCHASE http://marlenemarburg.com.au/publications/

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You can now follow us on Facebook!
The page has been set up for members to share information and resources to support us in our ministry of giving the Spiritual Exercises. We warmly welcome your input and look forward to hearing from you.

We encourage you to like our page, the page is called Companions in the Ministry of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises and can be found at https://www.facebook.com/CompanionsIgnatius

You can also get to our Facebook page by clicking the Facebook icon in the top right corner of the Companions website.

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As part of its purpose Spiritual Direction enables a person to find and affirm their own identity, particularly in relation with God. When I attended a symposium hosted by L’Arche in Melbourne on October 3rd 2014, this theme was one that ran through a number of the presentations. While the presenters and the audience were mainly focused on people with mental disabilities, it seemed to me that their insights could be applied to all of us, especially in the ministry of Spiritual Direction.Persons with mental disability often suffer from low self-esteem: they feel they are a burden to their parents, they have had difficulties with learning at school, and they have been the victim of discrimination and abuse. Very often it is the labels and the social discrimination that becomes the more significant part of their disability. Part of the care offered to them by L’Arche (and other Christian service providers) includes helping them to see themselves as they really are. All humans are vulnerable to others: we may deny it or hid it, but that is a fact. This is the way we have been created. We are first dependent on our parents, then on our peers, and then on the larger community for so much that we need to be healthy and happy. Our very identity is formed and shaped by the relationships we have with so many others. We are vulnerable in our need to be loved. Love is a gift that cannot be assured; the risk is always present of being overlooked or rejected. But this vulnerability is not a weakness or a handicap; it is in fact a value and a function of our humanity; it is this that is the foundation of our reaching out to others to form friendships and community. Being vulnerable, as physically and mentally disabled people cannot hide from, can be a vocation – it is to live openly with one’s humanity. Being vulnerable, being in need of love, is the need through which God comes to us. God doesn’t view any man or woman as a problem, or a pathology or a ‘reject’. God loves us and calls us his son or daughter regardless of our personal disabilities or weaknesses. Jesus met many a person who was labeled by his or her community as a ‘sinner’, or ‘possessed’, or ‘cursed by God’, and therefore rejected and avoided. And Jesus’ response was to treat them with the respect and care due to any person. It is a human person who gives human identity to another. In the concentration camps of World War Two the Nazis stripped the Jews, and others, of their humanity, as far as they could. At the other end of the scale, some people give a human status to their pet. I depend for my human identity on you –and you on me. We can even go so far as to say that I increase or enrich or fulfill my own humanity by giving humanity to another. Jesus showed the outcasts their humanity, revealing what it is to be truly human. This was at least as important as merely healing their physical and spiritual disabilities.As Spiritual Directors we take a similar role to Jesus in this way. We listen, we affirm, we remind the other of his or her precious value in God’s eyes. We help the other to see that their brokenness and their neediness is in fact a source of life, not death. In our work we remind and we help restore to a person his or her identity. We bless their vulnerabilities and their humanity and in turn we, too, are blessed in our humanity.I acknowledge the sources of these reflections: Dr Trevor Whitney, Prof Rosalie Hudson, Prof John Swinton.Iain Radvan November 2014

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IMG 3036Situated just a few metres from the Loyola Holy House, is the birthplace of another famous Jesuit Brother Garate who was born in 1857 and joined the Jesuits in 1873.  His entire life was devoted to love and service.  He spent 41 years as a porter and nurse at University of Deusto (Bilbao) and was much loved and admired by all who knew him.  He was known for his smiling face and his humility, simplicity and patience.  He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in October 1985.  In contrast to the Manor House where Inigo was born and lived, Brother Garate house is that of a simple basque farmer.  The animals were kept in the lower level, and the family lived upstairs.  The house is remarkable for its austerity and simplicity and has been preserved by the Jesuits to show the daily life of a Basque farm labouring family.  In Loyola and Azpetia this saintly man is well loved.  Below is an image of Bl Brother Garate.

 

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IMG 3068The members of the 2014 Ignatian Immersion travelled to Loyola the birthplace of St Ignatius last week as part of their course.  Here we saw the Manor House (or the Holy House as it is referred to) in which Ignatius was born.  Within this house is also the Conversion Room where Ignatius lay during his recuperation.  This is now transformed into the Chapel of Conversion, where the Immersion course pilgrims were privileged to have mass. The image to the left shows a sculpture by Lorenzo Coulault-Valera showing the convalescent Inigo turning to God, which is in this chapel.

 

IMG 3071The image to the right is an artist impression of the original Loyola Manor House.  The Bascilica of St Ignatius has been build around this house. 

 

 

 

 

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IMG 2779One of the most beautiful  landmarks in Manresa is the Pont Vell (or the Old Brige).  This medieval bridge from the 12th or 13th century crosses the Cardoner Riveer at the entrance to the City and is just below the La Cove Spirituality Centre. It is thought that when St Ignatius entered Manresa he did so through this bridge.  

 

 

 

IMG 2802Just near the the entrance to this bridge is the Chapel of St Mark's one of the many places where St Ignatius used to pray.  The image shows the Chapel with La Cova Spirituality Cetre in the background.

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IMG 2744The Cave, over which the present day Retreat House of La Cova Sant Ignasi in Manresa, is built has special significance for the Jesuits and has been considered a sacred space for those devoted to Saint Ignatius since the early 17th Century. Originally, an open shelter in the rock when Ignatius was thought to have prayed here, it has gradually been formed into what it is now, as large number of visitors came here. In 1603 a small chapel was built and as visitors increased new buildings were erected dignify the space. What you can see from the picture is the original cave with the overhanging rock. The wall to the left has been erected shutting in the original opening. At the back of the altar is an alabaster sculpture by Joan Grau depicting Ignatius writing the Spiritual Exercises. The tabernacle just below the sculpture, also the work of an artist shows Ignatius assisting at the Nativity (see below). The mosaic work on the floor show the weeks of the exercises, beginning with the temptations of the first week - the dragon; the temptations of the second week - the serpent, and the third and fourth week being depicted by the Stag and fountain.


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IMG 2843The Autobiography of St Ignatius records his great devotion to the Holy Trinity.  One particular elevation of his understanding of the Holy Trinity happened on the steps of the Monastery of St Clare, not far from La Cova Retreat Centre.  Here is how this is reorded in the autobiography.  "One day while saying the Office of Our Lady on the steps of the Monastery of St Clare, his understanding began to be elevated as though he saw the Most Holy Trinity in the form of three musical keys.  This brought on so many tears and so much sobbing that he could not control himself...As a result, the effect has remained with him throughout his life of feeling great devotion while praying to the Most Holy Trinity." [28:3-5]  The photograph shows the steps at the entrance to the Monastery, where this elevation of understanding is said to have occurred.  Local lore says that the saint used to sit at the entrance often listening to the singing of the nuns. 

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IMG 2777One of the significant experiences that St Ignatius had in Manresa occurred while he was gazing at the Cardoner River.  Here is how this experience is recorded in the Autobiography.  "One he was going out of devotion to a church situated a little more than a mile from Manresa; I believe it is called St Paul's adn the road goes by the river.  As he went along occupied with his devotions, he sat down for a little while with his face toward the river, which ran down below.  While he was seated threr, the eyes of his understanding began to be opened; not that he saw any vision, but he understood and learnt many things, both spiritual matters and matters of faith and of scholarship and this with so great an enlightenment that everything seemed new to him." [30:2]  The photography here was taken just yesterday at the place where it is thought Ignatius may have been standing when this experience happened.  

IMG 2776Place is now visited by many people from all around the world.  One of these visitors was an artist who used his many talents to create this piece of art which has been placed in the ground on the place where it is thought that Ignatius may have been sitting.  The artist has recorded the names of 170 mystics around the spiral design which is in metal, Ignatius name is one of them, along with one of contemporary sons Teilhard de Chardin.

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The Ignatian Immersion course is a place where the small sparks of the fire of Ignatian Spirituality around the world have come to meet, share their story, and be inspired to fan into a flame the fire that Ignatius commenced 500 hundred years ago. Pilgrims are here not only from Australia and New Zealand, but from countries like the Czech Republic, Russia, Zimbabwe, Ireland, USA, Poland, Philippines, India, Italy, Hong Kong, Tanzania and Japan. In some of these countries, being a Christian is not an easy life. One of the Jesuits here is a young priest from Zimbabwe - Ignatius Anoonekwa Tambudzai. He is the Parish Priest of St Peter's Catholic Mbare Zimbabwe. Below is an except from the parish newsletter giving a little information about what the Jesuits are doing here. 

The Parish is located in one of the poorest locations in Harare. Due to the level of poverty experienced in Mbare, the Jesuit fathers initiated a number of projects meant to empower the community around the parish. There are a number of social projects that deal with health issues including HIV and AIDS, self-sustaining projects such potato production, sewing, interior décor, rearing of chickens, home-based care training, providing medical drugs to the most vulnerable, youth programs like talent development and candle making among others. In addition, the parish also provides chaplains to the two schools and to Harare Hospital (second largest government hospital in Harare). The parish also runs a scholarship fund that is meant to help orphaned children with school fees and those gifted children but whose parents are incapable of paying school fees.

Here is a picture of Ignatius enjoying his first visit to Loyola.

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IMG 0443The Well of the Hen

Not far from La Cova Sant Ignasi in the old historic part of Manresa is the Well of the Hen, well marked and honoured as a place where St Ignatius performed a small miracle for a young girl of the town. The young girl was travelling to the market with a hen which was to be sold for family income. By some misfortune, the hen fell into the well, and the distraught child called on Ignatius to help her in her plight. Being from a poor family, the loss of the hen would have meant considerable hardship for her family.

Apparently there are 2 versions to the story - the first is that Ignatius was alive, and his prayers and actions saved the hen from the well. This is the story that is preserved on the plaque just near the well, and which is one of the pictures I have attached. The other story is that the young girl sought the intercession of St Ignatius in heaven and her prayers were answered by the saving of the hen from drowning in the well.

The pictures show the well of the hen, and the plaque which is just near it. 

 

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2014-03-15 14.00.28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Companions Committee met during March at Canisius CIS Sydney.  High on the agenda was the up and coming Conference to be held in 14-17 August 2014 at Canisius.  Guest presenters are Fr Neil Vaney SM and Marlene Marburg PhD.

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