a review of Christian spirituality
|July 2012|| Vol 51 No 3|
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Playing within the Rules
In this special issue, which focuses firstly on the life and work of Mary Ward, Gemma Simmonds offers a biographical sketch situating Ward in her times. How were women best to exercise ministry within a Church that was busy implementing the reforms of the Council of Trent? Answering this question would prove to be no straightforward task.
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Mary Ward’s Dilemma: The Choice of a Rule
Mary Ward was deeply influenced by her contact with Jesuits, and wanted to take their Constitutions for the group of sisters she was forming. Mary Wright asks what other religious rules might have been available to her, and why she ultimately rejected each of them.
'Hither I Must Come to Draw': Mary Ward and the Ignatian Constitutions
The Jesuit Constitutions were composed to guide the lives of an order of male priests. Why then was Mary Ward so insistent, against considerable opposition, that they were applicable to the situation of her own fledgling congregation? Brian O’Leary, author of a recent study of the Jesuit Constitutions, addresses this puzzle.
‘Take the Same’—But Differently: Mary Ward’s Appropriation of the Ignatian Charism
Mary Ward lived at a time when observance of the Roman Catholic faith in England was subject to a host of sanctions, small and great. Gill Goulding sees this context as a key to understanding how she needed to reappropriate and reinterpret the Jesuit Constitutions in the attempt to implement the experience in prayer that had led her to them.
Mary Ward and Jesuit Myths
If Mary Ward’s principle aim in life was to found a congregation of sisters living a mobile apostolic life on the Jesuit model, she failed. It took another three centuries before the Church was able to countenance such a possibility. Philip Endean argues that is it precisely this experience of repeated failure that shaped her appropriation of Ignatian spirituality, in a way inaccessible to the highly successful Jesuits of her time.
'Ineluctable this Shimmering:' The Principle and Foundation
At the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius Loyola offers a world-view for all that follows, in his ‘Principle and Foundation’. Adaptation and application remain central to working with the Exercises to this day. Here Janet Ruffing asks what this key Ignatian text might look like from a contemporary eco-feminist perspective.
A Beguine’s Spectre: Marguerite Porete (†1310), Achille Gagliardi Sj (†1607), and Their Collaboration Across Time
Three centuries before Mary Ward another woman, Marguerite Porete, also fell foul of the church authorities, having argued for a freedom of spirit that they regarded as a severe threat to orthodoxy. At the end of the sixteenth century an Italian Jesuit, Achille Gagliardi, was moved by these controversial ideas, and so represented them in ways, Juan Marín argues, that then influenced much of the spiritual writing of the next hundred years.
An Abridgment of Christian Perfection
Here, in our ‘From the Ignatian Tradition’ strand, we present extracts from An Abridgement of Christian Perfection, a seventeenth-century English translation by the Benedictine abbess Mary Percy of the influential work of Achille Gagliardi, to which Juan Marín’s article refers. In them he explores the idea of that ‘annihilation’ of the devout soul needed if growth in Christian living is to be achieved.
A Dialogue across Time: Julian of Norwich and Ignatius Loyola
For a dedicated reader, in Oonagh Walker’s experience, ‘The texts of a lifetime begin to talk to each other, and unlikely voices hold dialogue across centuries’. Here she describes one such dialogue, that between Julian of Norwich, the fourteenth-century anchorite and mystic, and Ignatius of Loyola, as revealed in his Spiritual Exercises.
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THE WAY IGNATIAN BOOK SERVICE: Books on Mary Ward
M. Immolata Wetter, Mary Ward under the Shadow of the Inquisition
|Mary Ward (1585-1645) was a recusant, an English Catholic living with the threat of persecution. Only in exile could she develop her sense of vocation. It was from that difficult situation that she was inspired to found an institute of religious women modelled on the Society of Jesus. They lived unenclosed, dedicating themselves to education and pastoral care. But the idea was ahead of its time. Church authorities would not allow Mary Ward’s institute to become established, and eventually suppressed it harshly.|
Immolata Wetter’s Mary Ward under the Shadow of the Inquisition enhances significantly our understanding of Mary Ward’s conflicts with the papacy. Drawing on newly available material from the Inquisition archives, Sr Immolata traces in detail the most acute phase of the struggle. Mary Ward was creative and tenacious in the pursuit of her vocation, but an innocent when it came to the papal court’s subtleties. For its part the Vatican felt threatened by the questions she was raising, and went to quite extraordinary lengths in restraining her. The clash of cultures and personalities generates a drama that is both striking and moving.
ISBN: 978 0 904717 28 0
Till God Will, edited by Gillian Orchard
|A powerful collection of primary texts by this pioneer figure in the Ignatian tradition. Gillian Orchard’s anthology brings out Mary Ward’s indomitable spirit and eloquent conviction, and is an excellent introduction to her life and work. The book allows Ward to tell her own story, drawing substantially on her autobiographical writings to give a living portrait of a dynamic woman.|
The book includes a foreword by Mother Teresa of Calcutta (a member of Mary Ward’s Institute for twenty years) and an introduction by James Walsh SJ, founder editor of The Way.
I recommend Till God Will to all those interested in the role of women in the Catholic Church … Mary Ward’s views are as relevant today as they were in the seventeenth century. Lady Antonia Fraser
ISBN: 978 0 232 51634 0
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