gnatius gave a real gift to the Church and to the world in his Spiritual Exercises. These are a series of meditations, contemplations, and guidelines to grow in spiritual discernment. They come from his experience of hundreds of conversations with people who were seeking their spiritual life. He noticed patterns. He saw the power of the Spirit in the gifts of memory, imagination, understanding and feeling.
In many ways, the spiritual practices of Ignatius have a deep connection to the work of the actor. In fact, Jesuit poet, activist and actor Daniel Berrigan suggests that Konstantin Stanislavsky got much of his inspiration for his unique method of actor training from Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.
Stanislavsky’s use of “the passive imagination” is almost word for word what Ignatius calls “composition of place” in the spiritual exercises. His use of the “active imagination” is similar to “contemplation” and “colloquy.”
Many other examples are present in creative work. Michael Chekhov’s practice of the “spy back” is akin to the Ignatian Examen. Twyla Tharp’s concept of “ruts and grooves” mirrors Ignatius’ experience of desolation and consolation in his rules for discernment. Uta Hagen’s basic actor questions in Respect for Acting include the very Ignatian question “what do I want?” As such Ignation Spirituality has a unique affinity for working together with the Actor’s craft.