Ignatius and Anti-generalization
Today is the feast day of Ignatius of Loyola. He is the founder of Jesuits and he has influenced the world in many ways. I feel he was radical as he recognizes the uniqueness of the human person rather than going on the generalities.
For Ignatius, the retreat (Spiritual Exercises) is not a group affair, but a deeply personal affair between God and the person doing the retreat and the director just acting as a help/guide. Thus the individuality of the persons and particularities of the life-situations are very much respected. Though he had his idea that the purpose of human life is to praise, revere and serve God (which all believers might agree), he respected the alternative paths for each person.
When we listen to many (not all) of the sermons today, there is a great deal of generalizations like Our Youth are in the wrong path, the people in the world are treading a dangerous path. I think Ignatius wouldn’t appreciate such generalizations but would have dealt it in a case by case approach. Generalizations may have some truth, but it holds the lack of knowledge about the persons and lack of respect for their contextual situations. This is in no-way subscribing to relativism (anything is ok).
Accompaniment and Discernment are two terms very dear to Ignatius. Accompaniment will only happen when the leader has a knowledge about the person (not the group). Discernment (guiding/helping the person to choose and not choosing for him/her) is possible when the unique way of God acting in the life is respected.
If I am a firm believer of accompaniment and discernment (which are responsibilities of Christian leaders) and still I make a lot of generalizations in the speeches and homilies, Ignatius is inviting me to make that radical conversion. To treat each individual as a unique child of God.