Ignatius’ Rule of Spiritual Direction

The relational presupposition of Christian spiritual leadership, according to Ignatius of Loyola is this:

In order that both he who is giving the Spiritual Exercises, and he who is receiving them, may more help and benefit themselves, let it be presupposed that every good Christian is to be more ready to save his neighbor’s proposition than to condemn it. If he cannot save it, let him inquire how he means it; and if he means it badly, let him correct him with charity. If that is not enough, let him seek all the suitable means to bring him to mean it well, and save himself.

Ignatius of Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises

It’s a good rule for when you and another Christian are trying to improve each other. I’ve recently discovered that it’s a bad rule to apply to public intellectuals. The key, of course, is to recognize that for Ignatius, neighbor could only have meant another likeminded individual. 

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