Mangaluru: We know what a mirror is. We use it in our everyday life. In elementary school, we all learned about the mirror in detail. Thus, we know that the mirror follows “the laws of reflection” which states that when a light ray is incident on the reflecting surface, the incident ray, the reflecting ray and the normal to the surface of the mirror are all in the same plane, and the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.

But you must be wondering what this “Ignatian mirror” is. What’s special about it? The Ignatian Mirror is nothing but the likeness of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. It also obeys the law of reflection. We will see it step by step as follows:

incident ray

reflected ray

normal radius

refracted ray

· Angle of incidence

Reflection angle

Angle of refraction

Incident ray:

The Incident Ray in the Ignatian Mirror would be equivalent to the grace received by “a forgiven sinner” – the grace received in the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises with the aid of the particular and daily examination, the general examination and the confession general. It reveals who we are and how naked we stand in front of the mirror. We observe ourselves and experience the love of God. We are grateful to God for creating us in his image and likeness. God accepts us with all our limitations without judging anyone.

Reflected ray:

The ray reflected in the Ignatian mirror is the manifestation of God’s love in action. It helps us to contemplate the life of Christ – from his childhood to his public ministry. The Reflected Ray is the grace received in the First Week which is realized in the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises. With the help of meditations on the three kinds of humility, discernment, and kingdom meditation, one discovers one’s own calling.

Normal radius:

The Normal in the Ignatian Mirror represents the Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises which declare that we are created to praise, revere and serve God. This keeps us focused and focused on reaching the end.

Refracted ray:

The refracted ray in the Ignatian mirror reveals abnormality. It is true that every incident ray is reflected, but there is also a possibility of refraction. In the Ignatian Mirror, we learn in the third and fourth week of the Spiritual Exercises, The Passion and Resurrection of the Son of God indicates that Jesus could have escaped suffering and death and continued his normal life. Refraction makes him fully human – seen in his embrace of the cross and his ascent to new life. Life and death are complementary realities. Where there is death, there is life. In Jesus’ own words: “Truly I say unto you, except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)

The formation of the Angle of Incidence, the Angle of Reflection and the Angle of Refraction leads to contemplation to attain the Love of God. The Spiritual Exercises begin with the experience of the Love of God and end or continue with the contemplation of Love. It helps us to realize that love comes in deeds rather than words. It is the mutual division of goods.

It is this Ignatian mirror that makes the Jesuits quite different from many other religious congregations in the world. The Ignatian Mirror based on the Spiritual Exercises is not static but dynamic. The Spiritual Exercises are not a book to be read but exercises to be done by the exercitant. The dynamism of the Jesuits springs from this source. This explains why the Jesuits departed from the traditional practices of monastic life. Out of this came the principles of “contemplation in action” and Magis. This means that everything we do must be done for the greater glory of God.

If the Ignatian Mirror can be so effective for Jesuits, it is sure to have an impact on everyone’s life, especially students trained by Jesuits. They can be shaped and molded for the best. Educators see themselves as failures when they see that there is no expected growth and development in students. They find themselves powerless to guide the students. If the Ignatian Mirror is introduced into today’s educational system, there will hopefully be a sea change in all aspects of student life.

The Incident Ray which is the grace of God will make students feel that they are children of God despite all their limitations. This will give them self-esteem. They will accept themselves as they are.

The Reflected Ray will keep them in touch with their own religious and cultural practices by helping them to stay rooted in their traditions. It will also encourage them to respect other religious and cultural practices. They will be focused on the principle, the aims and the objectives of their life – and will thus remain connected with themselves, the world and God.

The Refracted Ray will allow them to face life’s challenges instead of running away from them. They will emerge as bold and confident leaders for society and the nation as a whole.

They will broaden their perspective on reality using the Ignatian mirror, which is based on the law of reflection, thus helping to create a harmonious society. They will relate to all of humanity without any discrimination of color, caste or creed. They will become others-centered and service-oriented. Education will therefore forge an education system that promotes justice, reconciliation and peace.


Author Pramod Kumar is a second year student at St Aloysius Institute of Education, Mangaluru

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