A COMPARISON OF CATHERINE OF SIENA'S AND IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA'S TEACHING ON DISCERNMENT

DIANA VILLEGAS, Fordham University

Abstract

The goal of this dissertation is to examine and compare Catherine of Siena's and Ignatius of Loyola's teaching on discernment in order to gain a deeper understanding of the teaching of each author and of the notion of discernment.^ Catherine's teaching on discernment is embedded in her teaching about growth in holiness and is scattered throughout her works, The Dialogue, the letters and the prayers. Catherine is not a systematic writer; rather, she writes in an intricate series of interconnected images that communicate in a symbolic rather than a straightforward, explanatory manner.^ Ignatius' spirituality is fundamentally concerned with discernment in that seeking and finding God is the theme that best characterizes his writings. Ignatius' teaching on discernment is found primarily in The Spiritual Exercises, and also in his Diary, the Constitutions and some of his letters. His writings offer practical advice and succinct principles of spirituality or they describe personal experience.^ The methodology most extensively employed in this study is an examination of primary texts, with careful attention to interpretation. Most valuable to this task of interpretation have been previous historical studies interpreting and describing the spirituality of each of our authors and studies providing historical context. Comparison is the other method used in this study.^ The examination and comparison of our authors' teaching on discernment showed that their teaching varies significantly but the variations are complementary, as they bring out different dimensions of one reality. Catherine focuses on discernment as finding the truth, whereas Ignatius focuses on seeking and finding God's will in terms of concrete major and minor life choices. Catherine's teaching gives a better understanding of what discernment is, whereas Ignatius' teaching is more helpful in understanding how to discern God's will. Ignatius' focus reflects a more masculine consciousness in that it is more discriminating, directive and action oriented. On the other hand, Catherine's focus reflects a more feminine consciousness in that it is more connective, receptive and contemplative.^ Underlying their differences, there are some fundamental similarities: both authors teach that the greater the level of spiritual progress, the more discernment is consonant with truth/God's will. ^

Subject Area

Theology

Recommended Citation

VILLEGAS, DIANA, "A COMPARISON OF CATHERINE OF SIENA'S AND IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA'S TEACHING ON DISCERNMENT" (1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8615716.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8615716

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