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Mangaluru: We know what a mirror is. We use it in our day-to-day life. In elementary school we all learned about the mirror in detail. So, we know that the mirror follows “the laws of reflection” which state that when a ray of light is made to fall on the reflecting surface, the incident ray, the reflective ray and the normal to the surface of the mirror all lie in the same plane, and that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.

But you must be wondering what this “Ignatian Mirror” is. What is special about it? The Ignatian Mirror is nothing but the resemblance of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. It too follows the law of reflection. We shall see it in stages as follows:

· Incident Ray

· Reflected Ray

· Normal Ray

· Refracted Ray

· Angle of Incidence

· Angle of Reflection

· 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 help of particular and daily examen, general examen and general confession. It reveals who we are and how we stand naked before the mirror. We observe ourselves and experience God’s love. We feel grateful to God for having created us in his image and likeness. God accepts us with all our limitations without judging anyone.

Reflected Ray :

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

Normal Ray :

The Normal in the Ignatian Mirror stands for the Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises which state that we are created to praise, reverence and serve God. It keeps us oriented and focused to meet the end.

Refracted Ray :

The Refracted Ray in the Ignatian Mirror reveals abnormality. It is true that every incident ray gets reflected but there is a possibility of refraction as well. In the Ignatian Mirror we learn this in the Third and Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises, The Passion and Resurrection of the Son of God point to the fact that Jesus could have escaped suffering and death and continued his normal life. Refraction makes him fully human – seen in his embracing the cross and rising to new life. Life and death are complimentary realities. Where there is death, there is life. In Jesus’ own words, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself 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 lead to contemplation to attain God’s Love. The Spiritual Exercises start with the experience of God’s Love and end or continue with contemplation on Love. It helps us to realize that love is shown in deeds rather than in words. It is the mutual sharing of goods.

It is this Ignatian Mirror which makes the Jesuits rather 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 is not a book to be read but exercises to be performed by the exercitant. The dynamism of the Jesuits springs from this source. That explains why the Jesuits departed from the traditional practices of monastic life. They came out with the principles of “contemplation in action” and Magis. It means that all we do must be done for the Greater Glory of God.

If the Ignatian Mirror can be so effective for the Jesuits, it is sure to impact the lives of each and every person, particularly of the students who are formed by the Jesuits. They can be shaped and moulded for the better. The educators see themselves as failures when they see there is no expected growth and development in students. They find themselves helpless in guiding the students. If the Ignatian Mirror is introduced in today’s educational system there will, hopefully, be a drastic change in every aspect of the students’ lives.

The Incident Ray which is the grace of God will make the students feel that they are children of God in spite of 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 helping them to remain rooted in their traditions. This will make them respect other religious and cultural practices as well. They will be focused on the principle, aims and objectives of their life – and thus remain connected with themselves, the world and God.

The Refracted Ray will enable them to face the challenges of life instead of running away from them. They will emerge as bold and confident leaders for society and nation at large.

They will broaden their perspectives about reality with the help of the Ignatian Mirror, which is based on the law of reflection, thus helping in the creation of a harmonious society. They will relate with the whole humanity without any discrimination of color, caste or creed. They will become other-centered and service-oriented. Education, therefore, will forge an educational system that fosters justice, reconciliation and peace.


The author Pramod Kumar is a IInd Year Student at St Aloysius Institute of Education, Mangaluru

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