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In Wonder, Love and Praise

Approaches to Poetry, Theology and Philosophy

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Edited By Martin Potter, Malgorzata Grzegorzewska and Jean Ward

This collection of essays explores poetry’s contribution to the expression of theological wonder, which can occur both in ordinary life and in the natural world or can arise in the context of explicitly supernatural mystical experience. Poets have a special role in capturing religious awe in ways beyond the power of discursive language. Some essays in this book approach the subject on a theoretical level, working with theology, philosophy and literary criticism. Others provide close readings of poems in which the engagement with a variously understood idea or experience of wonder is prominent, from the English-language tradition and outside it. Poets from culturally and historically different backgrounds are thus drawn together through the focus on the meaning of wonder.

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The Hermeneutical Circle: Between Mystery and Wonder in the First Spiritual Experience of Ignatius of Loyola

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Abstract: The essay presents the relation between mystery and wonder in the first spiritual experience of Ignatius of Loyola: the Mystery acting in the feelings of his subconscious, spiritual self. This experience he later considers to be the beginning of his conscious relationship with God. Reflecting on it leads to a radical transformation of his life and to the inner interpretation of God’s Presence in the Spiritual Diary.

Keywords: hermeneutics, mystery, wonder, spiritual experience, Ignatius of Loyola

The relation between mystery and wonder manifests itself in the first spiritual experience of Ignatius of Loyola through an intuition which makes him aware of a phenomenon which causes wonder in him. He realises that opposite feelings are awaking in him alternately, as a result of the stories that he is reading. What can be said about this phenomenon? What I want to suggest here is an interpretation of the very phenomenon of wonder in Ignatius: the Mystery acting in the feelings of his subconscious, spiritual self.

1 The Phenomenon

First of all, we need to understand what his religious attitude was prior to that experience of wonder in him. As he states at the beginning of his autobiography (written in the third person):

Until the age of twenty-six he was a man given up to the vanities of the world, and his chief delight used to be in the exercise of arms, with a great and vain desire to...

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