The presence and action of the Spirit has long been a source of hope and suspicion. Prophets, mystics, and charismatics have been hailed as saints or decried as heretics because of the newness, creativity, and inspiration that the Spirit brings. As the sequence Veni Sancte Spiritus reminds us, the Spirit is the one the faithful pray to “come,” to be present in the hearts of believers to transform them.
The foundational text of Ignatian spirituality, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, shows an uneasiness in its portrayal of the Holy Spirit, while not ignoring his presence. Other major authors in the Ignatian tradition probe with greater readiness the person and workings of the Holy Spirit. One such author is Louis Lallemant (1578–1635), a French Jesuit, whose Doctrine spirituelle (Spiritual Doctrine [SD]) gives a central place to the Holy Spirit, seen through the lens of his reception by believers. While part of the Ignatian tradition, Lallemant develops this spirituality in a new direction, moving its focus of attention to the quiet guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Lallemant’s work highlights the closeness and multifaceted involvement of the Spirit in the life of believers and their ability to receive the Spirit’s guidance, to share in what is a most essential attribute of God, holiness, and to act in a way modeled after Christ. As such, Lallemant offers a compelling and original contribution to pneumatological reflection in Ignatian spirituality.