San Ignacio de Loyola.jpgAn often confused issue in Ignatian spirituality as it is formulated by Saint Ignatius of Loyola is the concept of the magis. It can be an elusive but central Ignatian idea. But it doesn’t have to be such. Many writers on Ignatian spirituality say that the magis means the best, the highest, the most that we can do for God. But these writers miss the point because Ignatius doesn’t speak in superlative terms.

The recently departed Jesuit Father Dave Fleming contests this understanding. According to Fleming, the magis is comparative not superlative.  That is, it is the more, not the most.  Holy Father Saint Ignatius meant the magis to be interpreted and thus lived in view of the greater not the greatest.

Father Dave wrote: “Ignatius never works with superlatives.” Fleming explains, “When we want to do the best, we may get frozen. If we want to do what might be better, we might be able to choose.” Thus, there is an emphasis on freedom in this more authentic interpretation of Ignatius than what one gets with using superlative language. Hence, the magis as a comparative applies to everything, not just a select point or two of one’s life. Everything. A complete and sincere gift of self to God, and then to neighbor.