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Ignatius: The God Seeker | Movie Out Now

Ignatius - The God Seeker

What moves the Jesuits at their core? The classical answer to this question is: “The Spiritual Exercises” of St Ignatius. But what are they about? What happens in the Spiritual Exercises? The film “Ignatius: The God Seeker” attempts to answer these questions with both educational information and compelling imagery and narratives: it speaks to the mind and to the heart.

In his radical quest for God, Ignatius discovers in his mystical experience at the Cardoner river in Spain that God speaks to him not only in scripture and tradition but is truly present in everything. Ignatius systematizes his experiences in his “Spiritual Exercises” into a path for all seekers of God. To this day, the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises are not only the spiritual foundation of Jesuits worldwide but have shaped the relationship with God of thousands of people.

This new and beautifully animated documentary about the founder of the Jesuits reveals his inner quest for God for a broad audience and invites the viewers to become spiritual seekers themselves. God is not to be found by withdrawing from the world, but in its discovery, appreciation, indeed inits loving embrace. This has been the message of the Jesuits through the centuries, a message that can change the Catholic Church to this day, so that it becomes more mystical, more open, more embracing, and above all, more loving. 

Can you really find God in everything? How do I find God’s will for me? The film “Ignatius: The God Seeker” takes up the essential insights and processes of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises and translates them into a compelling and sometimes provocatively vivid visual language. In his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius asks the retreatant to make us of all mental faculties, especially the imagination. True to this Ignatian method, the film uses artistic imagination to activate all mental faculties. There is a theoretical background in psychology at work in this approach. It is the thesis that our subconscious mind is not good at understanding propositional language. It does, however, understand symbols and pictures.

It can be argued that Ignatius in his exercises discovered this psychological fact long before Carl G. Jung spoke about the collective archetypal unconscious, or before more modern psychological approaches discovered the holistic, non-linguistic subconscious information processing in the right hemisphere of the brain. The pictures in the film are meant to speak to the unconscious mind. They are partly based on images created by great painters of Ignatius’ time, like Titian and El Greco. More than trying to intellectually grasp the meaning of those images, the viewer should let them sink into the subconscious mind which is so important for religious knowledge. The rational mind will get nourished by the expert interviews that provide essential knowledge about the Spiritual Exercises.

The film is available in four language versions which were independently produced with experts from the different traditions: English, Italian, Spanish, and German. It was produced in 2023 under the direction of Fr. Christof Wolf SJ and Siegmar Warnecke at Loyola Productions Munich. 

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Godehard Brüntrup

Prof. Dr. Godehard Brüntrup, SJ is a German professor of philosophy and member of the Jesuit Order. He studied philosophy in Munich (together with Philip Clayton) and later got his PhD (on mental causation) in Berlin in 1993. He also holds a degree in Catholic theology. He currently teaches metaphysics and philosophy of mind at the Munich School of Philosophy and St. Louis University. He is one of architects of the revival of panpsychism in analytic philosophy for which he began arguing in his introduction to the mind-body problem in Germany in 1993. This book had a significant impact on German theology where younger scholars began to explore the connections between theology, panpsychism, and panentheism. In 2002, during an extended stay as a visiting professor at Fordham University in New York, he began studying Whitehead and process philosophy and was intrigued by the similarities to his own position. He was then one of the co-founders of the German Whitehead Society and organized a number of conferences on Whitehead and process philosophy in Germany. He also was one of the founders of the German “Whitehead Studien” (Alber Publishers). Funded by the John Templeton Foundation, he was one of the lead researchers in two large international projects in philosophical theology from 2012 to 2019. In this context he argued for a concept of panentheism that was inspired by process theology. For several years now he has been working in interdisciplinary projects with empirical psychologists developing a Whitehead-inspired view of the person as a “process of successive mental integration”. In 2023 co-hosted the 13th International Whitehead Conference on “Whitehead and the History of Philosophy.”