Magis

I think life is pointless if you don’t strive for greater things. It’s what propels civilisation forward. During Walt Disney World’s Millennium Celebration back in 2000 one of their theme songs was “We Go On” which celebrates the dreams of tomorrow “built on all that we have done.” The spiritual life (which hopefully informs our everyday life) also builds upon what we’ve learnt and experienced yesterday.

Magis

Ignatian spirituality has this very foundation built right into it. It’s called magis, which is the Latin word for “more”. It comes from two places. First is the Latin phrase ad majorem Dei gloriam, which means “for the greater glory of God”. This phrase is a big part of the Jesuit charism and it inspires us to bring greater glory to God through all that we do. The second inspiration of magis is from the first meditation in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, which is on our sin. After a retreatant reflects on her sin and its effects Ignatius says she should contemplate the following:

“… looking at myself, [I consider] what I have done for Christ, what I am doing for Christ, what I ought to do for Christ.” — Spiritual Exercises [53]

Restless desire
Magis is this desire to do more for Christ, more for the glory of God, more to grow into ourselves. The future for many of us can be daunting and frightening. It’s unknown and uncertain. But when you look at your future in the spirit of magis it becomes exciting. Magis carries with it the spirit of restless desire for greater things, a deeper attentiveness, a deeper spiritual life, and more meaningful relations. Sure, my future may be uncertain, but knowing that I have the chance to shape it in relation to my desires for greater things brings God into the picture.

In the Gospel of Matthew (7:7-11) Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find.” This is God telling us that our seeking will lead to finding. Magis is all about seeking, that seeking is part of human living. “To the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Jesus assures his disciples that God will assist them in their search for greater things.

Applying magis
Our endeavours in all aspects of life—work, relationships, eating, personal health, intellectual stimulation, or entertainment—should live in the spirit of magis. In every decision you make you may ask yourself, “Is this choice bringing goodness to my life and greater glory to God?” And stepping further you can ask, “What more in my work or life or relationships can I do to bring greater good to my life? What more can I do to strengthen my spiritual life? What more can I do to love my neighbour? What might I need to remove from my life to strive for magis?” As I said before, magis is about a restless desire. The point is, you never reach some moment of perfection or finality. Magis is ongoing growth and questioning how we can live bolder, better, and more loving. It’s about greatness in its truest sense – not about personal success or fame. Ultimately, it involves God, that Power and Purpose and Presence beyond our self-contained selves. Magis lets go of fears and lives in freedom.

>> Try praying with the Evening Examen, which ends with a consideration of your own daily magis.

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Music by Kevin MacLeod

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