The concept of begging is multifaceted. When seen through the lens of anthropology and sociology, begging is associated with material poverty, which on one hand, involves moral and ethical questions. On the other hand, earlier religions and philosophies believe and teach that begging instills virtue and a deeper understanding of oneself in relation to the world. However, in Ignatian spirituality, particularly in the Spiritual Exercises, begging for a particular grace before entering into every prayer period proper to each week is essential.
The Spiritual Exercises is not devoid of the influence of the prevailing Christian traditions during Ignatius’ time. Thus, this study revisited Ignatius’ historical and religious milieu to identify the dominant influences that led to the incorporation of begging in Ignatian spirituality and prayer. This study further entails reexamining and analyzing Ignatius’ concept of grace. In the realm of spirituality, the radical dependence on divine providence by the mendicant orders and the affective element of Devotio Moderna greatly influenced Ignatius’ way of life and prayer. This made the Spiritual Exercises not just an ordinary cerebral activity but an affective and imaginative endeavor.
Theologically, begging in the Spiritual Exercises involves an attitude of reliance on grace. While the human soul has the natural inclination for God, it needs grace to make it all the more possible to recognize and communicate with God. On looking closely, this Thomistic concept of grace magnifies the necessity of grace in the Spiritual Exercises. Ultimately, the theology of begging can be summarized by the word desire, a holy desire. It is the desire of God and for God and, eventually, desiring to be with God. This attitude in prayer hopes to facilitate an encounter with God and enter into the mysteries of Christ, leading one to follow, love, and eventually serve Him.