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|Description||The Way was first published in 1961. When it was launched,
Fr General Janssens described its objectives in the following terms:
The review of spirituality soon to be launched should certainly treat sometimes of Christian spirituality as such and of other, non-Ignatian schools; but a Jesuit review ought principally, even if not exclusively, to promote the spirituality of the Society. The lack of such studies in the English language is truly very sad: everything at present available on the Exercises of St Ignatius is a translation from other languages, and I fear that many of Ours have no deep understanding and appreciation of the Exercises. It is highly desirable that the new review should foster such knowledge and appreciation of the spirituality of the Society among both Ours and others. 1
Whether this desire on his part coincided with that of the founding fathers, principally James Walsh, a noted medievalist, is perhaps a matter to be investigated further. James’ interests ranged far more widely, and he was a specialist in Cisterican authors and in Julian of Norwich. Certainly Ignatian topics featured relatively rarely in the early issues. It was really with the foundation of The Way Supplement in the mid 1960s that a significant stream of bbbbs covering Ignatian topics began to appear, though they were always only one element in a mixture of various elements. Material produced on the Exercises in the 1970s and 1980s is still regularly read.
In 1969, the editors refocused, even relaunched the project, though the difference between The Way in the 1960s and 1970s does not appear, with thirty years’ hindsight, very arked. The editors seemed aware that Vatican II’s liturgical and biblical renewal had given a salutary shock to Christian complacency,
. . . and nowhere more thoroughly than in the naive belief that all that was needed were certain running repairs. Frequently, the removal of the cracked paintwork has revealed that the woodwork underneath was rotten. 2
They announced the abandonment of purely biblical themes, and that each issue would focus on an ‘area of concern’. They felt some need to begin from contemporary experience rather than from the classical texts of tradition.
Throughout the 1970s, The Way and increasingly The Way Supplement did much to service the Ignatian renewal, and to help religious women in particular appropriate the insights of Vatican II. In the mid 1970s there was a brief attempt to set up a community of Jesuits and religious sisters around The Way and the ministry of the Exercises. It was relatively quickly dissolved, however, partly because of serious demands on the members, partly because of serious reservations on the part of Jesuit superiors at the time. The vital support throughout this period of Denise Critchley-Salmonson, the Editorial Assistant, should be remembered with great gratitude and honour.
By the early 1980s, James Walsh’s health was beginning to fail considerably (he died in 1986). The Way became part of an Institute of Spirituality established at Heythrop College, University of London, and the editorship was entrusted to David Lonsdale and Philip Sheldrake, who were later joined by Lavinia (originally Sr Oliver) Byrne. In this period, one notes an increasing ecumenical sensitivity and also a strong concern that The Way not simply resource consecrated life, but rather serve as a help to thoughtful Christians in all walks of life. The setting within a university college also influenced the tone and presentation of the journal. The Ignatian inspiration found its most obvious expression in annual issues of The Way Supplement.
In 1992, the pattern of operation changed again. Mrs Jacqueline Hawkins worked as executive editor, supported by three general editors whose principal role lay in teaching and research—a role which Philip Sheldrake inaugurated before handing it on to Philip Endean (1994-6) and to Michael Barnes (1996-2001). Michael Barnes, a frequent contributor since the mid 1970s brought to the journal a special interest in interfaith questions.
In 2001, as Mrs Hawkins’ time on the journal came to an end, it was decided to move The Way from Heythrop to its present home, Campion Hall, Oxford. Philip Endean was asked to take on its leadership, with a view to preparing a relaunch in 2003, and to developing the journal to the point that it could be directed by one Jesuit working part-time. The Way Supplement was wound up, and The Way appeared as ‘a journal of spirituality published by the British Jesuits’. Illustrations began to appear, and it came to understand itself explicitly as an Ignatian journal of spirituality: in other words, as a journal which ranged beyond the Ignatian heritage, but always in an Ignatian spirit of a discerning search for God’s leading in the range of human experience.
Its present mission statement is as follows:
The Way is an international journal of contemporary Christian spirituality, published quarterly by the British Jesuits. Through writing informed by critical and creative scholarship, it aims to provide a forum in which thoughtful Christians, from different walks of life and different traditions, can reflect on God’s continuing action in human experience. Among particular concerns of The Way are:
• the role of spirituality in the struggle for justice
• the spiritual issues raised by intercultural and interreligious dialogue
• the interactions between spirituality, politics and culture
• the fostering and development of the Ignatian spiritual tradition
The public the journal currently is seeking to reach could be described as educated people who are somehow nourished by Ignatian spirituality, and who value the use of Ignatian ideas in making sense of their Christian experience. It serves people who are dedicated and yet questioning in their approach to Christianity. Some of these are, of course, lay persons, though even among those there would be a high proportion of people professionally involved in Christian ministry. Outside the UK, the readership is largely institutional and Roman Catholic. Within the UK, there are significant lay and ecumenical elements in the readership.
At present it is almost policy not to plan very much in advance. Authors are likely to write better on topics which they choose themselves. A stress is the use of the English language to disseminate good material in other Ignatian journals beyond the language in which they first appeared.
Three of the four issues each year are put together from material submitted as it comes in. As material appears, connecting threads suggest themselves, and there may then be some short-term planning to enhance the coherence of the issue. There is an annual Special Number, continuing the tradition of The Way Supplement, containing 12 or so essays centred round a particular theme. In 2006 the issue will be ‘Relationships In God’, marking the jubilees of Ignatius, Favre and Xavier by exploring the theme of relationships in the spiritual life. In 2007, the theme is ‘Spirituality and Social Transformation’. We no longer publish Supplements, but we have begun to use print-ondemand technology to publish worthwhile specialist books on Ignatian topics that would not find a commercial publisher.
Editor: Philip Endean SJ
Deputy Editor: Roger Dawsonn SJ
Editor Consultant: Joseph A. Munitiz SJ
Assistant Editor: Elizabeth Lock
Editorial Staff: Peter Brook SJ, Deborah Jones, Julian Lock, Ruby Murphy, Kate Kirkpatrick.
Supported by a Board of Management, a group of Editorial Advisers, and an international group of Editorial Correspondents.
1 Johannes Baptist Janssens to Philip Caraman, 1 January 1960, cited and translated in John Coventry, ‘The Way 1981-1986’ Letters and Notices(a private publication of the British Jesuit province), 87/3 (Easter 1986), pp. 117-128, here p. 128.
2 The Way, 9 (1969), pp. 259-266.