Happy feast of St Ignatius!


Happy feast of St Ignatius of Loyola. Today (July 31) is one of my favorite feast days, celebrating the life of a saint of many dimensions. Ignatius was a pilgrim, a mystic, a friend and companion, and also a practical administrator! I was recently thinking how his life encourages us to consider how we also grow on holiness in each of these four ways.

Ignatius was a pilgrim. Some of my close friends have recently returned from a pilgrimage following in the footsteps of Ignatius, and I’ve been lucky enough to have made a trip to the Gesu and the nearby rooms or camerata where Ignatius lived and worked. On my wall at home is an icon of Ignatius laying down his sword at Montserrat, setting aside the life of a nobleman and taking up the life of a friend of Christ, willing to follow God wherever God calls. We also have to put down our own swords and false attachments and follow God as lifelong pilgrims. Each day when I awaken, this icon of Ignatius is one of the first things I see, and it encourages me to trust in God and in God’s ways, not my own limited ideas.

Ignatius was also a mystic and believed that God’s direct and personal communication was possible for everyone, not just specially “chosen” people. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises gave a method for introducing how to pray in a way that facilitates listening to and recognizing God’s presence in the world and in our own interior movements of the heart and mind.

Ignatius was also a companion to Jesus and a friend to others through that shared companionship with Jesus. We also are called to meaningful friendships grounded in a shared love of God and care for all of God’s people.

Last, Ignatius was an administrator for many years later in life. As Jesuits such as Frances Xavier went off to be missionaries in new lands, Ignatius had to discover how new locations of a different sort were being discovered and built up in some very ordinary tasks of running the newly formed Society. His living quarters near the Gesu were not tiny but hardly had the excitement of ship travel to the Far East. As I draw nearer to the fall semester and have to draw up a syllabus, paper topics, and anticipate the first faculty meeting of the year, I’m aware that not all of our own missions are always full of excitement. I love teaching but uploading material to websites, not so much; breaking bread in my home with friends and cooking for them yes, the dishwashing afterwards, less. However, God uses both the exciting and more ordinary aspects of our lives for the good.

As did Ignatius, we can offer every aspect of our lives: the solitary and friend filled, the mystery and the mundane, for God’s greater glory. As long as we are willing to trust in God’s lead, God will use our ordinary, seemingly small lives for the good, too. God is love. God loved and encouraged Ignatius’ contributions and encourages our unique contributions, too.