Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ignatius of Loyola - Priest, pastor

Most of us know St. Ignatius for the Spiritual Exercises.  His life though is a careful study of conversion and interior transformation.  The founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius was born into a noble Basque family in the late 19th century.  While the family was said to be catholic, it becomes apparent in his writings that there was no practice of the faith.  Pursuing a military career, Ignatius was seriously wounded in battle.  During his recovery he read the life of Christ, and of the saints.  Overwhelmed by these texts he determined to devote his life to Christ.

Now Ignatius lived during a very broken time of the Church.  After the split of the Church in the middle part of the 16th century, the Holy Father invited Ignatius begin an order which would catechize and evangelize as part of the post reformation process.  So with St. Francis Xavier, and six others, the Jesuit order was born.  For the Jesuits the motto, "For the greater glory of God," guided their ministry and their work. 

Ignatius understood, quite personally, how our human desires could direct the human heart wrongly.  For Ignatius we had to constantly discern our response to the many people and situations we would find ourselves encountering.  Like St. Paul, the cross became the instrument which would guide us throughout our faith journey.  Having a deep intellectual and spiritual encounter with the mystery of faith was very important for Ignatius.

All in all, there was a firm desire, to conform our lives to the will of God.  The divine plan of God was that God chooses, or 'elects' us, and thus we are to be subordinate to the Father's will.  Our response then is to choose God in all of our actions and activities.  Just as in the Letters of St Paul love is not a theory but an action, our response towards the Fathers love for us is in our actions.  As St. Paul indicates to the Corinthians (11:1) "Imitate me as I imitate Christ."  Ignatius would want  us to seek what is advantageous to the Word of God and not ourselves.

This ongoing seeking Christ and pruning away Sin and Evil is the lifestyle which Ignatius would suggest for us.  We are invited to become an instrument (remember not a dish-rag or floor-mat) for the living Christ.  So that all of our works are for the Gory of God and his Kingdom.

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