As we wind down these last days of July, we celebrate the Feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Saint Ignatius of Loyola was born into a noble Spanish family. As a young boy he was greatly interested in doing mighty things. He dreamed of being a knight and of serving his country. He longed to prove his skills in battle and after receiving his education he participated in several fighting campaigns before receiving an injury that was so severe that it nearly crippled him. It was during these days of recuperation, that he had his first significant encounter with Christ and the saints. As he was restricted to bed, he had much time on his hands, and the only books available to him were books about the lives of saints and a book called “The Life of Christ,” by Ludolph the Carthusian. These books changed him forever and after much contemplation he abandoned his former life. He took the vow of chastity and hung his sword before the alter of the Blessed Mother. He left his wealthy estate and lived in a cave as he contemplated what it meant to live a Christian life.
In 1523 he traveled to Rome, working to convert Muslims to Christianity. He spent many years traveling and studying theology, receiving his degree in 1534. Over the years, Ignatius became an expert in the art of spiritual direction. He wrote his insights and prayers into books offering guidance, called The Spiritual Exercises. His book is one of the most influential books ever written. He was also graced with visions and insights which led him to the creation of the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus on August 15, 1534. It received papal approval in 1541.
As faithful Catholics, we should look deeper into the life of this great saint, who was able to break free from the distractions of the world…however good he originally thought them to be…And after being struck with a severe injury …. He was finally able to humble himself and resigned himself to doing the Will of God. Then with grace from God, Saint Ignatius was able to use his intellect and develop a spiritual exercise that would help others understand that God’s love for them is deep and unconditional, but that it requires of man a total response. He also was able to show others that there is a battle being waged for their souls, and that by allowing themselves to become united with Christ they could avoid the temptations of the devil and find complete joy with the Lord.
“Act as if everything depended on you; trust as if everything depended on God.”
― St. Ignatius of Loyola
“God freely created us so that we might know, love, and serve him in this life and be happy with him forever. God’s purpose in creating us is to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth, so that we may attain our goal of everlasting happiness with him in heaven.
All the things in this world are gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know him better, love him more surely, and serve him more faithfully.
As a result, we ought to appreciate and use these gifts of God insofar as they help us toward our goal of loving service and union with God. But insofar as any created things hinder our progress toward our goal, we ought to let them go.”
―St. Ignatius of Loyola
“If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint. And if you wish to become a great saint, entreat Him yourself to give you much opportunity for suffering; for there is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for His own great sacrifice of boundless charity.”
― St. Ignatius of Loyola
Prayer of Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Receive, O Lord, all my liberty. Take my memory. Receive my memory, understanding, and entire will. Whatsoever I have or hold, Thou hast given it: I give all back to Thee, and commit it wholly to be governed by Thy will. Thy love and Thy grace give unto me, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more. Amen.