Ignatian Discernment

Today's Feast reminded me of an entertaining story about St. Ignatius; it has been told and retold to the extent that its original author can perhaps no longer be known, but I heard it first when I was a Jesuit novice, from the great Fr. Vinny O'Keefe, S.J.  It goes something like this:

In the entrance to the Jesuit headquarters in Rome is a statue of St. Ignatius which greets all visitors.  At its base is a Latin inscription of the words Ignatius is purported to have said to Francis Xavier and his companions upon their departure for India: Ite Inflammate Omnia ("go forth, and set the world on fire").  If one pauses to reflect on this inspiring mandate, and to pray to the Society's founder for the grace to participate more fully in that mission, one might notice a small detail.

Bracketed to the wall nearby is... a fire extinguisher.

In other words, even the most intense evangelical zeal can use a little common sense.  Good story, but is it true?  As the Italians would say, Se non e vero, e ben trovato...


Jim Keane, S.J.

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