St. Ignatius’ greatest gift to the world
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This week we’ll take a break from our series on prayer to focus on a person who has helped many people pray, including all listeners of this podcast. In other words, you. Because this week, we mark the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, the Founder of the Society of Jesus, who lived from 1491 to 1556. Most people probably know the Jesuits from the high schools and colleges that we run around the globe, but really the most significant gift to the world from St. Ignatius, as every Jesuit will tell you, is not our network of great schools, but the distinctive spirituality known as “Ignatian spirituality.” Because Ignatius wanted, most of all, to help people encounter God.
That meant that a great deal of his life was spent teaching people how to pray, and also, more broadly, teaching them how to find God in all things. It’s funny—that well-known phrase was not used by Ignatius in his writings that much, but more by the early Jesuits, who were quoting Ignatius, and trying to sum up his way of approaching life: finding God in all things. The daily Examen that you’re about to do was popularized by St. Ignatius for that very reason: because it’s a daily practice that can help you find God in your day to day life.
So today when you do your Examen, and are thinking about God’s activity in your daily life, maybe you can ask help from the one without whom you’d not be praying this prayer at all. St. Ignatius Loyola, pray for us!
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He taught countless others to serve the needy and the downtrodden. Long live the memory of the heroic life of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.
St. Ignatius’ catechesis of prayer is a gift to the Church, a perfect application of the Jesuit charism of obedience, that willingness to listen, the root meaning of obedience, to God’s voice in our daily life.
Since no Christian could exemplify Jesus qualities fully, a theology of the religious orders recognizes that each order holds before the faithful one special characteristic of Jesus: the Jesuits, His obedience; the Franciscans, His poverty; the Marianists, Mary’s formative influence in His life; the Missionary of Charity, Jesus’ corporeal works of Mercy, etc. Hopefully, in faithfulness to their vocation, each religious reflects Jesus in that special way today.
Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. If you ever get to northern Spain, visit the place where it all began. My wife and I did two years ago. There is a free course on the internet on the spirituality of Loyola.
Aside: I told my wife that our vacuum robot is one year old today. We got it last year on July 31 and we named it Iggy in honor of St. Ignatius. Iggy has been helping us clean as well as spiritually ever since. Cleanliness is next to Godliness an old expression said.