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St Ignatius of Loyola

Today is the liturgical memorial of one of the most influential saints of the 16th century, Saint Ignatius of Loyola. His clarity of thought, his discernment of Spirits and determination to serve the Lord in everything is what set the world on fire with a new charism.

Our moment-to-moment task is to keep the Divine Name on our lips “His Name is like fire burning in my heart” (see Jeremiah 20:8), we ought to do everything to serve and love. By no other name are saved but Jesus’.

The Spiritual Exercises are a great gift to the Church; his rules of discernment, contemplation on Divine Love, and thinking with the Church are key to the spiritual life.

In the 16the century Loyola wanted to serve the Lord in model of Saint Dominic and Saint Francis; what ended up happening was a renewal in the manner by which the Church is apostolic — and he (and his spiritual sons had great success until the 1960s. Today, mentioning the word Jesuit is to say “I follow a left-leaning agenda.” One can think of various theologians, philosophers, writers and pastoral ministers who are ordained and professed members of the Society of Jesus. The disasters in ministry, hence, orchestrated by the Jesuits has been scandalous.

We need Loyola and the true beauty of the Society of Jesus; we need real men; we need men who will sacrifice themselves for the greater glory of God; we need Jesuits who will preach the received Gospel and to administer the sacraments according the to mind and heart of the Church. What we don’t need is the faithless Jesuits who do not think with the Church and follow closely what their sainted founder (and the patrimony of saints and blesseds) set out to do for Christ Jesus and His Church.

Saint Ignatius Loyola, pray for us!

St Ignatius of Loyola

Ignatius LoyolaFrom the life of Saint Ignatius from his own words by Luis Gonzalez

Ignatius was passionately fond of reading worldly books of fiction and tales of knight-errantry. When he felt he was getting better, he asked for some of these books to pass the time. But no book of that sort could be found in the house; instead they gave him a life of Christ and a collection of the lives of saints written in Spanish.

By constantly reading these books he began to be attracted to what he found narrated there. Sometimes in the midst of his reading he would reflect on what he had read. Yet at other times he would dwell on many of the things which he had been accustomed to dwell on previously. But at this point our Lord came to his assistance, insuring that these thoughts were followed by others which arose from his current reading.

While reading the life of Christ our Lord or the lives of the saints, he would reflect and reason with himself: “What if I should do what Saint Francis or Saint Dominic did?” In this way he let his mind dwell on many thoughts; they lasted a while until other things took their place. Then those vain and worldly images would come into his mind and remain a long time. This sequence of thoughts persisted with him for a long time.

But there was a difference. When Ignatius reflected on worldly thoughts, he felt intense pleasure; but when he gave them up out of weariness, he felt dry and depressed. Yet when he thought of living the rigorous sort of life he knew the saints had lived, he not only experienced pleasure when he actually thought about it, but even after he dismissed these thoughts, he still experienced great joy. Yet he did not pay attention to this, nor did he appreciate it until one day, in a moment of insight, he began to marvel at the difference. Then he understood his experience: thoughts of one kind left him sad, the others full of joy. And this was the first time he applied a process of reasoning to his religious experience. Later on, when he began to formulate his spiritual exercises, he used this experience as an illustration to explain the doctrine he taught his disciples on the discernment of spirits.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

11828778_10153075513727749_8027644221796258258_nBlessed Feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola!

“After we experience the great peace of knowing God’s love for us, which quiets our anxieties and insecurities, we find another deep desire stirring within us. We desire greatness because we are made for greatness.”

Here is a primer on the saint.

Saint Joan de Lestonnac 

St Joan de LestonnacYou know you are in the digital age when you learn about a saint that has an interesting place in people’s lives. This morning I learned of one of today’s liturgical memorials: St. Joan de Lestonnac.

According to a biographer, Saint Joan “was born in Bordeaux, France, in 1556. She married at the age of seventeen. The happy marriage produced four children, but her husband died suddenly in 1597. After her children were raised, she entered the Cistercian monastery at Toulouse [at the age of 46]. Joan was forced to leave the Cistercians when she became afflicted with poor health. She returned to Bordeaux with the idea of forming a new congregation, and several young girls joined her as novices. They ministered to victims of a plague that struck Bordeaux, and they were determined to counteract the evils of heresy promulgated by Calvinism. Thus was formed the Order of the Company of Mary our Lady of Bordeaux. In 1608, Joan and her companions received the religious habit from the Archbishop of Bordeaux. Joan was elected superior in 1610, and many miracles occurred at her tomb. She was canonized in 1949 by Pope Pius XII.”

One interesting point for me is that Saint Joan’s concern for souls lost to Calvinism was aided by members of the Society of Jesus. Another biographer writes:

“Two Jesuit priests, Fathers de Bordes and Raymond, whilst they celebrated Mass, received an understanding that they should assist in founding an order to counteract the surrounding heresies and that Joan must be the first superior.  The rule and constitutions of the Order were founded on those of St. Ignatius and the first house was opened in the Holy Ghost priory at Bordeaux.”

AND, “Finally, her great love shown by her patient example even whilst she was being emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and physically abused, with her reputation being ruined as a result of lies and hatred, she still remained firm in her Faith and love of God, even converting the person who was so mean and cruel to her.  Let us remember the extraordinary example of this beautiful and incredible woman always!  St. Joan is a true feminist, true to her Faith, true to her abilities and never afraid to love, even her most vicious enemies!  God be praised for this magnificent lady!”

Saint Joan’s body, as a sign of holiness, remains incorrupt.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Ignatius at ManresaThe Church liturgically recalls for us one of the Master’s of the spiritual life, Saint Ignatius of Loyola. The Pilgrim died in 1556 and was the author of the Spiritual Exercises and founder of the Society of Jesus.

It may be a little early to speak of a commemoration for the 500th anniversary of the Spiritual Exercises, but it may be good to keep this anniversary in mind. 2022 is the year when we will study and live the foundational experiences of Ignatius in Manresa. This picture shows Ignatius in awe in meeting the Lord as he writes his religious experience that gave rise to him following his vocation with prayerful  intensity. Do we have a similar conviction as Ignatius?

This 2008 animation of an Olive, gives a sense of the life Saint Ignatius of Loyola, written, produced and narrated by Jason Kapell of the Fairfield University Media Center. It is nicely done –remember it is short and sweet with a Spanish Olive narrating.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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