• 31 Jul 20

Jul 31 - “St. Ignatius Loyola” © icon by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM. Happy Feast Day St. Ignatius!

Ignatius Loyola was the son of a Basque Nobleman. He spent his early adult years as a soldier, until he was seriously wounded in a battle with the French. Forced to confront himself during his lengthy recovery, he ended his military career and embraced the poverty of a pilgrim. After a trip to Jerusalem, he returned to Europe and began academic studies.

His experiences during his conversion and afterwards convinced him that human beings were meant to have a direct encounter with God. Many people came to him for spiritual direction, even before he was ordained a priest. After reflecting on his own experiences, he developed what he called the Exercises, as an aid for others to encounter God directly and discern God’s will in their lives. In fact, his first seven followers gathered around him as a result of going through the Exercises with him.

He and his followers felt at first that they were called to work as missionaries in Palestine. When this proved impossible, they placed themselves at the service of the Pope. Called the Society of Jesus, they eventually became one of the most influential Catholic religious orders. Ignatius intended them to follow the poor and humble Jesus, serving without power, on the fringes of society and the church.

In this icon, Ignatius is inviting us to enter silently into God’s presence, to encounter God within our hearts. He reminds us of our constant need to discern the spirit of our times and God’s will in our lives.