Monday, July 31, 2006

St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us!

Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous, to serve you as you deserve. To give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to laber and not to ask for reward except that of knowing that I am doing your will. AMEN

-St. Ignatius of Loyola

Spain was a country of reformers of religous life. At the time of the Protestant reformation while St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross were reforming the Carmelites, St. Ignatius founded the Society of Jesus, another important reform order.

St. Ignatius wanted to be a soldier and he was wounded in his first major battle. While he was recovering from being hit by a canon ball, he wanted to read stories of chivalry, but the only books on hand were a book about teh life of Jesus and some about the saints. After reading these he had a burning desire to do more with his life. He recovered from his wound and one day found a moore (a muslim man) and tried to convert him to Christianity. Ignatius was not successful and as he was riding away he thought about killing the man. His donkey was at a fork in the road and he said "if the donkey goes right I will try to kill the man. If he goes left I will not." The donkey chose left and took him to a shrine of Our Lady.

Later, Ignatius gathered some men together and formed the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits. They were a controversial order because in their constitutions Ignatius insisted that the members not be required to assemble in choir seven times each day to pray the breviary. He said that private recitation would be more conducive toward engaging the world. The Jesuit order also took a 4th vow of obedience to the pope. Later, the order was suppressed by a pope and though it was reinstated it never totally recovered.

The Jesuits produced many saints. The North American martyrs (St. Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf and their companions), St. Francis Xavier, St. Robert Bellarmine, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga were all Jesuits. The order also were pioneers in seismology (predicting earthquakes). St. Ignatius was an essential part of the counter-reformation and a master of the spiritual life. He wrote the Spiritual Exercises that are still used to this very day as a model for retreats.

Let us pray that through the intercession of St. Ignatius, the charism of the Jesuit order will carried out through its members in the world today.


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