A very happy and blessed Feast of St. Ignatius to all of you, especially to my Jesuit brethren out there. May the spirit of Ignatius continue to confirm you in your vocation, to inspire you in your life and your work, and to walk with you in finding God in all things.
Probably every Jesuit blogger and his mom will write something, if they haven't already, about today's feast day, so I might as well join in on the fun!
In his homily today, Fr. Pat Lee, the provincial of the Oregon Province and one of the Jesuits I have most come to admire, referred to Ignatius as a pilgrim, as a friend, and as a mystic. Ignatius often referred to himself as the pilgrim--he saw his life as an ever-present journey in search of God, God who gave him a heart of fire, God who gave him ultimate meaning in his life. Every moment, every breath was an encounter with Divine Mystery. He had tremendous faith that God was always present--it was just a matter of having the right way of looking, of disposing himself to always place himself within God's embrace. This pilgrimage, in a sense, was an essential part of Ignatius' mysticism. Ignatius' monastery was the world, and he sought to find God every step that he took. Jesuits are to thrust themselves into the heart of society, to carry Christ deep within their hearts wherever they go, especially in those places of great hurt and despair. Especially there, we have the ability to bring hope to the world.
Ignatius grew in great friendship with his Jesuit brothers, but arguably one of his closest, and earliest, companions on this pilgrimage was St. Francis Xavier. If you read some of the letters that Ignatius writes to Xavier while Xavier is away on mission, you can sense a deep fraternal love that they have for one another. As friends in the Lord, they were able to be very open and honest with each other, to share about how God was moving in their lives, probably to also express their regrets, concerns, or struggles that they were facing throughout the day. In the example of Ignatius, I think all Jesuits are called to develop these deep, personal relationships with one another. Not necessarily that we need to do this with every single person we meet, but, particularly as celibate men, we need good, healthy relationships where we can share in the same way that Ignatius and Francis shared with one another.
Finally, we are not called Ignatians, but Jesuits. Of course, throughout history, that term has received a lot of criticism and has been quite the pejorative, but Ignatius wanted it this way because he felt it so important that Jesuits place their focus on Christ, not on himself. Our Jesuit way of proceeding, our formation throughout all of our lives, is to create ourselves more and more into His image, to love the world as He did, with meekness, gentleness, and humility.
Well, many Jesuits from around the province will be heading out to Hayden Lake to spend St. Ignatius day together, and I will be heading out there shortly as well. Again, a very blessed St. Ignatius day to you all. May our founder continue to strengthen us on our journey, to direct us into greater imitation and service for our world. AMDG