Jul 31 – Memorial for St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
St. Ignatius (1491-1556) was wounded in the leg by a cannonball at the siege of Pampeluna on 20 May 1521, an injury that left him partially crippled for life. During his recuperation the only books he had access to were The Golden Legend, a collection of lives of the saints, and the Life of Christ by Ludolph the Carthusian. These books, and the time spent in contemplation, changed him.
On his recovery he took a vow of chastity, hung his sword before the altar of the Virgin of Montserrat, and donned a pilgrim’s robes. He lived in a cave for a year, contemplating the way to live a Christian life. His meditations, prayers, visions and insights led to forming the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus.
- Patron Saint Index
1 Cor 10:31 – 11:1
none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions
COVID-19 has upended my entire life routine. Every domain of my life — spiritual, professional, personal, emotional and intellectual, has been touched by the measures taken to combat this virus. In some ways, I believe that this was probably similar to what St Ignatius went through when he had to rest after sustaining an injury from a battle. Convalescence has an incredible ability to enable one to re-evaluate one’s priorities in life. Indeed there are similarities between this period of St Ignatius’s life and our present period.
COVID-19 has stripped us of all the possessions that we hold dearly in our lives. The need to wear nice clothes, display the latest mobile phone we have or even the need to display on our social media profiles what we have eaten for the day. The time spent at home has allowed me to make the effort to read Scripture and spiritual books. It has made me discover the joy of being at peace with God. In fact, it has allowed me to re-centre my life towards Jesus. This period of time made me discover what it means to be aligned towards what is important in one’s life — that of being a child of God. The flow of one’s life’s activities is directed towards glorifying God, but it has to draw from the strength of Jesus. The saying that absence makes the heart fonder is really true during this COVID-19 period as it has prevented many from receiving the Sacraments. The reception of Holy Communion, which many used to take for granted, has now become difficult for some to do so. What then can we do to overcome the inability to receive the Sacraments? Again, St Ignatius of Loyola shows us the way.
The suffix SJ comes from Latin and it means ‘Societas Iesu’. St Ignatius, together with 6 other companions, gathered together because Christ had brought them together. However, it is the Spanish name which I feel a stronger connection to. St Ignatius and companions had called themselves Compañía de Jesús or ‘Company of Jesus’ — they saw themselves as companions of Jesus in their mission on earth. Another name which the group went by was also Amigos en El Señor or ‘Friends in the Lord’. Indeed, during this difficult time where we are unable to receive the Sacraments, the importance of small Christian communities has proven valuable. These communities need not be tied down to geography in this day and age but instead, could be friends who are linked by a common intention and purpose.
As friends of the Lord Jesus, we are called to deepen our relationship with Him through prayer. St Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises are the most suitable for each one of us, as being in the solitude of our home allows us to experience the consolations and desolations of our life. For those of us whose life has been restored, I would recommend the Examen. It is an indispensable tool for people working in a busy world, because it helps us to identify how God was working through every activity in our life and how we can offer the emotions to our Lord.
In this period of COVID-19, this inward journey towards discovering the inner purpose of our life guides our actions in life. St Ignatius has left an indelible mark in the history of the Catholic Church by showing us the way. His spirituality has transformed the lives of many men and women because he believed that every small act we do, if it is with the right intention, can be used for the greater glory of God. Let us take time to pause and reflect how our words and actions today can help direct people to see the face of Jesus through us in their daily lives.
(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: St Ignatius, pray for us
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the educational institutes that have formed our minds to be ready to handle the demands of this world.