Today’s post begins a series by Fr. Michael Schleupner about Saint Ignatius of Loyola. This reflection is a great introduction to the priest behind Ignatian spirituality and the foundation of the Jesuits. Several retreats about St. Ignatius are offered at our center each year too and this summer will feature our first 8-day Ignatian Directed Retreat (click here). Fr. Mike’s reflection is followed by popular prayer by St. Ignatius. Let’s take a few quiet moments to learn more and to pray…
Saint Ignatius of Loyola – 1
Some of us have been educated at Jesuit universities, and probably many more of us have encountered Jesuit priests when attending Mass or on other occasions. This religious community of priests, formally titled the Society of Jesus, was founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola.
Ignatius was born in 1491 in an area called Loyola, located in the Basque country of northern Spain. Through family connections, Ignatius secured a position in a royal court and soon also became a soldier in the military. He sought distinction and honor as a soldier and, in these young years, he was also what we would call a lady’s man.
Ignatius was seriously injured in a battle in 1521 and it took him a full year to recover. During this time, he read a life of Christ and a book on the saints – not because he wanted to read them, but because they were the only books available where we was convalescing.
Ignatius realized that a change, a conversion was taking place within him. He was finding a joy and comfort in the thought of giving his life to God that he had not found anywhere else in his thirty years of life.
When his recovery was more or less complete, Ignatius laid down his armor and sword and made a lengthy retreat. During this, he began keeping notes which would eventually lead to his masterful work, The Spiritual Exercises.
Eventually, he began his studies for the priesthood – in Barcelona and then in Paris. Others, like Saint Francis Xavier, were attracted to Ignatius’ vision and joined him in forming the Society of Jesus. The eleven of them were ordained to the priesthood in 1537. They took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and eventually a fourth vow that is distinct to the Jesuits, the vow of obedience to the Pope in matters related to their mission. Ignatius was chosen as the superior of the Society and led them until his death in 1556.
~Father Michael Schleupner
More from Fr. Mike on Ignatius of Loyola will appear on our blog next week too.
Prayer to Know God’s Will
May it please the supreme and divine Goodness
to give us all abundant grace
ever to know his most holy will
and perfectly to fulfill it.
~St. Ignatius of Loyola