The Feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola
The readings from the Jesuit Lectionary use the gospel which identifies Jesus wanting to light a fire on the earth. Of course Jesus was not an arsonist, his words meant the fire of his love which would “burn” and therefore transform the hearts of men and women towards the love of God. One his maxims became the energizing motto for many Jesuits: Ite Inflamante Omnia go and set all on fire.
The “all:” for the Jesuits included the newly discovered lands of North and South America, India, Africa, and eastern Asia. It also included working with the poor of Rome and the starving of Naples. Ignatius saw that the “all:” that needed to be consumed by the fire of God’s love embracing every dynamic of human existence. Barriers that once divided the “spiritual:” from the mundane were consumed by these flames and Jesuits took from the flames the bricks from the old walls and made bridges between the secular and the spiritual and by doing so attempted to create a world inspired by the singular goal of moving all to the Greater Glory and Honor of God.
We may look at our humble means, our lack of time, and our age and wonder if we can even strike a match. Such talk never entered the mind of the saint whose feast we celebrate today. One did what one could and constantly looked for means to do just a bit more, knowing that God judges us on direction not distance.
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.