Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
St. Ignatius was born as Iñigo – yet took the Latin name “Ignatius” later in life, evidently expressing his spiritual affinity for the great doctor, St. Ignatius of Antioch. Between these two saints we can draw a line that also intersects our own day and age. By looking at this briefly, we can see one reason why St. Ignatius of Loyola has so much to say to modern Christians.
In short, both Ignatius of Loyola and his namesake had a singular love for the Incarnation – for the real humanity of Christ. No surprise there, right? While this may seem like humdrum orthodoxy, it is in fact a “pearl of great price.” In the early Church some denied the reality of Christ’s human nature – asserting it is only an illusion. The flip side of this heresy is to say that God’s work in creation has nothing in particular to do with the actual, concrete person of Jesus, and by extension, the actual, concrete Church and Sacraments that He established. All religions or no religion are valid and God is simply a diffuse spiritual force who has left us in the dark to seek meaning all on our own. Does this sound familiar?
Perhaps the most high-profile interpreter of St. Ignatius today is our very own Supreme Pontiff. In his own memorable phrase, Pope Francis warned against the notion of a vague “god spray” that intangibly and diffusely exists on everything and yet nothing in particular. A true Christian, though, believes that God works salvation through Jesus – the Jesus of Nazareth – the One who recruited the Apostles and instituted the Sacraments – that Jesus. Let us always turn our focus and attention on this Jesus, the Son of God. Then we will begin to learn what St. Ignatius wants to teach us.