Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
No doubt, it was a warm Roman summer evening on July 30, the night before Ignatius died. He was not feeling well for some time and in fact thought that the end was near and asked for a special papal blessing. Fathers Polanco and Madrid were with him. Ignatius had thought the end was near on several occasions and so Polanco was not that concerned. In fact he actually presented Ignatius with a choice: Should he finish some letters that needed to go out in a packet of mail the next morning or should he get the special blessing. Ignatius opted to finish the letters. We actually know the content of the last conversation Ignatius had before he died. He was discussing the purchase of property for what would be the second home for the Roman College. Perhaps this explains the proclivity some Jesuits have for construction….
But he did die early the next morning to the surprise of many. His death on this day should not have surprised them if they had noted their calendars and realized that Ignatius died 8 years to the day of July 31, 1548 the date when Pope Paul III officially approved the Spiritual Exercises as a means of bringing men and women to God. Future popes, forty of them to be exact, heaped praise on the Exercises and in 1922 pope Pius XI declared Ignatius patron of all types of spiritual exercises and made him the patron of retreat houses and programs.
Today’s gospel speaks of the pearl of great price. Certainly Ignatius gave to the church a pearl of great price with his sure means of moving towards God the Father through the loving heart of Christ.