Memorial (in the Society of Jesus, Solemnity) of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

St. Ignatius was a man of passions. For much of his early life, those passions were fairly wild. Well into his 20s, he was doing a fair share of gambling, drinking, and womanizing. Taken by the ideals of chivalry, at the battle of Pamplona he rallied his troops to make a last stand, only to have a cannonball shatter his legs. Even after his conversion, his passions were still misdirected at first. He almost murdered a Muslim for denying the perpetual virginity of Mary. He engaged in severe penances which damaged his health. God had entered Ignatius’ life, but that life was still fairly chaotic.

St. Ignatius’ life truly changed at the cave in Manresa, where he engaged in prayers that would later form the basis for his Spiritual Exercises. At the heart of the Exercises is the “First Principle and Foundation,” where St. Ignatius reminds us that the purpose of our lives is salvation, to be with God in Heaven, and that “our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created” (no. 23). Ignatian indifference is not a purging of all desire and attachment. It is an intensifying of desire, focusing it all solely on the praise, reverence, and service of God, so that we can be with Him forever.
We all have desires, attachments, and loves. This goes along with being human. The question is not whether or not we will continue to desire and love, but what our desire and love is aimed at. Is it aimed first and foremost at God, or is it simply “good luck” when our love allows us to do God’s will? St. Ignatius invites us to identify all of our desires, attachments, and loves, to look at where they are aimed, and to respond to God’s invitation to direct them at Him. There is nothing neutral, nothing too insignificant to be caught up in this invitation. Through the example of St. Ignatius and the gift of the Spiritual Exercises, we can learn how to live a life that is both enthusiastic and ordered.

July 31st, 2015