Feast of St Ignatius Loyola
Born in 1491, the year before Columbus discovered America, Ignatius lived the early part of his life in the royal court and became a soldier. Wounded in battle by a cannonball he ended up spending a long time in hospital in 1521 when he was thirty years old.
Ignatius was fond of reading the ‘exaggerated lives of great men of history,’ something like today’s fantasy books, but when none of these were available he ended up reading ‘the Life of Christ’ and ‘the Flower of the Saints,’ the only two books available to him.
While reading these, Ignatius began to notice something: while reading his old stuff the stories had never really brought him any real joy. However when reading about Jesus and the saints, Ignatius found that even after he had stopped reading, what he had read still filled him with joy. He began to understand that there was something different about ‘the things of God.’
So it is with us if we are honest with ourselves. Conversations, telephone calls, books and films that are uplifting and reflect the real struggles of human life, are of much greater depth and meaning than the fantasy world that the advertisers try to sell us. The ‘classics,’ the great books that have stood the test of time, are not fantasy books but the stories that tell life in all its gritty detail and show the strength of the human spirit.
Ignatius began to build his life on this search for real meaning. Out of this search came one of the church’s greatest religious orders, the Jesuits, who are still with us today. Ignatius was a lucky man to have been hit that day by a cannonball, this event gave him the time to reflect on his life and where he wanted to go in life.
Perhaps we need to stop running after this and that and slow down and take a few minutes every now and then to see where we are going. Maybe in the stillness, God will speak to us—or even give us a book to read or a film to watch.