It’s the feast of Ignatius (of) Loyola today and rather than write about one of the many inspiring aspects of his life and teaching I want to share something the gift that he has been for me nearly five hundred years after his death.
The image that comes to my mind is the sleepwalker.
Ignatius helped me to see that my fears and compulsions often led me to go through days and weeks as if at least half asleep. Somehow, as a little child, I had picked up that it was easier for me to ignore my fears than to face them, to avoid the difficult and often complex situations of life than to live fully in them and to grow through them.
Ignatius taught me the Jesus really meant it when he said to those who like me were fearful: “do not be afraid”.
With the support and guidance of those who understood the beauty of the charism that Ignatius lived and shared, I realised that while it was easy to say prayers and even to meditate, it was tragically possible to do this without entering into personal relationship with Jesus.
While this might be a helpful start, real intimacy with Jesus begins in the midst of our present reality, whatever that reality is. We have no reason to be afraid.
St. Paul wrote that nothing in itself can separate us from the love of God. Ignatius would want to emphasise that: NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD.
I knew the theory of this, but then I grew to understand that while this divine love is given to me in every moment – whatever the reality of that moment, I am free to accept or reject this healing and transforming love and mercy.
The most powerful method for prayer therefore is for me to simply be how and where I am, perhaps overwhelmed by anxiety, wounded by life’s hurts, or shame-filled in my sin, and to hunger for His presence bearing His mercy and love.
Our primary desire in life is not to be free of suffering and pain but to love and to be loved in the midst of these inevitable earthly realities.
So let’s not be afraid to set aside all that we use as anaesthetic to dull life’s reality. Intimacy with Jesus Christ who is God-with-us is enough.
- Take five minutes right now to be still and silent – that’s a guaranteed way for the reality of your life today to come into your consciousness and to wake you up.
- In the silence of your heart speak to Jesus expressing your desire to experience His love and mercy.
Awake from your slumber! Arise from your sleep!
A new day is dawning for all those who weep.
The people in darkness have seen a great light.
The Lord of our longing has conquered the night.
What a lovely way to start the day thank you Father John. St Ignatius is a great teacher of the way to find Jesus the person and build an intimate relationship with Him.
At St Francis of Assisi Parish in Mairehau Christchurch, we have an Ignatian Prayer group meeting regularly. Contact the Parish office anyone who may be interested in coming along!
There is consolation in the fact that it took Ignatius a lot of time, fear, pain, anger, self- doubt, to became a true “Friend of Jesus.” You are right, John. The path to intimacy with Jesus is not so much about holiness as wholeness.
Thanks for this, John. Ignatius has also taught me a lot, and I am remembering today, his day, ending the Long Retreat at Manresa in Dublin. On a more prosaic level, yesterday as my dentist was doing some rather painful work I told him I was hanging on to the thought of finding God in everything! Thank you, Ignatius of Loyola.