Today is the feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. The founder of the Society of Jesus. The religious order (community) more commonly known as the Jesuits (you may have heard of them!), St. Ignatius was born in 1491, one of 13 children of a family of minor nobility in northern Spain. As a young man, Ignatius was inflamed by the ideals of courtly love and knighthood and dreamed of doing great deeds. But, in 1521, Ignatius was gravely wounded in a battle with the French. While recuperating, Ignatius experienced a conversion, an encounter with Christ. And, reading the life of Christ and of the saints made Ignatius happy and aroused new desires to do great deeds. Ignatius realized that these feelings were clues to God’s direction for him.
His personal motto and that of the Jesuits is “For the greater glory of God.” Ignatius died in Rome on July 31, 1556, of malaria. This prayer is attributed to him:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
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The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington