Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Today is the Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. In founding the Jesuit order, Loyola has shaped our modern life in so many ways. I give the Jesuits a lot of credit for the expansion of higher education; the number of universities world wide which are fully Jesuit or who owe their existence to the Jesuits boggles the mind. The number of writers who have been influenced by the Jesuits would be hard to count. In addition, there are many people in public lives of all sorts who have been influenced by the Jesuit order, primarily through education.

St. Ignatius is also famous for his Spiritual Exercises, which I've never tried, but always been fascinated by. I am not good at sitting and meditating for any length of time. I'd love to go on retreat where we don't meditate but instead do some sort of creative activity (writing, painting, sketching, sculpting) in response to the readings and the guidance of St. Ignatius. I'm sure they exist, but I haven't sought them out. I also feel like I've seen a book or two that offers such activities for people to undertake alone in their houses. On some level, though, I'd like to be part of a group doing them with a leader who guides us. I'm tired of doing spiritual enrichment on my own.

I've been thinking about adult Sunday School this morning. I haven't been pleased with how we've been doing adult Sunday School, and this unpleasedness is especially relevant, since I've been the leader. Perhaps I could adapt some of these exercises?

No, I think these exercises need to be done in a more intense setting with more commitment than you'd find in Adult Sunday School on a Sunday morning. So, I'll keep my ears open as I go through the next year or two. Maybe I'll discover something that will fulfill my yearning to experience St. Ignatius through his exercises.

Today, I'll say a special prayer of thanks for St. Ignatius, and all of the seminaries and universities who can claim him as spiritual ancestor. I'll say a prayer of thanks for the intellectual rigor that he helped bring back to the church. I'll say a prayer of thanks for the orders that he founded and for all the religious orders that he inspired, especially the Ursulines, who focused on the education of girls. I'll say a prayer of thanks for the many people who have been enriched by his Spiritual Exercises. I'll pray that I, too, can stay open to the ways that I might improve the life of the Church and the path for those that come after me.

No comments: