At the start I knew very little of Ignatius. I knew he was Catholic, and somehow had a lot to do with the Jesuits, and in his day had been the Pope’s ‘Mr Fix-it’. He does not seem to hit Anglican radar over much and I now conclude that is a bit of a shame.
Ignatius was born in 1491 in Loyola a Basque Village in the South of Spain. He was the youngest son of an aristocratic family and he was given to noble aspirations. He took up arms in 1509, and soon rose to favour in the Court. In 1521 a cannonball wounded one of his legs in battle at Pamplona. This required surgery (before the days of anesthetics!) and in recovery he read Ludolph’s ‘Life of Christ’, and a number of other works on the subject of Christianity and the live of the saints, importantly St Francis of Assisi.
In 1522 on a visit to the Benedictines at Montserrat he embark of days of prayer and he had a vision of the Virgin Mary with the infant Christ. Following this he determined to make Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, however he was not permitted to stay and returned to Spain, and then Paris where he gained a master’s degree in Theology.
In is time of recovery, and growing spirituality, the Spiritual Exercises began to take shape, ultimately becoming 200 pages of prayers and reflections, set forth in a disciplined way so as to ensure that we acknowledged our own failing, to embrace God in all things and empowered to ‘go forth ans set the world on fire’. A.M.D.G. was a key part of Ignatian spirituality as he sought to see God in all things.
To give, and not to count the cost, to fight, and not to heed the wounds, to toil, and not to seek for rest, to labor, and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will.
In 1534 he gathered around him 6 compatriots. Ignatius was the first Father General of the Society. The committed their lives together in service and become the Society of Jesus. The Spiritual Exercises back in the 1521-2 period became a hallmark of the organisation and Ignatius became highly valued as a retreat conductor. The society became leading opponents of the Protestant Reformation, and star players in the Counter Reformation.
The Spiritual Exercises represent a determined effort to in a disciplined way address spiritual growth in a disciplined way. The is a planning period where you get ready for the retreat, followed by Reflection and Examination, Consideration of the Early Life and Ministry of Jesus, Contemplation on the last week of his life and the crucifixion of Jesus, culminating in a reflection on the Resurrection of Jesus and what it meant to the disciple and to what it means to us.
Moving to Stillness
Moving to Still was a website I prepared for Annette Potter, and it certainly introduced Ignatius of Loyola to me and in a whole new light. The website is here http://www.movingtostillness.com.au/ and not only is it contemporary it is also very Australian.