Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. There are so many fine Ignatian websites and resources, that if you are not familiar with St. Ignatius or the Jesuits, you can easily learn more. That Pope Francis is himself a Jesuit, has created a lot more awareness of the order in general.
Ignatius has been close to me for so long, longer than I imagined. He was trailing me, an agent of God, but for many years I was oblivious . Now I smile as I think of the many times our paths have crossed over the years. I think of God weaving the fabric of life, strands coming together to create patterns and pieces that will later become a clearer image.
Speaking of pieces that become a clearer image, I would like to share a story about a mosaic of St. Ignatius. There is a very famous yoga and health retreat in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts called Kripalu. One cold February morning, I made my way there, about 1.5 hours from here, to meet up with a Facebook/blogging friend who would be teaching a course there. We would have time to hang out in the morning and have lunch before she began her work.
Kripalu began its life as a Jesuit seminary, built in 1957. By 1983, things had changed and the property was sold and became what it is today. There was said to be a large mosaic of St. Ignatius behind what was the altar of the now deconsecrated chapel, today covered by a heavy velvet drape. If you did not know it was there, you would not know it was there.
Not a religious person, my friend Karla was compelled, as I was, to see it. A Jesuit friend of mine had told me how to try to find it, but warned me that it would not be easy for a number of reasons. Karla and I stalked the chapel space, waiting for the session that was going on there to finish. When it did, we went in and found our way to the right spot. The drape was so large and so heavy, but we peeled it back a little. No – I never got a photo of the entire image, that would have been impossible, but we saw elements of it and I was so happy. The Ignatian way of finding God in all things seemed to reverberate from behind the curtain; I liked that a lot. Deconsecrate away, God is still present, as is Ignatius!
St Ignatius believed that we had to remember that God gets all the glory. The phrase Ad Majoram Dei Gloria was frequently intoned by the saint and means for the greater glory of God. It is often represented by writing or saying, AMDG.
One of my favorite Jesuit prayers is St. Ignatius Suscipe, seen in the image to the right. Life is awash in the most remarkable gifts, and as I look back, I see them all over the place, even – especially – during times that I thought were unimaginably painful and horrible. That’s why as I plan my Camino de Santiago, and as I walk the pilgrimage of my life, I know that the good is everywhere. And for that I say thank you and AMDG!