Dear Sacred Heart Family
Today our church celebrates the life and legacy of St Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556). He is most notably known as the founder of the Jesuits (Society of Jesus), the largest order of religious men in the world today (19,000) St Ignatius has always been a part of my life, as I am named after him (middle name), as well as I did my undergraduate degree with the Jesuits in Philadelphia a nd for a time our Claretian founder, St Anthony, spent time in the Jesuit Novitiate.
In his illustrious life, St Ignatius left his most significant impact on the world of Catholic education, realizing that the morality of the world depended on the formation of those who will lead others and thus he focused to give a well-balanced education to this group of individuals. His words helped take my faith to a deeper level. One phrase that first spoke to me was his call for us “to be men (and women) for others.” These words drew me into a life of service beginning with Campus ministry and leading me to where I am today. I believe this outward-focused orientation is why the Jesuits are found in every corner of the world, as is appropriate for a church that calls itself catholic (universal).
One reason I admire St Anthony Claret so much was that he was able to integrate St Ignatius’ philosophy into our Claretian spirituality, and in doing so, he brought my two worlds together. His admonition to “set the world on fire” is one such phrase that has inspired me for decades. Fire is beautiful in the sense that whatever it touches, it turns to itself, and our call is to set the world on fire with the love of God. The fire of love does not destroy another, but rather it purifies what it touches.
On this idea of service, St Ignatius well understood the balance between of God’s efforts vs ours when he said. ” Trust as if everything depended on God, act as if everything depended on you ” St Anthony put it n another way when he said, “Pray to God, and row for shore.” Simply put, we can never expect God to do all the work, we must do our part as well.
A final Ignatian phrase that I would like to share is, “If our church is not marked by caring for the poor, the oppressed, the hungry, we are guilty of heresy.” Our authenticity is not so much what we say, as much as what we do. The recent phenomena of the gospel of prosperity, to the degree if focuses on what I will get and not so much on what I will give, is a betrayal of our Savior who became poor for us (II Cor 8:9).
The Church and the world were in chaos at the time of St Ignatius, but his words transformed both and can again if we will live the fire of love for others.
With a heart for Mission,