Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam!

It's a day of celebration, most especially for Pope Francis and all Jesuits as today the Church recalls the piousness of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

Born in the year 1491 in northern Spain, much of his youthful years were spent in the army before he had a conversion to a life of holiness which began while recuperating from a leg injury during which he read two books: "The Life of Christ" and "The Flower of the Saints". He did his theological studies in Paris and later at Rome he formed the Jesuit Order or Society of Jesus (Societas Iesu).

Familiar to many Catholics is Ignatius' development of "The Spiritual Exercises" which is a series of prayers, meditations and learning contemplation, all with the goal of helping one to have a deeper relationship with God.  

As told by Luis González de Cámara in today's Office of Readings, Saint Ignatius, after reading about Christ or the saints, he would ponder: "What if I were to do what blessed Francis did, or what blessed Dominic did?" This kind of thinking occupied his thoughts.  Does it occupy our thoughts?  Are our thoughts consumed with being holy and becoming saints?  

What a beautiful thought in this morning's Benedictus antiphon at Lauds: "Utinam possim cognoscere Christum et virtutem resurrectionis eius!" - "Would that I could know Christ and the power of His Resurrection!"

The Responsory today after that Second Reading from Luis González in the Office of Readings is quite demanding of all servants of Christ - but reflect on this most especially if you serve in a liturgical ministry: "Whoever serves, let him do it with the power that God bountifully gives him" (1 Peter 4:11).  This speaks volumes about the necessity for friendly and hospitable ushers, about the reverence in serving at the altar, about the preparedness of lectors to proclaim God's word, for extraordinary ministers - a perpetual and trembling recollection of the great "I AM" you distribute at Holy Communion to souls in need of nourishment.  And to cantors and the choir?  Saint Augustine said: "Sing with your voices, your heart, your lips, and your lives" (Sermo XXXIV).

Saint Ignatius wrote: 
“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 Thy will”   

The Responsory also tells us why this must be: "so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ."  Even the prayer of the day reminds us that God raised up Saint Ignatius of Loyola for the greater glory of His Name.  

Sancte Ignati de Loyola, ora pro nobis!