St Ignatius' Church will be celebrating the Feast Day (31 July) of its patron saint and founder of the Jesuits (Society of Jesus) on Sunday 01 August 2021 at its 9:30am Mass in English and 4:00pm Mass in Vietnamese. 

To mark the day we share this reflection, The Man of Loyola, by Fr Justin Glyn SJ.

[This Sunday] we celebrate the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, a man as insightful as he is misunderstood.

The stereotype of Ignatius (and of the Society he founded) is that of the “Soldier-Saint” – a disciplined trooper for the Lord. This is wide of the mark. The sad fact is that on the one occasion he had a go at soldiering he was utterly useless and went home with his leg blown off by artillery (one could say he was “canonised” twice!). Having had most of his men killed or injured (scarcely the mark of a talented general), his soldier days were over for good.

There was, however, a much more Mediaeval military metaphor which drove him. The Spiritual Exercises and his Autobiography are filled with imagery of the knight in shining armour, questing for the honour of his love – firstly his desired noblewoman, then Our Lady and Jesus. His imagination saw in the soul’s journey, a quest at the behest of a liege lord above and beyond all others. This is made explicit in the Exercises, where Ignatius has the retreatant imagine a king “so liberal and so kind” instructing his followers to saddle up with him and go forth to battle… and then reflect on how much more they should obey when the king is Christ himself. While there is much controversy over whether or not the seventeenth century Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes used Ignatius as the model for Don Quixote (his would-be knight out of time who charges windmills and makes a helmet of a basin), the image is appropriate. To the Basque saint, even the most everyday situation can become the field of play for the only quest that matters.

The “Man of Loyola”, however, was an eminently practical man as well as one endowed with imagination. Just think again of Cervantes, who balances Don Quixote with Sancho Panza (the peasant who keeps him grounded). Ignatius, however, demands that we embody both Quixote and Panza within ourselves. We are to keep Christ, the goal of the quest and our deepest love, in view and allow our imagination boundless play in the service of God, yes, but we must constantly relate the quest to the real world, the feedback we receive from people and situations and to the decisions we make as a result. Only in this way can we truly relate honestly to our Lord.

The quest awaits us all!

Jan de Hoey, Public domain, via Wikimedia CommonsThe Feast Day of Ignatius invites us to turn our eyes to the fifteen years after he was elected first Superior General of the Society of Jesus, and particularly to his last few years in which he lived with serious illnesses. He did not spend these years travelling and in hands-on building of new ventures, but in his office in Rome pushing chaos under the door as he faced crucial questions about the directions of the new Order. He had to put out bushfires, deal with the anxieties of Popes and Bishops, respond to increasing demands for Jesuits, encourage his companions in times of discouragement, and bed down a distinctive way of following Jesus. This was a hard ask: over those years Jesuits had grown from single figures to over five thousand. And among all these tasks, like a Vinnies member today, he found time to give time to people who were doing it hard through social contempt, homelessness or hunger. -- Fr Andy Hamilton SJ, Celebrating the Feast Day of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, during the Ignatian Year

Image Credit: St Ignatius of Loyola, used in above image by Jan de Hoey, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

During May 2021 to July 2022, the Society of Jesus and global Ignatian family is celebrating Ignatius500.  The Ignatian Year commemorates 500 years since the conversion of St Ignatius which began with his leg being struck by a cannonball, a moment that led to his mind and heart being transformed by the presence of God in all things.

Ignatian Year: resources and upcoming events

The Ignatian Year is an opportunity to celebrate St Ignatius' conversion, to be renewed, to become pilgrims with him, and to see all things new in Christ.  Will you join us? 

Keep posted on Australian and global resources, news and events at The Ignatian Year - Jesuits Australia | | #ignatius500