Memorial of Saint Ignatius Loyola, priest
(Jeremiah 14:22-27; Matthew 13:36-43)
The devastation of Jerusalem described in today’s first reading may be compared to the Church in the sixteenth century. The Protestant Reformation brought about the abandonment of monasteries. Negligence by priests of their spiritual responsibilities fostered a spirit of rebellion among the people. Often deadly rivalries sprung up among families, communities, and nations. St. Ignatius, whom we celebrate today, countered the abuses of the time with the gospel.
Ignatius was a soldier but also an intellectual. He experienced a conversion from reading the biographies of saints. He noted the challenge to both peace and truth that settled upon Europe and acted to meet it. He founded the Society of Jesus whose members would be both disciplined and learned. They learned to refute the errors of the reformers and model the self-sacrifice of Christ’s servants. In his endeavor Ignatius was as successful as any founder of a religious congregation.
We not only may honor St. Ignatius but also imitate some of his ways. His Spiritual Exercises, the program which comprises the basis of Jesuit formation, is available to all. It enables practitioners to experience the conversion to which the gospel calls everyone.