Hello everyone, Happy Feast Day! Today we celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola. St. Ignatius was a soldier. First, he devoted his loyalty and service to the King of Spain. However, following a painful and difficult conversion, St. Ignatius turned from his worldly ways and devoted his service to the King of Kings and His Church on Earth. St. Ignatius is the founder of the Society of Jesus – better known as the Jesuits. His initial purpose in founding the Society was to combat the numerous ravaging heresies of his time. Today, the Jesuits – over 19,000 strong, continue, under the command and direction of the Holy Father and Superior General, to battle the many despoiling heresies of this day and age.
Ignatius was born in 1491 to a Basque noble family, his father was a Spanish knight. Not much is know of his early years except that he served the King of Spain as a courtier and soldier until the age of thirty. Ignatius enjoyed his life in the court and all of the pleasures that this life offered. During this time, Ignatius’ faith took back-seat. Then in the year 1521, all that changed.
On May 20, 1521, the French-supported Navarrese stormed the castle at Pamplona, where Ignatius and his Spanish soldiers were besieged. During the ensuing battle, a French cannonball struck Ignatius, shattering one of his legs and badly wounding the other. It was said that the French were so astounded by this Spaniard’s courage that they carried him to his home castle.
Ignatius’ recovery was long and painful. He was, at this point, still concerned with his good-looks and when his leg healed in an unsightly manner, he requested that the doctors re-break and re-set it. Ignatius had this procedure repeated several times and each was done without anesthetics. Even after the surgical procedures were completed, his health continued to decline – at one point infection and fever nearly took his life. After fervent prayers were offered for his recovery, St. Peter appeared to Ignatius and healed him of the fever and infection. This was the beginning of Ignatius’ conversion.
Yet, Ignatius still had a long road ahead of him on his journey of spiritual and physical recovery.
Ignatius was sick of his bed-ridden state – he wanted something to read. In particular, he wish to read romance novels. Illustrious chronicles of noble knights hastening to the rescue of fair maidens – these were the fables which Ignatius wished to immerse himself to pass his boredom. Alas, his castle held none of these novels; instead the two books Ignatius found himself reading were: The Life of Christ and Lives of the Saints. These books changed him in a profound way. Ignatius realized that there was more to life than chasing some fantasy of fleeting fame and worldly pleasures.
Ignatius emerged from his sick-bed a changed man. He now wished only to serve God and to give his life and service to the True King of Kings.
Ignatius embraced a life of poverty and humility. Gradually, his lifestyle began to attract other young men, seeking to serve the Lord. In 1534, with his military spirit still burning within him, Ignatius founded the Society of Jesus – together with six other men. They would fight for the King of Kings, under the direction of His Vicar on Earth and the Superior General of the Order. Their weapons would not be swords and cannons but textbooks and blackboards as they sought to put an end to the rampaging heresies of the Middle Ages.
From these humble beginnings the Society of Jesus has spread to all the corners of the world. Armed with St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the fervent prayers of their founder and all of Heaven; supported by over 500 years of tradition and nearly 19,000 members world-wide, the Jesuits continue to spread and defend the truth of Jesus Christ!
Our family is well acquainted with a Jesuit regent, who is 6 years into the 11-year Jesuit seminary-program. We have spiritually adopted this good friend and his seven classmates. Please join me tonight in praying this special group of Jesuit regents – the next generation of Jesuits, and all members of this holy order!