As a recipient of 8 years of Jesuit education, I, like so many others, can testify to the impact that St. Ignatius has had on my life. I have often wondered what makes St. Ignatius so popular. What about his spirituality lead to the largest order of priests in the world? What about his life has drawn students to his education for centuries?
There is an old phrase, “where the rubber meets the road,” that is often used to describe a moment of truth, or a time when something very important happens. St. Ignatius’ magnum opus was The Spiritual Exercises, a text written to guide a reader along a spiritual retreat. In the early 1500s, lay people could not go on retreat. People had to work each day just to survive. Even though there was a spiritual thirst, the general population did not have a way to bring Christ into their lives in a meaningful way. St. Ignatius sought a way to bring Christ into the daily life of all people, not just priests and monks. Because of the Spiritual Exercises, lay people were given a method in which to allow Christ into their daily lives, allowing Him to help shoulder their daily burdens. Now, people could fully experience the truth Christ had to offer. For St. Ignatius, a better way to express the old phrase would be “where the shoulder meets the cross.”
In modern times, with so many opinions and an overabundant access to information, many often find it difficult to discover relevance in their lives. In times when the Church is often considered to be “out dated” and “not relevant,” St. Ignatius gives us proof that Christ desires to find us no matter where we are in our lives. St. Ignatius also showed us that in order to be found, we must be disciples. We must answer the invitation Christ offers with His simple words “follow me” (Mark 2:14).
The success of the spirituality of St. Ignatius today shows the desire for Christianity that is relevant to one’s own life. St. Ignatius gave everything up and allowed Jesus into his life completely. In so doing, he was able to share his struggles and joys with the Lord. In following the spirituality of St. Ignatius, Christians today can bring Christ into their lives in a meaningful way, and can find Christ “where their shoulders meet the cross.”
Suscipe by St. Ignatius
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding and my entire will
- all that I have and call my own.
You have given it all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours, do with it as you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.
Thomas Coast is a theology teacher and Assistant Director of Christian Service Learning at Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is a graduate of the Echo Program at the University of Notre Dame.