St. Ignatius Loyola (homily)
Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola
Earlier this summer I gave a talk in Bend, at the public library, and I didn’t get the response I wanted. I didn’t get much response at all, and it really bothered me. For a while, as I was driving back home over the mountains, I was really worked up about it.
And that’s where St. Ignatius Loyola comes in, this great 16th century Spanish saint, the founder of the Jesuits.
Today is his feast day, and I’m really honored to be able to preach, because the Jesuits formed me as a Catholic, they made me a Catholic, in my four years as an undergraduate at Gonzaga, and not because they pushed me or pressured me but exactly because they didn’t. What formed me was their intellect and their example and their openness. And a few years ago I was formed still more deeply by Jesuit spirituality when I had the chance to do the Thirty Day silent retreat and go through the Ignatian spiritual exercises.
And central to the exercises is the idea of “indifference,” of being indifferent to the world—not in the sense of not caring about people or things but in the sense of not letting our ego and our attachments get in the way of our relationship with God. We shouldn’t care whether we’re rich or poor, famous or obscure, or even healthy or sick, as long as God is present in our lives--and God is always present, he is always close to us, closer than we are to ourselves.
Maybe you remember Fr. Lucas often praying this famous prayer, the prayer of St. Ignatius: “Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will. All that I have and cherish, you have given me. I surrender it all to be guided by your will. Your grace and your love are wealth enough for me. Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more.”
It’s a lovely prayer and a powerful prayer and an amazing prayer, finally, and I invite you to memorize it and to pray it every day, as I prayed it that day driving back from Bend, going up over the pass and into the valley.
Why should I care about the Deschutes Public Library, and the people in it, what they think of me, when the sun is shining on the mountains and the Lord is shining out in all the created world?
Not that I ever do surrender like that, ever do make that kind of radical commitment. I keep thinking I have and then realizing I haven’t. It’s just too much, too hard. No, when I pray this prayer I’m really praying for the grace to surrender, the grace to let go in this total way—and at least for the awareness of my inability to do this, an awareness of my ego, an awareness of my grasping and my holding on to things, an awareness of my daily, hourly, minute by minute idolatry, my putting of other things in the place of God: recognition, usually, the praise and approval of others.
But even that awareness is a lot. Is everything. Can slowly change me and open me up and make me available to the grace that is always flowing down on us all.
Lord Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner!