Feast up my friends, today July 31st is the feast day of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Thank you again mother church for giving us another reason to party.
So, in honer of Saint Ignatius I suggest we take a moment to reflect on every parent who has ever screamed “Time out! … You sit there and you think about what you did!” Lets think about them and pray their Sons listen better than Saint Ignatius did!
Lets have some charity for his parents. Saint Ignatius was born Inigo de Loyola the youngest of 13 children. After you survive 12 children maybe you deserve a little slack on lucky number 13. But by age 30 Ignio could have easily been the poster child for slowly maturing men. He gambled. He drank. He chased women. He was immodest. He was quarrelsome. And every now and again he liked to duel a man to his death, for kicks.
You might expect me to now suggest that Ignio also showed little interest in the faith. It actually would have been better had that been the case in reality Ignio used his Catholic faith to feed his vices. If a moor denied the divinity of Jesus or argued against the virginity of the blessed mother he took that as just cause to kill them. When one of his quarrels got him arrested he got out of it by claiming “Clerical Immunity”. Making the spurious claim he could only be tried by the church since he had received the Tonsure as a boy. So, he used his religion only as a cause to be Judgmental, Quarrelsome and Attain status.
And right there you find the heart of Ignatian spirituality. To turn around the trajectory of our lives, to grow towards spiritual maturity, to discern the sacred heart of Jesus, to begin our journey to sainthood it all begins with our heavenly parents time out chair. Mary and our father in heaven are calling us now and always to stop to rest and the think about what we are doing.
The order saint Ignatius would one day found, The Society of the Jesus call themselves “active contemplatives”. They call themselves active because like Ignio and the laity of the church but unlike the monastics they are “active” in the world. Jesuits are called to go out into the world and do the work of the pope. They call themselves contemplative because like saint Ignatius and unlike Ignio they devote their lives to contemplating the will of God in their lives. But everything you need to know to start out as an “active contemplative” you can learn from Ignios’ time out chair.
The first thing saint Ignatius learned to contemplate was who exactly he wanted to be. In his spiritual time out his parents in heaven took away his adolescent distractions. Ignio wanted to read some good trashy romance novels but the only books the castle had was a book on the saints and a book on Jesus.
Reluctant and board Ignio began to imagine the life of the saints. What is it that everyone asks you when you are a kid, what do you want to be when you grow up? Most of adults still don’t honestly know. But as Catholics our role models are the saints. So take time out to think about that. What kind of saint do you want to emulate? What virtues will you need? What virtues do you posses today? When they write your biography what will it say?
The second thing saint Ignatius learned to contemplate were his own thoughts. His father in heaven had lead Ignio away from the temptation found in the battlefield and books, God does not take away our free imagination. So while Ignio thought about true virtue and the life of the saint he also continued to fantasize about glory, sex and the life of a soldier. Then he thought about his thoughts. When Ignio contemplated his own thoughts he discovered that his own thoughts of virtue brought him peace.
This in essence is the foundation for Saint Ignatius rules for discernment of the spirits. Holy spirits are those that bring us closer to Hope, Faith and Love these thoughts are the contemplations we need to fallow. Selfish spirits lead us away from Hope, Faith and Love. Saint Ignatius teaches is that for people in a state of sin Holy spirits will make us feel uncomfortable but when we are in a state of grace Holy thoughts bring us comfort. To grow, we must choose those thoughts that lead us closer to Hope Faith and Love.
So the second task of our time out chair is contemplate your thoughts. Which thoughts restore your Faith and Hope? Which thoughts make it easier for you to show love? Are you in a state of grace or a state of sin? Which thoughts bring you comfort or discomfort?
Ignio had a second book while he was in time out, it was a kind of biography and interpretation of the life of Jesus. While he was fantasizing about lives of the saints and sinners he also read about the life of Jesus. It is believed this book had the most profound impact on him.
Contemplating the life of Jesus central to Jesuit spirituality. Jesuits define discernment not as simple decision making but conforming your heart to the heart of Jesus. How can you build your heart into something knew if you do not first contemplate what that new thing is?
Later in his life a holy vision would inspire Saint Ignatius the write the “spiritual exercises”. These exercises are essentially a series of meditations to mentally place people in selected scenes in Jesus’ life. These meditations are designed to take place over a forty day silent retreat. Today the spiritual exercises are considered to be one of the most influential of all theological texts. This is the power of contemplating Jesus.
The third task in Igno’s time out chair is to contemplate the life of Jesus. What bible stories are particularly powerful in your life? Put yourself in one of those stories. What smells are in the air? What sounds do you hear? What does the ground feel like?
Ignio changed his life radically. He stopped gambling and drinking and chasing women. Eventually he would learn to be less quarrelsome. Ignio symbolically laid his military vestments on a statue of his Mother Mary. It took a mothers guidance to help him become one of best known saints, whose life we celebrate today. Throughout his life he would continue to have to return to the time out chair to receive fresh guidance from the holy family.
You and I are no different. Hopefully you have began to mature spiritually. But no matter where one stands on the path to saint hood they are still their parents child. Every once in a while we need go to time out and think about what we are doing. We need to take time to contemplate who we are called to be and discern the heart that can lead us there.
So my challenge to you on the feast of Saint Ignatius is to take a seat in your heavenly parents time out chair. No matter how old you are your still their child.
P.S. While your praying for the parents of sons, please remember Team Whitaker. July 31st might be a challenging day for Katheryn’s son Luke.