Editor’s note: Throughout July, we’re celebrating 31 Days with St. Ignatius, a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality. In addition to the calendar of Ignatian articles found here, posts on dotMagis this month will explore cannonball moments—moments that changed the course of a life, just as getting hit by a cannonball changed the course of St. Ignatius Loyola’s life. The inspiration for our theme is the Ignatian Year, which marks the 500th anniversary of Ignatius’s injury and conversion.
My cannonball moment happened about 60 miles northwest of where St. Ignatius had his cannonball moment. It happened in the very room where Ignatius recovered from his injury. It was a turning point, but I didn’t know it was a cannonball moment until years later.
The year was 2001. I was part of a group of about 25 people who had gone on a pilgrimage to Ignatian sites in Spain. It was mid-October, about a month after the 9/11 terror attacks. I had been working as an editor for Loyola Press for a few years and was glad for the chance to learn about Ignatius firsthand. I was interested in Ignatian spirituality, but, to be honest, I had no special passion for it.
The pilgrimage began in Loyola, the small town where Ignatius grew up. His home, a small, squat castle, is still there. So is the room where he was taken in 1521 to recover after a cannonball shattered his legs during a battle in Pamplona. Our group celebrated Mass in that room, now a chapel. During the Mass, I heard a small voice say, “Something important began in this room long ago. I want you to be part of it.”
This startled me. I’m not someone who hears voices in prayer. I thought about it. I wondered if I should do anything about it. I thought not. After all, I was working for Loyola Press. I was already part of something that started in that room.
Time passed. I made friends with some Jesuits. I worked on some books about Ignatian spirituality. I read some others. In 2003, I went on an Ignatian retreat and began praying the Examen. I fell in love with Ignatian spirituality. It became the way I prayed; it shaped the way I thought; I came to look at relationships and work through an Ignatian lens. Ignatian spirituality became the focus of my work. I’ve written books about Ignatian spirituality; I’ve given talks about it. Today, six years after I retired from Loyola Press, I am still writing about it.
The voice that I heard in Loyola wasn’t talking about being a good employee in an Ignatian ministry. The Lord wanted me to let myself be transformed by the Ignatian spirit. I had the good sense to open myself to that, and, sure enough, it happened.
Image provided by Vinita Hampton Wright.
Use the hashtag #31DayswithIgnatius on your favorite social media, and share your cannonball moments.