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.
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