Editor’s note: Throughout July, we’re hosting 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 the Ignatian Year theme, “To see all things new in Christ.”
I’m writing from the desert this month. I’ve spent a lot of time gazing at the magnificent peaks that surround my valley abode, and I’ve noticed that, as the angle of the sun changes, different parts of the mountains come to light. In the morning light, the sparse shrubs and cacti make the mountains look verdant. By afternoon, they look ashen and barren. In the orange glow of the setting sun, the flora falls out of focus, and my eyes are drawn to the dark, jagged edges of the peaks. The mountains are firmly set in place, yet from sunrise to sunset, my view completely changes.
It’s a lot like that in the spiritual life too. When we pray, the Spirit often brings to light things that we might not have noticed earlier. This usually happens incrementally, just as the sun illuminates one face of a mountain and then moves on to other facets throughout the day. For some, though, like St. Ignatius, rare experiences come along that illuminate the entire mountain. In his Autobiography, Ignatius speaks of a vision he had by the Cardoner River in Spain:
Near the road is a stream, on the bank of which he sat, and gazed at the deep waters flowing by. While seated there, the eyes of his soul were opened. He did not have any special vision, but his mind was enlightened on many subjects, spiritual and intellectual. So clear was this knowledge that from that day everything appeared to him in a new light. Such was the abundance of this light in his mind that all the divine helps received, and all the knowledge acquired up to his sixty-second year, were not equal to it. From that day he seemed to be quite another man, and possessed of a new intellect.
Ignatius’s recollection of his summit experience is packed with light imagery: “his mind was enlightened;” “everything appeared to him in a new light;” “such was the abundance of this light in his mind.” In those moments by the Cardoner River, as Ignatius was enlightened, he was given the grace of seeing all things new in Christ.
This experience was so luminous that Ignatius simply could not contain it. During his lifetime, and continuing to this day through the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius labored to share some of the light he received at the river that day. He wanted so much to help people accept that Love that gazes upon us and to recognize that no matter how many times we endure the Crucifixion with Christ in the deaths and tragedies of our lives, we are always promised a place in the Resurrection. This profoundly comforting and hope-filled promise is where we find that “peace that the world cannot give.”
We might find some inspiration in Ignatius’s Cardoner experience. How might we follow his example as we strive to see all things new in Christ?
Go to the river.
Step away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and take some time to make yourself available to God. Go into nature, your prayer room, to Adoration, or wherever you find the living waters flowing.
Pray for the grace.
In these or similar words, pray:
Jesus, here I am. I trust you and give you permission to change me. Illuminate the eyes of my heart. Help me, as you helped Ignatius, to see all things anew. Allow me to feel your loving gaze upon me and accept your love. Give me the freedom of knowing deep down in the depths of my soul that your love for me is so great that nothing could ever separate me from you. Grow in me the peace, love, and joy of your Spirit—the Light that will allow me to see you in all people and all things and give ever greater glory to you with my life.
Gaze into the deep.
Take the time to go deep in your prayer using Scripture. Experience the stories of Jesus’ life through Ignatian contemplation.
Wait on the Spirit.
Don’t be frustrated if you don’t immediately have a huge Cardoner moment like Ignatius! Remember, Ignatius had already endured months of convalescence after the cannonball strike and an arduous journey to Montserrat. He spent months praying in the cave at Manresa before that moment at the river. And he noted that he only had one experience like the Cardoner vision in his whole lifetime. So, be patient. The Spirit often works imperceptibly in the quiet of the heart and, over time, you may notice moments of illumination in facets of your life. Some hallmarks of this might be newfound peace, love, or joy.
Share your experience.
Consider connecting with an Ignatian spiritual director to accompany you on your journey. Or share your experiences in prayer with a trusted friend. Ignatius learned that companionship on the quest is essential.
Today in 31 Days with St. Ignatius, enjoy 10 Ways Ignatian Spirituality Supports a Busy Life by Becky Eldredge. Use the hashtag #31DayswithIgnatius on your favorite social media to share how St. Ignatius has helped you to see all things new in Christ.
Thank you Rebecca for your beautiful imagery.
Makes me think that it depends on how the ‘light’ shines as to how we see and perceive!
Thank you Ms. Ruiz for describing a transition of light across the mountain and valley from dawn to dusk that recreated vivid imagery in my mind/soul from years living in Ranchos de Taos. That daily transition of external light brushing vivid color changes across my spiritual canvas many moments of every day brought me closer to the river with Ignatius.
Good piece. Thanks Rebecca. Ignatian pedagogy – relevant for out times. Saint Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.