The radical change in Ignatius’s conversion story—his stark change from military man to extreme follower of Christ—intrigues young adults. I cannot count the number of times that a retreatant has approached me on a Charis retreat to find out more about this part of Ignatius’s story. As I share it with them, I often find us laughing at the length that Ignatius went to try to follow Christ and imitate St. Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic.
One of my favorite stories to share, because of the response young adults have to it, is the story of Ignatius on the donkey and the Moor, who “bad-mouthed” the Virgin Mary. It is in this story that we understand the depth of Ignatius’s pride and at times, what seems now, an almost foolish trust in God. Who would really allow a donkey to decide if a person should live or die?
While we may laugh at parts of Ignatius’s conversion story, there is much within his story to teach us about following Christ. Most often I find us savoring the reality that God called a layman of intense vanity and pride to be one of his followers. Ignatius, sinful like us, impacted people not only of his time, but continually impacts people today with his legacy of the Exercises and his profound relationship with Christ. Ignatius inspires confidence in me and young adults to follow Christ, despite our flaws.
How is Christ calling us today, as graced sinners, to follow him?