What would my encounter be like with a man whose very life, core beliefs, and legacy are an enormous part of my life today?
What would I say if St. Ignatius came to visit me? Answering this question has moved me to tears as I rummaged backwards through my life thinking of all the ways St. Ignatius’s present day “soldiers” impacted my life by sharing with me the wisdom of Ignatian spirituality and the Spiritual Exercises. What do I say to the man whose teachings allowed me to find inner freedom, whose Spiritual Exercises helped me completely re-situate my life around God, and whose belief that God can be found in all things allowed me to understand the invisible mysteries of God through visible people, experiences in nature, and in Scripture? My encounter with St. Ignatius would be enfolded in gratitude.
I can’t think of anything other than to say “thank you.” St. Ignatius, thank you for being a man of authentic, lived faith, who struggled as we do today to journey through change and unsettled times, and who radically changed your life to follow Christ. Thank you for being a man so solidly rooted in prayer that you were able not only to capture the Spiritual Exercises in writing, but you were also able to teach others how to give them. The fact that your Exercises are still being handed on generations later shows me the fruits of your deep prayer life.
The people who are part of your army of Ignatian teachers, mentors, and friends have impacted my life in ways that I cannot even begin to capture here. They shared your wisdom with me, they taught me your prayer methods, and they journeyed with me through your challenging and life-giving Exercises. St. Ignatius, because of you, I know who I am—a woman deeply loved by God, whose authenticity and integrity come from God, and who understands that God’s love calls me beyond myself.
Did you understand back then, St. Ignatius, that your personal struggles, your surrender to God, and your openness to be molded by God would continue to impact the world over 500 years later? While you may not have understood it then, your life and your work are very much part of my life—a young adult woman attempting to live a life of faith as a wife, as a mother of three, and as a person called to ministry.