Yo-Ho! Yo-Ho! Ignatian Life for Me

treasure box with light shining out of it“Let us give thanks for the great treasure of Ignatian spirituality.”

Fr. David Ayotte, SJ, led us in prayer, but I didn’t hear the rest of it. I was captured by the image of treasure.

Have you seen the underground fortune in the pirate ride at Disneyland? When I was young, I could easily imagine that the underground cavern with its enormous pile of coins, golden objects, and jewels was real.

And now in my mind’s eye, it was Ignatian spirituality. No way could I carry away all of that vast treasure in a single trip! It was quite a repository, full of richness and golden light. The Examen! The Principle and Foundation! Prayers using imagination, and on and on! Yo-ho! How can I ever absorb it all?

In my imagination, I scooped up all the pirate booty that I could fit in two hands. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. So rich am I! Even though I can only carry away (and understand) a portion of this treasure, I am blessed. Beyond measure is God’s love for us, revealed in so many tenets of Ignatian spirituality.

Next thing I knew, I was thinking about earthen vessels. We hold this precious, valuable treasure, St. Paul says (2 Corinthians 4:7), in fragile pottery—easily cracked, broken, overlooked, or devalued. We seem to be the least valuable items in the treasure trove—but not to God. To God we are the treasure. I am loved beyond measure. It boggles my mind.

It’s also true that the pirate’s treasure in the thrill ride is fake. And obviously so. As I imagine those paste gems, I can almost hear St. Ignatius saying, “Watch out for evil cloaked as something good.” The temptations I encounter in life are not always obvious. They look awfully good at the outset because, “it is characteristic of the evil angel…to enter by going along the same way as the devout soul” (William A. Barry, SJ, in An Ignatian Spirituality Reader) and then to pull me out a side exit that is where the enemy, not God, wants me to go. “That is, [the evil one] brings good and holy thoughts attractive to such an upright soul and then strives little by little to get his own way, by enticing the soul over to his own hidden deceits and evil intentions” (Barry).

Yikes. When St. Ignatius discovered this principle, he made a promise with great determination to, if I might paraphrase, empty his chest of distracting trinkets.

My imagination looked again at the bogus hoard; I noticed that it is guarded by a skeleton. An image of hell from the first week of the Spiritual Exercises popped into my brain.

I snapped back to the present moment. I wondered what Father Ayotte had prayed about.

My God, you will give me all that I need. I need not hoard or fear. A handful of genuine treasure will see me through this day. And I know where to go to access the deep wealth of your love again. Wherever I am, I find you.

Living water, I float in a boat on your underground river. You are my hiding place.

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Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. I’m also grateful for The treasure that Ignatius has left us. When I discovered the spirituality of St. Ignatius, I knew I had come home. Thank you for this reflection.

  2. Thank you to all the encouraging posts left about this reflection. I appreciate you all. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. Lorreta, I am so thankful, that the Word of Godis living, we keep finding treasures! As we grow in the faith we simply just rejoice in in all the treasures we find in the word of God.!! Blessings.

  4. Thank you Loretta. I was sitting here kind of feeling sorry for myself and read your article. Sometimes I need a poke in the ribs to remember God’s love for me and all the blessings I have in my life!

  5. I am now 84 years old and since sweet sixteen have been trying to follow Ignatian spirituality which came to me at that young age in the Sp.Exs of St. Ignatius. What an experience of growth personally, in understanding and trying to follow Christ Jesus, living out the dynamic of the Exercises. I am blessed to have to this time the richness of Christian Life Community which has helped this growth as well. Now at this age 84, what a freedom to experience, not always, but so so often in allowing the dynamic of the 3rd week of the Exs live out in daily life!! I am grateful and so content really, waiting to enter the 4th week in Reality! I enjoy this page so much and wish to thank you for sharing it with me. Daphne Stockman

    • Daphne, Your life is such a treasure! I, too, am in a Christian Life Community, and our kindred spirits really encourage when times get tough. Blessings to you!

  6. Thanx Loretta – I liked the iimageof the skeleton and treasure to remind us of the devil offering us material things when we are tempted to reach for them. Catches me up short! Always enjoy your posts.

  7. With an aggregate of 12years of study at Loyola of Chicago I am thankful for my Jesuit based education your article comparing the Disney pirate’s treasure trove with the true treasure of spirituality give to us by St Ignatius Loyola is greatly appreciated. Yes the evil one is cunning, baffling and powerful,but the clearly written articles like yours keeps one minful of the Quagmires along the way and how to avoid them. Thanks

  8. Loretta, Thanks for this reflection…it got my day off to a great start. Your imagination helped jump start mine today…another treasure discovered!


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