“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, understanding, my entire will,
all that I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Do with it as you will.
Give me only your love and your grace;
That is enough for me.”
(Suscipe, written by St. Ignatius of Loyola)
Today, the Catholic Church remembers and celebrates the life of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. He was a Spanish knight from the Basque country. Wounded in battle, as he recovered in the ancestral castle, he read a book about the life of Jesus Christ. Reflecting on, meditating on those stories, he had a conversion experience. Giving up his sword, he became a pilgrim, journeying to the Holy Land. In the Spanish town of Manresa, he stayed for a period of time, living as a hermit in cave, along a river bank. It was there that he had a powerful vision; he never described what he experienced. He later, after mastering Latin, went to the University of Paris to study theology. Reflecting on his spiritual journey, he wrote the Spiritual Exercises. He used them to help guide his companions, and others, who were seeking to get closer to God. He and his companions formed the Society of Jesus, popularly known as the Jesuits. This congregation, under the guidance of Ignatius, as Superior General, would go out into world, as preachers, spiritual directors, missionaries, and educators.
I think though that among the great gifts from Ignatius to the Church is his Spiritual Exercises. Hundreds of individuals have followed the Practices, either in 30 day retreats, or over extended periods of times. They have been guided into a more intimate relationship with God, and discern what God was calling them to do with their lives. Thanks to Basque former warrior, a priest, and mystic, a new guide has opened up for those seeking the Lord.