Today is the feast day of one of the Church’s greatest saints, bringing a martial temperament and strategic tactics to the service of the Church during one of her most trying times, that of the Reformation.
This post from Saint of the Day marks his life.
There is also an excellent post on the reformative work done by the early Jesuits at the Ignatius Insight blog.
An excerpt from Saint of the Day.
“The founder of the Jesuits was on his way to military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg. Because there were no books of romance on hand during his convalescence, he whiled away the time reading a life of Christ and lives of the saints. His conscience was deeply touched, and a long, painful turning to Christ began. Having seen the Mother of God in a vision, he made a pilgrimage to her shrine at Montserrat (near Barcelona). He remained for almost a year at nearby Manresa, sometimes with the Dominicans, sometimes in a pauper’s hospice, often in a cave in the hills praying. After a period of great peace of mind, he went through a harrowing trial of scruples. There was no comfort in anything—prayer, fasting, sacraments, penance. At length, his peace of mind returned.
“It was during this year of conversion that he began to write down material that later became his greatest work, the Spiritual Exercises.
“He finally achieved his purpose of going to the Holy Land, but could not remain, as he planned, because of the hostility of the Turks. He spent the next 11 years in various European universities, studying with great difficulty, beginning almost as a child. Like many others, he fell victim twice to the suspicions of the time, and was twice jailed for brief periods.
“In 1534, at the age of 43, he and six others (one of whom was St. Francis Xavier) vowed to live in poverty and chastity and to go to the Holy Land. If this became impossible, they vowed to offer themselves to the apostolic service of the pope. The latter became the only choice. Four years later Ignatius made the association permanent. The new Society of Jesus was approved by Paul III, and Ignatius was elected to serve as the first general….
“Ignatius recommended this prayer to penitents: “Receive, Lord, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. You have given me all that I have, all that I am, and I surrender all to your divine will, that you dispose of me. Give me only your love and your grace. With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask.”