Wednesday, July 31, 2013

St. Ignatius of Loyola, presbyter, theologian

St. Ignatius of Loyola (ca. October 27, 1491 – July 31, 1556)Presbyter, theologian

            Ignatius was born in Aizpeitia in the Loyola Castle in Basque Country, Spain.  He was raised by the blacksmith’s wife after his mother died.  He became a knight and was inspired by stories about El Cid, the Knights of Camelot and Chanson de Roland.  He began challenging Muslims who denied the divinity of Messiah killing them in duels.  IN 1512 he was severely injured and during his convalescence, read De Vita Chirsti by Ludolph of Saxony.  Ludolph advocated Simple Meditation, where one places him or her-self in the Gospel story.  Ignatius took up this method in his Spiritual Excercises.
            In addition to De Vita Christi, he also reads lives of Jesus, and the lives of various saints, and resolved himself to converting non-Christians in the Holy Land.  After his recovery he visited the Monastery of Sta. Maria de Monteserat, and then retreated to a cave where he practiced asceticism..  He had several visions in daylight in the hospital, that left him disconsolate.  He undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but was not allowed to stay but a few days.  Twelve years later he appeared to the Bishop of Rome asking to be sent to the Holy Land once again.  He and his companions.  Returning to Spain, he and his companions tried to develop a group of female Christina witnesses for the inquisition.  The religious authorities found some of these women to be questionable in some of their activities (falling senseless to the ground and rolling around while Ignatius and his companions were preaching), and Ignatius was detained for a time.  He also studied at the University of Paris.
            In 1534 he gathered six companions, and they pledged themselves to be missionaries directly under the Pope’s authority.  Ignatius was the creator and first Superior General of the Jesuits, or Society of Jesus.  They began their work by establishing schools, colleges and seminaries across Europe to  train missionaries.  In 1548 his Spiritual Exercises were published (Ignatius once again imprisoned, but released.  IN 1554 he finished the Jesuit Constitutions which stressed obedience to authorities, and doing all for the greater glory of God.  He died July 31st from Malaria in Rome.
            The Jesuits and Spiritual Exercises are his chief legacies.  The Jesuits were very important in the counter-reformation, and in the Evangelisation of Latin America, Goa, Japan, and China.  The Jesuits also worked hard to protect the Indians of Latin America from slavery and set up religious communities for the Indians.  The Jesuits were frequently at odds with Rome and the colonial powers.  At Rome, because they demanded reform in the church, which they understood could only come from repentant hearts, and with the colonial powers, because of the way the American Indians were treated.  At its height, the Jesuits had more than 30, 000 members, and are still important today. 

Teach us, good Lord, to serve thee as thou deservest;
     to give, and not to count the cost, 
     to fight, and not to heed the wounds,
     to toil, and not to seek for rest,
     to labor, and not to ask for any reward,
     save that of knowing that we do thy will.

Collect:  :  Heavenly  Father, you raised up Ignatius of Loyola to found the Society of Jesus.  We pray with him, that you would take us away from ourselves, and let us belong completely to you, take away from us everything that keeps us apart from you, and grant us everything that draws us closer to you, this we ask, through Yeshua, who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

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