Sunday, July 31, 2011

Feast of Saint Ignatius

On this Sunday, the feast of Saint Ignatius Loyola, I write this from beautiful Villa Marquette, the Chicago-Detroit Province’s villa in northern Michigan. It is a tranquil setting, on a lake, where Jesuits have come for generations to commemorate the feast of the Order’s founder and to take time from their busy apostolic lives to recreate with one another.

Ignatian spirituality, perhaps too easily, lends itself to buzzwords that people pick adopt. An “MFO” is shorthand for “Man for Others.” AMDG, the acronym for Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, easily becomes a good luck charm rather than a ratification that the work that has been completed has actually been done to give God greater honor and glory.

As I have grown in the Society of Jesus, I have come again and again to the great insight contained in the “Principle and Foundation” of the Spiritual Exercises. Ignatius begins by stating that every human life has a purpose, an end, “The human person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord and, by doing so, to save his soul.” He then goes on to say that the created order – all of creation – is here to help us in achieving this goal. The created order isn’t bad or evil; rather, it is here to help us be who we are called upon and invited to be.

I have been blogging for almost seven years. I struggle often with what kind of blog I run: should it be more academic, more spiritual, more pastoral, more….? I have opted, consequently, to treat my blog as an online journal giving any who are interested a sense of my own journey. If my struggles and joys, faith and observations are helpful to people, then I think that I am using the internet to help people.

The litmus, test, has been nothing more than trying to be in keeping with the “Principle and Foundation” – does my writing help people to be more loving, more thoughtful, more reverential, or even more amused, by faith or does it hinder people, breeding hatred, mistrust, and animosity? Does my writing and blogging help to build the community of God or does it tear it apart?

To be honest, I think that Saint Ignatius would be absolutely disgusted with the vitriol and hatred spewed by so many so-called Catholic bloggers. Just recently, I have  been attacked by an "orthodox" Catholic who launched a barrage of absolutely scandalous attacks against me using multiple voices fake ID’s. I do not regret calling her out as a charlatan, especially because she tries to use Saint Ignatius and other Jesuits to advance her own self-righteous agenda while maliciously and satanically tearing at others. Other “Catholic” bloggers who seem only too glad to relish in the misfortune of others – poking fun at John Corapi – or labeling things as liberation theology and implying that they are heterodox are equally scandalous.

Louis Dupré, the eminent Catholic philosopher and theologian, offers this insight:

To avoid the problems of modern culture, believers tend to compartmentalize their worldview. Facing social, psychological, and scientific developments that they feel unable to integrate with their faith, they disconnect their unexamined religious beliefs from the rest of their convictions, as and island of truth isolated from the mainland of modern culture. (Religious Mystery and Rational Reflection, 32)

All of us, I think, can find in Saint Ignatius a model of the language of grace: he saw and experienced God’s created presence in all things, a God who holds and sustains all of creation as a musician hold and sustains a musical note. This insight should give us the courage to break out of our secure ghettos and to enter into the whole symphony of creation with a sense of wonder and awe at the power of God. Rather than thinking of the Catholic Church as the final bastion of sanctity (clearly it is not) against a wicked world, we should see it and its sacramental life as the privileged point from which we may go forth, rejoicing, to bring to all the good news of God’s saving activity in the world. Marked by this mission, we may see all of creation in its goodness and live our lives always for the Greater Honor and Glory of God. 

Be assured of my prayers this day as we commemorate the Feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola!
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