St. Ignatius Loyola – In the Presence
Take Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, understanding, my entire will and
all that I possess.
You have given all to me.
To You, O Lord, I return it.
All is yours; dispose of it wholly
according to your will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
for this is enough for me.
Every year, July 31 is a special day for me. St. Ignatius continues to play a very pivotal role in my life. What most captivated me as a young man, and still amazes me today, is his vision. His personal, intense love of God and a sense of the Divine Presence that is acutely close, warm, and reassuring all came to me in my journey through the Spiritual Exercises as a Jesuit novice.
I will never forget one of my first meetings with John D. McAnulty, my Master of Novices. He simply began by saying, “Let us place ourselves in the presence of God.” I had not been a stranger to priests or to spiritual direction, but this experience was completely different. The room and the atmosphere changed in an instant. There was a looming presence, an awesome profound silence, and a great peace.
I guess, that is why I tend to chuckle when people refer to the great learning of the Jesuits. It is not what they are about. I also laugh because that is what I thought until that first invitation to enter into the Presence. It was far from intellectual. It was very intense, very real, very soothing. St. Ignatius would say that our prayer can be marked by times of consolation and desolation. What has struck me over the years is that sometimes there are joyful fireworks when entering into the Mystery and sometimes there is a great zen of nothingness – but the Presence remains.
Happy Feast Day Fr. Ignatius.
For more background on the life St. Ignatius and his spirituality see my previous entry.