Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24
Few religious orders in the Catholic Church, east and west, have contributed to the mission of Christ, the advancement of scholarship and science, and the promotion of justice and compassion as have the Jesuits. Whenever I find myself in circles dedicated to social justice and social charity, I find young people who have been trained in Jesuit universities. Some have served as Jesuit Volunteers. Many have devoted hours of their time to doing service. They accompany the poor and share a simple lifestyle. I admire the sacrifice and the love of Jesuit and Passionist Lay Volunteers. It is an honor for me to write a bit about this great saint, Ignatius of Loyola.
Saint Ignatius lived at a time of upheaval and incredible change. Although much is written about his life as a soldier and his conversion, and even more is penned about his spirituality and apostolic creativity, I find myself moved by two things. First, Ignatius identified with the naked beggars of his day. Formerly a man of military power, Ignatius was able to see Christ in the powerless. He moved away from the center, engaged the margins of Reformation Europe, and helped forge the renewed Catholicism of early modern Europe.
Ignatius and his companions did not limit themselves to Europe. He sent Saint Francis Xavier to Asia. Jesuits came to New France and committed themselves to an heroic lifestyle. This willingness for adventuresome ministry and innovative new beginnings was rooted in the second thing I like about Saint Ignatius. He was a sensitive man, a man of tears. These expressed his deep longing for intimacy with Christ crucified and his profound mystical awe before the mystery of God.
We live in a new era, a time of tears. It is time to take the crucified peoples of the world down from the cross of poverty and powerlessness. The world needs mercy and compassion. It cries out for deliverance through partnerships of fair exchange for rural farmers and new jobs for urban teenagers. The world needs tenderness as people gather to share faith, to break bread, and to soothe the bruised feet of working people. The world needs peace rooted in Isaiah and Daniel and fortified by those doing public advocacy and creating communities of reconciliation. The saintly legacy of Saint Ignatius still lives and inspires. Thanks be to God.
Father John J. O’Brien is a Passionist priest involved in preaching, teaching, writing, and service. He may be addressed at email@example.com