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St Ignatius Loyola
Founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) (entered heaven this day in 1556)
I sympathize with you… kind of. I mean, you were the one who accepted the job, and you knew what it involved. I can’t imagine that it’s as bad as you say. C’mon. How bad can it be? You live in a gorgeous mansion on the legendary Maine coast, overlooking the robust waters of the Atlantic, in the shadow of a historic lighthouse, with a servant, a gardener, and a cook. Do you realize how many people would die for a summer job like that? OK, I’ll admit that cleaning stables and exercising horses 8 hours a day could get somewhat, um, how shall I say?… Redundant? And being in that splendid isolation, no friends, no family, nobody at all to talk to except the servant, the gardener, and the cook – that could get a bit tiresome as well. Even so, I think you need to change your perspective. I also think you should take up your old hobby again. I am willing to bet this entire office cubicle that that old house has a fabulous library. Why not make yourself a nice summer reading schedule? Try to get through a classic or two each week, instead of just flipping through magazines and surfing the web. Good reading can do wonders for your soul, and for the souls of others, as today’s saint attests to.
Ignatius (Iñigo in the original Spanish) was a Christian knight from a noble family in the north of Spain. He inherited all the swashbuckling worldliness of the flashiest Spanish gallants, and as a young man he threw himself into the battles with France that raged in the borderlands surrounding his home. There he was blasted with a cannonball and had to spend months recuperating (he ever after walked with a limp). Bored stiff, he asked for some chivalric romances (like Renaissance Danielle Steele stuff) to read. None were available in the castle (hats off to his parents), but there was a “Life of Christ” and a few volumes of lives of the saints. To pass the time, he began to read them. Soon he began to relish them. By the time he could move freely again he had been firmly convinced of the vanity of earthly glory and vowed to make a pilgrimage to Mary’s shrine at Montserrat where he would start fresh.
There he began to lead a truly Christian life, laying deep foundations of intense and heartfelt prayer and building up an impressive spiritual edifice of self-denial, charity, and dedication to the Kingdom of Christ. He went on to make another pilgrimage, this time to the Holy Land, and then to take up studies for the priesthood in Europe’s greatest universities (although he was twice as old as most of the students). Through it all, he made “everything for the greater glory of God” into his personal motto, and gathered fellow students around him in order to be able to do more for the cause of Christ. Eventually, he formed the religious order now known as the Jesuits, which has had more of an impact on the world, perhaps, than any other institution besides the Church itself. Since its foundation in 1541, there has never been a day in which the earth has not been blessed with the presence of a Jesuit who was later canonized as a saint.
And it all started when he was cooped up in a castle, all alone, and didn’t have anything else to do but read. Don’t they say history repeats itself? Wouldn’t that be nice in your case?… Do keep in touch.
Your devoted uncle,