'St Ignatius, who died on the last day of July, nearly 400 years ago, was described by John Wesley “as surely one of the greatest men that ever was engaged in the support of so bad a cause.” John Wesley was exactly wrong. He thought to defend the founder of the Jesuits from the charge of enthusiasm by representing him as a cool, long-headed businessman. But an enthusiast was just what St Ignatius was. He was full of that fire which never says, “It is enough”.
Read his early history, and you find nothing there of the great organiser. All his great schemes for going out and converting the Sultan (copied from St Francis) came to nothing. All his early disciples left him: thou could a people raise, but could not rule, seemed to be his destined epitaph. In a sense, it was the enormous vagueness of his plans that saved the situation; just because he had no blueprint ready formed in his mind of what the Company of Jesus was to be like, the Company of Jesus proved to be exactly what was wanted.
If, during the last years of his life, he became the ruler of a world-wide Society, that was because he was a good enough Jesuit to accept the uncongenial task. The real charter which he left to his Society was not any set of rules. It was a set of meditations, chiefly on the following of Christ, which he composed when he was living as a hermit in the cave of Manresa. All that mattered was seeing the love of God as insatiable.
We live in times when great importance is attached to planning, and Christian people are apt to catch the infection from their surroundings. We must revise, we must reorganise, we must have a plan or we are lost! But I don’t think St Ignatius would encourage us to echo that cry. Rather, he would find fault with our half-heartedness - ready to believe, to do, to spend just so much and no more. But the fire never has enough'.
Mgr Ronald Knox, 1888-1957
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 labour and not to ask for any reward;
except that of knowing that we do thy will. Amen.
St Ignatius of Loyola, 1491-1556
Fr Lee Kenyon
Priest, Husband, Father, Lancastrian, Mancunian