“My son, if you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal.” Sirach 2:1
I find the saints fascinating. I have been close to several of them in my life, and the reason I am a Catholic is because one brought me into the church. But I find myself forgetting them sometimes, their power, their intercessory prayer. I often look in so many other places before I remember that they are there, ready and willing to pray with me.
I have found that the saints have appeared in different times in my life when I have needed them the most. St. Edith Stein brought me into the church, St. Rita of Cascia helped to cure my daughter, St. Pope John Paul II helped me get through some of my most difficult times. One of the beautiful things that I have found about my Catholic faith is how the saints connect heaven and earth for me, a much needed solace for those of us who have lost someone that we love. Because they have intervened in my life and are human just like me, I know for sure that heaven exists. They have given me hope, prayed for me, and showed me which way to walk.
This Lent, I have found an unexpected friend in St. Ignatius of Loyola. He also appeared out of nowhere. I didn’t know much about him, so I first found The Spiritual Exercises to pour over. When I realized that these exercises were a bit complex, I decided to get to know him first instead before I continued reading. I found myself immersed in a movie about his life. The words in the movie were so powerful that I actually started to take notes so that I could come back to them.
St. Ignatius of Loyola was a soldier whose life was turned upside down when his leg was shattered in battle by an enemy’s cannon ball fire. Coming dangerously close to death, it was during his recovery that He found Christ and chose to leave his old way of life to start a new one. He became a beggar, ministering to the poorest of the poor and performing severe penance. His life of sin and debauchery became a holy life. His ways were questioned, and he was interrogated and tried by the Inquisition but found innocent. He is often referred to as the Saint of Second Chances.
There are so many wonderful things to share about this saint, and I especially appreciated all of the analogies his life brought about war and battle. I too see my life as a field of war for souls, and so was hungry to hear what the great Saint had to say. Here are just some incredible lines from the movie:
If your enemy is angry, and your are calm, than you have already won
Evert battle in the world is staged upon who can stay on his feet
Words were to be his new weapon, and he was determined to master them
St. Ignatius speaks about the importance of change, of making the Christian militant ready warriors for their Master, the Lord Jesus. He uses the spiritual exercises as a, “manual of war. it makes clear the battle lines and let’s us hear our commander’s voice.” (Also from the movie).
The sword of discernment he teaches is invaluable, helping us to understand our mission and bring us closer to God. In his “ordeal,” he found the love of God, the answer to his deepest questions, and his heart’s consolation. He was able to conquer his greatest demons and be the foremost commander in God’s army.
So often we wonder why people come against us when all we seek to do is good. Sometimes I find that the more good I do, the more resistance and questioning I receive. One must remember that we are soldiers in the army of God, bringing Christ wherever he has sent us, in whatever way he tells us. And bringing the gospel, no matter where it is, will bring war, even in the church.
Today, I want to pray for those of you that have been especially hurt by the church, and I want you to remember this when you feel like walking away-
Every saint was questioned and tried at some point
St. Padre Pio says it best, “The saints are made, but woe to those who make them!”
Today, let us ask St. Ignatius to pray for us, to enter our lives, and help us to stay on course in what God has asked of us, knowing that it will bring an ordeal.
St. Ignatius of Loyola,
We ask for your intercession to help us with the battles that are raging in our church- for those that do not want to hear the truth, for those that have fallen away. We ask you to give us the strength to carry out our mission and to understand God’s battle plans. We ask you to help us remember that it is Christ that we are serving. Direct us, guide us, and help us to discern God’s will for us in our lives, and please help to give us the courage to carry it out, no matter the cost.