Today is the Feast Day of St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), a remarkable man of faith who changed the world with his dedication to God. He was born Inigo de Loyola in the mountains of Azpeitia, Spain around the same time Columbus discovered America.
"Find God in all things," St. Ignatius believed.
As a young soldier in 1521, Loyola's leg was shattered by a cannonball. His slow recovery became a spiritual retreat which transformed his soul as he read books, reflected, and decided to dedicate his life to Christ.
Calling himself "the Pilgrim," Loyola simplified his life, gave away all his things, and went into the world to teach others about Christ. In 1523, he developed his "Spiritual Exercises," a historic nourishment of faith which included three daily reflections--first thing in the morning, after lunch, and after supper.
"As strolling, walking, and running are bodily exercises, so every way of preparing and disposing the soul... is called a spiritual exercise," he explained.
In 1540, Loyola founded the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic order more commonly known as the Jesuits. He was canonized a saint in 1622. According to biographer Norman O'Neal, Loyola fostered unity by staying connected to others, writing about 7,000 letters during his lifetime.
In his book Jesuit Saturdays, Father William J. Byron explained the continuing legacy of St. Ignatius Loyola: "Ignatian spirituality... opens the eyes of the believer to the needs of others and thus impels the believer to become a man or woman for others."
Keep giving and don't keep score