St. Ignatius of Loyola
This famous founder of the Jesuits was born in 1491. He was from a Spanish noble family. As a boy, he was sent to be a page at the royal court. There he lived on the desire to someday become a great soldier and marry a beautiful lady. Later, he did, indeed, win honor for his courage in the battle of Pamplona. However, a wound from a cannon ball forced him to spend months in bed at Loyola Castle. Ignatius asked for some books to read. He preferred stories of knights, but only biographies of Jesus and the saints were available. Having nothing else to do, he read them. Gradually, the books began to make an impression on him. His life began to change. He said to himself: "These were men and women like me, so why can't I do what they have done?" All the glory he had wanted before seemed worthless now. He began to imitate the saints in their prayers, penances and good works.
St. Ignatius had to suffer temptations and humiliations. Before he could begin his great work of starting the Society of Jesus, he had to go back to school. He had to study Latin grammar. The rest of the students were little boys and Ignatius was thirty-three. Yet Ignatius went to the class because he knew he would need this knowledge to help him in his ministry. With patience and even a laugh now and then, he took the boys' jeers and taunts. During this time, he tried to teach and encourage people to pray. For this he was suspected of heresy and put in jail for a while! But that was not going to stop Ignatius. "The whole city does not contain as many chains as I desire to wear for love of Jesus," he said. Ignatius was forty-three when he graduated from the University of Paris. With six other students, he professed religious vows in 1534. Ignatius and his companions who were not yet priests were ordained in 1539. They promised to work for God in whatever way the Holy Father thought best. In 1540 their order was officially recognized by the pope. Before Ignatius died, there were one thousand members of the Society of Jesus or "Jesuits." They were doing much good work teaching and preaching. Ignatius often prayed, "Give me only your love and your grace. With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask." St. Ignatius died in Rome, on July 31, 1556. Pope Gregory XV proclaimed him a saint in 1622.
Let us pray today in the words of St. Ignatius Loyola:"Give me only your love and your grace. With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask."