July 31: St. Ignatius of Loyola

Today marks the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The Spanish saint is known for founding the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, as well as for creating the “Spiritual Exercises,” often used today for retreats and individual discernment.

St. Ignatius became a soldier in the Spanish army and wounded his leg during the siege of Pamplona in 1521. During his recuperation, he read “Lives of the Saints.” The experience led him to undergo a profound conversion, and he dedicated himself to the Catholic faith. He undertook studies and received a degree in theology. While many held him in contempt because of his holy lifestyle, his wisdom and virtue attracted some followers, and the Society of Jesus was born.

The Jesuits remain numerous today, particularly in several hundred universities, colleges, and schools worldwide. In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI presided over a Eucharistic concelebration for the Society of Jesus. He called to mind the dedication and fidelity of their founder: “St. Ignatius of Loyola was first and foremost a man of God who in his life put God, his greatest glory and his greatest service, first. He was a profoundly prayerful man for whom the daily celebration of the Eucharist was the heart and crowning point of his day. Precisely because he was a man of God, St Ignatius was a faithful servant of the Church.”

We pray that God might continue to inspire the Jesuits to faithfully meet the urgent needs of the Church today. St. Ignatius’ famous prayer: “Take, Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my whole will, all that I have and all that I possess. You gave it all to me, Lord; I give it all back to you. Do with it as you will, according to your good pleasure. Give me your love and your grace; for with this I have all that I need. Amen.”

For an introduction to the Spiritual Exercises: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-spiritual-exercises/what-are-the-spiritual-exercises/

For an article on Imaginative Prayer: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-spiritual-exercises/ignatian-contemplation-imaginative-prayer/

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