Archbishop Dermot Farrell, recently appointed to the Dublin archdiocese, has launched a year of celebrations to mark the conversion of St Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits.
During a Mass celebrated by the Archbishop at St Francis Xavier’s Church Gardiner Street, Dublin, Jesuit Provincial, Fr Leonard Moloney preached on the story of St Ignatius’s conversion.
500 years ago, to the day, a cannonball shattered the legs and the military dreams of Íñigo de Loyola, a minor noble at the court of King Ferdinand of Spain. And so began a long journey of deepening interior change which led Íñigo, who adopted the name Ignatius, to found the Companions of Jesus (Jesuits) and a world-wide movement of men and women to seek the greater glory of God.
Fr Moloney stressed that the anniversary, Ignatius 500, is not just a celebration of Ignatius’s conversion: it’s a call to everyone to be converted once again.
Archbishop Dermot’s words were suitably challenging:
Do I really want to be pulled out of a comfortable darkness into light? Do I really want to see the world as it is, and myself as I am? You can only meet God when you are broken, not on equal terms. God is in every situation and where He is there is joy, there is hope, there is light.
Fr Moloney called on the “Ignatian family” to raise their voices for the upcoming Synod of the Church in Ireland:
Perhaps in this Ignatian Year we can contribute something of value to the coming National Synodal Assembly. If you and I receive the grace for which we will be praying – to see all things new in Christ – we might have much to say. This will impact every dimension of our lives: from an integral ecology that aims to heal the planet to the role and responsibilities of women in the Society of Jesus, from walking with those whom we have sinned against to giving everything to Christ.
Fr Moloney also called everyone to a deeper experience of the Lord in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, inviting people to make a retreat at one of the Spiritual Centres and to pray for the grace of seeing all things new in Christ.
The golden thread running through the conversion undergone by Ignatius, and holding it together, was an increasingly intimate knowledge of Christ. You may be familiar with one of the prayers that he recommends in the Spiritual Exercises: “To ask for an interior knowledge of Our Lord, who became human for me, that I may love him more intensely and follow him more closely”.
Archbishop Farrell, alumnus of the Jesuit Gregorian University in Rome, concluded the Mass with words of gratitude for the Ignatian charism:
This evening we thank God for Saint Ignatius’ life and for the members of the Society of Jesus, who down the centuries, have been searching, creative and generous in the service of the church and society.
The next major event in Ireland for Ignatius 500 will be the Novena in honour of the Sacred Heart taking place at Gardiner Street Church 3rd – 11th June. It follows the three moments of conversion experienced by St Ignatius: Devastation – Recuperation – Reorientation.
See the Gardiner Street parish website » for details of tickets etc.