Ordinary Time: July 31st
Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, priest
Old Calendar: St. Ignatius of Loyola, confessor; St. Germanus, bishop (RM)
In the year 1521 a cannon ball fractured the left leg of Captain Ignatius Loyola, the future founder of the Jesuits. While he was convalescing, Ignatius read about Christ and His saints and thus turned wholly to God. He then undertook to equip himself for Christ's service by acquiring a good classical and theological education. The members of the Society of Jesus became the shock troops of the Church in the battle against the spread of Protestantism in Europe, as well as one of the greatest foreign mission organizations that the world has known. Ignatius died on July 31, 1556.
Ignatius, by nation a Spaniard, was born of a noble family at Loyola, in Cantabria. At first he attended the court of the Catholic king, and later on embraced a military career. Having been wounded at the siege of Pampeluna, he chanced in his illness to read some pious books, which kindled in his soul a wonderful eagerness to follow in the footsteps of Christ and the saints. He went to Montserrat, and hung up his arms before the altar of the Blessed Virgin; he then watched the whole night in prayer, and thus entered upon his knighthood in the army of Christ. Next he retired to Manresa, dressed as he was in sackcloth, for he had a short time before given his costly garments to a beggar. Here he stayed for a year, and during that time he lived on bread and water, given to him in alms; he fasted every day except Sunday, subdued his flesh with a sharp chain and a hair-shirt, slept on the ground, and scourged himself with iron disciplines. God favored and refreshed him with such wonderful spiritual lights, that afterwards he was wont to say that even if the Sacred Scriptures did not exist, he would be ready to die for the faith, on account of those revelations alone which the Lord had made to him at Manresa. It was at this time that he, a man without education, composed that admirable book of the Spiritual Exercises.
- Learn more about St. Ignatius and the Jesuit Order and/or read this biography by John Farrow, St. Ignatius of Loyola.
- If you have never done so, consider making the Spiritual Exercises. You can find it online here or you may purchase a copy from Amazon.
- The Jesuits at Georgetown have a collection of St. Ignatius' Letters and Instructions to his fellow Jesuits. Much of his spiritual teaching is found in his letters and is considered an important source of Jesuit spirituality. If you are interested in reading them click here.
- St. Ignatius founded his Society to give the greatest possible service to the Church and to the Pope. In addition to vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, Jesuits take a special vow of loyalty to the Pope. Today would be a good time to say a prayer for Pope Francis.
- In the Spiritual Exercise, St. Ignatius strongly recommends making a daily examination of conscience. If this is not part of your schedule today would be a good time to start.
In his youth Germanus gave little sign of sanctity. He was of noble birth, and at first practiced the law at Rome. After a time the emperor placed him high in the army. But his one passion was the chase. He was so carried away as even to retain in his sports the superstitions of the pagan huntsmen. Yet it was revealed to the Bishop of Auxerre that Germanus would be his successor, and he gave him the tonsure almost by main force. Forthwith Germanus became another man, and making ever his lands to the Church, adopted a life of humble penance.
The Ruin and Conquest of Britain (excerpt)
By now the savage host of the enemy was close at hand and Germanus rapidly circulated an order that all should repeat in unison the call he would give as a battle-cry. Then, while the enemy were still secure in their belief that their approach was unexpected, the bishops three times chanted the Alleluia. All, as one man, repeated it and the shout they raised rang through the air and echoed many times in the confined space between the mountains. The enemy were panic-stricken, thinking that the surrounding rocks and the very sky itself were falling on them. Such was their terror that no effort of their feet seemed enough to save them. They fled in every direction, throwing away their weapons and thankful if they could at least save their skins. Many threw themselves into a river which they had just crossed with ease, and were drowned in it. Thus the British army looked on at its revenge without striking a blow, idle spectators of the victory they achieved. The booty strewn everywhere was collected; the pious soldiery obtained the spoils of a victory from heaven. The bishops were elated at the rout of the enemy without bloodshed and a victory gained by faith and not by force.