Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius, Inigo Lopez de Loyola. It’s the anniversary of the day he died in 1556. Inigo wrote the Spiritual Exercises and founded the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits. The short version of his early life is he was vain and sought glory and fame as a soldier, but after he was wounded in a battle he had painful surgeries and a long period of recuperation. He went to the Benedictine monastery in Montserrat and left his military uniform there. Later, he went to the town of Manresa where he spent months laying low and thinking about things, having visions, and writing the Spiritual Exercises. Visions were a major part of his life.
So, I’ve been on a “footsteps of Ignatius” tour a couple times, two and a half. One time was the year after graduation from Holy Cross, with my roommate and best friend. Because we planned our trip day to day within a grand plan, we could take our time and change it and add days. For example, a trip to the monastery in Montserrat is typically a day trip for a few hours. We stayed five days, right there in Montserrat.
Another time was a trip planned by a faculty member of a graduate school in Boston, on a major anniversary year for Jesuits. They recruited lay people to come along and pay the bills for Jesuits, more or less. I love to walk, hike, and climb mountains, so every place we checked in for the night, I went out walking. One early morning in Loyola, I walked out the front door to go for a hike, and there a few yards away was a vision of Ignatius — who asked if he could come with me. You freaking got to be kidding me, Jesus, I don’t do visions, I said to myself. But I went walking with Ignatius, expecting a tightly wound saintly type and finding a joyful, spirited brother (who didn’t remind me of Jesuits).
I wonder what Ignatius would think of my little Vigil for Justice at the College of the Holy Cross. I wonder what he thinks about all the lying and deceit and cover up about a promise of confidentiality. Since he was sent away by Franciscans when he planned to live in the Holy Land and encountered many problems later, he probably knows what it’s like to be retaliated against by fearful power grubbers at Holy Cross who banned me from campus and filed a complaint against my professional license (that I won) and stopped me from being a class agent with no explanation just because I said the college made bad mistakes. I bet he gets it.
Today is July 31, 2013, the feast day of St. Ignatius Loyola, my hiking buddy.