Archbishop Dermot Farrell of Dublin 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, on 20 May, Jesuit Provincial, Father Leonard Moloney preached on the story of St Ignatius’s conversion.
He said, “500 years ago, 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. He said, “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. He said, “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. He said 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 concluded the Mass with words of gratitude for the Ignatian charism, saying, “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 #Ignatius500 will be a Novena in honour of the Sacred Heart taking place at Gardiner Street Church from 3 – 11 June.
The Ignatian Year
A year-long series of events worldwide is planned to mark the 500th anniversary of ‘the conversion’ moment of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. The anniversary begins with the launch of the Ignatian Year 2021-2022 this May since the seeds of his conversion were sown in the siege at Pamplona in May 1521.
In a letter written to Jesuits on the 7 September 2019 Fr. Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Jesuits, wrote: “In 1521, while Ignatius was convalescing at his family home in Loyola from the wound that damaged his leg at the battle of Pamplona, God brought about his conversion and put him on the road that led to Manresa. Together with our friends and the whole Church, the universal Society wants to remember that privileged moment when the Holy Spirit inspired Ignatius of Loyola in his decision to follow Christ and to deepen our understanding of this pilgrim way in order to ‘draw fruit’ from it.”
Gerry Clarke SJ, Parish Priest of Gardiner St Church, is the Ignatius 500 Ireland Coordinator. He has been writing to Jesuits, colleagues, and friends about what’s planned for here in Ireland and around the world.
There will be many activities throughout the year both nationally and internationally, according to Fr Gerry. He says that the organizing team he heads up hopes to keep people updated and encouraged “so that at the end of the year we will all be able to say we have ‘drawn fruit’ from this anniversary in some concrete way and, perhaps, that we ‘see all things new in Christ’, as Ignatius did at the Cardoner.”
The Irish Jesuit website is hosting a special page for the anniversary featuring stories, videos, podcasts and events.
Pic: Jesuits Ireland