Journey with Ignatius – Week 3: Loyola/Conversion

hello welcome to espatia we are here in the best countries the homeland of ignatius aspithya is a small town on the urola river that sneaks across these somehow steep hills to reach the bay of biscay a few kilometers northward loyola is a neighborhood of aspaitia olats our next stop in the pilgrimage is another neighborhood as well this is why when one reads about the birthplace of ignatius sometimes we can find loyola sometimes you can find a spatia the countryside picturesque of this little town with all the buildings squeeze on the river is contrasted with the monumentality of the sanctuary compound here below where saint ignatius is celebrated through a brave takingly baroque basilica which was designed by an italian architect and a series of connected buildings that were destined to serve the symbols of jesuit distinctiveness a college a retreat house a library etc the compound was built in the shape of an eagle as they say with the original castle of loyola encapsulated by and protected under a wing of the eagle stunning dramatic and ingenious baroque trick which is completed by a semi-circular central ramp where you can access the basilica from a rectangular soccer field size let me indulge into my hobbies pebbled and stone square beyond which a geometric garden connects loyola to the rest of aspectia the contrast between the sanctuary and the town couldn’t be bigger but really for those of you who know the history of the society of jesus as we will see once we reach ignatius in rome there is no style that is more connected with the jesuits than baroque now here we find ignatius still recovering from his battle wounds in his rooms within the castle of his family a square and very basic fortress in fact who to spend some time asks for books he asks for fiction chivalry books those ones he says that he was most acquainted with now these fictional books were certainly a remembrance of his long stay in arevalo for when he asks for them here in loyola none of those that he usually read could be found so they gave him a life of christ and the book of the lives of the saints in castilian as it is written in his autobiography we know at least we presume with convincing conjectures that these two books were ludovos saxony’s the life of jesus christ a medieval booklet which would reveal extremely important for the outline of ignatius’s spiritual eye exercises and the 15th century castilian translation of jacob as legendary and other medieval collections of exemplary lives of saints which were among the most popular books throughout the middle ages and the renaissance it is interesting to note that ignatius emphasized the fact that you re-read the legenda in castilian raising for us once again the questions about the languages of ignatius at this point he did not have the mastering of latin the study of which he would begin in barcelona later with attending initial grammar classes the point that is crucial here in loyola is that both the readings that he did at this time the life of christ the lives of saints and those chivalry readings that he wished to have at his disposal conspired together to move his imagination in a particular direction which would eventually turned into conversion in the narrative of his autobiography the switching of machine imagination here is exemplified by the civil rig design desire of putting himself at the service of a lady who eventually dismiss any form of personification and turns into our lady the blessed virgin providing a beacon way toward the new life of spirit and faith let me stress again the fact that the chiva rick culture in which ignatius was formed when he was in arevalo played an important role

in the way he later lived his own conversion here in loyola civil rights ideas were extremely important in spain not only during the middle ages but throughout the early modern period the don quixote a noble of the early 17th century with making fun of these ideals revealed how much important they still were in the society in spain once the conversion process was advanced we read in ignatius autobiography two crucial facts first that this conversion did not happen in solitude he says in all his conversations with members of the household he spoke on the things of god thus you benefit their souls once again like last week we found that the most inner moments in ignatius spiritual life he was not totally alone but this inner conversation was also part of a profound conversation with the community he was a member of second he says as he very much liked those books the idea came to him to note down briefly some of the more essential things from the life of christ and the saints so he set himself very diligently to write a book with red ink for the words of christ and blue ink for those of our lady he did it on polished and lined paper and with good and writing because it was a very fine pen man here we have all the fundamental elements of early jesuit culture in a nutshell the art of taking notes of organizing knowledge of putting one’s own spiritual feelings in good order for future review for future meditation and contemplation maybe for future better advice action this art begins here in loyola aren’t the spiritual exercises their methodology their structure their direction a splendid outcome of such values beauty in the order ignatius produ ignatius produces a beautiful clear artifact a book with elegant handwriting with the theater style dialogue between jesus and our lady with visual art by making use of colors gonsalves the camera the author of the autobiography noted at the margin of that book that such book was 300 pages long quarter size what a great anticipation of the theater and visual art based baroque next week we will walk out of this basilica down the ramp beyond the square and through the gardens to reach the exact opposite of the monumentality of loyola we will meet ignatius in the tiny little shrine of olats where the now converted chivalry knight will find the lady to put himself at the service of have a good stay here in loyola hello pilgrims and welcome to espacia our third destination in our 12-week virtual pilgrimage journey with ignatius brought to you by the institute for advanced jesuit studies in collaboration with the church in the 21st century center and the roach center for catholic education all here at boston college you know from listening to professor cristiano castellini that espacia is home to loyola castle and the loyola basilica if you were to enroll in our certificate in jesuit studies program here at the institute you would take an immersion course and you would join professor cristiano and myself visiting espacia where we would stay for two nights at the arube hotel which is just a few steps away from the castle and the basilica in that entrance way to the castle above the door is the insignia of the loyola family and it’s my favorite feature of what we can find in atpezia that insignia contains the image of two wolves and a cauldron a kettle and the significance is this that the loyola family was so generous that there was such an abundance of generosity flowing from them that even the wolves were beneficiaries

of that generosity i love that that’s a beautiful image and you’ll see it on many many jesuit high schools and colleges and universities retreat houses all around the world and it’s something for you and me in the midst of a pilgrimage to ponder as we continue in our journey you might take time to pray and perhaps even to bring into spiritual conversation with your small group or even with your family or circle of friends your own reflections upon the role of generosity in your life you might ask yourself in prayer what role does generosity play in my daily living in my past have i felt especially generous with others and have there been moments in my life where i have felt where i have experienced the abundance of generosity from others flowing into my own life i think these questions to ponder are beautiful ones especially on pilgrimage and especially these days i can imagine how many of us are living in circumstances where we find ourselves needing to be extra generous with one another with our time with our patients with our availability i think being in this kind of mode of life in the midst of the journey of living is excellent and we need we need to ask god for strength for fortitude to be able to sustain in generosity and very very important to acknowledge how it is necessary for us at different moments in life to be in a position of dependence upon the generosity of others we need each other and we christians believe that this dependence upon one another is part of what we mean when we talk about the body of christ today in the world and i think this is just something worthy of pondering as we continue in our pilgrimage journey together now i want to speak with you about the theme for this week that accompanies the place of espacia and that theme is conversion as you heard from professor cristiano the the castle is now operated by the society of jesus and over the years the jesuits have transformed the room where saint ignatius convalesced when he was injured in pamplona and that room now is called the chapel of conversion groups that visit loyola castle can arrange to celebrate a catholic mass in that little chapel space and it’s a very special sacred space to be in the room where ignatius lay in bed suffering after the pamplona battle and in agony after the multiple surgeries that he endured on his legs it was in this very special space that life began to transform for ignatius everything went into slow down for him the regular activity that brought him energy and joy the control that he had in organizing his time and his his passings of activity all this was taken from him rather abruptly and he found himself in bed pondering life i wonder if for all of our pilgrims today these past months aren’t a bit familiar in this sense that so much has been taken away from us during the pandemic and what are we to do in other words what can come after a cannonball moment in life for those who made our manresa a 12-week virtual retreat over the summer or for those who are making that virtual retreat right now concurrently with the 12-week pilgrimage you might recall my ramblings about core identity of a person we christians believe that every single person has been created as a beloved son a beloved daughter of god every single person has been created as a companion of jesus

a friend of christ every single person has been created as a temple of the holy spirit as a temple of the spirit there is within you within me a little chapel of conversion too just like in loyola castle and it it’s in this sacred space that we like saint ignatius of loyola are called to ponder the big questions in life it was in his bed that ignatius found himself reading in order to pass time professor cristiano castellini spoke to you about the different texts that saint ignatius had at his disposal my point here focuses upon the reflections that occurred within ignatius as a result of his readings he found that when he focused upon certain things that he’d be energized for a moment but then he’d feel agitated and disturbed and barren later on and when he thought about things that were different they were energizing for him and he found himself excited his imagination lifted him and he found access to beautiful desires that deepened and sustained him in such a difficult moment indeed it seems to me that these movements that ignatius observes within himself were the very beginnings of what he comes to name as the discernment of spirits in the spiritual exercises this is important because within you and me there are similar movements of such spirits there are certain things that you and i think about that perhaps on the surface seem to be bearing fruit but then they make us feel upset or drained or filled with doubt agitated worry and then there are certain things that you and i think about that bring us energy that are positive and hopeful and they enliven our imagination they sustain within us and the fruit is light in other words some of our thoughts come from the holy spirit and some of our thoughts come from the bad spirit it’s in this little chapel of conversion within us that we can continue like ignatius to notice the difference between these movements and then to decide to take action we have within ourselves the capacity to either accept or reject our thinking that’s a fact that’s good news and it’s absolutely true we have within ourselves the ability to reject inner lies doubts fears harsh focus upon mistakes limitations and we have within ourselves the ability to accept hope energy possibility beauty potential in other words and i really do mean this you and i can change in the midst of the journey of our lives we can change for the better in this moment of life so much of what we normally rely upon so much of our routine our custom our way of proceeding has been disrupted there have been many cannonballs in the pamplonas of life these months with all of these explosions come opportunities to ponder like ignatius the deeper questions of where we’re going in life and why we’re moving in the direction that we’re choosing conversion begins with desire to have the desire to change and to choose to listen to the good spirit that beckons us to hold on to images of hope that are constantly being planted within our hearts and minds and conversion invites us to reject those thoughts that are planted by the bad spirit that lead us into temptation discouragement and doubt pilgrimage enables us to hold the vision and to sustain within it and to to move forward with it to persevere and to do so with delight and with generosity a couple of thoughts to ponder in at spacia in the chapel of conversion first from pope francis and then second from the jesuit

william lynch pope francis says faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey to those who suffer god does not provide arguments which explain everything rather his response is that of an accompanying presence a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light and from william lynch hope means the ability to wait it means that we wish a difficult future good or that we’re in trouble and cannot yet see the way out it means that we decide to wait the decision to wait is one of the great human acts it includes surely the acceptance of darkness sometimes it’s defiance it includes enlarging one’s perspective beyond a present moment without quite seeing the reason for doing so fortitude and endurance are there indeed fortitude and endurance are virtues that are available to us on our pilgrimage and in this week of conversion we open wide the highway of the heart to the possibility of change we listen interiorly for those images of hope that come from the good spirit and we accept them we sustain because of them and likewise we listen for the little seeds of doubt of discouragement and we reject them i look forward to seeing you in olats next week remember please keep praying for one another on the way and please participate in the community discussions add your prayerful intentions to the community prayer wall and take some time to look on the journey tab for some activity that we’re offering for this coming week and likewise don’t forget to enter your steps along the way because collectively we’re moving forward into all sorts of possibility