A Year With St. Ignatius of Loyola
And his oh-so perceptive daily thoughts.
Flashback to 2007, my high school graduation from Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, MD, where I had spent 3 years under their Jesuit heavy teaching, learning all about the Society of Jesus, St. Francis Xavier, Ad maiorem Dei gloriam, being a man for others, so on, and so on. As part of Prep’s going away care package for all the students in the graduating class, I received a copy of Thoughts of St. Ignatius Loyola: For Every Day of the Year, and like most other things from this blur-of-a-day, the book was set aside for future reminiscing and not given a second thought. Now flashback to just the beginning of 2014, while I am packing up my things in LA and ready to make tons of changes in my life, and what do I come across in my huge box of books but my copy of St. Ignatius Loyola’s thoughts. Like an act of faith, paths lining up for a greater message, I took upon the new year with one morning task to never break: pick up these insightful daily thoughts and take the time to read, understand, and contemplate each day.
From the very beginning of my education in a Jesuit institution, I took interest in the subject. Starting with their penetrating work through education, to their wise promotion of social justice and ecumenical dialogue, something about this society stood out to me and made me want to get involved. Service, retreats, and daily worship ensued for a few years, but then college and time in Hollywood took me under and kept me at arm’s length for a while. Of course, like fate tends to do in troubling times, a random sign came through in the way of these sagacious daily thoughts, which brought be back and birthed a new daily routine to keep me close and welcomed.
Though every thought, each one of the 365 thoughts, gave me insight and meditational material, here are the ones that stood out to me throughout the year. Maybe they are life lessons, maybe they were more impactful at that time, but all-in-all, these thoughts are ones that meant the most to me in 2014.
Top Eight Thoughts from My 2014 With St. Ignatius of Loyola
January 5th: “It is wrong to entrust difficult and dangerous affairs to the strength of young people.” This one stood out to me mostly because of the project I was working on at the time. It’s pretty self-explanatory if you’ve read the short-story my work-in-progress novel is based on.
June 18th: “There is no wild beast on earth fiercer, keener, or more persistent in injuring man than the devil, that he may fulfill the desire of his malicious and obstinate mind for our destruction.” I have this grandiose idea of the devil and his evil ways; he’s a sneaky bastard, and St. Ignatius warns us of this many times.
July 18th: “Your cowardice makes the devil bolder, just as women are bold only when they see that their lovers are soft.” I’m not a huge fan of the comparison between the devil and women (although in some slight way, because of past experiences, I am), but the overall idea of staying strong to keep evils away makes total sense to me. Stay strong mentally and keep the darkness out.
September 29th: “The fall of one man is a terror to others, and casts a damper on the fervor of many in the way of virtue.” Any man, no matter how strong or how weak, can fall to evils and sin. Seeing it happen, and being reminded of its existence, is definitely a terror. This story that came out today is proof enough that even the strongest can fall, and if someone this strong can fall, where do I stand?
October 29th: “If you seek peace and tranquility, you will certainly not find them so long as you have a cause of disturbance and turmoil within yourself.” Love yourself before you can love others, clear your mind and success will come, and any other way of saying this totally cliché but truthful idea. If we want to become the best we can be, if we want to make a difference in this world, we need to be clean and true to ourselves and in our minds, there’s no way around that.
November 4th: “The more a man withdraws himself from all his friends and acquaintances and from care for all things human, the more progress he will make in the spiritual life.” This is one which isn’t too popular in my family, but I strongly relate with. The spiritual life, I believe, is one of the few things that stays within ourselves and should stay that way. Myself and my personality, demands an independent life and a withdrawn self to reach the hight that I wish to reach. Not everyone is like this, but I sure am.
December 4th: “The more detached and solitary a soul becomes, the better fitted it grows to seek and find its Creator.” The same idea as before – I am a solitary man, it’s just how I am wired. I’m known for being social, being friendly, and putting myself out there all the time, but with it comes to my personal growth and my personal wellbeing, my soul needs to reach these peaks alone, detached, and disconnected.
December 18th: “Truth always shines with its own light, while a lie is hidden in darkness: but the mere presence of the reality is enough to dispel that darkness.”
Daily routines and schedules help the mind, body, and soul. They set a standard for the day, a balance, that most don’t seek and most should. Start the day with a few astute thoughts or readings, pick up some favorite quotes and think about them every morning for a few minutes, find someone you can look up to and learn from them each day. All these things can help you start your day just a little bit better. St. Ignatius led me through a very penetrative year, with thoughts that warmed my heart and challenged my beliefs, and I truly believe anyone can gain something from a daily task like this. Try it out.
– Nahuel F.A.