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Saint Loyola : Zestful reformer and educationist

Born on 23 October 1491 in Azpieta, Spain in the Castle of Loyola, this invalid soldier turned saint became the most zestful reformer and educationist.

Saint Loyola : Zestful reformer and educationist

Born on 23 October 1491 in Azpieta, Spain in the Castle of Loyola, this invalid soldier turned saint became the most zestful reformer and educationist.

Youngest of 13 children from a wealthy noble family Ignatius exhibited his formidable courage when he single handed took on an invading French army in 1521 at the Battle of Pamplona.

But he paid a heavy price when a cannonball shattered one of his legs and remained invalid or limping rest of his life.

While convalescing in the Castle he asked for books of romantic chivalry to read.

But the only books available were the Life of Christ and book of saints. Reluctantly he began to read and that changed him and the world.

He asked himself – if these ordinary people can become saints, why can’t I?

That question made him a pilgrim and he ended in the cave of Manresa where he spent in meditation for days.

His Manresa experience changed his outlook on God, the whole created universe and the role of human beings within it.

Ignatius of Loyola looked at all things as proceeding from God and then becoming a means toward happiness by praising God always through words and deeds.

His vision at La Storta confirmed him as a soldier of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ carrying the Cross.

It is his “Spiritual Exercises” the tiny book termed as one of the greatest spiritual classics and the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) he founded in 1540 that drastically affected not only the Church but even the world at large.

Ignatius Loyola the invalid soldier saw everything in terms of war or battle. That is the Meditation on Two Standards which Ignatius has provided for the retreat makers for the eight day retreat or the one month retreat.

 

They have to fight the battle under the Standard of Christ against the Standard of Lucifer. This war they can wage only through the Discernment of Spirits, one of the revolutionary spiritual contributions from Saint Loyola.

His Method of Study produced Jesuit intellectuals in great number. They are scientists, astronomers, explorers, writers, poets, painters and many more.

The inspiration Ignatius Loyola gave made Jesuits the most powerful and extensive educators of the world. They got even the nickname school masters of Europe.

Ignatius had told the Jesuits: “If you are afraid to be different, how can you make a difference in the world.”

Loyola’s new spirituality changed Catholic religious life into one of involvement with the people and going out of the walls of monasteries and convents. It was indeed a revolutionary reform.

Church became for the poor and the marginalized. And the Liberation theology with clear Jesuit stamp became the path-breaker in the Church.

Jesuits took Loyola’s words to heart and they did make difference in every conceivable field of philosophy, theology, science, education and art.

We have a Jesuit like Roberto Busa who taught computers to talk and have another one in Richard D’Souza who discovered the cannibalism of the galaxies.

From the imperial courts of China to the court of Akbar the Great, Jesuits became conspicuous by their powerful and dynamic presence.

By the time Ignatius of Loyola died on 31 July 1556 in Rome, the Jesuits had already become what Pope Paul VI said in appreciation of them:

Wherever in the Church, even in the most difficult and extreme fields, at the crossroads of ideologies, in the social trenches, there has been and there is confrontation between the burning exigencies of man and the perennial message of the Gospel, here also there have been, and there are, Jesuits.”

Holy Father Francis, the first Jesuit Pope in history is the most visible embodiment of the above words and the spirit of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

With 17000 Jesuits working in 112 nations covering six continents engaged in different activities catering to human growth both spiritually and socially, Saint Loyola is an all-encompassing presence worldwide.

Basilica of Saint Ignatius Loyola at Azpeita is the most famous church in his honour. And his birth place has a museum that houses the castle and everything related to this heroic son of Spain.

Happy Feast of Saint Ignatius Loyola from Living in Faith!

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