St. Ignatius of Loyola was a soldier. At his ancestral home, the Loyola castle in the Basque country, he was recuperating after his leg had been shattered in battle by a cannonball. All he had to occupy his time were his daydreams. Ignatius asked for books. The only books available were on the life of Christ and a biography of the saints. To alleviate the boredom, Ignatius read these. Gradually his daydreaming changed. He began to see himself doing great deeds for Christ. And he asked, “If Francis of Assisi, if Dominic could do such daring deeds for Christ, could not I also do great deeds for him?”
Then Ignatius made a marvelous discovery. After an adventuresome and romantic daydream, he felt flat, empty, without enthusiasm or interest. After daydreaming about exploits for Christ, however, there lingered with him an aliveness, an expansiveness, an enthusiastic interest in life. He recognized that God was speaking to him through his feelings, that it would be in the service of Christ rather than in the pursuit of soldierly and romantic goals that he would find joy and fulfillment.
Ignatius had stumbled upon what we have come to call the “discernment
of spirits,” a method of entering into oneself and reading and interpreting one’s feelings to find God’s will. As the years passed, Ignatius developed and fine-tuned this original insight into the dynamics of spiritual growth, until it has become, along with his Spiritual Exercises and the Society of Jesus, one of his greatest and most valuable legacies to Christ’s Church.
How many times have we contemplated what Jesus means to us? St. Ignatius saw the Lord as someone to know, love, and serve; someone we can turn to at times of crisis and happiness; someone who is there for us when we are in need. Today as we celebrate the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Can we see Christ as St. Ignatius saw him?