Monday, November 17, 2008

And I Love Her

November 17 has always had a special place in my heart since it was on November 17, 1987 when I first heard the call to religious life ... Jesuit life. The call itself was clear enough, but it was all the more amplified by the fact that November 17 is also my mom's feast day. My mom was named Elizabeth, likely after her own mother, so maybe we could call her Elizabeth II. I just called her "Mom."

She's not too big on feast days, unless it was my own. (She used to pin little shamrocks on all us kids before we'd head off to school on March 17). But I took it as a special honor to hear the call to the Society on November 17, the Feast of St. Elizabeth.

Sometimes the Lord will use small and seemingly insignificant events of our lives to communicate to us His will for us. Ignatius Loyola knew well that through feelings and motions of the soul, God was likely to communicate directly to the individual of His own love and grace. Through reflection and periodic review of our day-to-day experiences, we can come into closer communion with the Lord. Our desires more closely align themselves with His desire for us.

My mom was not too big on feast days, but she is a great one for reflection. She made a prayer space for herself next to her room, and she reads spiritual material when she can. In her own way, she likely does a brief Examen from time to time. Her mother was a great fan of the Jesuits, and my mom swears that it was only by her intercession that I too was led to follow the Lord along the path of Ignatius. AMDG.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Saints

Today the Society of Jesus celebrates the Feast of All Jesuit Saints and Blessed, a day when we remember well-known and not-so-well-known Jesuits who lived out their Christian lives heroically. I would like to pass on the words of a good friend, Fr. Brian Lehane, S.J., who reflects upon these names of holy men who have gone before us in the Society of Jesus.

Acknowledging this feast day to the young men at his Jesuit high school, Fr. Lehane writes, "We may believe that the saints and blessed belong to a former age, but at the end of the millennium, Pope John Paul II commissioned a Martyrology for the 20th century, so that we might not forget the exemplary love of God and neighbor shown by so many 20th century Christian men and women. Jesuit provinces from around the world contributed the names of members who suffered and, in many cases, died for the faith during various persecutions.

"Over three hundred names were gathered, including familiar names like Blessed Miguel Pro of Mexico, Fr. Alfred Delp of Nazi Germany, and Fr. Ignacio Ellacuria of El Salvador. Thirty Jesuits died in Nazi concentration camps, and almost fifty died at the hands of various Communist governments. In 1997 former Detroit Province Jesuit Thomas Gafney was murdered in India because of his stance against drug lords, and in 2001 Canadian Jesuit Martin Royackers was murdered in Jamaica, defending his parishioners from gang violence and political corruption.

"The two Jesuits murdered in Moscow last week join a long list of Jesuits who, when they were novices, prayed to Christ this prayer from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius: "I deeply desire to be with You in accepting all wrongs and all rejections and all poverty, both actual and spiritual--and I deliberately choose this, if it is for your greater service and praise" [98]. Today we remember especially all those Jesuits persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and we pray that many more men will step forward and answer Christ's call to serve Our Lord in the Company of Ignatius Loyola."

Click here for a complete list of Jesuit Saints and Martyrs.

On a lighter note, I close with this link from another good friend, Fr. James Martin, S.J. who writes for America Magazine. Fr. Jim stars in this brief video which gives a quick look at a few of his favorite saints. To read more about the saints from the experience of Fr. Jim Martin, click here to see a copy of his popular book, My Life With the Saints.