Saturday, July 31, 2010

it's a feast! so enjoy!

I'm tryin to tell you somethin bout my life

The last few days have seen the unique torture of moving every item you own out of your house, complete with Nick somehow bending space and time to fit our entire 1000 sq ft apartment into the tiniest U-Haul I've ever seen:


AND with our subsequent semiserious leg injuries from running into the trailer hitch with all our might:

like this but solid metal with more sharp edges

And in the midst of the please-let-this-be-over-soon madness, I got an email from Kevin Wildes SJ PhD, the president of my beloved alma mater Loyola University New Orleans, reminding me that today is the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus and patron saint of the university.

Father Wildes' email contains an excellent summary of Iggie's life that you might enjoy.

Ignatius was born in 1491 as a member of the Basque noble family. He was a courtier and military officer who eventually was wounded in battle. While recovering from his wounds, Ignatius had a deep, personal experience of God's love for him and all creation. Over time he developed an ever deepening awareness that creation was filled with God's presence and that God labored for all members of creation. Because of this experience, Ignatius believed it was possible to "find God in all things." For Ignatius, even the smallest things could lead him to unity with God and he lived his life to give witness to the God of love.

Ignatius and his early companions quickly found themselves at home in universities. Ignatius and the Jesuits thought that universities, which celebrate human accomplishment in the arts, sciences, and the professions, are places where God can be encountered. Ignatius also understood that ideas were not only things to be studied for their own sake but, he believed, our ideas affect who we become as people. Ideas affect the lives we lead, and in this way, they shape the world.

St. Ignatius has inspired and touched me ever since my Ignatian Spirituality class in college with Father Fagin. Iggie's life and legacy fascinates me, and I feel a very special connection with Ignatian spirituality that transcends religion. The tenets of self-awareness, effective love, discernment, and even of finding God in all things speak to me as an atheist and work for me completely in my worldview, so long as I think of "God" as another way of saying "the energy that connects everything," which, let's face it, it basically is.

handsome fellow, huh?

I feel like my years at Loyola really educated me as a whole person--which is one of the hallmarks of Jesuit education--but it wasn't just the 10000 Classics classes I was able to savor. What I learned in that Ignatian Spirituality class alone was worth all four years of tuition. Know yourself. Show your love through your deeds. Wait to make a decision until a feeling of peace moves through you. And most importantly, look for that energy that connects everything everywhere. Have gratitude for it always.

Happy feast of St. Ignatius Loyola! Wish us luck as we travel to Nashville today!

Discussion Question:
Have you ever connected with a religious figure or text or whatever outside of your religious beliefs?


  1. Yeah, I agree that Jesuits are badass -- in a good way (though when you get to the missonary part, maybe not so good).

    Have a good trip to Nashville, and hit the Yazoo brewery if you can. Good place to feast. :-)

  2. In all my years as a Nashvillian I have never been to Yazoo. I ought to check it out! I'm always at Jackson's and Cafe Coco, such a creature of habit.

  3. Kristen Zeitner HenryAugust 4, 2010 at 9:31 PM

    Hello, you are on my Google reader- about darn time!

    Hmmm, I have certainly enjoyed poetry written by authors with different religious views from my own that helped me arrive at some important truth. And I do love me some Catholic liturgy from time to time, although I believe in the same God they do, so it's not really so "different."

    More than material from a totally different religious viewpoint, I find I've connected with a lot of material from a non-religious or simply neutral viewpoint. I would heartily agree with St. Ignatius that God is everywhere; his fingerprints cover the world, the way I see it. One of my favorite passages in the New Testament is from Acts 17, in which Paul goes to Athens and is brought to the Areopagus to explain his preaching. The entire speech is absolutely beautiful to me, but at the end he quotes a line familiar to the minds gathered there to illustrate his point ("your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring'"). This passage has inspired me to look for God in everything, not just so I can relate to others about him, but so I can enjoy his presence and creation- of course this includes nature, but I am specifically thinking of the talents of people. I find myself very grateful and aware of God when I take in really good art, music, books, and even food- I believe it is all the work of his hands, and I'm delighted that he gave me a MIND able to find him anywhere. As Paul says of God's creating the world, "God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us." Not far, indeed.

    Thanks for your thoughts as always, and please enjoy Nashville to its fullest without further injury!

  4. Your question: connecting with a spiritual leader outside of my religion.

    I love to read Wayne Dyer's work. I love everything he has written.

    There, I said it.

    To most folks in my immediate circle, he is considered a "new age" writer. There I said the "new age" word right out loud and in front of everyone.

    Wayne Dyer is not a United Methodist writer and I love to read his work.

    "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." - WD

  5. sorry i am just getting to read this!

    i went to an Anglican church regularly when i was living in Ireland. i am not remotely Christian, in fact my idea of God seems to be (at least superficially) just what yours is. but for some reason the way spirituality was talked about at that church didn't seem to be Christ-centric, but more holistic. i loved it and really miss it.