Saint Ignatius College Geelong

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    Faith Matters - Not me but him

    Article by Mr Brendan Nicholls

    Faith Matters – Not me but him

    Yesterday we celebrated the feast day of our patron St Ignatius of Loyola. It was a wonderful day for us as a community to come together and celebrate our College and remember St Ignatius. The day was not just a break from the routine, but a chance for us to come together and reflect as a community. By being together in an informal way we are able see things in a different way. At the College we put much effort into prompt thinking around giving back, by acknowledging our privileged position and our ability to make change in the world during the day. We also seek to open up a conversation about who St Ignatius was and why we celebrate his life and legacy on the day.

    It is interesting to note that we celebrate feast day on the day St Ignatius died (31 July 1556), which may seem strange to some. However, in doing so we do not celebrate the fact that he died as such. What we celebrate is that on this date he returned home and entered into a different phase of his eternal life. Ignatius is a beacon that we look to as a guide both through his life story and today in heaven, connected to us through the communion of saints.

    On feast day we celebrate both the life and legacy of St Ignatius. From the outside looking in it may seem that he is in some way being worshiped by the community. After all, on feast day we talk about him, pray to him and for him. He is not an idol however. This may be a temptation for some because St Ignatius lived a life that we can truly relate to and understand. In his early years he was egotistical and vain. These traits lead to his injuries at Pamplona and a period of reflection and conversion. Many of us can see links as to how the life of Ignatius is similar to our own. In knowing Ignatius we also make use of the spiritual legacy that he offers which provides a way we might develop our faith. For us as a community we do not idolize St Ignatius, but we do celebrate and commemorate his life and his legacy. Ignatius might correct those who do not understand by saying, “Not me but Him!”.

    When we consider feast day we find that what we celebrate is that Ignatius leads us to Jesus. He offers us a bridge that connects what we know and experience in the modern world to the Risen Lord. Ignatius was proclaimed a saint because of his life, the revelation he experienced and offers in his spiritual exercises. His connection with the Trinity is what we strive for and in knowing Ignatius we find a way to develop the same connection he had through his legacy.

    A profitable way to understand Ignatius’ vision and teaching is to consider the ‘principle and foundation’ of his spiritual exercises. This teaching articulates a number of profound insights. It begins by stating, “The human person is created to praise, reverence and serve God Our Lord, and by so doing to save his or her soul”. Ignatius’ primary view point is that we are created and have therefore an innate desire to seek and follow God. The text furthers this in stating that other created things have been created to help the individual to achieve the end for which they have been created and that we can achieve this only through the freedom offered by God. He concludes this overview by saying, “…but we should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created”.

    On feast day these points are what we celebrate. Through the teachings of Ignatius, we are more able to find God in our daily lives. We celebrate his life as an example of how we too might be able to come to know God as he did. We also celebrate his sainthood and the fact that he intercedes on our behalf with the Father.

    Throughout the spiritual exercises Ignatius identifies Jesus as the way to reach the goal we have been created to achieve and in so doing the gift of consolation. When we celebrate St Ignatius life and his legacy, we look to him as a beacon whom may guide us to know Jesus intimately and live as he taught. In following the teachings of Ignatius we are able to enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus, live in a manner that changes the lives and prepares us for the next phase of our eternal life where we will be reunited with the Trinity and all who have lived and will live in the future; including Ignatius.

     As we reflect upon feast day and move forward towards the end of the school year we are further inspired by St Ignatius because of our celebrations yesterday. We are encouraged to understand his teachings more fully and implement them into our lives for our benefit and for the benefit of others. In doing this we are guided towards Jesus and a profound awareness of his presence in our lives. As a community we strive to understand St Ignatius as a person and a saint whom we are connected to and guided by. I hope these thoughts inspire you to see through the eyes of Ignatius as we remember him this week.

     Yours in Chirst,

    Brendan Nicholls  Liturgy Coordinator


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