About a year and a half ago, my husband came home one night after having dinner with an old friend and asked if I knew much about St. Ignatius of Loyola. I was caught off guard by the question because although we were actively practicing the faith at that time, we rarely discussed the saints or anything that Catholic. “No,” I told him bluntly and handed him the baby, eager to have a break from her after a long day.
“Matt says my story reminds him of St. Ignatius’ story,” he continued.
“That’s nice,” I replied, attempting to steer clear of the topic. From what I did know of St. Ignatius, he was one of those heroic saints who willingly made monumental sacrifices and embraced a penitent lifestyle. I was intimidated by his type and preferred not to delve too deep into their stories for fear that I would subsequently be led to take drastic, spiritual measures such as becoming a hermit or wearing a hair shirt.
Little did I know, however, just how appropriate St. Ignatius was for our family at that time. My husband and I, although we embraced our vocations as spouses and parents, were both attempting to discover our unique callings in the professional world. Neither of us was doing work that fulfilled us and we found ourselves frequently feeling stuck and discouraged.
Within a few months of my husband’s initial mentioning of St. Ignatius, I became a contributing writer for the Loyola Press website. Shortly thereafter, I received Jim Manney’s book, God finds us: An Experience of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, in the mail and was struck by the author’s explanation of St. Ignatius’ longing for us to discover “the things that drive you, that you’re in love with, that get you out of bed in the morning (or keep you there).” In other words, he was passionate about people discovering their true callings, just as we had been attempting to do.
I reread the line to my husband and asked if he knew this about St. Ignatius. He smiled. “Of course. Why do you think I like him so much?” With that, my hesitation to befriend this fabulous saint was trampled and he’s now our family’s most beloved intercessor after the Blessed Mother.
I’m sharing our experience of St. Ignatius this month because July 1 marked the first day of Loyola Press’ 7th annual 31 Days with St. Ignatius. Each day of the month features an article by inspiring authors such as Vinita Hampton Wright and, of course, Jim Manney. The 31 days wrap up on the feast of St. Ignatius, July 31.
If you’re hesitant to familiarize yourself with St. Ignatius, it might help to know that his way is an especially convenient one for mothers. It seeks the experience God in all things, namely, our five senses. Busy mothers are often unable to make time for quiet, contemplative prayer but Ignatius encourages us to find God in everything we experience, such as the sweet scent of our children’s skin or the sound of their innocent laughter.
Even if you only find time to read a few of the 31 Days reflections, it will be well worth your time. Whatever you desire as a mother, whether it’s to discover your personal calling in addition to parenthood or simply to achieve some relaxation for yourself, God is there in that longing and St. Ignatius is eager to show you how to find him.
Copyright 2016 Elizabeth Pardi