Today is the memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The venerable Catholic Encyclopedia provides a good summary of his life. The lives of the saints are worth reading for their own sake as the saints were all many things but never dull. We Catholics read them to strengthen our resolve in the Christian life. The saints provide concrete examples of Christian living. Not all of us are called to be priests. Fewer of us enter religion than we probably should. Even if we do not follow them into service in the Church as a priest or religious, they provide outstanding examples of Catholic manhood and womanhood. Ignatius is one of my favorites for this reason.
He began his adult life as an ordinary soldier who hungered for military and courtly glory. During a siege, he was grievously wounded by a stray cannon ball that nearly took his leg. You could say that Ignatius *puts on sunglasses* got cannonized. YEEEEAAAAAHHHHHHHH
Excuse me. He was laid up for weeks. He asked for some chivalric romance stories to pass the time, but the only books on hand were the lives of Christ and the saints. Ignatius realized that visions of worldly achievement left him cold, but he was invigorated by thoughts of heavenly glory. He resolved to become a great saint, which he did.
His desire to amend his life and devote himself to the service of Christ and his Church came from God. We can't do any good thing without the grace of God. God gives us all necessary graces for salvation but we have to cooperate with his grace and his will. Ignatius did, and he founded one of the greatest orders in the Church. I love Ignatius and the Jesuits. It's heartbreaking for me to see how far the Jesuits have fallen from their early days. In the 21st century, there is no heresy, blasphemy, or sacrilege so outrageous that some Jesuit hasn't believed and preached it. In my personal experience, Jesuits are always either the very best or the very worst priests I've ever met. My buddy the youth minister once told a story about how he and a Jesuit priest were on a panel, and one of the questions from the youths was about the Church's teaching on contraception. My pal defended the Church's teaching. Afterward, he said, the Jesuit furiously told him off, asking who the hell he was to tell these kids what they could or could not do in the bedroom. So it goes.
At the risk of offending my tradcon readers, Ignatius was an alpha in the best sense of the word. God gave him the inspiration to be a saint and to do good things in the Church, and Ignatius followed through. Contrast his holiness, hunger for divine things, and tireless energy to promote the orthodox faith with... well, this. How long, O Lord? St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us and for your order.