Will the Real Ignatius Please Stand Up?
Ron Darwen SJ

On the 31st of July the Church celebrates the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, one of the founding fathers of the Society of Jesus and its first Superior General…

Ignatius, I cannot help but feel, would have been enchanted to read those words. They seem to sum up for me who he really was: mystic and militant, or, as Nadal put it: a contemplative in action. A hundred years after Ignatius’s death, a Belgian Jesuit, suggesting an epitaph for his grave stone, grappled with the same notion. It is in Latin and not easy to translate, but I will have a go:

Non coerceri a maximo, contineri tamen a minimo, divinum est.

(Not to be daunted or held back by the greatest challenge and yet to be concerned with the nitty-gritty, that is the path to holiness.)

Ignatius had an uncanny feel for the big picture. He could see the wood for the trees and at the same time realised the importance of the trees. William Blake’s words could well have come from Ignatius: “if you would do good, you must do it in minute particulars”. Ignatius the man of vision, the man of order, could do both at once. That is what modern Jesuits still try to do.

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