Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What Gets You Up in the Morning?

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

By Colleen O’Sullivan
As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while he conversed with the Lord.  (Exodus 34:29)
Jesus said to his disciples:  “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”  (Matthew 13:44-46)


“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.  What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.  It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.  Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.”
(Attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Superior General of the Jesuits 1965-1983)


Born in 1491 in the Basque region of northern Spain, St. Ignatius of Loyola, or Iñigo as he was known then, came to be quite full of himself as a teenager and young adult.  After 10 years as a page and courtier in the household of the Treasurer of Castile, his head was filled with visions of knightly grandeur and beautiful young women.  When the Treasurer fell out of favor, that life ended and Ignatius became a soldier, but his military career was cut short by a serious wound suffered in battle at Pamplona against the French.

Back at the family home recuperating, he found himself bored to tears.  He thought he could pass the time by reading popular novels full of his favorite topics, knightly exploits and beautiful young ladies.  Alas, there were no such books to be found in Loyola, only a life of Christ and a book on the lives of the saints.  Funny how God works sometimes! 

With nothing better to do, Ignatius started reading.  After a while, he admitted to himself that he wasn’t getting the usual kick out of daydreaming about impressing and wooing young women.  In fact, he was finding it much more fulfilling imagining himself doing great deeds for God, like the saints he was reading about! 

Ignatius’ life truly never was the same again.  All the vanity of his youth was put aside.  He was transformed, just as Moses was transformed by being in the presence of God.  As Fr. Arrupe notes, what or whom we love becomes our reason for getting up every morning and determines how we spend our days.  Like the man in the first parable in today’s Gospel reading, Ignatius let everything else go and sought only the treasure he found in Christ.  Ignatius went on to put together his well-known Spiritual Exercises and to found the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits, as they are popularly known.


What gets you up in the morning?  What gives you joy?  For what treasure will you give up everything else?  Is it God, or do you value something or someone else more?

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