"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

[4/9] Novena of Grace: "I beg for the grace to be con grande animo (with magnanimous heart)"

Peter Paul Rubens: A servant of the Franciscans drags Ignatius back from chapel of Ascension


n important figure very close to the heart of every Spaniard like San Ignacio de Loyola is the apostle James who is the patron saint of Spain and, according to tradition, his remains are held in a cathedral in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, northwestern Spain. First among shared traits between the two saints is their being strong-willed to do "magis" (Latin for more) for the Lord, though sometimes to a fault. James was one of the first apostles to be called by Jesus and also the first to be martyred. He was one of the three favored apostles to be on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-9), and at Jesus's suffering in the garden of Gethsemane. We recall that with their mother's help, James and John, aka sons of thunder, asked Jesus to "promote" them to seats on his right and left in his glory. Jesus rebuked them for raising the wrong foot, so to speak. The other ten apostles were annoyed with their vainglory pursuits and it created a wrangling among them. This might ring a bell with Ignatius's known vainglory pursuits before his personal conversion.

All the apostles, every time they were with Jesus, had always something new to learn from Jesus's words and actions. They were invited constantly to conversion. And every time they listened with magnanimous spirit they were transformed by God's grace. Jesus was quick to detect in James and John the creeping attachment to vainglory and self-glorification. He 'crushes' them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup [of suffering and death] that I am going to drink?" (Mt 20:22). They were taught discernment of spirits, i.e. choosing Christ always, a constant endeavor where nobody is exempted.

St Ignatius had his own dose of being 'crushed'. Let us read the infamous account which Ignatius narrated as regards the wrangling over his project of staying in Jerusalem.
He wanted to show him the bulls giving them power to excommunicate, but he said he didn't need to see them, as he believed their reverences; inasmuch as they had decided with the authority they had, he would obey them. When this was over he returned to where he had been before. Since it was not Our Lord's will that he remain in those holy places, he felt a strong desire to visit Mount Olivet again before leaving. On Mount Olivet there is a stone from which Our Lord rose up to heaven, and His footprints are still seen there; this was what he wanted to see again. So without saying anything or taking a guide (for those who go without a Turk as guide run a great risk), he stole away from the others and went alone to Mount Olivet. But the guards did not want to let him enter. He gave them a desk knife that he carried, and after saying his prayer with deep consolation he felt the desire to go to Bethphage. While there he remembered that he had not clearly noticed on Mount Olivet in what direction the right foot was pointed nor in what direction the left. Returning there, I believe he gave his scissors to the guards so they would let him enter.

When it was learned in the monastery that he had gone out without a guide, the friars took steps to find him. So as he was coming down from Mount Olivet he met a "Christian of the belt" that is, a Syrian Christian who served in the monastery. He had a large staff and with a great show of annoyance made signs of striking him. When he came up to him he grabbed him harshly by the arm, but he let himself be led easily. The good man, however, never let him go. As he went along the road held in this way by the "Christian of the belt," he felt great consolation from our Lord, and it seemed to him that he saw Christ over him continually. This [consolation] lasted in great abundance until they reached the monastery.
Today is the fourth day of our Novena of Grace. As we retrace the footsteps of Ignatius the pilgrim when he embarked on a life-changing, far-reaching and intense journey exactly 500 years ago, let us heed the words of St Augustine, who was among the saints the pilgrim admired the most.
You now have the offering you are to make. No need to examine the herd, no need to outfit ships and travel to the most remote provinces in search of incense. Search within your heart for what is pleasing to God. Your heart must be crushed. Are you afraid that it might perish so? You have the reply: Create a clean heart in me, O God. For a clean heart to be created, the unclean one must be crushed... In some measure then you will be in harmony with God’s will, because you find displeasing in yourself what is abhorrent to your Creator.

Grace to beg for: "I beg for the grace to be con grande animo (with magnanimous heart)"

Suggested Scripture passages to ponder: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15—"persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed"; Matthew 20:20-28—"You will drink my chalice" (Gospel reading on the feast of St James, Apostle)

'TODAY, IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS'—EVER IN SCRIPTURE, IT IS THE HEART THAT PRAYS. In today's featured reading, what word or phrase from God speaks to me?—PONDER—LISTEN—THANK—SURRENDER. I contemplate God's word and then end with the OUR FATHER...

Repeat this prayer for nine successive days.

Suscipe (Prayer by St Ignatius)

ake, O Lord, and receive
all my liberty, my memory,
my understanding and my entire will. All I have and call my own. Thou hast given all to me, to Thee, O Lord, I return it. Everything belongs to Thee; do with it as Thou wilt. Give me only the love of Thee and with it Thy grace, that is enough for me. Amen.

With St Ignatius we pray:

oul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
And bid me come unto Thee,
That with all Thy saints,
I may praise Thee
Forever and ever.


St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.