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

[8/9] Novena of Grace: "I beg for the gift of tears"

Peter Paul Rubens: At Barcelona, Ignatius boards ship on his way to the Holy Land March 1523


lthough Ignatius, in his Autobiography (AB), did not say anything about the pilgrimage itinerary, two fellow pilgrims, namely, Peter Füessli, a Swiss member of the Grand Council of Zurich and Philippe Hagen from Strasbourg, were able to write an account of their group travels. Fr Maurice Gilbert SJ in his article Le pèlerinage d’Iñigo à Jérusalem en 1523 (translated by Fr Josef Mario Briffa SJ) included also other extant accounts of more or less contemporary pilgrimages that share a common timetable just to complete the big picture of their entire journey. What we know that comes from Ignatius's personal manifesto is that "On beholding the city, Ignatius was deeply affected, and the rest affirmed that they experienced a sort of heavenly joy. He always felt this same devotion whenever he visited the holy places" (AB 44-45).

Such a devotion is carried even throughout his life until his death. He says “At whatever time or hour he wanted to find God, he found him” (AB 99). We know also that when this kind of great consolation happens he is always moved to tears. Tears were signs of the sacred taking place in his interiority. St Peter Canisius, one of the earlier Jesuits, shares how Father Ignatius would regularly go for his early morning prayer on the roof of the Jesuit Generalate in Rome and there in the roof area he would stand and slowly take off his hat and without moving he would fix his gaze on the heavens for some time then sinking going down to his knees he would make a lovely gesture of reverence and respect to God and after that, he would sit on a bench to rest his weak sickly body because at that time he was already quite sickly and there he was head uncovered tears trickling drop by drop in such sweetness and silence that no sob, no sigh, no noise, no movement of the body was noticed. He was just very still gazing at the heavens.

In the accounts of Füessli and Hagen from 16 September 1523, Wednesday, four or five hundred Turkish soldiers arrived from Damascus in Jerusalem, so that the pilgrims are blocked at the convent of Mount Sion until Sunday, 20 September 1523. They were forcibly not allowed to go outside for fear of being kidnapped with no chance of being ransomed. The Franciscans knew that Ignatius did not have a single coin in his pocket. During those five days of being stranded and marooned inside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, Ignatius must have constantly looked up heavenwards with great reverence and found great consolation in the stars at night. Ignatius became completely interior and spiritual as he relished in his heart "heavenly joy" (AB 45). The heart of the future founder of the Society of Jesus was being formed through the outpouring of the Spirit's spiritual gifts or charisms which will flow into the hearts of his future sons—the Jesuits.

Füessli and Hagen report that when their ship was just about to dock they sang the Te Deum and the Salve Regina, as was the custom.

Today is the eighth day of our Novena of Grace in honor of St Ignatius of Loyola. We retrace the footsteps of the pilgrim when he embarked on a life-changing, far-reaching and intense journey exactly 500 years ago.

Grace to beg for: "I beg for the gift of tears"

Suggested Scripture passages to ponder: Te Deum; Luke 10:38-42—"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things" (Joint memorial of Sts Martha, Mary and Lazarus)

Te Deum

You are God, we praise you:
You are the Lord: we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
Throughout the world, the holy Church acclaims you:
Father of majesty unbounded,
Your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
And the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the King of Glory
The eternal Son of the Father.
When you became man to set us free,
You did not spurn the Virgin’s womb.
You overcame the sting of death,
And opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God’s right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come and be our judge.
Come then, Lord, and help your people,
Bought with the price of your own blood,
And bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.
Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance.
Govern and uphold them now and always
Day by day we bless you.
We praise your name forever.
Keep us today, Lord, from all sin.
Have mercy on us, Lord have Mercy
Lord, show us your Love and Mercy
for we put our trust in you.
In you, Lord, is our hope:
and we shall never hope in vain.


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.