So that’s Latin. Since I sure as heck didn’t study Latin, here’s what it means:
“To the Greater Glory of God…”
A noble motto from Saint Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits (literally followers of Jesus) whose feast day we celebrate 31 July (today!)
So, I am a groupie of Saint Ignatius, (1491-1556), a Spanish noble who made some major life changes after a mystical experience during convalescence from a battle wound, totally devoted his life to Jesus & then enlisted buddies to join him in this new way of living, thinking & doing. Approved by the Pope during that time (whom they also served since they couldn’t make it to the Holy Land), the fledgling order founded universities, sent missionaries (ever wonder why so many international schools are called “St. Xavier’s?”) & prayed & prayed & prayed while being the hands & feet of Jesus to those around them.
The Jesuits & the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius have lasted & lasted (not without a bit of turmoil along the way) .. but today Jesuits still serve Jesus the world over in so many ways – running universities, assisting refugees (Jesuit Refugee Service), through churches (Holy Trinity in DC a favorite), facilitating spiritual growth (retreat centers, Spiritual Exercises workshops, books & more), sharing faith in Jesus, providing social commentary (America Magazine, a fav) & well, too much to list.
Fr. Timothy King was the first Jesuit I ever met while taking an evening class on Teilhard de Chardin at Georgetown University in D.C. That was 23 years ago & I still remember his humble spirit as he ‘unpacked’ his fellow Jesuit’s spiritual writings (that were not allowed to be published during the life of Teilhard de Chardin – a great scientist – altho his writings had major impact on Vatican II!) The thing is, Evangelical Me was so impressed how Fr. King loved Jesus. Big-time.
I also so appreciated going to Holy Trinity every morning (they had 7:00AM & 8:00AM masses as i recall? or maybe it was 6:45? whatever, easy to zip in & zip back to work) & occasionally their Sunday evening service with friends (my Gospel Catholic service usually took up 1/2 the day so that was not too often. : )
All this to say, I have always liked the Jesuits: special place in heart & all that. Then, since returning from Africa I have been blessed TWICE with 8-day silent retreats at the Jesuit Spiritual Centre in Wernersville, PA.
The first time I picked the place from online options to seek discernment re: Ph.D. programs. Many Jesuits are total braniacs, so go figure it would be wise to consult their input in a structured manner during a directed silent retreat using the Spiritual Exercises.
OK, so God has a BIG sense of humor & instead of getting one of those brainiac Jesuits, Sister Maria was assigned my spiritual director for the week. A few internal pouts later (!) her strategic direction turned out to be TOTALLY a gift from God – maybe not eureka Ph.D. steps, but lots of healing, healing, and more healing. Sr. Maria gave me 2Corinthians 4, those jars of clay verses, to contemplate. Humph! I had those verses on my office wall in the Middle East & memorized them eons ago. But at the very end – 8 days of praying is lots of work – I realized that yes, we may be cracked clay pots (Virginia to our Tanzanian staff, ‘but isn’t it grand that as our cracks get wider there’s more room for the light of Christ to shine through??’) But guess what??
THERE’S TREASURE INSIDE OF US: RUBIES, EMERALDS & DIAMONDS OF THE HEAVENLY REALM….
…& guess what, diamonds are hard to crush.
YAAAY God(!) And many thanks to Sr. Maria. Then the next year I zoomed back for another 8-day dose of silent prayer with a dear friend who was really blessed with Sr. Maria’s direction. That time I had a blast praying with Sister Sarah. Literally. Lots of Holy Hilarity (I am a firm believer that God does indeed have a sense of humor!!) & serious prayer. She confirmed my earnestly seeking prayers about becoming a nun. (‘Twas a ‘No.’) Sr. Sarah affirmed that I am far too independent (which makes lots of sense since I’ve had a hard time in that commit to one-male for life thing; to join an order you kinda commit to lots of folks in that community living thing.) But there were other blessed prayed-for truths:
“Receive My Love anew, to BE My love anew…”
“Study My Words. Know My Words. Be My Words.”
So that may not seem like much after 8 days of prayer, but know what? The last 3 years I have asked God every day to pour out His love anew into this (valuable) clay pot, so that I may BE His love anew. I also ask every day that His words permeate my life… which of course involves study in that ‘spiritual processing’ mode to know & then do (& it does help to say a little prayer before opening my mouth, my very-big-tends-to blurt it out mouth.)
8 days of prayer — silence, meditation, listening to God – the Spiritual Exercises (faith is a process, a ‘daily-take-up-your-cross’ & follow Jesus kinda deal.) I highly recommend (& for my Evangelical/Protestant this is freaking me out buddies, both times I went on this adventure there were LOTS of traditions represented in the retreatants- Lutheran, Episcopal, Evangelical, & even some folks i’ve never heard of..)
There’s also the Trappist Option. I made my first week-long silent retreat 22 (or 23?) years ago at Gethsemane Abbey where Thomas Merton was a monk. But that will have to wait for another posting as dinner is now becoming a very hasty scallop stir-fry (minus the must-bake-an hour butternut squash.)
So, today as we celebrate the life of St. Ignatius & the continued Jesuit faith-legacy-builders around the world —
…Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam…
grace, peace & God’s Glory
Virginia : )