St. Ignatius Loyola by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2011/05/19 at 9:19 AM

• In the left transept of the church in Rome known as “il Gesu”, i.e., the Church of the Holy Name Jesus, is one of the most elaborate and beautiful tombs in all of Rome.

• Decorated with lapis and marble, this tomb is the final resting place of one of the Church’s most illustrious sons: St. Ignatius of Loyola.

• St. Ignatius, as you probably know, is the founder of the Society of Jesus, the religious order more popularly known as the Jesuits.

• While there is much to appreciate about the life of St. Ignatius and the amazing contributions the Jesuits have made to the life of the Church in the past 450 years, what I admire most about St. Ignatius is simply the way that he came to love our Lord.

• As a young man Ignatius was a soldier and a member of the royal court in the Kingdom of Castile. There the young Ignatius quickly developed a taste for all the luxuries and vanities that were available to him.

• At the age of 30, during a battle with the French in the city of Pamplona, Ignatius was wounded by a cannon ball and was forced to spend many long weeks recuperating at his home castle in Loyola.

• Fond of reading, he asked for books of knight‐errantry to pass the time, but there were none available in the castle, so he was given book on the life of Christ and a collection of the lives of the saints.

• Over the course of his recuperation he read these books several times, often reflecting upon what he read. Other times he would reflect upon his life at court and all that he enjoyed there.

• But over time the sagacious Ignatius began to recognize a difference. While Ignatius reflected upon the things of the world, he felt great pleasure, but he was left feeling dry and depressed after he dismissed these thoughts.

• But when he reflected upon the life of Christ or of the saints, he experienced joy both while he was thinking upon these things and even after these thoughts were gone.

• Thus St. Ignatius began to realize that one type of reflection left him sad and depressed, namely reflecting upon the things of the world, while another type of reflection – reflecting upon holy realities – filled him with joy.

• We are admonish us not to place our hopes and trust in the vanities of this world. We are cautioned against the dangers of greed and materialism.

• Our Lord is very clear that we are to guard our hearts from all greed and not put too much stock in our material possessions. What is important is not that we are materially rich, but that we are rich in what matters to God.

• And what matters to God, my friends, is virtue – is holiness. God doesn’t care how big our houses are, what type of cars we drive, or how much money is in our bank accounts. None of these things will matter when we stand before Him on judgment day.

• What will matter is how holy we’ve become during our time on earth. What will matter is how we’ve tried to grow in virtue throughout our lives. What will matter is how we used our material possessions to help others in need.

• What will matter, my brothers and sisters, is the gratitude we’ve shown God for all our many blessings. What will matter is how well we’ve loved both God and neighbor.

• Ultimately, what we learn from the conversion of St. Ignatius  is that the things of this world will never make us happy or give us true joy.

• To the contrary, focusing on the things of this world will only leave us feeling empty. That’s the great sadness of the sin of greed.

• Greed can never be sated; it can never be quenched. If left unchecked, greed simply continues to grow stronger within us, actually consuming our souls as we seek to consume the vanities of this world.

• This is why Jesus is so clear in His warning to us today, telling us to “Take care to guard against all greed.”

• If we place our hopes and trust in the things of this world, then we will end up like the rich man in our Gospel parable today: a fool who has nothing to show for himself on judgment day.

• So the vice of greed must be countered with the virtue of generosity. When we are able to detach from our material possessions and share them with others with charitable abandon, we provide a protection for our souls against greed.

• It is for this reason that contributing to the support of the Church is one of the 6 Precepts of the Church. It is for this reason that the Church promotes the concept of tithing, which means to give 10% of your gross earnings to charity.

• But in addition to providing our time, talent, and treasure to the Church and other charitable causes, we must also learn – like St. Ignatius – to “seek what is above…not of what is on earth” through prayer and meditation.

• There must be an active component to our quest for virtue. But there must be a contemplative component as well. We must learn to be both Martha and Mary, at times serving and giving of ourselves, while listening and reflecting at other times.

• This is how virtue and holiness grow within us: by actively doing virtuous things and by engaging in a life of prayer and contemplation.

• For it is in doing virtuous things that we serve our Lord, and it is in silent prayer that we hear His voice guiding us to what we should do.

• My dear brothers and sisters, as we consider the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola, I must ask you: Where do your hopes lie? In whom or what do you place your trust?

• If you are more concerned with the things of this world than you are with God, if you put more time into managing your money and worldly affairs than you do praying, then you are placing your soul in mortal danger.

• Therefore, let us pray today that our souls may be imbued with a spirit of Christian charity and generosity that we may love God by loving those who are less fortunate than ourselves.

• Let us also seek to raise our minds to the things of heaven, rather than dwelling on the things of earth through our prayer and contemplation.

• St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC


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