Today we honor St. Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius was born into a noble Basque family in 1491. An enthusiastic soldier, he was seriously wounded in 1521. During his convalescence, he experienced a profound spiritual awakening. Ignatius began to share his experience with others, eventually writing the “Spiritual Exercises,” which continues to be an influential work. Ignatius went to school in Paris to become a priest, and eventually gathered with others to form the Society of Jesus – known today as the Jesuits. Theirs was a strict vow of poverty and service to the needs of the poor. Ignatius died in 1556, having sought to find God in all things and to do all things for God’s greater glory.
Ignatius certainly was living the life that Paul commanded to the Corinthians in our Epistle lesson today. Paul says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God …” Now I don’t know about you, but having everything in one’s life be for the glory of God is not that easy. I am pretty sure my frustrations and occasional foul language while driving does not glorify God. I am pretty sure my impatience at the doctor’s office does not glorify God. I am pretty sure my actively ignoring a homeless person does not glorify God.
One of the great blessings of having young children in my life is the ways in which they are always watching me. My older daughter regularly asks why I say and do certain things. I often find myself either apologizing for setting a bad example or censoring myself before she can catch me. But just because we might not have a 4-year-old in the back seat does not mean that others are not watching us – and making judgments about what living as a Christian means.
What I like about St. Ignatius of Loyola is that he does not try to do all things for God’s greater glory alone. He gathers a community and they hold each other accountable. Though we do not always invite that same accountability into our lives, the opportunity is there. Whether it is in public or private confession, soliciting communal prayers or finding a private prayer partner – the church is here to help us follow Jesus. Together we can glorify God better than any of us can on our own. Amen.