Fr. Greg Pastoral Letter: An Ignatian Year Arrives

Five hundred years ago today, Spain and France were waging a border skirmish at Pamplona. A Basque soldier of minor nobility, Iñigo de Loyola, was gravely wounded when a cannonball shattered his leg. Greatly impressed by his bravery in battle, the French carried him on a litter to his family castle, a few days’ journey away. And so commenced what became a spiritual journey for Iñigo, as God took advantage of his boredom and his desire to do great deeds and began to shape and direct them in ways the former courtier could never have imagined, in ways that eventually gave the world and the Church St. Ignatius Loyola and his Spiritual Exercises.

For Iñigo, it was a grievous wound. Perhaps for us, it’s been a pandemic. Both opportunities for God to enter into hearts and minds shaken open because something was shattered, to invite us to reflect on our lives, our families, our work, our purpose. That invitation to something deeper continued for the rest of that young man’s life, as it does for us.

Worldwide this week, the Society of Jesus and our partners begin to celebrate an Ignatian Year, which also includes the March 12, 2022 commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the canonizations of St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier (along with St. Teresa of Avila, St. Isidore the Farmer, and St. Philip Neri). The celebration will conclude on the Feast of St. Ignatius next year, July 31, 2022.

In Jesuits West, our 10-state province, Jesuit schools, universities, parishes, and other works will engage the yearlong celebration. In the coming months, we will share information on events celebrating The Ignatian Year, and provide information on resources and ways to get involved.

On another note, several weeks ago, a parishioner recommended to me the TV series The Chosen. It’s a series about the life of Jesus, based on the four Gospels; however, it’s not simply produced from a script written directly from them. Rather, backstories of the familiar characters have been added (for example, as the series begins, we meet Mary of Magdala as a little girl in 2 B.C.), as have new characters and dialog. Some locations and timelines have been combined or condensed. However, all the biblical and historical context and the artistic (prayerful?) imagination are consistent with the truth and intention of the Scriptures.

I enthusiastically recommend The Chosen. My own experience is that the familiar stories are given depth and texture that my imagination had not previously seen. Most importantly, I find the way that Jesus is written and portrayed feels authentic and fresh. Of course, his goodness is apparent, but it’s conveyed through a kind sense of humor, quick side glances and subtle sensitive gestures not evident in the Gospels. I have said to several that this is a Jesus I want to follow. Often, my response to [re]watching an episode is to go pray. I hope that you enjoy The Chosen as much as I have, and that it is as fruitful for you as it has been for me.

Oremus pro invicem.

Fr. Greg