Ignatius had a profound encounter with God that began in Pamplona, Spain. He did not let his encounter with God end there, though. Ignatius continued to foster his relationship with God through prayer. Through prayer, Ignatius began to understand what it meant to be loved by
God, totally and freely. Through prayer, Ignatius also began to understand what it meant to love like
God. He understood that the love of God was foundational for him (First Principle and Foundation)
, and he understood that God’s love transformed him in such a way that it invited action (Contemplation on Divine Love
). Ignatius drew people to him because of who he was, a person rooted in Christ.
Much like Jesus, Ignatius remained connected and rooted in God. It was because of this continuing encounter with God that, “When Ignatius spoke about God and the things of God, he not only did so with sincerity and conviction, but it was evident to the people that he himself had experienced God, and the flames that had engulfed his heart also ignited theirs” (A Pilgrim’s Journey: The Autobiography of St. Ignatius of Loyola
I read somewhere once an interpretation of the Contemplation on Divine Love
where Ignatius defined love in this way: “Love consists of sharing what one has and what one is with those one loves. Love ought to show itself in deeds more than words.” Ignatius’ most certainly answered the invitation to share who he was and what one has with others.
Ignatius drew people to him because his authenticity founded in Christ. What we see in Ignatius, we are invited to do also: to allow ourselves to be loved by God so we can also participate in God’s work now. John 21: 15-19 captures how Jesus is not just offering us love only for ourselves, but at the same time, calling us to action.
“Peter, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord, I love you.”
“Feed my lambs.”
Do we understand that God is inviting us to be both loved by him and love like him?
How does prayer continue to help our understanding of God’s love for us?