Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Challenge of Praying to Saint Ignatius

Were I back in San Francisco, I’d be lighting a candle here today, in front of this statue of St. Ignatius in the church of his name where I’ve lit more candles than in any other place.

Ignatius, and a few of his modern companions, were my shuttle back into the Church after very turbulent late teen years. Today on his feast and forever, I will be grateful to him and the men in his company who have meant so much to me, and to most of my closest friends, who made similar journeys under their tutelage at the University of San Francisco.

It’s hard to pray for the intercession of St. Ignatius though, because you always know what he’s thinking and demanding:

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess.

Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

Well it’s not enough for me and a request for His love and His grace is usually not the sole content my prayers of petition. But asking St. Ignatius to intercede for what you want has the great benefit of reminding the pray-er of what he needs – the grace and love of God. Sometimes that’s not the comfort you want at the moment.

There is another prayer, sometimes falsely attributed to St. Ignatius, which was nonetheless central to his spirituality:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ's side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
and with Thy angels
Forever and ever

It’s a prayer that for me powerfully evokes the desire for His love and His grace and it makes what Amy Welborn (and others I’m sure) has called Ignatius’ Radical Prayer more credible – if no less challenging.

St. Ignatius, Pray for us.