By Fr. Paul Stark, S.J.
Vice president for Mission and Ministry
Yesterday at SLU we celebrated our Mission and our community at the Cannonball Picnic, an event reminding us of a very serious injury to Ignatius of Loyola, a 30-year-old Basque soldier, at what really was a pretty insignificant battle in May, 1521.
His French enemies gave the brave and valiant Ignatius medical treatment and transported him back to his family in Loyola. There, this vain and worldly warrior requested and endured an additional life-threatening surgery so he would look good in the fashions of the day.
During his long convalescence, he experienced not only physical healing, but also a spiritual conversion that lead to a radical redirection of his life. From that event, some 490 years ago, we have the principles at the very center of all our work at SLU. In many ways, the cannonball and the injury suffered by Ignatius on the walls of Pamplona, Spain, mark the beginnings of his-- and our--spiritual journeys, and certainly our work at SLU.
Ignatius and his story remind us that good things--triumphs--sometimes come out of events we initially see as tragedies. Whether these are minor setbacks in daily life or major disasters, God uses these times in our lives as invitations for us to look at our lives in new ways, to see ourselves more honestly, and to choose directions which draw us closer to God, closer to our real selves.
As we celebrate the journey and conversion of Ignatius from a knight to a great spiritual leader, we can also take some time to consider our own lives and the directions we choose, from the opportunities we receive. God invites us to be in companionship with Him, as much as He invited Ignatius. Ignatius accepted the invitation. How are we doing with that?
Thanks to the cannonball, we can follow Ignatius.