MISSION MATTERS: The Pilgrim
In the Quad on the west side of DuBourg Hall, a single statue of St. Ignatius stands tall. Today, the feast of St. Ignatius, at this time and place, this statue of Ignatius the Pilgrim holds more meaning for all of us than a campus-tour stop.
Throughout his whole life, Ignatius referred to himself over and over as a pilgrim. Even when he found himself in the work of an administrator in Rome, he continued to prefer this term of describing and understanding himself. Even though he was not able to travel as he had when he was young, his simple trust and reliance on God, the foundation of being a pilgrim, was the way he lived his life. He lived and worked knowing he must rely on God to give him the things he needed — food, shelter, strength, the will to continue, to understand and to live his passion, to make real the Society of Jesus. Like our statue, he tread his life with the knowledge that God cared for him, and the path and his necessities would be given him.
He also knew that the important work he was about was God's work, not his own. The success of this work was not totally dependent on him, but he only needed to do his little part. And that little part was to be open and free to God's love and presence in his life, while reflecting God's love and presence to others, to everyone he met, whether he knew them or not.
Ignatius taught us that God's presence, God's love, comes to us in other people and things, often the daily events of our often unremarkable lives. He showed and taught us that if we are awake and aware, God gives us all we need.
For most of us, this freedom and complete reliance on God are ideals — goals, perhaps. They are part of the Mission of Saint Louis University, and our personal mission perhaps, but they are still ideals, goals. We often find it difficult to experience, to desire, the freedom from our own worries, and the trust in God that takes. But at times, we can find encouragement and support as we follow in the footsteps of Ignatius.
In the past few weeks, we have seen and felt the way our community responded to the needs of a group of ours suddenly made homeless and needing most things most of us often take for granted. Our individual and communal responses reflect the many different ways the love and care God has for each of these people, for all of us. For the most part, we have found in our caring and concern a lightness of heart and soul, hope and gratitude, allowing us to transcend our own worries and needs. We have, in our little ways, been the hearts and hands of God for others.
On this feast of Ignatius, let us pray that we may learn to trust God a little more, and then even more, in our lives. We can pray that we might continue to support others, not only in dramatic times, but in all parts of our lives.
In doing so, we will become better pilgrims ourselves, and we will better reflect God's love and care for all we meet in our journeys, our own pilgrimage through life.
HAVE A BLESSED SAINT IGNATIUS DAY
Paul Stark, S.J.