I have a mug much like the one Ignatius is sporting in this picture, and it's the one I often take when I go up to the Jesuit Center at Wernersville.
Today my mug full of tea says on it "AMDG" — for Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam to the greater glory of God — a gift from Crash after I made the Spiritual Exercises.
When I made the Exercises I kept an off-beat schedule, often awake until nearly dawn. I'd sleep for a few hours, then get up around 7:30. I'd make myself a cup of tea in my room, then sit by the window to pray Morning Prayer and make the first contemplation of the day. My view was of the tabernacle in the chapel, its flame bravely flickering in the pale winter morning, and of the heaving, achingly cold Atlantic. The warm cup in my hand, steam circling above the surface, rising gently like my prayers was an anchor. Like monastic bells, the caffeine brought me sharply back to wakefulness.
The first bracing sip of tea in the morning remains a grace as far as I'm concerned, and one that often nudges me to do a bit of Ignatian repetition. Like Alice tumbling into Wonderland, I sometimes find myself tumbling into my teacup and back into the Exercises. I am drawn momentarily deeper “wherein the fruit chiefly lies”, as an old manual for Jesuit spiritual directors puts it.
I like my tea strong, black and sweet. There is something in the balance between the sweet and the bitter, the soothing warmth and the bracing caffeine that speaks to me of God, of a love poured forth in bitter anguish, that yet fills me up, sustains me in joy and gives me strength.
"Give me only your love and your grace and I'm rich enough and ask for nothing more."
Happy feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola!
And my evening activity is sending the last of the notes with St. Ignatius bookmarks. If you'd like one, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.