Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Images of Ignatius of Loyola: Call Me Lopez



When I began making St. Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises, at Eastern Point in Gloucester, Massachusetts in the winter of 2009, my director began by sharing one of his encounters with Ignatius — an accidental encounter in an elective class during his seminary years that rapidly unfolded into a Jesuit vocation — and a bit of Ignatius' life. It was, he thought, important to have a sense of the man who had crafted these Exercises I was about to make.

He handed me a postcard with an image of Ignatius writing at his desk, noting he had picked it because it was the least intimidating of the images of Ignatius he could find.

Frankly, I had never thought of Ignatius as intimidating, having first met him casually over coffee with a friend in Bryn Mawr, we have a relationship that has grown gradually deeper and richer over the years and decades. Enigmatic, yes. Challenging? Absolutely. But I always found the saint's persona to be inviting and invigorating, rather than intimidating. The postcard sat on my desk for the duration of the Exercises, one link among many across the centuries to this extraordinary man, and now hangs over my desk even as I write this.

The image of Ignatius that is most firmly stuck in my mind is not the one on the postcard but the one that hung on the stairs up to my director's office at Eastern Point and therefore greeted me each morning of the Exercises (top left). It's the mix of the smile and wise eyes that still delights me in this picture. Each morning as I mounted the steps, I felt as if Ignatius knew the road I was walking in these 4 weeks, its difficulties and its joys, and was shooing me upstairs to talk about it, and have my feet gently set on the next step of the path he had sketched out 500 years ago. (When I showed the picture to my regular spiritual director, more than 50 years a Jesuit, he said, "Can it really be Ignatius, he's smiling?" I pointed out that the name on the shield seemed to unequivocallly identify the bearer.)

Loyoal Press has just published Margaret Silf's Call Me López, an imaginative spiritual biography of Ignatius of Loyola, framed as a conversation between Ignatius Oñaz López de Loyola — "call me López" — and Rachel, a fictional 21st century spiritual writer and giver of retreats. [Full disclosure: Loyola Press sent me an advanced copy of the book, and a copy to give away to readers of my blog, with no strings attached. Really full disclosure, I'd already pre-ordered the book!] Having my own strong images of Ignatius, I worried if reading Call Me López would be like seeing the movie after reading a book you adored, where the beloved main character's voice and appearance are at utter odds with the images in your mind.

Short answer. No. I was swept away from the first pages, so much so in fact, that reading it while I waited for someone to come fetch me, it took an effort of will to recall myself to where I was and what I was doing when she arrived.

I loved the image of Ignatius inside the front cover, so like the one on my wall, but warmer and lighter. There is a terrific timeline of Ignatius' life in the back cover. I wish this book had existed when I made the Exercises. I would have left it for my husband and sons to read, to let Ignatius companion them as he companioned me.

Reading this book gently drew me back into some of the movements of the Exercises, not so much in their details, but in their depths — a welcome touch of Ignatian repetition in a year where my week's retreat was more Carthusian in tone than Ignatian.

I have more to say about the book itself, but will save that for another post. If you've wondered about Ignatian spirituality, or the Exercises, Margaret Silf's book is a wonderful way to discover what lies at their heart.


If you'd like to win a copy of Margaret Silf's Just Call Me López to read, courtesy of Loyola Press, enter by leaving me a comment on this post. I'll fire up my random number generator and pick a winner next Tuesday (July 24th) If you like, tell me how you met Ignatius, and what your first impressions were.

If you can't wait to see if you win, the lovely people at Loyola Press are offering a 30% discount on the book through July 31 (the feast of St. Ignatius). Use the code LOPEZ before 8/31/12 at Loyola Press' site.

28 comments:

  1. I met St. Ignatius through a wonderful sprirtual director training program. A nearby community of Benedictine sisters offerred a retreat in daily life, a 7 month journey with Ignatius.

    It took some time before I appreciated his wisdom. Loved the different methods of praying and the discipline.

    Met him again years later when I made the retreat again through a Protestant spiritual director training program.

    Happened on this image and love it
    http://www.montserratretreat.org/

    Heading on over to order the book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'll have to let us know what you think of the book! And that image of Ignatius is beautiful, it would be lovely to see it all lit up...

      Delete
  2. i've never really met St. Ignatius but suspect it would do me a great deal of good to at least become acquainted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This book is a nice way to get to know Ignatius, but there is a lovely intro to Ignatian prayer at Pray as You Go: http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/wayofignatius.htm

      Delete
  3. I've been intrigued by St. Ignatius since I started reading your blog and Metanoia (Gannet Girl's) blog... So for a while. I've been prompted to improve my prayer life -- regularly using pray as you go -- with the thought that I might build a discipline that could turn into something more. (Waiting for some things to settle out at church to know how far afield I have to go for spiritual direction).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm definitely a fan of Pray as You Go, too! May things settle soon...

      Delete
  4. I'd love to win a copy of this book!! I keep looking for my own Jesuit encounter as well. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You had an Ignatian encounter in Cleveland, though!!

      Delete
  5. Elaine9:33 PM

    I met St. Ignatius in a round about way. About 10 years ago someone gave me a copy of a book called "The Way to Love" by Anthony De Mello, S.J. I have since read all De Mello's books. His Jesuit trained words penetrated by soul. I did look into the Spiritual Exercises, but was intimidated. Just this past February, I cam across a short blip on The Jesuit Post about "how do you teach a twelve-year old to pray?" You cannot get anymore basic. For now, I am very content to know St. Ignatiius as a twelve-year old!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of the things I particularly appreciate about St. Ignatius' approach to prayer is his advice to adapt and adjust his methods to each person's situation. We pray as we can!

      Delete
  6. Michelle,

    Have tried commenting multiple times. Going out of my mind! Thanks for your kind words about Ignatius, Margaret's book and Loyola Press.

    Paul

    ReplyDelete
  7. Julianne2:08 PM

    A few years ago I had come to a full stop in my spiritual life. In desperation I found a director. When I went to meet her, she told me she was an Ignatian Director and if I went with her I would be doing the Spiritual Exercises. I didn't know what they were but I started anyway. The exercises transformed my spiritual life. On the suggestion of my director I did a course and as of this summer, I am, myself a trained Ignatian director. Last Easter I was received into the Catholic Church, I had St Ignatius as my confirmation saint.

    A couple of years ago there was an exhibition at the National Gallery in London; The Sacred Made Real. The statue of St Ignatius captured my attention for a long time (slide 12 on the slide show): http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2010/sacred/slideshow/index.shtm#

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That word "transform" comes up consistently where the Exercises are concerned!

      Delete
  8. I met Ignatius I suppose at first on account of you, but got better acquainted during a heart-set-afire nine months with JVC. What is the most handy (for me) aspect of Ignatian spirituality I've latched on to? Discernment: all that deepest desires and consolation and desolation business running about, hopefully not amok. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. You can be in someone's presence for years and never know it. I was raised in Cali, Colombia and my home address was "Calle de Loyola #18". When my older brother graduated high school and went off to university, he enrolled at "Universidad Javeriana"--a Jesuit univeristy in Bogotá. I started out at a woman's college in Virginia (RMWC) but ended up transferring to Loyola University in New Orleans. When my parents left Colombia, they sold their house to the Jesuit high school (Manresa) down the road from us. And then, about 4 years ago, thanks to discovering RevGalBlogPals, I discovered "Pray As You Go" through the person I knew then as Gannett Girl and then I made an 8-day retreat at Loyola House in Faulkner Maryland, and this year in January another one at Eastern Point, and now am slowly, ever so slowly, walking the "Exercises in Everyday Life". I still am only just beginning to feel like I have met Ignatius, but I really, really like his friends and I am glad to finally start making his acquaintance

    ReplyDelete
  10. I also would like to get the book. I am rereading Margaret Silf's book on Ignatian Spirituality right now before I head on an Ignatian retreat next week. I came into contact with Ignatius via the Creighton Online Ministries website. I found the daily reflections especially interesting as I know some of the writers since I live in Omaha. I find his exercises useful for me especially composition of place and the examen.
    Smcrvl

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous7:24 PM

    I met St. Ignatius through Michael Gaitley -" Consoling the Heart of Jesus” I hope that one day I can attend a retreat, but for now I can’t get enough of St. Ignatius and I tell everyone about him.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I met him through "The Inner Compass"! Margaret Silf is great.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Maria8:50 AM

    I went to a voluntary work experience with the Jesuits. It was really a good experience and getting to know some of the jesuits, I was curious to knwo more about Ignatius. I was fascinatied by his life and his practicality. His life and his spirituality still give me a lot of energy and I am always on the look out for something more to read about him and his spirituality :-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous7:22 PM

    I first met St. Ignatius as a young girl reading about the lives of saints. his life intrigued and fascinated me. Then life happened and he receded into the background. Until, a young seminarian and my spiritual director introduced me to the Examen. Fr Martin's books then caught my attention. Praying for grace to continue on this path.....

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anonymous7:28 PM

    I first met St. Ignatius while reading the lives of saints as a young girl. His life intrigued and fascinated me. Then life intervened and he receded to the background until a young seminarian and my spiritual director introduced me to the Examen. It took a while for me to make it my own. I continued this journey by stumbling upon Fr Martin's writings and here I am....praying for the grace to continue on this path.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Interesting! Thanks for sharing about this book. Sounds like a great read.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Have been a member of a Jesuit Parish for many years and have been introduced to Ignatian Spirituality on various occasions. I still feel very much like a newcomer to actually living an Ignatian daily life. This book sounds like a place to start.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Membership in a Jesuit parish was my introduction. Still learning more about him and Ignatian Spirituality is an ongoing goal. I think this book might be a real help.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wilma5:45 PM

    I have met Ignatius without realising he was praying with me. I learnt the Examen when I was 18 and remembered it and reintroduced it to my life when I was doing an online retreat through Ignatius Press (in the last year) I also managed to see snippets of a programme on the Ignation Rule on EWTN and found myself quoting Excrcise No 5 at our Parish Mums group. I like all I see of this and would like to gently learn more.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Graciela7:12 PM

    I guess Ignatius has always been a aprt of my life since my father attended Belen Jesuit in Cuba and ever since I have grown up listening to the stories told about the Jesuits. However, when I really got close to him was when I read that Ignatius might have suffered from PTSD from his days as a soldier and being wounded. You see, my husband was a Vietnam helicopter pilot who was wounded in both legs and our family had to learn to face PTSD up close @ home.
    I would really like to know more about Ignatius and his personal feelings concerning his convalescence and how this affected his life later on. How many benefits has Ignatius passed on to so many worldwide. I feel he can definitely help veterans to overcome their difficulties and help them to attain peace. I would like to pass on Ignatius' teachings.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I first met Ignatius at Montserrat a few years ago and have gotten to know him better since then. I would love to read this book!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Tricia Kane NZ11:49 PM

    I met Ignatius when I was introduced to the Christian Life Community. It was exactly what I had been seeking all my life and I am now a committed member. I made the 19th annotation over about a year - it transformed my life. Spreading the word is now my mission.
    Margaret Silf spoke to us recently, and I have several of her books, when they are not lent out. Looking forward to reading 'Lopez'

    ReplyDelete