Thursday, July 31, 2014

Luminesce: For the feast of Ignatius of Loyola

Ite, omnia incendite, et inflammate! 
Go, and set the world on fire!  
— St. Ignatius of Loyola to St. Francis Xavier, upon missioning him to India

A few weeks ago, at the end of an evening gathering of writers I was at, a priest/writer closed the night with a poetic blessing.  One word in particular wove its way through her benediction, "luminous..." which my brain insisted on rewriting as the imperative "luminesce!"

Luminescence is light that comes from within a material, photons shed as atoms and molecules change state.  It's not reflected, it does not consume like a flame. It's kenotic, releasing what has been hidden within.  

The usual translation of Ignatius' words to Francis Xavier is, "Go, set the world on fire!" (Or the looser translation I found here:  "Go kick some butt!") But like the archetype eats/shoots/leaves meme - without certain knowledge of the punctuation, it's ambiguous. Does inflammate go with omnia or with ite?

I might be willing to translate it as "Go, set everything alight, and be aflame!" Pour forth the light that has been poured forth into you.  Luminesce.

Happy feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola!

Warning on the video. I found the music to be grating, mute it and play something lilting and classical.

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