For this feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, here is a beautiful text of Pope Benedict XVI. I am mindful in prayer today of my Bishop, who is especially devoted to Saint Ignatius, and of my friend, Father James Kubicki, S.J., Director of the Apostleship of Prayer in the United States. Be sure to visit Father Kubicki’s blog, Offer It Up.
Romano Guardini relates in his autobiography how, at a critical moment on his journey, when the faith of his childhood was shaken, the fundamental decision of his entire life – his conversion – came to him through an encounter with the saying of Jesus that only the one who loses himself finds himself (cf. Mk 8:34ff.; Jn 12:25); without self-surrender, without self-loss, there can be no self-discovery or self-realization.
Falling into the Hands of God
But how should we lose ourselves? To whom do we give ourselves? It became clear to him that we can surrender ourselves completely only if by doing so we fall into the hands of God. Only in him, in the end, can we lose ourselves and only in him can we find ourselves.
Jesus and His Church
But then the question arose: Who is God? Where is God? Then he came to understand that the God to whom we can surrender ourselves can only be the God who became tangible and close to us in Jesus Christ. But once more the question arose: Where do I find Jesus Christ? How can I truly give myself to him? The answer Guardini found after much searching was this: Jesus is concretely present to us only in his Body, the Church.
Humble Obedience to the Church
As a result, obedience to God’s will, obedience to Jesus Christ, must be, really and practically, humble obedience to the Church. This is something that calls us to a constant and deep examination of conscience. It is all summed up in the prayer of Saint Ignatius of Loyola – a prayer which always seems to me so overwhelming that I am almost afraid to say it, yet one which we should always repeat:
Saint Ignatius’ Act of Surrender
“Take O Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding and my entire will.
All that I have and all that I possess you have given me:
I surrender it all to you;
it is all yours, dispose of it according to your will.
Give me only your love and your grace;
with these I will be rich enough and will desire nothing more”.
Pope Benedict XVI
Address to Priests and Religious
8 September 2007