By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Editor | Published October 18, 2021
ATLANTA—Jesuits worldwide are observing the Ignatian year, which began in May and marks the 500th anniversary of St. Ignatius’ conversion after being wounded in battle.
Sometimes a person’s dreams and aspirations go up in smoke, but God always is there with bigger and better plans, Pope Francis said at the beginning of the observance, pointing to St. Ignatius of Loyola’s example.
“In Pamplona, (Spain), 500 hundred years ago, all Ignatius’ worldly dreams were shattered in an instant” when he was hit in battle. “The cannonball that wounded him changed the course of his life, and the course of the world,” Pope Francis said in a message May 23.
The pope, a Jesuit, joined his confreres, members of other orders who follow Ignatian spirituality, lay collaborators and others for an online prayer service as part of the Ignatian Year.
“That cannonball meant that Ignatius failed in the dreams he had for his life,” the pope said, “but God had a bigger dream for him. God’s dream for Ignatius was not about Ignatius. It was about helping souls. It was a dream of redemption, a dream of going out into the world, accompanied by Jesus, humble and poor.”
In Atlanta, the Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center, St. Thomas More Church and Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School will have events tied to the Ignatian Year.
Tara La Bouff is director of development for Ignatius House. She said the special year, which continues through the July 31 feast day of St. Ignatius, is about encounter and examining where God is present, even in the challenges.
“Where might God have been speaking to me?” is the question, said La Bouff. “The purpose of the year is to help us draw nearer to Christ,” she added.
St. Ignatius’ Examen, a technique of prayerful reflection of daily events, is one tool for detecting God’s presence and direction.
The retreat center, in addition to retreats and Turn-in Tours, is offering the Ignatian Foundations program beginning on Oct. 25, and again in February, April and July 2022. In a series of six weeks, the Foundations programs explore the Ignatian worldview.
There’s much to be learned from the pivot in St. Ignatius’ life following his injury.
“It was a stop and pause,” said La Bouff.
To learn more about the Ignatian spirituality or Jesuit communities, visit these online resources:
Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center
St. Thomas More Church, Decatur
Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School
Jesuits USA & Canada
Includes “Cannonball Moment” video stories about turning points in faith and free e-book “Christ Plays in 10,000 Places.”
Xavier University Jesuit Resource
Includes resources for children and homeschoolers as well as adults
Catholic News Service contributed to this story. Read more about discernment in the Ignatian tradition in a column by Andy Otto.