from a homily given at St Ignatius Norwood by
Mario Bugna S.J.
Before his ‘spiritual journey ’, Ignatius was a modern
day Rambo. Instead of muscles and machine guns, Ignatius wore slashed suits of
bright colours with flowing capes and there was always a sword and dagger at his
waist, . He wore tight fighting hose and boots and wore his long curly hair
resting on his shoulders. Initially for Ignatius, ‘Image Maketh the Man’.
Recuperating from his battle blasted leg after Pamploma,
Ignatius’s whole vision and dream changed from pursuing life in the fast lane
to going barefoot to Jerusalem eating nothing but vegetables and imitating the
lives of the saints in all their austerities. Once Ignatius set his mind, heart,
spirit and dream to seeking God and God alone, nothing and no one stopped
him on his journey.
People kept telling Ignatius both what to do and how to do
it. The messages came from the outside but to discover himself and God, Ignatius
had to listen to the messages or dreams from within...his family, its wealth,
history and especially how he would miss the glamorous life style. So many key
people had hopes and dreams for him. Ignatius decided to discover his own dream
and not what others thought his call was.
To symbolically show he had changed his dream and lifestyle
from ‘ acting’ to ‘living a lie called Rambo’, to becoming or being
himself and following his internal call for God, Ignatius swapped his courtly
and military clothes along with his weapons to put on the sackcloth and sandals
he had bought along with his wooden staff.
While at Manresa, Ignatius was constantly hounded by his past
life. At the time he had thoughts and feelings of such loathing for the life he
was living, that he was nearly driven to suicide and the temptation to give it
all up. Ignatius discovered here that one of the more successful weapons of evil
is the sowing of doubt and discouragement.
Ignatius learnt through reflecting on his experiences, that
God or goodness do the opposite. God strengthens and encourages, consoles and
inspires, and no obstacle is so formidable that it cannot be faced and overcome.
At Alcala , in Spain Ignatius experienced the first of
numerous arrests and interrogations by the Inquisition. Once arrested, many
people came to visit him. Lawyers offered their services.... free of charge!
Some wanted to stay with him in gaol! For Ignatius, no matter how often he was
arrested or questioned by the Inquisitor, he never left the town without making
sure charges or rumours were dealt with. In this way he made sure that the names
and reputations of himself and his companions were cleared.
In his search for himself and God, Ignatius travelled by
mule, boat and foot - thousands of kilometres through Spain... Italy...
Israel... England... France...
While walking from Genoa to Bologna, Ignatius got awfully
lost, and he found he had to walk on a path alongside a river, and that path got
smaller and smaller. He came to a point when he realised that he could go
neither forward nor backward, and therefore he began to crawl on all fours,
hoping against hope that he would not fall into the river below. Having
successfully negotiated that perilous journey, he began walking proudly towards
the town of Bologna, where he promptly fell off a small wooden bridge, landing
face down in the mud and water below. Everyone had a good laugh, including
Ignatius, who could see the lighter side of life. I once heard someone say ‘...when
you leave the womb, please take your sense of humour with you.’
Ignatius learned that many people wish to serve God, but ‘in
an advisory capacity’ only. Ignatius did not live a lie, because he looked for
himself, for others and for God. From the beginning, Ignatius prayed. God gave
plenty of love, time, support and encouragement to Ignatius, and Ignatius
responded by giving God time. This was so much the case that while he was at
Barcelona, he often prayed for up to seven hours a day.
Ignatius began his spiritual journey looking for God, and by the end of his
life, at whatever time or hour he wanted to find God, he found Him.