By Catherine Heinhold, Pastoral Associate for Ignatian Spirituality & Prayer
If you’ve been at Holy Trinity for any length of time, I hope by now you’ve heard plenty about St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Basque soldier-turned-saint who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), the religious order that has pastored and staffed our parish since its founding. We focus on him not only because of the tremendous influence he and the society have had on the Church and the world, but also in order to share the rich gifts offered by the spirituality that is his legacy.
This week (Thursday, May 20, to be exact) marks 500 years since the event that was the catalyst for St. Ignatius' conversion. In 1521, the man then known as Iñigo de Loyola was hit in the legs by a cannonball at the Battle of Pamplona in Spain. This was more than just a physical blow for Iñigo; he experienced it as a defeat and potential end to his dreams of worldly adventures and honor. But this experience began a process of conversion that led Iñigo to bigger dreams centered on God, rather than on himself. He found himself invited by God to open himself to a total transformation of life.
To mark the anniversary of the beginning of Ignatius’ conversion, Jesuit Fr. General Arturo Sosa has declared an Ignatian Year for all Jesuit ministries around the world, saying, “It is my desire that at the heart of this Ignatian year we would hear the Lord calling us, and we would allow him to work our conversion inspired by the personal experience of Ignatius.” Our pastor, Fr. Kevin Gillespie, S.J., and our Parish Pastoral Council have in turn declared the year for our parish, which extends until July 31, 2022 (the Feast of St. Ignatius).
So, how might we mark this year? When we come to pray, St. Ignatius recommends that as we begin, we ask God for what we want. This is asking for a “grace,” which is God's freely given gift. During this Ignatian Year, we are invited to ask God for the grace “to see all things new in Christ.” We invite you to engage in our parish community activities this coming year with a desire for this grace, to experience everything through the lens of Christ who transforms our perspective, our thoughts, our feelings — our whole selves.
The underlying theme of the Ignatian Year is conversion, which connects the year to the four Universal Apostolic Preferences identified by the Jesuits to guide Jesuit ministries this decade. The four preferences are showing the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and Discernment; walking with the excluded; journeying with youth; and caring for our common home. Fr. General Sosa says that the preferences help us to, “maintain a clear unity between life and mission; if we understand them as orientations that go beyond “doing something” and enable us to achieve our transformation as persons, as religious communities, and as apostolic works and institutions in which we collaborate with others.
Consequently, while each preference points to some important aspect of our apostolate, it also invites us to renew our own lives so that our work will be credible and effective.” Each of our ministries at Holy Trinity is called to explore the ways that engaging all four preferences can lead to deeper conversion and transformation in Christ.
The parish’s Ignatian Year webpage will be updated in the coming months with more information about the year, invitations to reflect on your own “cannonball moments” of conversion, and opportunities to come together to “see all things new in Christ.”