Hooboy. Hoogirl. I am too busy to post the meditation I would love to write on my beloved Ignatius of Loyola (back in my divinity school years, one of my friends, who later became a Dominican friar, used to call me “Jesuit Jane.” Therein lies a tale.) because I am writing about matters related to this and this and this and how it’s related to the church and I have an editor waiting in the U.K., at least he will be when he gets back from his vacation in two days and I leave for parts North.
(How’s that for a poorly written run-on sentence. And don’t get all excited, it’s just a book chapter, but it is exciting nonetheless since book chapters are sometimes Big Deals and I’ll be in good company. I’ll go into details about it once it’s finished and the piece is published, which will be a while.)
Here’s an original statue of Ignatius. It’s a small one (from what I have seen in some reproductions) at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Ghelph (Ontario, Canada) but it also graces the website of another Canadian Jesuit-run place, Camp Ekon, also in Ontario, and the perspective makes it look bigger. Perhaps there are several. This is a photo from Camp Ekon. Ekon is the name given by the Ouendat people to the seventeenth century Jesuit missionary and pioneer Jean de Brébeuf. The Ouendat, known to Europeans as the "Huron," respected Brébeuf for his physical strength and gentle disposition. Read more about the name and history here.)
What I had hoped to find was a reproduction of Ignatius's death mask, which is at his recently redone rooms in Rome near the Gesú church. Visiting Ignatius’s rooms a few years ago was very moving, and I was fortunate to have a Jesuit colleague show me around. Then I went back with my brother and showed him around.
Wait, here it is!
What’s so special about Ignatius’s rooms? They had been overlaid with all manner of complicated decoration, and the (Jesuit of course) restorer brought them back to the simplicity they had in Ignatius’s day. Yes, of course Ignatius lived in the Basque country, where he was born, and in Paris, and other places, but he ended up in Rome as well and this was the place. Or rather, the last place.
There is also a beautiful Baroque ceiling painting in one of the larger rooms, and that is more ornate, but it’s neither his bedroom nor his study nor his chapel. He lived quite simply.
And here is a brand new statue of Ignatius by the Bolivian sculptor Pablo Eduardo. It’s at Boston College, whose Committee on Christian Art wanted to get beyond the “traditional and static depictions” of Ignatius. (Grandmère Mimi will like this statue.)
Perhaps this visual representation (and see the news story via the link above, with some reflections by the artist) is better than any words I could write.
My love and prayers go to all my Jesuit friends and Jesuit mentors but also to my Ignatian friends, a much bigger crowd* influenced by the spirituality of Ignatius, and to the young women and men of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) and to my friends, former spiritual directees, and other folks who are JVC alums. AMDG.
* Did you Episco-folk know that former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold is strongly influenced by Ignatian spirituality and that when the House of Bishops was getting ready to vote on the confirmation of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, he led them in an Ignatian meditation and process?
P.S. Juana, the Jesuit. Yes, a woman. Did you know? (My name in Spanish is Juana, by the way -- or Juanita if you're being affectionate. My spirituality is more Benedictine these days, or perhaps my spirituality is a hybrid, as I am.) The article to which the link leads is by a most reliable Jesuit historian, John Padberg. He's much more cheerful in person --downright witty, in fact-- than the photo indicates.
[Note on July 31, 2011: I have just fixed about six links that were no longer live and the link to the Juana article is a new one: same article, different site. No picture of John P. there.]