Today, 31 July, the Church liturgically recalls for us, one of the Master’s of the spiritual life, Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556). The Pilgrim died in 1556 and was the author of the Spiritual Exercises and founder of the Society of Jesus. Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a man who’s path to be a soldier for Christ and His Church, was started by a cannonball injury.
For the life of St Ignatius here: https://anastpaul.com/2017/07/31/saint-of-the-day-31-july-st-ignatius-loyola-founder-of-the-society-of-jesusthe-jesuits/
From the life of Saint Ignatius from his own words by Luis Gonzalez
Ignatius was passionately fond of reading worldly books of fiction and tales of knight-errantry. When he felt he was getting better, he asked for some of these books to pass the time. But no book of that sort could be found in the house, instead they gave him a life of Christ and a collection of the lives of saints written in Spanish.
By constantly reading these books he began to be attracted to what he found narrated there. Sometimes in the midst of his reading, he would reflect on what he had read. Yet at other times he would dwell on many of the things which he had been accustomed to dwell on previously. But at this point our Lord came to his assistance, insuring that these thoughts were followed by others which arose from his current reading.
While reading the life of Christ our Lord, or the lives of the saints, he would reflect and reason with himself: “What if I should do what Saint Francis or Saint Dominic did?” In this way he let his mind dwell on many thoughts, they lasted a while until other things took their place. Then those vain and worldly images would come into his mind and remain a long time. This sequence of thoughts persisted with him for a long time.
But there was a difference. When Ignatius reflected on worldly thoughts, he felt intense pleasure; but when he gave them up out of weariness, he felt dry and depressed. Yet when he thought of living the rigourous sort of life he knew the saints had lived, he not only experienced pleasure when he actually thought about i, but even after he dismissed these thoughts, he still experienced great joy. Yet he did not pay attention to this, nor did he appreciate it until one day, in a moment of insight, he began to marvel at the difference. Then he understood his experience – thoughts of one kind left him sad, the others full of joy. And this was the first time he applied a process of reasoning to his religious experience. Later on, when he began to formulate his spiritual exercises, he used this experience, as an illustration to explain the doctrine he taught his disciples, on the discernment of spirits.
“After we experience the great peace of knowing God’s love for us, which quiets our anxieties and insecurities, we find another deep desire stirring within us. We desire greatness, because we are made for greatness.”