Emeka-Onwuneme Stanislaus, student at St. Francis Catholic Secondary School, Idimu, Nigeria, shares shares an article about Ignatius as a soldier of light.
For many who read about the life of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, it is like a fairytale involving the miraculous conversion of a hardened soldier. An in-depth study of his life teaches one very important lesson: more often than not, we focus our energy on the wrong things –things that benefit us instead of the things that benefit God.
Ignatius was born Iñigo López de Oñaz y Loyola to a wealthy Basque family. He was sent to become a Page at the King’s Court. He embraced court life with enthusiasm. He learnt weaponry, gambling and courtly lore. He was indeed a man given to the “vanities of the world.” He found himself at the age of 30 defending Pamplona against the French who had claimed the territory as theirs. The Spanish Commander had surrendered but Ignatius encouraged him to fight for the honour of Spain. In the process, a cannon ball shattered his leg. He was then carried back to the Castle of Loyola by French soldiers who admired his courage.
While recuperating in the Castle of Loyola, he wished to read books of romance and chivalry but the only books available were those about the life of Christ. In a book written by a Cistercian Monk, the spiritual life was portrayed as one of holy chivalry and this idea fascinated Ignatius. During his convalescence, he had so many spiritual visions that by the time he recovered fully, he had resolved to a life of austerity and penance for his sins. Following his conversion, he did all he could, no longer for his personal glory, but for the glory of God.
A proper reflection on the life of Ignatius shows us that we must do whatever we do to the greater glory of God and not to boost our ego. Ignatius once fought for country, fame, wealth, women and other vanities of the world. He was a man of courage who fought for the glory of Spain and was loyal to the King of Spain and his crown. He soon realized that the glory of what he had once fought for would disappear and would never give him inner peace. However, holy chivalry and “fighting” for the things of God would bring him everlasting peace and joy.
As men and women who have been Jesuit-educated, we must always remember that we should like Ignatius, fight with courage for the good things—the things that bring glory to God and not the vanities that swell up our pride. As we celebrate the Ignatian Year, let us remind ourselves that wherever we may be, our actions must only be for God’s glory. Let us recall the principle which Ignatius abided by in his lifetime, “Ad Majoriem Dei Gloriam” which translates to “For the greater glory of God.” In the spirit of the Ignatian year, let us pray that God grants us the grace to be transformed from soldiers of vanities to soldiers of light.