Ignatius was a man who for thirty years lived his life on his own terms. He was addicted to gambling, sexually promiscuous, possessed a violent temper. And he was a narcissist who wanted others always to bend to his will. He was in many ways a poster child for the modern age.
Yet, God’s grace awakened him to know and feel the emptiness and unhappiness his passions produced. Grace also enlightened him to see that living for God’s will and not his own, brings peace, hope, interior freedom and a life that truly produced fruit that endured to eternity.
Listed here are some of his favorite prayers, writings and sayings that we have come to cherish over the years.
The only book that St. Ignatius had in his room at the time of his death was purported to be The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. This saying was surely one that Ignatius read many times:
Examen Adapted by William M. Watson, S.J.
Praying the Ignatian Examen opens us to the spiritual world. It heightens consciousness so we can discern the authentic from the inauthentic in all our thoughts, words, and deeds. St. Ignatius prayed it hourly. His Constitutions require Jesuits pray it twice daily. It is the Spiritual Exercises in miniature and opens one to live life as a Sacred Story for the Greater Glory of God.
I believe God created everything in love and for love; I ask for heart-felt knowledge of God’s love for me, and for gratitude for the general and particular
graces of this day.
I believe God is present in each moment and event of my life, and I ask for the grace to awaken, see and feel where and how, especially in this present moment.
I believe every violation of love committed by me and against me is in my memory, and I ask God to reveal them to me, especially those that have manifested themselves today, so I can be healed.
I believe that forgiveness is the only path to healing and illumination. I beg for the grace of forgiveness, and the grace to forgive, especially for the general and particular failures of this day, and from my past.
I believe the grace of forgiveness opens my heart, making my every thought, word and deed bear fruit that endures to eternity. I ask that everything in my life serve Christ’s Great Work of Reconciliation.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
My memory, my understanding
And my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.
Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
Good Jesus, hear me
Within the wounds, shelter me
From turning away, keep me
From the evil one, protect me
At the hour of my death, call me
Into your presence lead me
To praise you with all your saints
Forever and ever.
Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.
A person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his or her soul.
The other things on the face of the earth are created for the person to help in attaining the end for which one is created.
Hence, one is to make use of them in as far as they help in the attainment of that end, and one must rid oneself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance.
Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things.
Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which one is created.
A paraphrase by William Watson, S.J.
For and through whom everything was made,
Is Christ Jesus. I live because he loves me.
To praise and serve him alone with all my mind, heart,
And strength is my freedom–my only freedom.
I shall not prejudice any path in following him:
for I can praise him Equally in my health and sickness.
I can distinguish myself in service to his Kingdom with great wealth, Modest means, or having nothing at all to call my own.
He is the anchor of my joy and peace
Whether I am disgraced or lauded.
In his all-embracing love I taste eternity,
whether my days are numbered great or small.
Christ Jesus alone is the treasure of my heart.
I shall ever listen for his call,
And follow unreservedly.
For in everything I can love and praise him,
And find my eternal joy.