St. Ignatius of Loyola…PRESENTE!!!


Today is the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, better known to the world as Jesuits. I am glad I was introduced to St. Ignatius of Loyola through my involvement with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and Jesuit Volunteer International. For those who are not familiar with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, it’s like the Peace Corps but in my eyes better. There are four values that volunteers are encouraged to embrace. The values are: Community, Simple Lifestyle, Social Justice and Spirituality. Volunteers dedicate one year domestic and two years international. Folks live in an intentional community, which is different than dormitory living. In an intentional community, you are living with folks who become like members of your extended family. There will be sacrifices that one has to make for the better of the community. As a Jesuit Volunteer (JV), one would have community nights. Usually it would consist with everyone having dinner together, enjoying the conversation during dinner and after dinner folks could do an activity that would engage all the community members. It could be an activity, watch a movie together, go to an event together, etc. The simple lifestyle value is interpreted different to many folks. Not only do volunteers get a stipend for the whole month (my stipend was $75) but folks are encouraged to not only live within their stipend but to continue challenging oneself and their community members about livin a simple lifestyle. For some its not watching TV, having energy fasts or limited access to the internet.
Jesuit Volunteers do an amazing job. They do different types of work. Some could be working in the schools, others in prisons, Aids hostice, with the elderly, at homeless shelters, DV shelters, counseling runaway youth, etc. When I was a JV in Minneapolis, I worked as a residential counselor with runaway youth and on Wednesdays, I did street outreach to homeless youth. I loved that job. The work that volunteers do is the social justice component. One of the beautiful things of being a JV was that your community members work in different fields and during dinner one can have a glimpse of the issues that your housemates are going through. Spirituality is the value that sometimes confuses a lot of people. Because the Jesuit Volunteers is a Catholic lay organization, not all JVs are Catholic. Many people feel that in order to become a Jesuit Volunteer you have to be Catholic. People who are interested in being a JV have to be open to the fact that Spirituality is part of the values that makes JVC unique. People have to be willing to grow spiritually and respect the spirituality of their housemates. Some would be happy going to Mass every Sunday. Others would be celebrating their own customs. My experience as a JV demonstrated to me that Spirituality does not have be religious. The most important thing is that members are doing acts to enhance their spirit. If people like to do yoga, run, meditate, etc and they feel that is their way to strenghten their spirits then it has to be respected. Just the same way that community members would respect those who like to go to Mass and pray before meals. I am truly blessed that I had the opportunity to be a Jesuit Volunteer for 3 years of my life.

As a Jesuit Volunteer, I became inspired by the “Ignatian Spirituality.” St. Ignatius of Loyola encourage people to become “contemplatives in action.” He also developed his spiritual exercises which is a mix of prayers, meditations/reflections and contemplative practices that Loyola created to strengthen people’s relationship with God. I did the spiritual exercises while a JV and I have tried to used these practices on my daily life.

One thing I love about St. Ignatius of Loyola is his understanding that individuals must “find God in all things.” When I lived in Chile, the Jesuits there had a saying…ETAS which in Spanish means, En Todo Amar y Servir (In all, Love and Serve). ETAS is the Jesuit way of looking at the world. We are all called to love and serve one another. When I used to work in Skid Row, in Downtown Los Angeles, a homeless client once told me, “each one, teach one.” That is exactly what we have to strive to do. Each one, teach one.

On the feast of Loyola, I like to remember him for paving the way and forming the Society of Jesus but also for his wisdom and the message that he left for us to carry. I like to remember all the great Jesuits who have inspired me in so many ways. And finally, I hope folks who have never heard of St. Ignatius of Loyola will be inspired and use some of his teachings as seeds to plant in this trouble world.  I leave you all with some of my favorite quotes from Loyola. Enjoy: 
“Go forth and set the world on fire.”

“God freely created us so that we might know, love, and serve him in this life and be happy with him forever. God’s purpose in creating us is to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth, so that we may attain our goal of everlasting happiness with him in heaven.
All the things in this world are gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know him better, love him more surely, and serve him more faithfully.”
“Act as if everything depended on you; trust as if everything depended on God.”

“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 any reward,
save that of knowing that we do thy will”

“O my God, teach me to be generous
to serve you as you deserve to be served
to give without counting the cost
to fight without fear of being wounded
to work without seeking rest
and to spend myself without expecting any reward
but the knowledge that I am doing your holy will.

“Laugh and grow strong”

“Teach us to give and not to count the cost.”

“Love is shown more in deeds than in words.”

St. Ignatius of Loyola…PRESENTE!!!

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