31 July: Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola

Today is the Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola. Of particular interest is the role of women in the saint’s life:

Women were part of his world as he was part of theirs, and history records women exerting significant influence on his physical, psychological, spiritual and apostolic life…They also practiced in their daily lives the principles of his Spiritual Exercises. | Dyckman, K. et. al, The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed: Uncovering Liberating Possibilities for Women (2001)

Here is one of the many letters he wrote to women.

Keeping Company

In fact, Ignatius is said to have included women of all types and classes in his spiritual conversations, believing that they too, could hear and receive the Word of God and themselves led holy lives.

In special acknowledgment to the women of the Society of the Faithful Companions of Jesus, whose very lives show a deeply embedded Ignatian spirituality, may we not exclude anyone from our reach, but in them and in all things, find and embrace God.

Tireless Mother

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Here is something from a blog I stumbled upon, which looks at a passage in the Qu’ran, translated as:

“If you shake the trunk of the palm tree towards you, it will deliver fresh ripe dates for you.” [Qur’an 19:25; M.A.S. Abdel Haleem translation, Oxford University Press: 2004]

Nathan Elmore, a collegiate minister in Virginia, USA, has taken the initiative to study Chapter 19 of the Qur’an, entitled Maryam, or for us Christians, Mary. Of the above-mentioned verse, he writes:

Mary is presumed to be at her absolute wit’s end: in labor, and in evident pain. She is seen grabbing the trunk of a palm tree and longing for no more of any of this. In this moment we are to believe that her life and legacy pale in comparison to death and forgotten-ness. These are the pangs wrought by that ancient creation, which has gone so terribly awry.

Then, a voice comes.

As a tourist reader in this Book, it is admittedly hard to ascertain who or what this voice is. Is it Gabriel? Is it the newborn Jesus? Is it God? Whatever or whoever, it reminds Mary that her Lord has a provision, and, as it turns out, the provided thing is right in front of her eyes. God will use the materials at hand to fashion for Mary a way through death and forgotten-ness.

“If you shake the trunk of the palm tree towards you, it will deliver fresh ripe dates for you.”

What I can appreciate about this narrative, albeit religiously foreign to me in many ways, is this: God seems intent on inciting faith in the person he desires to use for his highest purposes. Not to discount the ferocious labor pains, Mary’s best work is personified in the very faith that catalyzes this action: clinging to a palm tree because God said so.

Ultimately, on the other hand, God’s best work is in the providing—whether that is delicious dates for a woman in labor, or, a Messiah for a tired world indeed.

Source: Ode to Mary | Clinging | elmorelian

I am grateful for this insight, and especially because it is Mothers’ Day. The following prayer of this particular mother is as follows:

Lord,

It is the end of the day, and I am tired.

Festivities and well wishes have worn me out!

Yet I thank you for them and for the constant reminder to keep going, as great women do.

Marie Madeleine was one of these women, faithful to her vocation of motherhood. We read about that in her letters to her daughter-in-law. Though they lived in another town, and at times, in a different country, still she continued to look after them as she could, she continued to send them gifts and blessings and affection.

Today we remember all mothers, and all the men and women in our lives who hold a motherly role in our lives. Thank you for them, for their faithfulness and devotion. We pray especially for mothers-to-be, and for those who have lost a child, or are unable to have children. May compassion for one another grow, and may love like yours be our shared nourishment.

In the name of Jesus and his most Blessed Mother, we pray.

Amen.