MISSION AND MINISTRY | The Ignatian Year celebrates the 500th anniversary of the conversion of Ignatius after he was injured at the battle in Pamplona in 1521. The cannonball that struck Ignatius marked the beginning of a radical transformation: Restricted to his room while undergoing painful operations and enduring a protracted recuperation, Ignatius emerged a new man who went on to change the world.
Arturo Sosa S.J., the superior general of the Society of Jesus, declared that conversion – personal, communal, and institutional – comprises the theme for the Ignatian Year. The motto for the Ignatian Year is “to see all things new in Christ.” LMU This Week spoke with Wayne Negrete, S.J., the LMU liaison to the Jesuit Province for the Ignatian year.
LMU This Week: What is the Ignatian year?
Father Wayne Negrete: The year, the Ignatian year, is the celebration or remembrance of the injury that Ignatius of Loyola suffered at Pamplona, the 500th year anniversary. And it’s such an important event in his life, and in the life of those who share in Ignatian spirituality, because that one event began his turning over, his surrender of his life more and more to God.
LMUTW: How did the being hit with a cannonball change St. Ignatius’ life?
WN: Well, his life was going in a particular direction. The cannonball experience brings that to a halt. He’s no longer going to be an effective knight. His leg is damaged, so physically he won’t have the same appearance. His life comes to a halt, and he pays attention to the questions what does he want out of life? And then I think the bigger question, what does God want for him? So, it changes his life course. Rather than doing things for himself, for fame and fortune, he then does things for God. And then, he begins that pilgrimage of listening to, paying attention to, what is God inviting him to do. So, for us who share in the Ignatian spirituality, we always look to that event as pivotal.
LMUTW: Do you think this pandemic been a cannonball moment?
WN: Given our circumstances, given this pandemic, we’ve all universally have experienced a cannonball. And we are looking to our new future. And it happens that Ignatius’ experience is the inspirational moment for all of us to … reevaluate our lives. To examine our lives and to examine where the world is today, and to open ourselves up to what God wants, and what God desires for the world.
It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to individually, communally, open up to a transformation process. And the Society of Jesus invites our apostolic partners, or our ministry partners, as well as the entire Ignatian family to take this opportunity to open ourselves up to what new ways we can be of greater service to God’s people. The motto for the Ignatian year is to see all things new in Christ. I believe that speaks to us profoundly at this moment. We want to see things new. We want to be new. God calls us to be new.
LMUTW: How would you articulate what St. Ignatius has done for our world?
WN: He’s brought forward our awareness that God speaks to us personally, and that God has desires for us, and when we pay attention to not only the external world that we live in, but the internal world, we pay attention to the internal movements of our heart, we can better discern how best to serve God in our life.
LMUTW: What are the apostolic priorities for the Ignatian Year?
WN: There are four different Universal Apostolic Preferences for the Ignatian Year: seeing God in a new way; allowing the poor to show us a new way; letting the young open our eyes; and seeing and hearing the cry of the Earth.
LMUTW: Why is it significant is it that Pope Francis is a Jesuit?
WN: He shares very intimately in the experience of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and our way of discerning decision-making combing faith with God.
Father Edward Seibert, rector of the Jesuit Community at LMU, said that March 12, 2022, will commemorate the fourth centenary of the canonization of St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier, S.J., in 1622. On July 31, 2022, Ignatian Year with concluded with the Solemnity of St. Ignatius. Seibert also believes that many of the Jesuits at LMU are already experiencing radical transformations.
LMUTW: How will the Jesuits at LMU be impacted by the Ignatian Year?
Edward, Siebert, S.J.: The Jesuits at LMU, too, have undergone a painful and frustrating period of restriction. As we emerge, we can already feel a new vigor in our community. There’s a palpable sense of freshness in our house, evidenced by the creative energy of all our brothers. As we enter the Ignatian Year, perhaps we can look for ways to capitalize on this vigor, extending its reach so that our students, coworkers and colleagues also feel the impact of this grace. Many of us are using the four apostolic priorities as a measure of personal conversion. Perhaps our community might use the apostolic priorities in a similar fashion.
For more information:
Society of Jesus, Ignatius 500
International Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities
Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States
Jesuits West Province