WHAT MORE, O LORD?
[Author’s note: this Tuesday is the Memorial of St Ignatius Loyola…]
This was the great question that St Ignatius Loyola constantly presented to himself (and so to his followers in what became the Society of Jesus). The Latin word is magis— related, perhaps, to the English word “magician” as someone who can do “more” than others can. It’s a word easy to misunderstand: it’s not a matter of “How much more do I have to do for you?” but rather “How much more will you let me do for you?”
The mark of a true lover is that of desiring always to go beyond what might be called expectations: to exceed what was reasonable, hoped for, thought possible. And Ignatius fell in love with Jesus while recuperating from his war wounds; once this happened, nothing would ever be the same for him (or for the Church).
Ignatius was a spiritual genius, but also in many ways a “drudge.” Once the Society of Jesus was formally approved, he spent the remainder of his life in a little room (with a chapel attached), writing the Constitutions of the new order and keeping up an incredible correspondence. He died in the chapel next to his office/bedroom. He wasn’t “heroic,” like Francis Xavier was, preaching the Gospel in India, Japan, and (almost) China. He wasn’t courageous, as Peter Canisius was, becoming the main defender of the Catholic Faith against the Protestants in Germany and Netherlands. With a couple of specially selected helpers, he was simply an “office manager.” And yet, he is a saint!
Sometimes, the answer to the question “How much more will you let me do for you?” turns into “How much less will you be satisfied to do since I regard what you do as important, even if you think it tedious?” How often have we been tempted to think that our “tedious” faithfulness to assigned tasks is too boring or meaningful to be important to God?
There are many rooms in the Father’s house; there are many members in the Body of Christ. ALL are essential, even if from our limited perspective we think our role is trivial (what? I’m only the left-hand little pinkie finger-nail???). We typically don’t see the big picture— can we make an act of faith that there IS a big picture? Who knew at the time that D-Day would actually be the beginning of the end of WWII? Who knew at the time that Calvary was the beginning of the end of Satan and sin—or that it would shortly culminate in the Resurrection?
St Ignatius lived what John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote in a meditation, centuries later: “God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission—I may never know it in this life; but I should be told it in the next…. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it—if I do but keep his commandments…. He does nothing in vain. He knows what he is about…. Therefore, I will trust him.”
Here I am, writing this: will I trust Him?
There you are, reading this while getting ready to deal with children or grandchildren: will you trust Him?
There we all are, thinking we’re too small and insignificant to matter: will we trust Him?
He knows what he is about…