Finding a spiritual hero to shape lives in Ignatius

Editor’s note: This saint series will feature a saint and how he or she is a meaningful example for us today.

Pope Francis wrote that “the saints help all the faithful” for “their lives are concrete proof that it is possible to put the Gospel into practice.” St. Ignatius’ example helps us to look up to spiritual heroes.

Ignatius was born in 1491 and was the youngest of 13 children. He grew up in Northern Spain. His desire for material things amplified as he entered his late teens. He also lived a life of promiscuity.

Ignatius became an officer for the Spanish army and dreamed of becoming a great knight. In battle, his leg was shattered by a cannonball. He was initially bedridden as he healed.

During Ignatius’ recovery, he asked for books to read about chivalry as knights were his heroes. However, the place where he was staying did not have those types of books. The only books available were about the life of Christ and the Catholic saints.

Ignatius read both and as he read the saints, he was not initially thrilled by them. Thoughts began to emerge in the mind of Ignatius.

He thought of becoming a great knight again and courting a queen; however, these thoughts brought him initial joy but left him unsatisfied. Then Ignatius’ mind would move to the saints, and he asked himself, “what if I were to live like St. Dominic or St. Francis?” The saintly thoughts brought initial joy and even later he felt a lasting joy.

Ignatius began to realize that God was working through his thoughts, feelings, and desires. He believed that the lasting joy he experienced was from God. As Ignatius recovered, his conversion grew. Once healed, he prayed before a shrine of Our Lady and placed his sword at the altar. This surrendering of his sword symbolized that his life had changed. From this point forward he would no longer be a soldier for Spain, but rather a soldier for Jesus Christ.

Ignatius embraced asceticism by living in a cave. Here he wrote down his spiritual exercises which are techniques of discerning spirits: to be aware of what is going on in one’s spiritual life, to understand these things, and then to take spiritual action by accepting what is of God or rejecting what is not of God.

Ignatius felt called to the priesthood and attended studies. Shortly after he founded the Society of Jesus which is a religious order to this day.

Ignatius teaches us that having spiritual heroes matters and that these heroes shape our lives. The pivotal moments in Ignatius’ life were when he asked the question, “what if I were to live like the saints?” and when he took time to think about what his life would look like if he were to live like the saints.

Ask this question to yourself: “what if I were to live like the saints?” Take time to see if such a life brings lasting joy to your heart the way that it brought lasting joy to Ignatius’ heart.

We need spiritual heroes. The saints are the greatest of heroes for “their lives are concrete proof that it is possible to put the Gospel into practice.”

Luke Daghir is a seminarian for the Diocese of Erie. He is with St. Joseph and St. Luke Parishes in Warren County for his parish mission. His favorite saints are St. Andrew, St. Ignatius, St. Hubert, and Pope St. John Paul II.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today