Arts, Faith and Humanities / Campus Community

Celebrating our founder and shared values

August 8, 2019

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Seattle University joined other Jesuit institutions throughout the world in celebrating the Feast of St. Ignatius on July 31. To honor the founder of the Jesuits (right), the university community gathered in the campus chapel bearing his name for a special mass at which Natch Ohno, S.J., a member of SU's Jesuit community, delivered the following homily. 

We have all heard the mission statement for Seattle University: “Seattle University is dedicated to educating the whole person, to professional formation, and to empowering leaders for a just and humane world.” St. Ignatius’s own motivation was to “help souls” by sharing what he learned in his own faith journey, and, as a side note, to stay in good standing with the Inquisition. For that he needed a theology degree. First, learning Latin with children, then off to the University of Alcalá and University of Paris.  He begged for alms but, those in University Advancement might note that he also had a benefactor.  

Looking at the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola, now we see his legacy encapsulated in what we might call in contemporary language, sound bites. Here are some familiar Ignatian sound bites: AMDG, person for others, contemplative in action, finding God in all things. Our task as Ignatian educators, for we are all in the process of educating and learning, is to expand on words such as “whole person, just and humane world” in the context of our Ignatian tradition; so as to educate future generations, and to benefit our own faith journey.  

Our Gospel refers to a “king marching into battle” but first considering his resources. In the same way, St. Ignatius had his career mapped out as a soldier and courtier with connections in court. As we know, St. Ignatius’s life changed dramatically when a cannonball shattered his leg at Pamplona in 1521. He struggled at Loyola, Manresa, and along the River Cardoner as he underwent his conversion experience that eventually became the Spiritual Exercises. He developed this method of prayer by reflecting on his own experiences of God and by talking about them with others. He found a myriad of rich resources in assessing his place in the world through the prayer of his Examen. In his single-minded fashioned he learned to “renounce all his possessions—“Take my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and all my will—all that I have and possess” to follow Christ. Might we consider the whole person, as a person for others, in the context of the Spiritual Exercises—sharing our personal conversations with others in light of our own faith journey?  

Further, St. Paul says, “whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” AMDG—“For the greater glory of God.” Ignatius found his motivating principle was to find God in all things by utilizing his lens of what are the great desires within him for the good souls.  St. Ignatius found the “fire burning in (his) heart” by tapping into those great desires. As St. Ignatius puts it: “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What will I do for Christ?” To educate and empower is to become a contemplative in action. Our lives are changed by considering a greater good, “not seeking my own benefit but that of the many.” 

As we celebrate our Jesuit legacy on this feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, may we continue to strive to help souls by welcoming all to a rich diversity of grace by sharing our own lives with others.