An Interview with St. Ignatius in Lockdown

The Interview takes place in the autumn of 1521 at his family home in Loyola.

Hello. Is it OK if I call you Inigo?

Yes, of course. Inigo Lopez is my name. I was named after the Basque Saint Inigo.

How long have you been in Lockdown?

Since June, so it’s now been 4 months. Seems like forever!

What actually happened?

I was fighting in Pamplona. A great place, high up on the hills overlooking the Pyrenees. The French were pushing over the hills and I stood tall to defend the city. It didn’t really look great, but I wasn’t going to let the French get the better of us. Not good for Pamplona! Not good for my reputation! I am a soldier with great prospects; I might not be that tall, but I have great ambition. And nothing ever gets the better of me.

And then?

Yes, well, I took a direct hit. French cannon-fire knocked me for six. The castle walls were breached at their weakest point. I don’t remember much of the detail, but French soldiers patched me up and carried me back here. To cut a long story short, they operated on my broken leg, had to break and re-set it again, and then I just escaped death with an infection that just wouldn’t go away. I thought I was doomed. 24th June – it was St. John’s Day – I turned a corner and have been recovering slowly, with help from my family.

So what’s Lockdown for a person like you?

Terrible and endless – and I can’t, if I’m honest, see myself fighting any good causes in the near future. I was the best, you know – Alpha Male, and thought I’d make it in the richest royal courts of Europe, marry the most beautiful royal princess et cetera. Nothing but the best for Inigo! Columbus has just made it in America, hasn’t he? I think Inigo most certainly could have made it in Spain! What adventures I was going to have. Lockdown is getting me down. Still, I can imagine, can’t I?

And where is your imagination taking you?

Well, this is the interesting bit. I’ve been fantasising about the Alpha Male thing and the prettiest woman thing a lot. I can go into a lot of detail and it excites me no end for hours and hours, believe me! It’s what I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember. But afterwards, reality hits, and this is the bit that really hurts. It’s never going to happen, is it? What with my leg and all. I’ve noticed this sort of thinking leaves me feeling dry and dissatisfied, very low. But the amazing thing is that I’ve been reading some books – the only ones they had here in the house – books about Jesus and some of the saints. Some of the things they got up to excite me too. But the amazing thing is how I feel afterwards. After imagining I was doing the things Jesus and the saints did I kind of feel happy, more deeply contented and very, very satisfied. Strange…

Excuse me for saying this, but as you’re saying this you look and sound very different?

It does feel strange. And different… in a good way. I guess I’ve got plenty more time to let it all sink in. We’ll see where it takes me.

Do you have any advice for anyone else who is going through Lockdown at the moment?

Just notice how things are affecting you. I’m coming to realise that noticing is really important. Make a list if it helps. Things like what you’re reading, or looking at or thinking about. Notice and distinguish. Distinguish between the things that leave you feeling more alive, and the things that leave you flat. It’s simple really. And it works. Try it!

You’re clearly finding some surprises in Lockdown. How do you think this might help you in the future?

Valuable lessons. I’m learning a new way of evaluating everything. The art of noticing and distinguishing between what helps from what hinders. I hope that, with God’s help, I can learn to be a more happy man.

And do you think one day you might have the time to write some of this down in a book?

I’m not a writer. I’m clumsy with words… But I guess some notes might be of help to other people. A bit about noticing what’s going on at that deeper level. A bit about distinguishing between what lifts our spirits and what pulls us down, in my military way what I might term ‘God’ and ‘the enemy’. A bit about what ‘good’ might look and feel like and what ‘even better’ looks and feels like. A bit about how to weather the dark days and not lose your mind. A bit about following more what God shows us in everyday things. We’ll see… Yes…

So where do you think you might go next?

I can’t go back to who I was or what I was doing. I can only go forwards. And I can go deeper. I’d like to go deeper. I think that will give me a steer. And it’s a place where I find God is showing me things right now, very important things. We’ll see.

Thank you.

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