Following through – a 3rd Interview with St. Ignatius

This interview takes place in the Autumn of 1525 in Mr. Ardevol’s school room in Barcelona.

Hello Inigo. I heard that you had settled back in Barcelona after your trip to the Holy Land so I thought this would be an ideal time to catch up with you.

Silence…

I’m wondering how you are?

Silence…

I wanted to stay in Jerusalem. I wanted to spend longer with Jesus in prayer in the Holy Land. Leaning with him trustfully in the Garden of Gethsemane under a tree… walking around the Temple with him… sitting with him in the darkness of his prison cell… at the place he died… by the open tomb… as he stood waving goodbye and blessing the apostles… et cetera.

Do you plan to go back?

No, I can’t go back anytime soon. That really upset me at the time. Everything’s so tightly controlled, and dangerous. But I can go back in my imagination…

Tell me more?

Silence…

I am praying a lot more now. And in my imagination things are coming alive. Having been there, I can really get into the scene. And even places in the Bible that I couldn’t visit, I can still picture the scene, hear the sounds, feel the breeze, smell the air… And Jesus is there, just as in the Bible stories. Jesus is right here, speaking, smiling, inviting…

You’re touching your chest?

Yes, and my heart is moved…

And I’ve just noticed the tears. You’re crying.

When God’s love moves me I shed tears. I feel inspired. Strong inside. And at peace; deep peace. In Jerusalem I prayed a lot, often five times a day, and deeper each time. Now I’m living here I can only realistically manage once a day, but it still feels as strong.

What are you actually doing, living here?

I feel as if I’m ‘following through’. In Jerusalem I felt a strong call to serve the poor, and to be poor like Jesus. And so that’s what I’m doing right now. ‘Following through’ is not always easy. In this room I’m learning Latin grammar. Mr. Ardevol advises me to go to college in Alcala and even mentioned the University of Paris. This will help me serve the poor better, and maybe enlist others in the church to set-up groups to help. Being poor like Jesus also means putting up with some names they’re calling me! But I know that Jesus is with me and that’s the important thing.

Learning Latin grammar like a child! That sounds like a bit of a come-down?

Yes, it is. At the beginning I was tempted to give it all up. About a year ago I had the idea of spending more time in prayer – I took some long prayer walks along the beach. I prayed one day for hours, reflecting on each word of the Lord’s Prayer. Far more interesting than learning ‘amo, amas, amat’ out of my textbook! And then I suddenly realised what was going on. The ‘enemy of our human nature’ had come is disguise! I was being tempted away from my studies, not by anything bad, but by something good; like a fish attracted to a piece of bait on a line, I was slowly being pulled away from my studies by prayer. It’s very important to hold on to what Latin calls ‘maiorem gloriam’ – the greater glory.

Do you think anyone will ever read the spiritual notes that I see you’re still making?

I’m not sure that the notes are the most important thing. You see, people just recently have been having spiritual conversations with me. They’re honestly interested in God and want to live happy and fulfilled lives. Women like Isabel Roser from Manresa and Ines Pascual where I’m staying; local men like Callistas, Lope and Arteaga whom I met last month. People like yourself and those who might be interested in these interviews. Reading my notes are not as important as reflecting and praying for themselves.

And so, back to the Latin and possibly university?

I will write-up my notes soon, but there’s more I would like to experience. Following through my calling to serve the poor will be hard, and helping others find their own way will take some doing. But I sense not only the personal cost but also the love of it all. Any good and Godly decision involves this kind of ‘follow through’; elements of sacrifice and joy. One day, when people read my little notes, I hope they’ll be able to use something of my own experience and reflections to help find what they’re looking for.

And your prayer?

Jesus is in it all.

Thank you.

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