Iñigo de Loyola, born in the Basque country of northern Spain at the end of the 15th century, made his share of mistakes. Shortly after his conversion, he went to live in a cave and allowed his beard and fingernails to go untrimmed, which is not a great tactic if you’re trying to persuade people to heed your message.
Another time, he allowed the donkey on which he was riding determine whether to murder a man who had apparently dishonored the Virgin Mary. Not the best method for making a good decision.
When he wrote The Spiritual Exercises and began to share his insights about how to make good decisions, he was a layperson with no desire to go to a monastery or to remove himself from the world.
However, Iñigo did in later life become a priest, found a worldwide religious order, and serve as its first Superior General. He created a spirituality that seems tailor-made for the 21st century. Here are three of his core spiritual beliefs:
God is intimately involved with creation and loves the world and ALL its people.
God creates us, not in some isolated moment in the past but in every moment we live and breathe.
God has hopes and dreams for each one of us and desires that we enter into a deep and fulfilling friendship with him.
Iñigo, who eventually became known as Ignatius Loyola, understood that too often we allow foolish things to get in the way of a close relationship with God. With prayers like the Daily Examen, he has given us practical tools that help us sort out the treasure from the trash.
This man, human as he was in so many ways, became one of the great saints of the Catholic Church. To this day he remains a great model of what it means to grow continually in God’s grace.