Greg's Interpretation of St. Ignatius' Autobiography (and 8 years of Jesuit education)
In 1522, St. Ignatius of Loyola set out from Loyola, Spain to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. During the prior year Ignatius had suffered a serious injury during a battle while he was enlisted in the army. While undergoing his recovery, he spent much time contemplating the life that lay ahead of him. This contemplation alternated between living a life of worldly pleasures and living a life modeled after saints that went before him. In his autobiography, Ignatius wrote "St. Dominic did this; I, too, will do it."
With this in mind, St. Ignatius headed for Jerusalem and consequently changed the world. On his journey from Loyola he passed through the small town of Montserrat near Barcelona. There, Ignatius gave his fancy garments to a beggar and kept vigil at the altar of the church there throughout the entire night. Early the next morning, he headed to a small town near Barcelona called Manresa. Originally planning on spending only a day or two in Manresa, Ignatius ended up spending nearly ten months in this small city. It was there that Ignatius mostly wrote his Spiritual Exercises, a 30-day retreat that is still widely used today in full and modified versions in Jesuit institutions and elsewhere throughout the world.
Ignatius' journey from Loyola to Manresa, and subsequently to Rome and Jerusalem, was such an important part of his life and formation that it still remains a part of Jesuit formation today. Each Jesuit-in-training must go through a similar experience as Ignatius by making a pilgrimage in their respective region, trusting their well-being and safety to God and strangers they meet along the way, often only carrying $20 for this month-long experience. While we may be approaching our journey slightly differently, we hope that we can learn some of the same lessons Ignatius learned and meet some people who Ignatius may have met in our present-day world.