On the occasion of the Ignatian Year
In a video message on Sunday, 23 May, Pope Francis offered those participating in the international prayer ‘Pilgrims with Ignatius’ his “heartfelt blessing, that this year may truly be an inspiration to go out into the world, helping souls, seeing all things new in Christ”. The message accompanied the opening, on Thursday 20 May, of the celebrations marking the fifth centenary of the wounding in Pamplona of the Society of Jesus’ founder, considered to be the event that brought about the Saint’s conversion. The celebrations, which will conclude on 31 July 2022, will have a central moment on 12 March, four centuries after the canonization of Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Jesus, Isidore the Laborer and Philip Neri. The following is a translation of the Pope’s video message, which was recorded in Spanish.
I am happy to join you in this prayer for the Ignatian Year, the celebration of the conversion of Saint Ignatius. I hope that all those who are inspired by Ignatius, by Ignatian spirituality, may truly live this year as an experience of conversion.
In Pamplona, 500 years ago, all of Ignatius’ worldly dreams were shattered in an instant. The cannonball that wounded him changed the course of his life, and the course of the world. Seemingly small things can be important. That cannonball also meant that Ignatius failed in the dreams he had for his life. But God had a bigger dream for him. God’s dream for Ignatius was not about Ignatius. It was about helping souls. It was a dream of redemption, a dream of going out into the whole world, accompanied by Jesus, humble and poor.
Conversion is a daily occurrence. Rarely is it once and for all. Ignatius’ conversion began in Pamplona, but it did not end there. He converted throughout his life, day after day. And this means that throughout his life he put Christ at the centre. And he did this through discernment. Discernment does not consist in always succeeding from the beginning, but in navigating and having a compass in order to be able to set out on the journey that has many twists and turns, but allowing oneself always to be guided by the Holy Spirit, who leads us to the encounter with the Lord.
In this pilgrimage on earth we meet others, as Ignatius did in his life. These others are signs that help us to stay on course and who invite us to convert each time anew. They are brothers and sisters, they are situations, and God also speaks to us through them. Listen to others. Read situations. We are road signs for others, we too, showing God’s way. Conversion is always done in dialogue, in dialogue with God, in dialogue with others, in dialogue with the world.
I pray that all those who are inspired by Ignatian spirituality can make this journey together as an Ignatian family. And I pray that many others will come to discover the richness of this spirituality that God gave to Ignatius.
I offer you my heartfelt blessing, that this year may truly be an inspiration to go out into the world, helping souls, seeing all things new in Christ. And also an inspiration to let ourselves be helped. No one is saved alone: either we are saved as a community or we are not saved. No one shows the other the way. Only Jesus has shown us the way. Let us help each other to find and follow this path mutually.
And may Almighty God bless us, in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.