Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dedication of Mary Major

Wednesday was the feast of the church of Mary Major in Rome, a church that holds special significance to Jesuits because it is where Ignatius said is first mass at Christmastime a year after his ordination. It is also the location where Francis of Assisi set up the first Christmas creche.

After mass we celebrated a prayer service of Taize songs and the veneration of the cross. The service was simple and yet conveyed great solemnity. It is always moving to see seventy Jesuits approach the cross as the symbol of our lives.

We sang "Mary's Song," which is a song I introduced to Amman, Jordan. It is peppered with great sighs as people realize the important work Mary is doing for us.

As I sat in the chapel, I was fixed on the stained-glass windows that depicted Ignatius laying down his sword and clothing at the foot of the Black Madonna and accepting the clothing of a beggar. I then looked at the window behind the sanctuary that showed him writing the Spiritual Exercises.

I felt a swell of pride that Ignatius was very proud of us and of all the people who have made his Spiritual Exercises over the past five centuries. Through these Exercises, he brought God's radical love to many seekers and their directors. 

His work continues today and it has touched millions. He still is actively a friend in the Lord and this living spirituality calls many back to their origins and their future.


  1. John, I am deeply touched by this reflection. I have made the 19th Annotation and was deeply transformed by the experience. It gives me great joy that you would write that Saint Ignatius is proud of those who have made the Spiritual Exercises. Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Lynda. I think he must be beaming that so many more people are coming to know his friend and our Lord with greater felt knowledge.