GeneralJul 31, 2017Campus News
By: Rev. Patrick Rogers, S.J., Executive Director, The Jesuit Center

Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola

On the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola by Rev. Patrick Rogers, S.J.
Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of The Society of Jesus and a man whose vision and commitment to the ministry of education shaped Western Civilization in profound ways. Ignatius’ educational vision of forming young women and men to be conscientious and caring citizens continues to animate the foundational principles of hundreds of universities, institutes, and high schools the world over: including The University of Scranton.

A few weeks ago, I had the great privilege of traveling to Spain, the birthplace of St. Ignatius, with twelve fellow pilgrims from our university community to experience the Camino Ignaciano (The Way of Ignatius). As we traveled the Camino across the beautiful Spanish countryside we visited many of the sites where Ignatius had profound experiences of God’s transformational grace.

The last of the Ignatian sites we visited was the Jesuit Church in Barcelona. This church is not more remarkable in appearance than any of the other neighborhood churches that dot Barcelona’s cityscape but it is special for one very important reason: it holds the personal sword that Ignatius famously laid on our Lady’s altar in the Benedictine Abbey of Montserrat. This moment was a metanoia experience for Ignatius and a clear indication that the once brash and bawdy soldier was laying aside his old manner of living in order to be formed anew in the image of God.

This dramatic moment in the life of St. Ignatius is displayed beautifully on our campus in Gerhard Baut’s statue Metanoia. In Baut’s powerful depiction of the scene, a supplicant Ignatius dramatically lifts his sword to the heavens, symbolically passing over to God all those burdens and sins that imprisoned his heart and cut him off from God’s life-giving grace. From that moment onward, Ignatius, and the world, would never be the same.

Moments of metanoia are not just reserved for the saintly, and as we Scranton pilgrims celebrated Mass in the presence of St. Ignatius’ sword I recalled the powerful moments of grace that moved among us as we traveled the Camino Ignaciano together. The holiness of the many sites we visited was palpable, but just as palpable was the holiness I experienced in the day to day encounters I had with my colleagues as we shared our own moments of metanoia.

Weeks later, as I sit in my room in Campion Hall and reflect upon Ignatius’ metanoia experience, I am overwhelmed with a profound sense of God’s grace moving through our entire university community. The same Spirit which inspired St. Ignatius in the 16th century still brings about on our campus metanoia big and small. I recognize God’s transformative grace in the laughter and insight of our students as well as the dedication our faculty and staff show everyday as they truly embody what it means to practice “cura personalis.” I see moments of metanoia in the efforts of our student athletes who strive for excellence in all that they do and also in the mediations carried out by our wonderful Residence Life Staff and RA’s who give so much of themselves in order to build community on campus. God’s grace is found in the dedicated folks that feed our bodies, protect us from danger, fix what’s broken, and clean up messes that aren’t their own.

Classroom discussions and laboratory experiments are often places where metanoia happens and transformative grace can even be found in papers that weren’t up to snuff yet were corrected with encouraging and thoughtful comments. When alumni come back to visit they often regale me with personal tales of metanoia that happened while they were on campus. They almost universally add that they wouldn’t be the person they are today had they not had the specific educational experience offered at The University of Scranton; a transformational experience inspired long ago by St. Ignatius Loyola and lived out today through the work of our hands.

As we celebrate the great Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola I ask that you remember your own metanoia experiences, so that in recognizing God's abundant grace at work in your own lives, you may come to know, as St. Ignatius did, the reality of God's abiding love for us all.

Blessings from all of us at The Jesuit Center.


Rev. Patrick Rogers, S.J. Executive Director, The Jesuit Center

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