Life-changing moments from St Ignatius
In their new book, Discover God Daily, best-selling authors Brendan McManus SJ and Jim Deeds turn to the life of St Ignatius Loyola to illustrate how God works through the unexpected twists and turns of life and how this process plays out over time. Using biographical details, they explore seven stages in the life of Ignatius, through reflections, personal stories, scripture and imagined conversations with God.
Referring to the ‘slow work of God’ in Ignatius’s life, the authors write:
“What is really interesting is that the saint is not made in one moment. In fact, it takes many years, and we see him slowly learning how to give himself over to God. We see Ignatius gradually letting go of his ego and petty pride, and making decisions more and more in line with God’s plan for him and the world.”
The book consists of seven chapters that correspond to the life-changing moments from the journey of Ignatius. They are entitled ‘eyes closed’, ‘waking up’, ‘extremes’, ‘eyes opened’, ‘gaining wisdom’, ‘gathering a group’, and ‘handing it over and giving back’.
Regarding the stage of extremes in Ignatius’s life, the authors point out how “he resolved to kill a Moor on the road who he felt had insulted Our Lady, but his donkey, to whom he left the decision, fortunately took the opposite road”. The authors also point out how Ignatius “gave away all his clothes to a beggar and dressed himself in pilgrim clothes with sandals and a staff”.
The authors reflect: “God was calling Ignatius to a slower and gentler pilgrimage, avoiding extremes of thought and action. However, God was clearly working with him very strongly. He received powerful consolations; God is teaching him and Ignatius is learning perceptively as he goes”.
Jim Deeds shares a personal story on the theme of extremes when he pushed too hard for too long on a bike ride. He experienced what cyclists call ‘the bonk’ when his blood sugar fell dangerously low and was forced to slow to a crawl on his way home. He writes:
“I made it home and survived my ordeal. I learned not to go cycling in such an extreme way. I also learned a valuable lesson for life in general: extremism does not work… God calls us not to the extreme, but to a steady and discerned path in life, where we can live well and avoid the dangers that extremism brings”.
The authors help guide readers in an organic, step-by-step approach toward ‘freedom for’ God and others. The four pieces of scripture following the reading in each chapter are also a source of inspiration.
Written in the established and popular style of the authors, this accessible book presents a hopeful vision of a compassionate God who is always with people, working powerfully to guide them through the messy experiences of life.
Brendan McManus SJ works as a Spiritual Director and retreat giver in Belfast. Jim Deeds is a poet and author and works in Pastoral Ministry in the Diocese of Down and Connor. Together they have written the award-winning Finding God in the Mess and its follow-up, Deeper Into the Mess. This is their third book together.
Discover God Daily: Seven Life-Changing Moments from the Journey of St Ignatius by Brendan McManus SJ and Jim Deeds is published in Ireland and the UK by Messenger Publications. Priced at €9.95/£8.95.