The Silence Begins…

     If all has gone as planned when I wrote this post back in February, today, March 15th, I will be near Barcelona, Spain, at Cova Sant Ignasi (Cave of Saint Ignatius) Manresa, an Ignatius of Loyola Pilgrimage & Prayer Retreat Center. Much of the five days our group is here will be spent in silent retreat.

     Those of you who know me well understand I love to talk. I rarely run out of conversational topics. When I told my siblings and their spouses about the silent portion of my Spain pilgrimage, my younger sister, Myrna, commented with characteristic droll humor, “Susan, you’re going to be expelled!” Everyone laughed, including me, at the incongruous thought of me being silent for any length of time.

     What few people understand about me, though, is that even though I’m an outgoing extrovert and relish human conversations, my spiritual temperament is more contemplative. I crave silence and deep reflection. I long for quiet moments when I can think deeply about God, when the noise and activity of the life I cherish, fades, and my human spirit is able to listen to The Spirit.

     I have a feeling I’m going to love this season of silence—although I suspect I’ll try to sneak in a cellphone visit or two with my husband during these five days.

(Photo by Dr. Deborah Gill)

     The following biographical information about St. Ignatius is taken from the Cova Manresa web site. I hope you’ll enjoy learning about this remarkable man of faith.

St. Ignatius, a man with a deep spiritual vocation[1]

The Pilgrim:

St. Ignatius was popularly known as The Man in the Sack, as he wore a simple robe.

Íñigo López de Recalde was the son of a noble family. He was born in the hamlet of Loyola, between the small Basque villages of Azcoitia and Azpeitia, in 1491. At the age of 15 he entered the service of the kings of Castile, being a good diplomat and military. In May 1521, while defending the city of Pamplona, ​​he was seriously injured in one leg. During his recovery, and compelled by some readings, he decided to make a radical change in his life and began a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, for which he set out to embark at the port of Barcelona.

On the way there, he passed by the monastery of Montserrat and on March 25, 1522, he came down to Manresa where he lived eleven months, which were decisive in his spiritual transformation. The stay of Saint Ignatius in Manresa – much longer than anticipated – has a great relevance in the life and the works of the Saint. As he himself recounts, it was in this city where he had the mystical and spiritual experiences that inspired him in the writing of his main workExercicis Espirituals,a method of seeking the will of God, an aid to guide one’s life according to God : “to love and to serve in all things.”

Finally, he embarked in Barcelona and arrived in the Holy Land. 

When he returned from Jerusalem, he decided to study first in Barcelona and then in Alcalá de Henares and Salamanca, until he was imprisoned by the Inquisition.

He then continued with his studies in Paris, where he was part of a group of ten companions who set out, within a year, to go to the Holy Land and become missionaries. And if that was not possible, they would put themselves under the Pope’s orders. Once ordained priest, and faced with the impossibility of returning to Jerusalem, they placed themselves at the service of Pope Paul III. In 1540, he founded the Society of Jesus, and was chosen as its first superior. And so he continued until his death, in 1556, when he was 65 years old.

In 1609, Pope Paul V beatified him, and was proclaimed a Saint in 1622.

Que deu et beneeixi,

(“God Bless You” in Catalon, the language spoken in Catalonia, Spain, where Barcelona is the capital.)

Sue Reeve

P.S. Even though I’m not skilled at photography like my husband, I hope I’ll have a photo or two I can share with you upon my return.




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