The Ignatian Year – Ignatius Day 2021
Today is Ignatius Day. He died on July 31, 1556. Jesuits and their companions around the globe acknowledge Ignatius and his contributions on this date each year. This year is particularly meaningful.
Fr. Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, proclaimed an Ignatian Year, from May 20, 2021 to July 31, 2022. The starting date marked the 500th anniversary of what has come to be known as cannonball day. That was the day on which Ignatius the soldier was struck by a cannonball, severely damaging his leg. Thus began his conversion, one that produced Ignatius the pilgrim, and eventually led to the founding of the Jesuits.
The theme of the year is To See All Things New in Christ. The centre of the year marks the fourth centenary of the canonization of Ignatius, Francis Xavier, and others.
You may likely be aware of this special year in the Ignatian family. There have been many items on Jesuit and Ignatian websites throughout the world, particularly the sites for specific Jesuit provinces. If English is not your first language, you can find material in a wide variety of languages. Here is a link to the site for the Canadian Jesuits: https://jesuits.ca/ignatianyear-canada/
In announcing this special year, Fr. Sosa said,
“It is good to remind ourselves that the wound Ignatius suffered in Pamplona was not so much a happy ending, but rather a happy beginning. Conversion consists sometimes of great moments of change, but it is also a never-ending process. We need to put Christ in the centre every time, again and again. This process is a pilgrimage along winding roads, up and down, sometimes having to retrace our steps, sometimes feeling lost. But meeting people along the road who indicate the way and reach out their hands to us.”
Celebrating 500 years of the conversion of St. Ignatius is not primarily about the past. It is about the present and the future. It is an opportunity for renewal and rediscovery of the Ignatian roots. It is an opportunity to stop, take stock and put Christ in the centre again. It is about continual and daily conversion. The Ignatian Year offers an opportunity to allow the Lord to bring about our own transformation.
One of the hopes for this commemorative year is that all of us might grow in our relationship with God. We all know conversion moments in our lives. Those moments could be as life changing as that injury was for Ignatius, or something more ordinary, something that brings about a change in how I understand myself and my place in the world.
There are diverse ways in which groupings in the Jesuit world are celebrating and using the year to deepen ourselves in the mystery of Jesus Christ. There are in-person and virtual retreats. There are special symposia and publications.
Out of curiosity, I entered ignatian year into my search engine and had almost a million references in a second. There is plenty out there. You will find what you want. But be careful and selective. Or, as Ignatius would suggest, be discerning.
About Ignatius, Pope Francis said to the Society of Jesus:
“All through his life he converted, […] he put Christ in the centre. And he did so through discernment. Discernment is not about always getting it right from the start, but it’s rather about navigating, about having a compass to be able to set out on the road which has many twists and turns, but always letting oneself be guided by the Holy Spirit who leads us to an encounter with the Lord. “
Happy Ignatius Day!