Today, July 31st, is the Feast of St. Ignatius. Without a doubt, adopting the spirituality rooted in the life of this great saint has made a huge impact in my life. Nearly ten years ago, I happened to sit across a dinner table from Fr. George Lane, the publisher of Loyola Press. The initial conversation started with Fr. Lane asking me, “so what do you know about Ignatian Spirituality?” When I replied “not much at all,” he casually started highlighting some of the foundational components of this 500 year old rhythm of life, prayer, and action. The next day, Fr. Lane gave me a little stack of Ignatian Spirituality books, and recommended I make an 8 day retreat sometime in the near future. I read those books and took his advice, and I’ve never looked back. Now, with a doctorate from Catholic University of America which focused on how those dealing with chronic illness might benefit from integrating key Ignatian practices into their lives and potentially improve their overall health, I’ve realized that I’ll never stop learning new insights about this great saint.
Where has July gone? I’d like to say I’ve spent most of it at the beach, up in the mountains, someplace where I’m called to slow down and relax. Well, my July hasn’t been that. I’ve been super busy, but I hope the results of all this activity will bear fruit in the future. First off, I’ve been working on my health. If you follow this blog, you know that my favorite form of exercise is a long walk. Since the beginning of the month, I’ve been doing a lot of walking. Now encouraged by my new Fitbit Blaze, I’m keeping great track of my daily activities. I love that this watch will beep me throughout the day to gently remind me that I haven’t met my hourly exercise goal. Mostly, I just need to squeeze in another 200 steps, and if I can, a little fitbit celebration occurs.
Yesterday morning, I was out for my walk and I happened upon this empty French fry container from a well known fast food chain. Normally, I would have passed right by, but the words printed on it caught my eye and made me stop. “All you need is fries.” Really? I know it’s a marketing slogan, but what they are saying is that food, especially junk food, will satisfy your needs. Feel sad? Food! Feel lonely? Food! Feel fat? More food!
I’m working hard at increasing my knowledge of nutrition, health, and exercise. The benefits of making small and positive changes in any of these areas are really remarkable and proven through countless studies. Add in prayer and a deepening relationship with God, and a person can positively affect all areas of their life. We don’t need more fries. They never were and never will be the answer to what we truly need.
Each year, my friends and colleagues at Loyola Press offer a wonderful gift to those devoted to Ignatian Spirituality. For the entire month of July, which ends on the Feast of St. Ignatius, daily updates will include articles, blog posts and videos to help you gain new/deeper insights into the spirituality which developed out of the life of this great saint. You’ll find everything here. I hope you’ll join me and countless others every day this month as we not only learn, but also grow in our desire to serve God and find Him in all things!