Over the last several weeks, I’ve been meeting with someone who wants to make the Spiritual Exercises this fall. I’ll save the story on how he ended up getting in touch with me for another time, but there’s no doubt in my mind that God (or Ignatius?) was at work in bringing us together. I hope it will all work out and we can begin our Ignatian journey together in September. Well, in some sense, our journey has already begun in the form of a very long preparation period.
A few weeks ago, he began telling me about his reading of Ludolf of Saxony’s Vita Christi (Life of Christ). I thought he must be confused, because to my knowledge there was no English translation available. When doing my doctoral research, I knew that some parts of Ludolf’s medieval epic work on the life of Christ were available in English, but not the complete work. When we sat down together recently over coffee, he mentioned reading the Vita Christi, so I asked him about it. Low and behold, there is a new translation, having just come out, available a few weeks ago as an e book. In fact, the hard copy will be available tomorrow!!! This will be a multi part work, but that it’s been done at all is a really wonderful thing. I’ll buy my copy tomorrow, since I can’t imagine reading this electronically. I want to feel the pages, read the printed words.
I think I wrote this in an earlier post, or maybe in a few of them, but I’m always amazed at how much I continue to learn about St. Ignatius and his Spiritual Exercises, along with those people/concepts which influenced him throughout his life. While recovering from his battle wounds, Ignatius was given two books to read to pass the time. One of those books was Ludolf’s. In fact, his Life of Christ was one of the most widely read books of his day, with countless copies and translations available all over Europe. Unfortunately, this work lost favor when Biblical scholars were looking for purity, not embellishment. Ludolf wove the Fathers of the Church, maps, stories, etc. into his text, which as we know, made it difficult for some to differentiate what was from Scripture and what was from Ludolf.
For me, that was centuries ago, and now, with my Bible in hand, I can easily see the difference, so I’m not concerned I’ll get things mixed up. I can’t wait to begin reading this first volume, translated by Milton Walsh. I’m grateful to him for what must have been an exhaustive labor of love. I hope I’ll always be forever learning. I hope it’s the same for you!