What is your sword?
Knight, nobleman and soldier that he was, his sword represented all that was good and dear to Iñigo of the Basque family of Loyola in the 1500s. The sword was his past, present and all the future ever held.
And that is why when a French cannonball finally broke Iñigo and he realized, far from being over, all his life (incredibly!) had led him now to serve the noblest of kings, he wholeheartedly offered his sword in kneeling allegience: pledging his very best, all that was good and dear to him to always and in everything from then on seek only the greater glory of his Lord and Master.
Only your Grace, your Love on me bestow; these make me rich, all else will I forgo.
And that is why almost 500 years after his death, Ignatius of Loyola remains one of the most influential men who ever walked the earth. Sinner (first and foremost by his own admission), Saint, Founder, Father, Teacher and Spiritual Director to countless millions through his classic and eternal Spiritual Exercices, Ignatius and his Compaña de Jesus (better known as the Jesuits) have endured the test of time and remain as relevant today in the age of Facebook as in the days of the conquistador. The Jesuits run the best schools in every corner of the world, educating generations of leaders and forming millions of souls in ratio studiorum, mens sana in corpore sano, Magis and AMDG – Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. Pope Francis is a Jesuit, and if his boundless spirit and willingness to embrace all is a fresh and welcome whiff of religion (dogma be damned), it is because Pope Francis exemplifies the very best of Ignacio de Loyola’s own, his willingness to be led in everything, to find God in all things, God in all people, God in all our gifts.
Personally for me, there is no man or woman alive or dead who has brought me closer to Jesus and Mary than this man Ignatius, and he does it every day, wielding his sword to prune and kick this stubborn heart of mine.
And that is why on his 9th birthday, I gave this painting to my son, after he had professed Ignatius to be his biggest hero (second to Jesus Christ and ahead of Jose Rizal). It is the classic portrait of a kneeling Ignatius with arms outstretched – but where is his sword?
That’s the question I want my son to ask and know for himself of himself. What is your sword? What is best and dearest in you? What is the essence of your life’s gift, which is the essence of why you are here on earth, the purpose for which you were born, a gift freely given and a gift in turn that will be asked of you to give fully for the service of humanity and God’s greater glory.
Ignatius says it best in his Suscipe:
Take and receive my liberty.
Take all my will, my mind, my memory.
All things I hold, all I own are yours.
Yours was the gift, to you I all return.
Do what you will – command, and I obey.
Only your Grace, your Love on me bestow.
These make me rich,
All else will I forgo.
Happy feast day, San Ignacio! And thank you for your sword!
What Is Your Sword?
Acrylic on Canvass
Yeyey Yatco, 2017
The first scene that greets Cyril every morning and the last he sees every night.