If Not For a Cannonball…

180px-Ignatius_LoyolaSome words of reflection on the Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola

If not for a cannonball
He would not have looked more deeply
At the life he had led
A full, and yet still, empty life
A rich, but yet to be richer, existence
That would have floated away.

If not for vanity’s sake
Hoping for a walk without a limp
Would convalescence have not provided the time
For reflecting just that much deeper?

If there were only more books
Of ribald tales
Near pornographic materials for the time
If only there were one or two more of those books
Would the Life of Christ and His great saints
Have not been touched by another saint’s hands?

The shattering of that leg
Shattered Iñigo’s heart as well
His life was no more
Who would want a gimpy-legged man after all?
And perhaps wallowing,
He read of what could have been
Priming his mind for the tales
Of Francis and Dominic
Who were more like the man he was about to become

If not for that cannonball
There would be no St. Ignatius
No Isaac Jogues, no Francis Xavier
There would be no Canisius, no Fordham
No Georgetown, No Boston College
James Martin may still work for GE
And Greg Boyle would not have become a Homeboy
If a cannonball did not change everything
For Iñigo and for us.

For Iñigo is now Ignatius of Loyola
And Ignatius reminds us that it is in moments like these
Where a simple, or not so simple, event
Can harken God’s presence to us
If we, but pay attention to the cannonball

So what are the cannonballs in our lives?
Those moments that cause us to turn,
if only for one brief moment in time
Towards God

That moment that caused us to see ourselves
A bit more clearly
And invited us into the place
Where we could be just a bit more
Than we thought we could

Perhaps we laughed at the thought
As old Sarah did at her potential pregnancy
Or perhaps we feared a future
As Isaiah did because of youth.

But a moment in time
Where we notice the Lord
Calling us
Is all we need to be not just
All that we are
But all that we can be for others as well

What is your moment in time?
That caused you to turn
Just a bit, or perhaps more drastically,
To be who God calls you to be?

A classroom, a bedroom, a bar room,
Those moments happen there.
A birth, a death, getting fired, an invitation
to something new,
something different,
something that changes us
To be renewed by God’s grace
Which is all we need and nothing more.

It might be that
we just sat at the right table
And met someone
Who changed our lives
With their invitation
That led to a new job
Or marriage
Or something else

Perhaps one dared to
Point out a flaw or the thing that is missing
And asked us to just consider that
Because they saw clearly when we could not?

Even the Pope has these moments
Like when the ballots swung
In his favor
And led him to remember the poor
In the princely, papal palace
And chose to be different.

What is your Ignatian moment?
Your cannonball?
That shatters your world
For good
And changes you
To be all that God has called you to be?

Happy Feast Day

Join the Conversation


  1. Awaiting a date to begin radiotherapy, the opening words of one of my favourite hymns popped into my mind; “Be still for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One is here.” I’ve always associated it simply with churches, but now I was hit by a new understanding. “Here” is everywhere that I am. Waiting to step into the unknown of treatment. In the consulting room with the oncologist. In the treatment room. On the road to and from the hospital. Everywhere. The presence, the power, the grace, with me at all times, in all places. Insight or revelation? You tell me.


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