Monday, July 31, 2006

Conversion by way of a poorly stocked library

Today is the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus and author of the most difficult hymn in the hymnal.

And it all began with a lack of books!

Ignatius was a child of a notoriously hot-tempered noble family, who became a courtier and warrior with all the standard virtues and vices thereof. Then, he was fighting in a battle at Pamplona, caught a cannonball in the leg, and was discharged to home in a stretcher. The leg didn't heal right, had to have repeated suurgeries, poor Ignatius was confined to bed and utterly bored.

He begged his family for some good rip-roaring chivalric romances to pass the time and improve his spirits, but in all the family castle there were only two books --- a life of Christ, and a book of saint stories called the Golden Readings. Well, something to read, anything to read, was better than staring at the ceiling. And so he read.

And, to his shock, he discovered that the saints lived lives more interesting, challenging, and honorable than any hero of chivalry, and, as soon as he could manage to get out of bed, he would put aside court life and warfare and set his sights to become a saint himself. And so he did.

Take, Lord, receive
all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
my entire will.

Take. Lord, receive
all I have and possess.
You have given all to me;
now I return it.

Give me only Your love and Your grace;
that's enough for me.
Your love and Your grace
are enough for me.

Take, Lord, receive;
all is Yours now.
Dispose of it
wholly according to Your will.

Give me only Your love and Your grace;
that's enough for me.
Your love and Your grace
are enough for me.



Anonymous said...

I don't recognize that poem from my catholic and Christian hymnals. Is it a Jesuit Hymnal special?

Your baby Brother

Karen Marie said...

The melody is one of the St. Louis Jesuit compositions, by Fr. John Foley sj. When I was at Gesu, we sang it sometimes, but I don't recall if it was in one of the hymnals or in an order of worship each time. Gesu has Worship III and Gather Comp hymnals......

Brian Michael Page said...

That was a Glory and Praise gem. Ever try the Peloquin "Prayer of Self Offering" based on that same Ignatian prayer? It's quite nice. A bit simpler than much of the Peloquin-fare, but eloquent just the same.


Karen Marie said...

Haven't ever heard the Peloquin, but will listen around for it. Of course, Gesu being an SJ parish tended to opt toward the "family" SJ music; in the 80s-early 90s when I was in choir we were doing hymn and service music beta testing there, which was always interesting.

When I mentioned the difficulty of the hymn, the difficulty is in the lyric, not the melody! Some parishioners would refuse to pray this hymn because they were having trouble wanting to want what the prayer asks for.