During the early decades of the sixteenth century, Ignatius of Loyola and John Calvin were both students in Paris. In the summer of 2006, as I was finishing up my year with the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises and making decisions about applying for seminary and the ordination process in the Presbyterian Church (USA), my husband and I spent several days in Paris, some of them staying in the same neighborhood in which both Ignatius and Calvin lived as students. Supposedly their portraits hang next to each other in a former college and now government building (which was never open when we were around, as we spent our days wandering the city). We made a little pilgrimage one afternoon to the Chapel of the Martyrs in Montmarte, the place in which Ignatius and his early followers met and began to form themselves into the Society of Jesus, and I chuckled at the multiplicity of juxtapositions. In the 1530s, Catholics and Protestants in Paris and elsewhere were at odds with one another; I don't think too many people were looking for commonalities. But a few years later I would, indeed, be a seminary student doing exactly that, pursuing an independent study on the spiritual experiences and understandings of both men.
Today is Ignatius' Feast Day in the Catholic Church, and so I'm focused on him. At the certification ceremony for our spiritual direction program last year, each of the members of our class offered a few remarks. At that time, I said that I was moved by having become part of a tradition handed down from Ignatius to his first Jesuit brothers to others through the centuries to, eventually, my own director, and from him to me (among many), and now from me to others. Today, in further celebration, I offer this moving story from a fellow blogger, someone who also still looks for God in all things despite loss and sadness.
Happy Feast Day.