Whatever you are doing, that which makes you feel the most alive…that is where God is. ~ St. Ignatius of Loyola
Today of course is the Feast Day of St. Ignatius and this quote came across my line of vision. The time I spent in Spain last year, following St. Ignatius’ footsteps will always be a blessing for me. As I sat in the cave in Manresa late at night by myself, I did not often have words for my prayers. All I knew is that I felt alive, even though I had been given a year to live. Most of us who have cholangiocarcinoma who are part of a closed FaceBook group say that we were given 6-12 months upon diagnosis. I am going into my 32nd month since diagnosis. After chemotherapy was unsuccessful I asked if I had about a year to live. I thought perhaps knowing might be helpful in me organizing my life. Both the surgeon and oncologist agreed that would be a good time frame. I have surpassed that as of last week by six months. I am learning what makes me feel most alive..and it most certainly where God is found too.
When I was in Spain, I learned that St. Ignatius may have had a liver or gallbladder disease. I prayed that he might help me maneuver my way through the remaining months of my life. He is one of several saints that I count on for intercession St. Peregrine, St. Catherine of Labouré, Sts. Francis and Claire, Padre Pio, and so many more. I feel surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses and though I cannot articulate or comprehend it, I know that they accompany me, much like the angel does St. Ignatius in the picture above. I am grateful for their petitions on my behalf.
I have returned to the Sunday night after-mass chat a few times today. The teacher had commented on my helping skills. I have had a servant’s heart for a very long time but I did not know it was always visible. A supervisor once told me to let my light shine and stop hiding it under a bushel. She was aware that I humbly did extras without seeking attention. Apparently this teacher was too and marveled that at such a young age I was already dedicating my life by what I would call serving. Because it was the eve of this feast day, I mentioned a line attributed to St. Ignatius: To give and not count the cost. He nodded. The line is from this longer prayer:
TO GIVE AND NOT TO COUNT THE COST
(By Saint Ignatius of Loyola)
Teach us, good Lord,
to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do your will.
I have made it my life to serve God with joy and love. All that remains for me as each title and label slips or is peeled away is child of God. I want to be God’s beloved child who will carry out the plan that is set before me. Perhaps I have always longed for that, but as a young child of five did not know how to articulate it. I am alive when I am in harmony with God’s desires for me.
On this day, I reflect on the Principle and Foundation:
For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.
This guides my steps these days. My hands have been mostly held open going into surgery and chemo. I would choose long life so that I may continue to serve and health so that I may have the stamina to do so but that is not what God has given me these past two years. Regardless, I have served the people of God both near and far and have felt fully alive. Whatever God is doing here, I accept and ask to be light for this world through it all. On this feast day, I am grateful for the gift of St. Ignatius and the Jesuits in my life. One of my Jesuit friends warmed my heart today when he replied to my blessings for this day: You are a real member of the Jesuit Family. What an honour to be considered so.
I pray that you may learn to live with open hearts and pay attention to God’s will for you. Whatever you do, may you feel most alive and know that God is with you through it all. AMDG!
What makes you feel most fully alive?
What is it you cling to most that separates you from God?
Holy One, You place choices before us and nudge us to discern your will for us. May I know that feeling of being most alive and run to it with passion and joy. Help me to recognize it quickly and trust it immediately so that whatever befalls me I know it is your will that I do. May I be aware of your presence each step of the way and give you glory. Amen!