ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, HARD TACK, & MEDITERRANEAN SALAD
Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) North Simon Art Foundation
St. Ignatius (Inigo Lopez) of Loyola was born in the Basque part of northern Spain some time in 1491. He was a proud and celebrated soldier in the height of medieval chivalry until a battle wound caused a long convalesce during which he read and studied about the lives of Jesus Christ and the Saints. This inspired him to lay down his sword and begin his own pilgrimage to Sainthood.
He is the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), author of their Constitution (Rule of Order), and their first Superior General. He also created the Spiritual Exercises which can help anyone, including laity, devote themselves toward increasing their spirituality and dedication to God.
St. Ignatius died from fever in Rome on July 31, 1556 at age 65. He is honored on that date in the Roman Catholic and Anglican (including Episcopal) Churches. He is the patron saint of many places throughout the world, soldiers, the Society of Jesus, and spiritual retreats.
The life of St. Ignatius perfectly models Sainthood. (Martyrdom is not a prerequisite.) It’s ironic that his vanity as a courtly knight of the noble class and his high thoughts of himself led him to believe he could become a Saint simply because he wanted to, felt called to do so, and was willing to do everything necessary to make his declaration a reality.
I love this about him. Talk about confidence and courage! “Can’t” didn’t seem to be in his vocabulary at all. Here I mean “can’t” related to his ability to get to the next step on his spiritual pilgrimage. He definitely applied “can’t” to what he considered unsaintly or sinful behavior. As in, I can’t eat that, I’m fasting today. Or, I can’t personally accept large sums of money, but I can accept enough for a meal.
I can’t get over this guy and his attributes. I could go on about some more of them – teacher, mystic, brother; but it’s best if I begin at the beginning.
Inigo’s baptismal records were lost in a fire, so it’s unclear exactly when he was born, but later documentation was used to calculate that it was probably in the fall of 1491. His parents, Don Beltran, Lord of Onaz and Loyola, and Marina Saenz de Liconay Bolda were of noble rank. Inigo was the last of 11 children (8 sons and 3 daughters) born to his mother. Because he was raised by the local blacksmith’s wife, Maria de Garin, it’s believed that his mother died soon after his birth.
His oldest brother died in battle, so his second eldest brother, Martin Garcia, became heir and married Magdalena de Araoz, who became the mistress of the family’s Castle of Loyola.
Inigo’s childhood education consisted mainly of learning to read and write which was standard for his culture and era.
When Inigo was 15, his father accepted the invitation of his friend Juan Velazquez de Cuéllar to send Inigo to him to be educated as a Castilian gentleman. He was trained in the ways of court, including fencing and horseback riding.
Inigo served with Velazquez for about a decade. Once when he was home on leave, his brother and he were arrested for, essentially, beating up someone who overstepped his societal station by giving a position to a relative on his own without waiting for the Loyola family to grant the title.
At the time, Inigo and his brother tried to get out of the charges by claiming that they had religious immunity. Not so much for Inigo at the time. Although, his brother was a priest. Anyway, the charges seem to have eventually been dropped. Years later, Ignatius felt guilty about his past behavior and did dedicated penance for this and other sins.
Meanwhile, due to courtly intrigues beyond their control, Velazquez lost his position and Ignatius had to seek new employment.
At this point in his life, he was bored with court and wanted to prove his worth in battle. He began serving Don Antonio Manrique de Lara, Duke of Najera and Viceroy of Navarre. Not surprisingly, he excelled at commanding soldiers. (A bit of foreshadowing here — because he later led the Jesuits so well, it’s not surprising that he had natural leadership skills.)
In mid-May 1521, when he was around 30, Inigo was called to defend a fortress called Pamplona against the French. He and his soldiers fought well until the French used heavy artillery. On May 23 or 24, Inigo was wounded by cannonball and wall shrapnel. The siege ended shortly thereafter.
The victorious French sent Inigo home on a litter to his family castle in Loyola where his sister-in-law, Magdalena, took charge of his care. He was exceedingly brave in enduring several operations to his wounded legs. And when I say, “operations,” think medieval. Think no antiseptics, no anesthesia. Think pain and suffering.
The seriousness of his wounds (with no antibiotics) caused his health to fail to such an extent that he received last rites on June 24, the Feast Day of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. By June 28 the Feast Day of Peter and Paul, his health had improved dramatically. This was a miraculous recovery when you consider St. John the Baptist was the patron saint of his mother’s side of the family and St. Peter was the patron saint of his father’s side.
Yet, vanity still ruled Inigo. The last surgery he ordered on himself was cosmetic only. It seemed that he thought it was unsightly for a gallant knight, such as himself, to be seen by the ladies with a piece of bone protruding from under his knee. He ordered it sawed off. For reals!
Needless to say, convalescence took a really long time. Magdalena remained in charge of his long-term care. His condition, although painful, slowly improved. But, he would always have a limp, and his battle days were over.
When he was feeling better, but still stuck in bed, he asked for some books about courtly love and knightly gallantry of the type he was used to reading. But, there were none of those types of books in the castle.
Instead, Magdalena brought him the four volumes of THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST by Ludolph of Saxony which she had received as a gift from Queen Isabella. The other was a book called GOLDEN LEGEND by Giacomo da Varezze, which contained brief biographies of the Saints.
At first, Inigo read the books quickly to pass the time. But then, he reread them at a deeper level and slowly pondered what he had read.
Sometimes his thoughts focused on Jesus and the Saints and sometimes his thoughts focused on a woman he daydreamed about wooing and winning over with his gallantry and heroic deeds. Although, he derived much pleasure in thinking of the woman and knightly pursuits of his old life, afterwards he’d feel unhappy and dry, as if he’d been wasting his time.
On the other hand, after reading about Jesus and the Saints and daydreaming about ways he could lead a saintly life, he’d feel full, happy, and joyful.
In this way of interpreting his own feelings, he realized that the secular worldly life was no longer his path.
And so, he reread and focused more on Jesus and the Saints and began to discern among the words on the pages – directions, instructions, a how-to become a saint, a how-to live a saintly life, a.k.a. Spiritual Exercises.
This was the course he pursued, because his gut felt good in the thinking about doing it and in the actual doing of it. He began to formulate his Spiritual Exercises and to write them down in a notebook he later carried with him always.
Interestingly, his Spiritual Exercises are similar to the recipes for saintly living I write about here. The lives and lessons of the Saints are different versions of the same story. But, I digress.
Inigo focused a great deal on the lives of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic of Osma because theirs were the two most popular orders of his time with monasteries throughout Spain. The amazing thing about Inigo’s reading of these saintly lives and the founding of their orders, was that he read about something they had accomplished and, not only, thought to himself, I can do that, too, but I have to do that, too.
He didn’t understand what was happening at the time, so he would put the books down and think of other things so he could rest his brain. Perhaps it overwhelmed Inigo to believe that through these written works, he was receiving his life’s mission from God.
Soon, however, the desire to imitate the Saints made itself fully known to him, and he began to talk and dream about traveling to Jerusalem. Then one night, he had a vision of Mother Mary with the Christ Child which filled him with immense and lasting joy.
At this point, he gave up all thoughts about worldly desires of the flesh and instead planned his pilgrimage to Jerusalem and other saintly endeavors. For example, he had much to confess and do penance for from his former life.
In early spring, 1522, when he was finally healed in body, he left his family castle to travel to Monserrat. But he wasn’t fully healed in mind and spirit quite yet. In these early days of his dedication to Christ and the saintly life, Inigo suffered through many bouts of what he referred to as “scruples” or overthinking.
For example, one day, shortly after leaving the Castle of Loyola, he and his donkey came upon a Moor who was also traveling by donkey. They fell into a discussion, and the Moor off-handedly mentioned he didn’t believe Jesus was born to a virgin. Then he rode away.
Inigo thought long and hard and weighed the pros and cons of whether or not he should chase the Moor down and kill him with his dagger for his blasphemy or leave him alone so as not commit murder. What to do? What to do? Eventually, when he could no longer bear thinking about the dilemma, he let his donkey decide at a cross roads — Follow the Moor to one town and kill him or take the other road to another town and let the Moor live.
The donkey chose the road to the town without the Moor. In this way, Ignatius learned that it serves us well to factor in the actions of others before we make our decisions, and it’s okay to move slowly along our path until we know what we need to know.
When Inigo arrived in Monserrat, he found a confessor who worked with him in making his General Confession and assigned him prayers and penance. After Inigo received Absolution, he carried his dagger and sword to the altar of Our Lady of Montserrat and laid them down along with his fancy clothing and prayed in vigil there, either kneeling or standing, all night.
Next, he walked to Manresa where he began his new life dressed in sack cloth. He begged for alms, fasted, prayed, and sought out people to teach him about God. In exchange for a bed, he helped out at the Hospital of Saint Lucy for sick poor people.
He found a new confessor who finally told him to stop digging up stuff from his past to confess unless it was something really important. Even so, Inigo suffered great anxiety that he was leaving something out. He went through periods of what he called “desolations,” feeling uncertain if what he was doing was what he was supposed to be doing, and if he was doing it enough. He sought advice from whomever he could.
Meanwhile, he began to set for himself rules about fasting and eating only those foods necessary for good health. And, although he was friends with women, some of whom financially supported him and would later help him in his good works, he led a life of chastity, no longer tempted by the flesh.
Eventually, he realized that because of his readings, devoted prayers, and mystical visions, he knew more about God than most of the people from whom he sought spiritual guidance. (Although, not formally, which will come up later.)
He was staying in a room provided by the local Dominicans, and due to his over-zealous fasting, and because he was prone to illness, he came near to death again. The thought of dying and joining Jesus in Heaven so filled him with joy, he resolved to simply stop thinking about death because he had work to do first.
Upon his recovery, he prepared to travel to Jerusalem. His patrons and friends wanted to set him up with warm travel clothes and a purse with money for expenses. Some even offered to travel with him, but he refused it all. He wanted to travel with God alone and rely upon Him for all his needs.
He traveled to Barcelona where he convinced a ship’s captain to let him sail for free. But, the captain insisted that he bring with him one month’s worth of biscuit, a.k.a., hard tack, a simple bread made with flour and water which had a long shelf-life.
Inigo suffered much scruples about even this. He worried that he was taking his future care into his own hands despite his desire to place his care in God’s hands. His confessor helped him solve this moral dilemma by instructing him to beg for the money needed to pay for the biscuit, which he did.
Then he sailed to Rome where he received a pilgrim’s blessing from Pope Hadrian, VI. Next, he traveled to Venice and then on to Jerusalem where Franciscans welcomed him as a guest and led him on pilgrimage to all the holy sites.
Inigo was so inspired by the experience, he tried to convert some locals. Trying to convert Muslims was a crime punishable by death, so the Franciscans sent him home as soon as they could. (See St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan for more info.)
He traveled back in a ship that almost sank and across land wearing clothing not warm enough for the winter weather. When he reached Barcelona where he had friends, he resolved to study Latin grammar with young school boys until he learned it. He knew he needed a deeper education for the saintly life he planned on leading.
Concentration and memorization didn’t come easy to Inigo. He believed this was the fault of the devil who tried to distract him. This made him study harder and devote all his intention to the task at hand. Within two years, he mastered writing in Latin.
Then, on the advice of his teacher, he traveled to Alcalá to study liberal arts. While there, he explained the Way of Christ to people, taught the Catechism to children and new converts, and directed some through the Spiritual Exercises.
Time passed, and the Inquisition got a hold of him and tried him for heresy because he taught about Jesus in a new way and wasn’t clergy. Imprisonment happened more than once. Each time, he explained himself and his Spiritual Exercises so well, he was declared innocent.
Next, he decided he needed to travel to Paris to earn a proper education and credentials. He started with basic studies to fill in the blanks of what was missing from his earlier education. He then, with a scholarship, enrolled in the College de Sainte-Barbe where his name was incorrectly written in the register as “Ignatius.” Inigo in Latin is not Ignatius, it’s Enecus. Whether or not he knew it was a mistaken translation, he eventually adopted Ignatius as his name in order to converse easier with French and Italian speakers.
He earned his bachelor’s degree on March 13, 1533 then began his theology program with the Dominicans. During the time of his studies, he gathered to him six companion whom he had directed through the Spiritual Exercises. They turned their lives over to God and dedicated themselves to teaching people about God alongside Ignatius.
Also during this time, Ignatius developed periodic stomach pains which his doctors couldn’t diagnose nor treat. (After his death, an autopsy indicated that he suffered from gallstones.) He was advised to return to the warmer climate of his home country.
Ignatius and his six companions came up with a plan and vowed to regroup in Rome to prepare for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. If they were unsuccessful in obtaining permission to travel to Jerusalem during the current dangerous time in the crusades, they would offer their services to the pope.
Without knowing it, their vow to each other created the earliest phase of the Society of Jesus.
Ignatius earned his master’s degree on March 14, 1535 and returned home to Spain to visit his family and try to recuperate his health before meeting up with his companions — St. Francis Xavier, St. Peter Faber, James Lainez, Simon Rodrigues, Alfonso Salmerón, and Nicholás Bobadilla.
Soon after their arrival in Rome, they were all ordained as priests. While his companions prepared for and served their first Eucharist within a short time, Ignatius took a whole year to prepare because every time he imagined himself serving the Eucharist, he wept.
During this year as they tried to gain permission and passage to Jerusalem, they served in local churches, taught the catechism to children and new converts, and directed some people in the Spiritual Exercises.
When the year was over, the Turks still had so much military strength and territory, that there wasn’t safe passage nor permission for any pilgrims to go to the Holy Land at all. The companions met together to discuss their next steps. They decided to split up and go to towns with universities to preach, teach, hear confessions, and direct the Spiritual Exercises. Perhaps they knew also that they would attract new recruits.
Before they split up, they prayed and discussed what their group’s name should be. Since they agreed no one held authority over them except Jesus, they would call themselves, Compania de Jesus which translated into Latin as Societas Jesu, and into English as Society of Jesus.
Ignatius spent that next year mostly in Rome, but also in Venice waiting out charges of heresy to be dropped. During this time, he and his companions directed women as well as men in the Spiritual Exercises. Women also helped them with their works with the poor. Several women prepared themselves to join the Society of Jesus, in either a female version or a third order version. Both the Franciscans and the Dominicans had convents and roles for nuns, as well as a third order with roles for married laity. So, it seemed likely that Ignatius would model his order on theirs and make a place for women.
But, Ignatius ultimately decided not to allow women or laity to join the actual order mostly due to cultural beliefs at the time. One also has to remember that Jesuits are Roman Catholic priests adhering to a strict moral code and rules of conduct established in the Constitution Ignatius wrote for their order. It takes twenty years of following a certain schedule of education and works to become a full-fledged Jesuit. This is not to say woman or married folk couldn’t handle the rigor and service, but that the rules were written for men who had taken vows of chastity, poverty, and etc.
I know I seem to be cutting St. Ignatius a lot of slack here on his decision not to include women in his order. My main reason for doing so is that it was clear from his autobiography that he respected women, depended on them, and considered them his friends and equals. Ignatius was a product of his culture, and he was overly cautious because of incidents and signs that occurred at the end of the year.
During Ignatius’s final journey from Venice to Rome (he’d soon begin working from there as Superior General of the Society of Jesus, a position he’d hold for the rest of his life), he and his travel companions stopped at a chapel in a small village call La Storta about eight miles from Rome. It was here that Ignatius experienced a strong mystical vision:
From those who were with him, we learn that as soon as he entered the chapel, he felt a sudden change come over him, and while he was praying he had a remarkable vision. He saw God the Father together with Jesus, who was carrying His cross. Both Father and Son were looking most kindly upon him, and he heard the Father say to the Son, ‘I wish you to take him as your servant.’
Jesus then directed His words to the kneeling pilgrim and said, ‘I wish you to be our servant.’ This was exactly what Ignatius always wanted. Then he heard the Father add, ‘I will be favorable to you in Rome.’ Ignatius did not know whether he would meet success or persecution, but he knew that God would be with him.
Then on arriving in Rome he told his companions he saw that the windows were closed, a sign he took to mean they would suffer many contradictions. He likewise said, ‘We must always be on our guard, and hold no conversations with women, unless they be ladies of prominence.’
Later in Rome, to continue on this same subject, Master Francis heard a women’s confession and once visited her to speak of spiritual matters. She was later found to be pregnant, but it pleased the Lord, that the man who had done the wicked deed was discovered. The same happened to Jean Codure, whose spiritual daughter was caught with a man.
To avoid such embarrassment in the future, Ignatius decided that no one was to hear the confessions of women in their homes without a companion. Page 177-178, Notes, Pilgrim
At a time when Ignatius was being repeatedly accused of heresy, for which the punishment was death, I don’t blame him for his overcautiousness.
After careful discernment via his own Spiritual Exercises, in which he almost made the opposite decision, he announced there would be no female Jesuits.
Finally, and officially, cleared of all charges of heresy, the companions went to Pope Paul III in late November 1538 and offered themselves and their services to the Church. He accepted and soon called on them to supply missionaries in Siena, Parma, and India.
Later in December:
“Since Ignatius’s desire to celebrate his First Mass in the very land where Jesus had lived had never come to pass, he did the next best thing. At Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, there was a Chapel of the Manger where a relic of Bethlehem was preserved, and there Ignatius and companions went on Christmas Eve, 1538. Surrounded by his closest friends and with eyes so filled with tears that he could hardly read the missal, Ignatius celebrated the Mass he had so long desired to celebrate.” Page 184, Notes, Pilgrim’s
Ignatius stayed in Rome as the first Superior General leading and organizing all the Jesuits’ efforts. He completed writing his Spiritual Exercises and his Constitution. He was also a prolific letter writer of spirit-filled encouragement no matter the recipient even when the letter served as his reassignment of those who turned out to be unsuited to their mission.
In 1551, he established the Roman College as the template for all Jesuit colleges. The pope also assigned the Society of Jesus to counter the Reformation, which they did by creating special seminaries for priests who would be working in lands where the Reformation was popular. He also established orphanages and other homes to protect the vulnerable.
Ignatius remained prone to illness, but his health always returned. Until one day when he was down with a high fever and other symptoms, Ignatius tried to send his secretary, Polanco, to the Vatican to request the Pope’s blessing because he knew life was leaving him. But Polanco, who mostly likely couldn’t let himself recognize the imminent death of someone he loved, said it would be more convenient if he went the next day. Ignatius didn’t argue.
Shortly after midnight as he whispered, “Ay, Dios,” Ignatius’s life began to peacefully slip away. He died on July 31, 1556, at age 65. He remains a powerful influence on Jesuits, clergy from other traditions, and all sorts of members of the laity.
“Almighty God, who called Ignatius of Loyola to the service of your Divine Majesty and to seek you in all things; Give us also the grace to labor without counting the cost and to seek no reward other than knowing that we do your will; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen. – LESSER FEASTS AND FASTS 2018
Join me in the library before we head to the kitchen:
A PILGRIM’S JOURNEY: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, introduction, translation, and commentary by Joseph N. Tylenda, SJ is an excellent translation! Highly recommend as first source material. The Notes on each page are amazingly extensive and full of valuable historical and cultural facts. As far as autobiographies go, it’s not in Ignatius’s own written or dictated words. It’s a little bit similar in form to Margery Kemp’s autobiography in that she dictated her story to her confessor who wrote it in the third person referring to Margery as “the creature.” A PILGRIM’S JOURNEY is also told in the third person referring to Ignatius as “the pilgrim.”
Ignatius procrastinated on working on his autobiography until his later years, due to modesty as well as the necessity to do his other works first, including fine tuning his Spiritual Exercises, which he worked on from 1522-1548, completing his Constitution, and copious letter writing. Not to mention all his non-writing related tasks including meetings and establishment of schools and homes for various peoples in need.
Finally, during the year 1552, his closest fellow Jesuits, Juan de Polanco and Jerónimo Nadel, earnestly requested that he write of his early life as some sort of “testament” similar to the one written by St. Francis of Assisi. He mildly agreed but continued to procrastinate.
His motivation arrived that spring in the form of Goncalves de Camara who was reporting in to Rome from the Society of Jesus in Portugal. At one point during his visit, he had a chat with Ignatius in the garden and confessed that he had difficulties avoiding vainglory, and he asked Ignatius for advice.
That was the moment when Ignatius realized the story of his early years including how he handled his own tendencies toward vainglory would be a benefit to others like Goncalves. And so, he agreed to tell his story to Goncalves “for the record.”
Now here’s the weird part. Ignatius would only tell his story to Goncalves. It seems Goncalves was a careful listener with an excellent memory, so as soon as Ignatius finished speaking for the night, Goncalves would go to the desk in his small room and write it all down. This means the voice of the story isn’t really so much Ignatius’s. Nevertheless, it works.
Right. So, I’m going to try to write these next two book reviews without gushing in a fangirl-like manner. Good luck to me on that.
Fr. James Martin is the tops in spiritual on-line communications. I follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. He’s even “liked” some of my Instagram comments. Ooooooo, right?! Oh, sorry.
First off, Fr. Martin is a New Yorker, so he speaks my language, AND, he writes like he talks. Check out this short YouTube video to see what I mean.
His voice and style in the video are the same he writes in. He’s clear and easy to understand, especially for laity. He doesn’t take any previous theological knowledge for granted. He explains it all in an everyday, conversational tone. I’ve learned volumes from him over the years.
When I created this blog, one of the first books I read was MY LIFE WITH THE SAINTS by James Martin, SJ in which he describes how particular Saints affected various aspects of his life. I learned about Saints I had never, or only slightly, heard of before. I vowed to myself to study all of them. St. Ignatius of Loyola, whom I discovered in Chapter 5, is the sixth Saint out of the sixteen that I’ve studied so far on my own.
This means I’ve been wanting to study St. Ignatius for about six years. I hadn’t done so until now because I knew it would be a time-consuming extensive project, and I hadn’t felt up to it before. Little did I know how important my contact with St. Ignatius of Loyola would be in guiding me though my latest difficult passage through recovery from codependency along my spiritual journey.
By the way, in my book review of PILGRIMAGE: MY SEARCH FOR THE REAL POPE FRANCIS by Mark K. Shriver, we learn that not only is Pope Francis a Jesuit, he feels he was clearly Called by St. Ignatius of Loyola. In retrospect, I consider this fact a big nudge toward St. Ignatius, as well.
Back to MY LIFE WITH THE SAINTS, I definitely give it a five-star review because it changed my life. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in understanding how profoundly the Saints can influence our lives and spiritual paths.
THE JESUIT GUIDE TO (ALMOST) EVERYTHING: A SPIRITUALITY FOR REAL LIFE by James Martin, SJ is also a five-star book. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in learning how to apply Ignatian Spirituality to their everyday lives. I will go as far as to say that if you only read one book about St. Ignatius of Loyola, this is the one to read.
I have copious notes, but I will restrain myself in only offering some of the best parts that are particularly useful in understanding St. Ignatius. On Page 10, Fr. Martin describes Ignatian Spirituality:
- Finding God in all things.
- Becoming a contemplative in action.
- Looking at the world in an incarnational way.
- Seeking freedom and detachment.
You’ll have to read the book for his explanation of these concepts. Really, read the book.
No? You want more examples first? Fine. I got a good one. Okay, so what Fr. Martin essentially does in the book is take us through the Spiritual Exercises and shows us how each section can apply to the life of a lay person, a.k.a. a regular Joe. Or, in my case, a regular Julia. Chapter 12 describes the Ignatian process of Making Decisions. I took notes and sent them to my daughter in an email because she was in the process of deciding what college offer she should accept. All quotes are from Page 305-338 and are in note style, not research-paper style.
Start off indifferent. Set the scale to zero, as it were. Let go of outside influences and your fear of what other people will think.
How does each choice/path make you feel? Peaceful and closer to God are good. Empty, dry, or agitated, not so good.
Be ready and open to changing your mind and redirect your path based on new information or experiences.
Honor current commitments. If you’re comfortable with your past decision, don’t bother making a new one.
Sometimes decisions are made via aha moments — you just know.
Other times, you should pretend to have made one choice over the others. Practice wearing it around for a couple of days. How does it make you feel? In line with God’s desire for you or opposite? Is there anything negative about the decision that you hadn’t thought of before?
Then try on the opposite decision and repeat.
If you’re still undecided, make a pros and cons list for each choice, ‘Listing the positives and negative frees you from the idea that a good decision means choosing perfection.’
Pray about them. ‘Eventually, you will come to a choice that brings some peace.’
‘Ask for some sort of confirmation from God that this is the right decision.’ This could show up as consolation from God — a peaceful sense that you made the right decision or something more dramatic and obvious.
Another method different from the pros and cons list is to imagine yourself advising someone facing the need to make the same decision.
Then imagine which choice would lead your best, authentic, true self to feel the most free, confident, mature, independent, and loving. ‘Making decisions as if you were your best self will help you become your best self.’
Sometime lower energies work their way into your mindset when decision making. Watch out for ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ thoughts that don’t feel right. In other words, the devil could get mixed in and derail you. Watch out for him via your feelings. Gnawing anxiety is a red flag that something’s wrong.
Also, say, for example, that you’ve made a decision then wake up the next morning thinking, oh no, what have I done?! This would be an indication that the “devil made you do something.”
Also watch out for shoulda — don’t be ‘shoulding all over yourself.’ In other words, don’t let anyone push you into any decision.
God pulls you gently forward in love toward a good decision. It’s a different feeling.
Don’t make any decisions when you are freaking out. Pray and start over from the beginning.
And yes, it’s fine to ask experts to help guide you through this process. Like a mentor, for instance.
Remember also that no college experience is going to be a cake walk. Whichever college experience you choose will have its challenges and negative aspects. This doesn’t mean you chose poorly, it means you chose college.
‘There is no perfect decision, perfect outcome, or perfect life. Embracing imperfection helps us relax into reality. When we accept that all choices are conditional, limited, and imperfect, our lives become paradoxically, more satisfying, joyful, and peaceful.’
‘But at heart it is simple. Ignatian discernment means trusting that through your reason and inner life, God will help to draw you to good decisions, because God DESIRES for you to make good, loving, healthy, positive, life-giving choices. So, find whatever works for you, whatever draws you closer to God, and whatever helps you make good decisions. Most of all, trust that God is with you as you chose your paths in this life.’
Throughout all the chapters, Fr. Martin quotes or recommends books and movies related to Ignatian Spirituality. I made a list of all the books and movies he mentioned that appealed to me, and when I put them in my cart on Amazon, they totaled over $200. I restrained myself and didn’t buy all of them. But, I did buy some.
The two movies were “On the Waterfront” with Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, and Karl Malden; an American classic which everyone should watch and “The Mission” with Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons; a depressing tale with a deep spiritual message. The acting is impeccable in both.
One of the books I purchased which added to my understanding of St. Ignatius of Loyola is THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES RECLAIMED: UNCOVERING LIBERATING POSSIBILITIES FOR WOMEN, by Katherine Dyckman, Mary Garvin, and Elizabeth Liebert. The authors are Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, (SNJM). The book is excellent, and I recommend it for anyone serious about Ignatian Spirituality and the spiritual roles of women in our religious and secular societies.
It’s comprehensive and explores the many aspects of Ignatian Spirituality and explains in detail what was going on around St. Ignatius during his lifetime which affected his writings and made it appear in some places as if he were anti-woman. The authors also take us through the Spiritual Exercises and shows us how each concept can be applied to women.
Be advised, however, the style of this book isn’t as conversational or easy to read as Fr. Martin’s books. Its tone is more academic which isn’t a bad thing if you are prepared for it and have a dictionary handy. I marked many passages that spoke to me!
These authors recommended even more books for further study of Ignatian Spirituality. We could never read all the books inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola in our lifetimes, but it doesn’t hurt to shop around for the few that speak clearly to us.
Speaking of which, imagination. I’m fluent in three second languages — sarcasm, movie quotes, and imagination. There’s an aspect of St. Ignatius’s spirituality which attracts me to him the strongest – Imaginative Prayer. One, because his legacy validates the way I connect to the Saints, and two because I’m connected to him right now via my imagination which I use to fill in the space between the facts I learn to create a fuller story or character of the Saint I’m studying. Imagination helps me hear their messages and feel their guidance more clearly.
St. Ignatius was specific in how one should engage in Imaginative Prayer as he was with all his recommendations. Here’s how to do it: Let’s say, for example, that you are reading Chapter 2 in the Gospel of Luke about the birth of Jesus. Imagine you are Mary’s servant, there all along, but not mentioned in writing. You’re in the stable with the Holy Family. See yourself there, prepare and share a simple meal, listen to the shepherds, hold the Blessed Babe in your arms, rub noses with him, kiss his forehead, hug him ever so gently, feel that I’m-holding-a-baby hormone (oxytocin) flush, close your eyes, hear the sound of a foot tapping against the hay-covered ground, cringe a little as you open your eyes, hand the Baby back to Mary, and listen to her say, “A mother should have to wait so long to hold her newborn son? No. A baby’s place is in his mother’s arms. Right? Of course, right,” give Joseph a silent nod as he mutters, “I’m standing right here. I got arms, too, you know,” and wave to the shepherds as they’re all, “We’re outa here.”
It’s an incredibly powerful way to pray, and it can lead to a deeper spiritual understanding than you’ve ever experienced before. As the authors of the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES RECLAIMED put it:
Imagination not only discloses the outer world, it also gives glimpses into the inner world of the psyche using symbolic language of feeling – charged images. Most people think they control their reality; they fail to see how the unconscious influences them. Only when experiencing unexplained or unusual surges of emotion, feeling out of sorts for no apparent reason or making slips of the tongue does one intuit the presences of an unseen force that contains enormous energy, forms of intelligence, and even distinct personalities. – Page 123, Reclaimed
And that, my dearworthy readers, is exactly how I connect to the Saints, via a conduit called Imagination.
It makes me happy to have my way of connecting to Spirit and various personalities within validated. The above quote also demonstrates that THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES RECLAIMED doesn’t limit itself to a feminist-only point of view. The authors delve deeply on a great many aspects of Ignatian Spirituality and offer solid advice for those serving as Ignatian spiritual directors as well as retreatants.
To sum up, I recommend this book for anyone looking to deepen their basic knowledge of Ignatian Spirituality, especially those interested in its applicability to women.
Speaking of advice for those directing Ignatian Spiritual retreatants, my next book review is SEEK GOOD EVERYWHERE: REFLECTIONS ON THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES OF ST. IGNATIUS by Anthony de Mello, SJ. It’s an excellent reference book, but also an easy enough read for the armchair spiritual path walker.
Fr. de Mello wrote this book among many other well-known books on spirituality. Actually, that’s not a true statement. He didn’t write this one. He spoke it during a training course he taught to spiritual guides and directors at a retreat center he founded in Pune, India called the Sadhana (“Way of God”) Institute in 1975. Someone recorded his words on an audio tape, someone else transcribed the words and made mimeograph copies to pass around, and then someone else assembled the words into book form.
Let me just say right here, I wish I had the time to read all of Fr. de Mello’s books. It’s not my mission right now, but perhaps someday soon. I can at least begin collecting his other books for my to-read bookshelf. I already have two others sitting there waiting for me.
Again, I marked up many passages of this book, but I will share only three because they are relevant to our current social situation in the United States.
All the pain in the world comes from sin and selfishness. And if we do not tackle sin and selfishness, we just tackle symptoms. We can pass the best laws in the world, we can attack all the structures we like, but if we have not changed the hearts of people, what we have done is like taking a lunatic and tying him up. We have not cured him of his madness. The cure will come when we change his heart. So that is what Jesus is moving toward: saving people from their sins – “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for the forgiveness of sin.” (Matthew 23:28) He is doing that, so that sin may be forgiven. Page 21, Seek
Remember the part I wrote above about how early in Inigo’s spiritual journey, he had trouble forgiving himself for his past sins? For a little while, he hyper focused on them, even though he changed his ways, repented, did penances, and received Absolution. Sometimes, the most difficult person to forgive is ourselves. Fr. de Mello helps us out here in our understanding by explaining:
We have equated sin too much with acts and deeds and laws and obligations. For Jesus, sin is something deeper. Sin is a refusal to grow, a refusal to love, a refusal to get committed, to be concerned, and to take risks. Page 21, Seek
This concept resonates with me because just like we can experience the kingdom of heaven right here on earth, we can experience hell, too. I first learned this from St. Isaac of Syria who wrote: “If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful, for He cannot deny himself.” In other words, God is Love. He loves everyone all the time. Heaven is oneness with Love. Hell is bitter regret of having hurt Love or choosing to ignore or hide from Love.
Speaking of spiritual writers quoting spiritual writers who wrote before them, Fr. de Mello writes this in a section called, The Examination of Conscience:
There is a point to examination; finding out what needs improvement. Every institution in order to prevent itself from fossilization, needs to have a built-in challenge to itself, usually a small group of people who serve as its conscience, either from lethargy or triumphalism. Similarly, this in one of the wise points of a good superior. I believe Pedro Arrupe had this. He said, “Don’t throw the radicals out. You need them. They will make mistakes, they will get you in all kinds of troubles, they are very uncomfortable to have around, some of them are obviously wrong and some of them are clearly right. But, at the moment you don’t know who is right and who is wrong. You can find out only in retrospect. But, we need them, they have to be inside the body because this keeps us alive. — Page 41, Seek
I usually don’t quote sections that quote others when I write book reviews, but this is a concept that all leaders must recognize and understand, “Don’t throw the radicals out. You need them.”
Read this book, and you will find sections galore that will speak directly to your heart, too.
THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES OF ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA translated by Elder Mullan, SJ in 1909 is the best translation you’ll find as it sticks most accurately to St. Ignatius’s original Spanish words. Highly recommended when you are ready to go for it.
Fair warning: The introduction of this book and the three books of commentary above all offer the same advice to those thinking about doing the actual Ignatian Spiritual Exercises on their own – Don’t.
One should only engage in the Spiritual Exercises with a trained Ignatian Spiritual Director to guide you, ideally at a retreat center to fully engage your senses and focus on the exercises. The key is that you have to have a director. If you do, you can even do the exercises at home, the full 30-day version or an abridged version during a period of time in your daily life.
The full thirty-day Spiritual Exercises are usually undertaken by clergy to help them discern their specific call to God. However, it’s perfectly fine for laity to undertake the process if they are drawn to it. The best time to do the full Spiritual Exercises is when you are in the discernment process about a life decision or a new direction.
The original title was “Spiritual Exercises to Overcome Oneself, and to Order One’s Life, Without Reaching a Decision Through Some Disordered Affection.” That’s where things can get tricky, “Disorder Affection.”
If one is in a good psychological place, as one goes through the 30-day exercises, with the guidance of trained Ignatian Spiritual Director, clarity begins to present itself, and with clarity comes clear decision making.
Sometimes though, people get stuck in “disordered affection.” At which point, their spiritual director will stop the exercises and recommend recovery-of-an-addiction or another type of psychological counseling. A pause to get the professional assistance your spiritual director helped you recognize you need is perfectly acceptable. St. Ignatius and his Spiritual Exercises will still be there when you are ready.
For example, I had been thinking about becoming a foster mom, I’m spiritually oriented, and my career as a full-time mom to my biological children is over. It would seem that now would be a great time to sign up for an Ignatian Spiritual Retreat somewhere to help me discern my future career path.
But, I’m not a good candidate for a full Spiritual Exercises retreat right now in my life because I’m in my first year of recovery from codependency and undergoing regular recovery and psychological counseling. And the purpose of the:
Spiritual Exercises is to conquer oneself and regulate one’s life without determining oneself through any tendency that is disordered. Page 13, Spiritual
This refers to the need to get our mental house in order via professional psychological counseling before undergoing the Spiritual Exercises because our mental issues distort our reality and would affect our decision-making processes. In other words, we’d be making decisions based on faulty information.
Then in the section on praying for what best, St. Ignatius has this to say about attachments:
The third want to rid themselves of the attachment, but want so to rid themselves of it that they have even no liking for it, to keep the thing acquired or not to keep it, but only want to want it or not want it according as God our Lord will put in their will and as will appear to them better for the service and praise of His Divine Majesty: and meanwhile, they want to reckon that they will quit it all in attachment, forcing themselves not to want that or any other thing, unless only the service of God our Lord move them: so that the desire of being better able to serve God our Lord moves them to take the thing or leave it. — Page 37, Spiritual
This is the part that stops me in my tracks. I’m not far enough along in my recovery process to make the decision about my becoming a foster mom or pursuing something else, because I’m an Adult Child of an Alcoholic with a Codependency addiction. My version of codependency is an addiction to love and care taking. So, would my caring for foster children be feeding my addiction, or would I be serving the Lord via kindheartedness in an area of my expertise?
Many times in life the difference is a fine line and the intention is less important than the results. But, for me in this case, I need to have a clear understanding of myself, before I can even think about committing to such important work.
Here’s my recovery counselor’s advice about the possibility of my pursuing foster parenting:
Yes, I think you’ll be strong enough to handle it. But, not yet. Give yourself two years in recovery. And, then, if it still calls to you, begin the training. The program takes a long time and you can get your questions answered and drop out at any time for whatever reason.
This is good advice and why I pay him the big bucks. It’s also why I won’t be engaging in the full Ignatian Spiritual Exercises any time soon.
As for sitting down to read THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES, Fr. Mullan, had this to say in the introduction:
In conclusion, it is well to warn the reader that the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are not meant to be read cursorily, but to be pondered word for word and under the direction of a competent guide. Read straight on, it may well appear jejune and unsatisfactory; studied in the actual making of the Exercises, the very text itself cannot fail to yield new material for thoughts and prayer.
But guess what I did, despite all the warnings not to? Yup. I read it. At home without signing up with an Ignatian Spiritual Director to guide me through, and without any intention to do the daily activities.
I read The Spiritual Exercises straight through because I wanted to hear St. Ignatius’s voice in the pages of his own writing.
Also, not for nothing, I have certain standards to maintain for this blog. I mean, I had to include the book review of St. Ignatius’s most important work or what’s the point of this post at all? Am I right? Of course, I’m right.
Did I find the book jejune and unsatisfactory? Heck no. Guess why? Because I had read his autobiography and the three books of commentary first. Therefore, I literally and literarily had several spiritual directors helping me understand the meaning behind St. Ignatius’s words – every author discussed above. I’m extremely grateful to them for their books.
But who, without my realizing it, helped me apply the lessons in the Spiritual Exercises to my life? Who directed me to research St. Ignatius for six months? Who encouraged me to pause my research on him to read and apply to my recovery process, WOMEN WHO LOVE TOO MUCH by Robin Norwood and EASTERN BODY, WESTERN MIND by Anodea Judith? Who in my effort to get to know him better guided me to a deeper understanding of myself and clarity about my desires for the future?
It was Inigo. It is Inigo. I’m pretty sure it will continue to be Inigo for at least a little while longer.
Hanging out with St. Ignatius for so long led me to post the following on Facebook because eventually I did find myself in need of human spiritual guidance:
I need input for my self-guided Ignatian discernment process. Basically, what I want to be when I grow up is a spiritual advisor. Not clergy, psychologist, nor Reiki practitioner. But, something that incorporates bits of all three, particularly in the area of healing the inner child of addictive upbringing. I know I can do this as a writer because I’m literally doing it on my blog. But, I think, at some future point, I’m supposed to practice it one-on-one as well.
Months ago, I thought I wanted to be a foster mom, but I’ve fine-tuned that calling until I understood that it’s really spiritual mothering I’m supposed to be doing.
I’m not sure where I will end up in my discernment process, but right now I need information to sort through. So, if anyone has any ideas of certificate programs I can look into, especially ones that teach how to speak to hearability, I’m all ears!
My friend Catherine responded with the link for Shalem Institute — Nurturing the Call: Spiritual Guidance Program. It’s exactly what I was looking for!
Then in a recent “conversation” with Inigo, I understood that one could do more with a divinity degree than wear the patriarch’s tight collar (*cough* *hack* *cough*). One could accept the reality that one needs her educational gaps filled in, AND credentials, if she’s to be taken seriously as a theological scholar.
Of course, I’m not far enough along in my recovery from codependency process to even begin discerning about these possible paths, but now I have the information waiting for me to consider when I’m ready.
I’m incredibly grateful for the guidance of St. Ignatius in helping me traverse this difficult section of my spiritual journey, the part so close to clarity and renewal, a road many people simply refuse to see, let along traverse. I’m so grateful to St. Ignatius that I’m at the point now where I experience physical anxiety when I think about where I’d be if I didn’t hear my Muse whisper, “study St. Ignatius next,” way back in January.
The fact that my study of St. Ignatius of Loyola led me to study chakras, which led me to important clarity about how my upbringing continues to affect me, is a miracle beyond extraordinary.
But, then again, maybe widely different religious traditions meeting along my sacred path isn’t really so much of a miracle. Maybe there was something else Inigo really wanted to me see with my physical eyes, as well as my third eye, in the Sixth Chakra chapter in EASTERN BODY WESTERN MIND – At the heart of it, the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises are amazingly similar to the Native American Vision Quest. A vision quests lasts more like 3 than 30 days, but both experiences involve a retreat, guidance, support, and ceremony:
During the heart of the quest, one enters a sacred dimension, outside the limitations of time and space, opening fully to spirit. The first day may be spent in walking meditation, searching for the right spot in which to focus one’s attention. The second day may be spent sitting in a sacred circle created on the chosen spot, chanting, meditating, praying, and listening. One creates their own private ceremony to connect with the spirit of the place and ask for what they are seeking.
During this phase, any number of things might happen. One may encounter their own psychological demons. One may meet animal spirits, have an experience with the wind, or have powerful dreams. There may be an experience of personal ego death, with a period of emptiness and loss that is eventually followed by a psychological rebirth filled with vision and understanding.
When solo time is done, and the spirit of the place has been thanked, it is time to return. Whether with a group or with a friend camping nearby, the quester then returns ceremonially to share the vision and wisdom that was gained. The group or friend can then facilitate the transition back to civilization, where the vision can, overtime, be implemented. — Page 385, Eastern
Same story, different version.
In honor of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and in memory of his journey to the Holy Land in which he put his life in God’s hands by begging for all his provisions, let’s bake:
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ to ¾ cups water
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add about ½ cup water and mix with hands until you form a smooth dough ball. (Add more water as needed.)
Roll dough out with rolling pin to about ¼ inch thick. Cut into squares, about 3×3 inches each. Place onto baking sheets. Use a fork to poke holes across each piece.
Bake for at least two hours, turn over pieces, then bake for another two hours. Cool on a rack in a dry room overnight.
Store in a barrel on a seafaring vessel. Travel in time to the U.S. Civil War to provide to soldiers on both sides to dunk into their coffee or water so they could chew them. Or shove them wherever they fit into your zombie apocalypse safe room. Because you certainly don’t want to be eating these things unless absolutely necessary.
I learned that if you fry them up and serve them with cheese or some other protein, they become palatable. This was hopefully how Ignatius ate them aboard ship as a guest at another passenger’s table.
There are better ways to eat healthier foods. If we follow Ignatius’s Rules to Put Oneself in Order for the Future as to Eating, we’d never have to diet again. Here they are in his translated words, which I will sum up after the quote:
First Rule. The first rule is that it is well to abstain less from bread, because it is not a food as to which the appetite is used to act so inordinately, or to which temptation urges as in the case of the other foods.
Second Rule. The second: Abstinence appears more convenient as to drinking, than as to eating bread. So, one ought to look much what is helpful to him, in order to admit it, and what does him harm, in order to discard it.
Third Rule. The third: As to foods, one ought to have the greatest and most entire abstinence, because the appetite is more ready to act, inordinately, so temptation is more ready in making trial, on this head. And so, abstinence in foods, to avoid disorder, can be kept in two ways, one by accustoming oneself to eat coarse foods; the other if one takes delicate foods, by taking them in small quantity.
Fourth Rule. The fourth: Guarding against falling into sickness, the more a man leaves off from what is suitable, the more quickly he will reach the mean which he ought to keep in his eating and drinking: for two reasons: the first, because by so helping and disposing himself, he will many times experience more the interior knowledge, consolations, and Divine inspirations to show him the means which is proper for him; the second, because if the person sees himself in such abstinence not with so great corporal strength or disposition for the Spiritual Exercises, he will easily come to judge what is more suitable to his bodily support.
Fifth Rule. The fifth: While the person is eating, let him consider as if he saw Christ our Lord eating with His Apostles, and how He drinks and how He looks and how He speaks; and let him see to imitating Him. So that the principal part of the intellect shall occupy itself in the consideration of Christ our Lord, and the lesser part in the support of the body; because in this way he will get greater system and order as to how he ought to behave and manage himself.
Sixth Rule. The sixth: Another time, while he is eating, he can take another consideration, either on the life of Saints, or on some pious Contemplation, or on some spiritual affair which he has to do, because, being intent on such thing, he will take less delight and feeling in the corporal food.
Seventh Rule: The seventh: Above all, let him guard against all his soul being intent on what he is eating, and in eating let him not go hurriedly, through appetite, but be master of himself, as well in the manner of eating as in the quantity which he eats.
Eighth Rule: The eighth: To avoid disorder, it is very helpful, after dinner or after supper, or at another hour when one feels no appetite for eating, to decide with oneself for the coming dinner or supper, and so on, each day, the quantity which is it suitable that he should eat. Beyond this let him not go because of any appetite or temptation, but rather, in order to conquer more all inordinate appetite and temptation of the enemy, if he is tempted to eat more, let him eat less. — Page 48-49, Spiritual Exercises
1. Full grain, whole wheat bread is a basic staple and not one to cause overindulgence, so no need to give it up completely.
2. If you can drink alcohol in moderation, cheers! If you have an inkling that your alcohol consumption is causing harm to yourself or others, stop drinking alcohol and pursue recovery.
3. To avoid the addiction of overeating, create a habit of eating only healthy, basic foods. For example, become a vegetarian. Then you can decide if you can handle the vegetarian diet with or without sugary desserts. Some people taste one cookie and then have to eat all of them. Others are satisfied with one cookie. You know you, act accordingly.
4. As long as you eat properly enough to maintain your heath, you should fast while engaging in the Spiritual Exercises for two reasons. The first is because the physical fasting state will help you see inner and outer truths more clearly. The second is from the base setting of the fast, you can recalibrate healthy eating habits.
5. Imagine you are eating a full meal with Jesus and the Apostles. Watch how Jesus eats. Eat like Jesus because how you imagine Jesus eating is how you should eat.
6. Think holy thoughts so that you won’t derive displaced pleasure in the act of eating.
7. Don’t believe you can make your soul happy with food. At the same time, don’t rush through your meals or eat too much. Maintain your dignity.
8. Plan your meals when you are not hungry. If you find yourself being tempted to eat more especially due to emotional reasons, eat less than originally planned to recalibrate.
This seems like a pretty good philosophy of eating to me. Eat healthy. Everything in moderation, including moderation. Let’s celebrate the reasonableness of St. Ignatius of Loyola with:
Head of lettuce of your choice, (I used red leaf here, but I also like Romaine.) washed, dried, torn into bite-sized pieces
Red onion, ¼ standard size, peeled and chopped
Cucumber, peeled and sliced
Avocado, peeled and sliced
Garden-grown tomato, cut into wedges
½ red, green, or yellow pepper, cut into bite-size pieces
Handful of Kalamata olives
1-inch squares of feta cheese, or handfuls of feta crumbles, per serving
Dollop of hummus, per serving
1 minced garlic clove
Extra-virgin olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar to taste (about 1 TBS each)
Place first seven ingredients in large serving bowl. Toss with dressing.
Serve onto dinner plates or large salad bowls. Add squares of feta, or sprinkle with handfuls of feta crumbles. Add dollop of hummus on the side.
Serve with wholesome bread of your choice. Homemade Pita Bread is an authentic choice and is fun to bake!
Magdalenas are similar to Madeleines the French bake in honor of St. Mary Magdalene and other occasions. Legend has it, a young Spanish girl named Magdalena served these handheld cakes to pilgrims journeying along the Camino de Santiago, Way of St. James, which officially begins at the border between Spain and France in the Pyrenees Mountains.
In honor of our Spanish Inigo and his college years in France, AND in honor of his sister-in-law, Magdalena, whose healing touch and learned spirituality helped prepare Ignatius for Sainthood, let’s bake:
¾ cup sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 stick butter, melted, cooled
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 2/3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
About 1/2 TBS vegetable or canola oil for greasing muffin cups
¼ cup honey, warmed
Option: Replace orange extract and juice with lemon. Replace drizzling honey on top of Magdalenas after they come out of oven, with sprinkling sugar on top of Magdalenas before they go into oven.
Beat eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl with an egg beater or fork until mixture is light with air bubbles.
Melt butter in microwave, allow to cool. Beat into egg mixture.
Stir in orange extract and orange juice.
In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Mix with a fork.
Add flour mixture to egg mixture with one hand, while stirring with the other. Stir until well mixed.
Allow mixture to rest on counter for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan.
Spoon batter evenly into the muffin cups, each about ¾ full.
Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until Magdalenas turn golden on the edges, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached.
Remove from oven. Drizzle about a teaspoon of warmed honey on top of each Magdalena.
Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan. Serve warm or allow to cool completely on wire rack.
This recipe shows up in the bonus material of my posts on St. Mary Magdalene and St. James the Elder because prayer can be retroactive, active, and proactive; and because everyone and everything connects, including you and me. So, you know, fist bump on that.