Igniting Our Values
Igniting Our Values

February 28, Saturday

Our Lady of Montserrat

This past week, we marveled at 40 days of rain, a sudden rainbow and a covenant. With the psalmist, we prayed that our humility be evidence of our commitment to the covenant. We were reminded that the great Flood prefigures the saving waters of Baptism and the Covenant finds fulfillment in Jesus’ triumph over death. Wandering through the desert with Jesus, praying for him to announce the arrival of God’s Kingdom, we’ve prayerfully considered the nature of our own discipleship by exploring what it means to live the Jesuit/Ignatian value of Finding God in All Things.

Today we honor the Madonna of Montserrat (or “La Moreneta” as she is known in Catalan). Her shrine, perched atop the colossal Montserrat mountain overlooking Barcelona, has been a pilgrimage site for over a thousand years. La Moreneta radiated a gravitational pull that inexorably drew Ignatius Loyola to her presence and provoked in him a desire for profound change. In today’s reflection, author James Martin, SJ, shares his personal take on this deeply dramatic encounter.


Daily Reflection

Our Lady of Montserrat
by James Martin, SJ

In 1522, in a Benedictine monastery in a mountainous region in Spain, Iñigo de Loyola did something dramatic. Before a famous statue of Mary at the Abbey of Montserrat, he laid down his dagger and sword. For Iñigo, a man who had dedicated himself to achieving heroic deeds to win worldly honors, this would be a life-changing gesture. From this point forward, he would do heroic deeds not for himself, but for God.

When I was studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago, as part of my Jesuit training, there was a simple wooden statue of this moment in the chapel of the main Jesuit residence on campus. There was Ignatius, gazing into the distance, holding his sword in outstretched hands. (I loved that the statue’s sword was a separate piece of wood, which you could take from the saint’s hands and hold in your own.) I had come to Chicago after making my first vows as a Jesuit, and still grappling with the idea of giving things up for God. When I struggled with my vocation, I would pray before that statue.

God doesn’t ask us simply to give up a few things — a sword, a dagger, even an occupation — but, as the man who would become St. Ignatius Loyola understood even then, anything that prevents us from moving closer to God.

Does that sound harsh? It’s not. For in giving things over to God we are freed from whatever keeps us enslaved. In fact, God asks for even more. God asks for ourselves. What Ignatius was really offering that day was nothing less than himself. This is what God asks of us. Hold back, and we are not truly free. Give all to God and, well, you won’t believe what comes next.

Nuestra Señora de Montserrat
Por: James Martin, SJ

Era el año 1522 cuando Iñigo de Loyola hizo algo dramático en un monasterio benedictino ubicado en una región montañosa de España. Iñigo entregó su daga y su espada a la famosa estatua de María en la Abadía de Montserrat. Para un hombre que había dedicado su vida a actos heroicos para ganar honores mundanos, esto sería un gesto que cambia le vida. De allí en adelante, iba a hacer actos heroicos, no para sí, sino para Dios.

Cuando yo estudiaba filosofía en la Universidad Loyola de Chicago, como parte de mi formación jesuita, había una sencilla estatua de madera que ilustraba ese momento histórico en la capilla de la principal residencia jesuitas del campus. Ignacio mirando al horizonte y sosteniendo la espada en las manos extendidas. (Me encantaba que la espada de la estatua era una pieza de madera, que se podía separar, así que podíamos agarrarla de las manos del santo).Yo había llegado a Chicago después de hacer mis primeros votos como jesuita. Cuando tenía algunas dudas sobre el tema de dar todo por Dios me gustaba rezar bajo la estatua.

Dios no nos pide que simplemente renunciemos algunas cosas, como una espada, una daga o incluso una ocupación, lo que nos pide, cómo aquel hombre que luego se convirtió en San Ignacio de Loyola entendió, nos pide todo aquello que nos impide acercarnos a Dios.

¿Suena duro? Pero no lo es. Al dar las cosas a Dios nos liberamos de lo que nos mantiene esclavizados. De hecho, Dios pide aún más. Dios nos pide a nosotros mismos. Lo que Ignacio ofreció ese día realmente fue a sí mismo. Esto es lo que Dios pide de nosotros. Al retener no somos verdaderamente libres. Dale todo a Dios y verás que no vas a dar crédito de lo que viene después.


James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, editor at large at America magazine and author of several books, including, most recently, "Jesus: A Pilgrimage."


God, who created me
and continues to love me into being,
give me today a heroic heart like that of Ignatius.
Give me a spirit that desires the big gesture of love for you.
A spirit that might start with surrendering
whatever is the superficial sign of my identity
and will end with a complete gift of self.
Help me to find you
even in the emptiness that I create for you,
knowing that when I give up myself
it is only to make room for Christ
to live in me more fully each day.


Peace waits among the hills;
I have drunk peace,
Here, where the blue air fills
The great cup of the hills,
And fills with peace.

Between the earth and sky,
I have seen the earth
Like a dark cloud go by,
And fade out of the sky;
There was no more earth.

Light fills the hills with God,
Wind with his breath,
And here, in his abode,
Light, wind, and air praise God,
And this poor breath.
: Arthur Symons


Escolania de Montserrat

O virgo splendens (Montserrat Codex/Lumina Vocal Ensemble)

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Learn more about Montserrat

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Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America 10/14/19

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Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House
Located on the shores of Lewisville Lake in Lake Dallas, Texas, Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House is situated on an inviting 37-acre campus less than an hour north of Dallas.