For Jesuits, May 20 is not just another date on the calendar, but rather a pivotal moment in our founder’s history: It marks the anniversary of the spiritual conversion of St. Ignatius.
St. Ignatius was struck by a cannonball May 20, 1521, during the Battle of Pamplona, leaving him with a lifelong limp. While recovering from his injury in Loyola, Ignatius read books about the life of Christ and the saints, developing a strong desire to emulate them and serve God. It was there that he began to find God in all things, particularly as a source of guidance through pain and suffering.
Today, we invite you to contemplate “cannonball moments” in your own lives – when God invites you to something more, even in tough times – through various resources and reflections from the Ignatian family.
Books & Resources
“Walking with Ignatius” by Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ
Written by Fr. Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, this book opens the “Ignatian Year” and marks the 500th anniversary of the wound that led to the conversion of St. Ignatius Loyola. Along with his observations on the Society of Jesus, the Church, and the world today – while emphasizing the Universal Apostolic Preferences – Fr. Sosa offers suggestions for reflection and prayer, either alone or in a community. In his words, the reader is invited “to grow, starting in the exact place you find yourself, guided by the Lord, and advancing step-by-step…and [to] become a pilgrim yourself so that you may walk the path of Christian adventure in our changing world.”
“Cannonball Moments” by Eric A. Clayton
By applying Ignatian principles of inner work and self-reflection to storytelling, Eric Clayton offers guidance on how to notice details in your daily life, to develop an attitude of healthy indifference in matters great and small, and to respond to feelings of restlessness with clarity and focus.
This book offers encouragement and direction, examples to show the way, and practical exercises to help you discover and reflect on your own cannonball moments.
Cannonball Examen: The Cry of the Earth as a Cannonball Moment
For us, living with the effects of climate change now, in this very moment, we find ourselves faced with our own global cannonball moment. Like Ignatius, we see the threat looming on the horizon: monster storms, freak heat waves, devastating drought. This reality is not of our choosing, and yet we cannot escape it. Take this examen recognizing that our God of love and compassion is present to us even amidst this challenging time.
The Ignatian Year Invites Us to Reach Out to Trauma Victims – Rob McChesney, SJ, Tells Us How
Rob McChesney, SJ, discusses how Ignatian spirituality and the person of St. Ignatius can help us process trauma and accompany those who have experienced trauma, as well as how a deeper understanding of what a cannonball moment represents might bring us closer to God.
Reimagining the Story of St. Ignatius: A Conversation on Storytelling
During this Ignatian Year, we’re invited to contemplate St. Ignatius’ story in new ways, looking upon his conversion and legacy with the eyes of Christ, then turning that same gaze on ourselves and our own lives. Listen a discussion with authors Ryan Carroll (The Pilgrim’s Book) and John Dougherty about their works and connections to Ignatian spirituality.
Celebrate Ignatius: 500 Years After The Cannonball Struck
In this brief overview of St. Ignatius’ own cannonball moment, we reflect on the many cannonballs in our lives.
The following videos are part of a series developed for the Ignatian Year in 2021 to explore moments of transformation, conversion, and change in people’s lives. Hear other cannonball stories at youtube.com/JesuitsGlobal.
St. Ignatius of Loyola – From proud courtier to companion of Jesus – Discover the “original” cannonball moment! Fr. Radmar Jao, SJ, tells us about St. Ignatius of Loyola’s cannonball moment and how his life changed as he went from a proud courtier to a companion of Jesus.
Lourdes Varguez, RJM – Finding God in journaling – Discover the cannonball moment of Lourdes Varguez, RJM, of Canada, as she talks about finding God through journaling with the Spiritual Exercises.
Cardinal Michael Czerny, SJ – Martyrdom in El Salvador – Discover the cannonball moment of Cardinal Michael Czerny, SJ, as he discusses when he received a call from a colleague in Toronto with the devastating news about the six Jesuits and two women who were murdered at Central American University in San Salvador.
The Cannonball Anniversary: Inevitable Invitations
By Eric A. Clayton
St. Ignatius was struck by a cannonball on May 20, 1521, during the Battle of Pamplona.
We get hit, regardless
of our dreams, our desires, our hopes.
It can’t happen to me. It won’t happen to me.
Don’t you know who I am?
The cannonball, hardly precise in its aim,
wrecks all in its path.
That stammering insistence of power, wealth
is no shield at all.
We cast about in the wreckage,
wading through rubble,
overwhelmed by the structures we thought
now nothing more than dust.
And we make a decision:
Was this life’s foundation firm,
or built on sand?
Where might I build anew?
This poem, along with other Ignatian prayers, poems, reflections and art, first appeared in our free e-book, “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: Through the Year with Ignatian Spirituality.” Sign up to receive it at jesuits.org/ebook.