22nd April : Our Lady Of The Jesuits

Our Lady Of The Jesuits

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A picture of the Madonna with the Infant Jesus in her arms, as she appeared to St. Ignatius of Loyola in the cave of Manresa, was painted recently by Norbert Schrader of St. Louis, Missouri.  It will be hung in the St. Louis University High School.

The Jesuits have been called the light infantry of Christ.  As such, they travel with lightning speed at a mere word of command.  For that they must keep free, unrooted, never “at home”.

Therefore, their Lady is the Madonna of the Wayside.  They meet her as climbers of the Alps meet snow covered shrines of Mary, solitary as themselves on the perilous slope, steadfast in the midst of blizzard and avalanche.

They meet her in jungles where their sole reminder of her is the medal worn about the bare bronzed neck of the runner before them.

They meet her in the frozen Arctic, among the men who live in furs.  They see her carved in rough totem-pole fashion, with the features of the people among whom they dwell.  She is the Madonna of the snow to the natives there, but to the missionary, his Lady of the Way.

No matter what her features or the nature of her shrine, for the men who travel to far places for the Son of God, she is Mother.  Paint her as they please, this one characteristic predominates.  She is the Mother of all men because she is the Mother of Christ.  Black skin or white or yellow or brown—she is the woman who befriends the children of Him who called Himself the Son of Man.  It is her heart that is their home however far they travel.  She will lead them in the way that is Christ.

Since the time of the earliest Fathers, devotion to Our Lady has been a touchstone of authentic spirituality.  Ignatius initiated his apostolate by hanging up his military armor in Our Lady’s shrine at Montserrat.  In nearby Manresa he spent a prolonged period of intense prayer and reflection during which he wrote the Spiritual Exercises.  He paid tribute to his liege lady by skillfully etching her role into his portrayal of the Christian life through meditations which illuminate Mary’s privileges and powers.  Through prayer, reflection and God’s special graces Ignatius bore further witness to the adage, “To Jesus through Mary”.  St. Ignatius thereby tells us, “Take today’s helpful hint from me; meditate on your prayers to Mary; see in them a powerful force for holiness of life.”

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