Fr. Britto's Blog

Glory of God

On July 31st we will celebrate the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, one of the greatest saints on the Church’s calendar. He is the founder of the Jesuits, a religious order that has had more influence on the life and mission of the Church than any other. At St Peter’s Basilica the statues of the important founders of religious orders stand proudly bearing witness to the charisms that these saints brought to the Church and to the world. The statue of St Ignatius has the greatest prominence because he looks down on the centuries-old ancient statue of St Peter himself 

I have a deep respect and admiration for St Ignatius and his followers because of several reasons – even though I make many jokes about the Jesuits. First of all, my part of India owes her evangelization and conversion to the great Spanish and Portuguese Jesuit missionaries (St Francis Xavier and Blessed John de Britto, just to mention a couple) and we will always be grateful to them for the gift of faith. Secondly, my father was a professor at a Jesuit university in Madras, India, and my personal faith sprouted and flourished on that campus. I learnt to serve Mass at the Jesuit chapel and celebrated my first Mass in the same chapel. In some way, I attribute my priestly vocation to that beautiful, gothic church. Third, I have several relatives and friends who are Jesuits. Finally, I am also a product of Jesuit education having done my graduate work at Marquette. 

Saints are given to us to help us on our faith journey and to guide us in our struggles. I do believe that St Ignatius has many lessons to teach us. I would like to share with you just one of those lessons. 

When we read the history of the Church, we realize that God always raises up holy men and women so that they may respond adequately to the exigencies of a certain moment in the Church’s history. When Ignatius came on the scene, the Church was reeling from the devastating after-effects of the Reformation. The Church lost huge numbers of the faithful to the churches that separated from us. God raised up St Ignatius to assist the Church in her Counter-Reformation. That is why St Ignatius called his band of followers, the Company of Jesus, much like the army. The Jesuits were supposed to be like soldiers who were eager to follow orders with just one purpose in mind – to re-build the Church. To assist them in their historic endeavor, St Ignatius gave them a motto: Ad majorem Dei gloriam (For the greater glory of God). His followers should be totally focused on just one thing: the glory of God. They were not supposed to be distracted by earthly motives.

As I get older, I understand that our sense of contentment and life efficacy have much to do with our motives. St Ignatius recognized that the motives of our actions are as important as, if not more important than the actions themselves. Even in ministry we can lose our focus and serve people for the wrong reasons. When we minister for the wrong reasons, we can easily get discouraged when we don’t see results. There is a story told in the life of St Ignatius that he was once visiting the novitiate where new Jesuits were starting their training. The saintly founder saw a young novice sweeping the hallway in a shoddy manner. He was not doing a great job. St Ignatius asked the young man, “For whom are you doing this chore?” The young novice replied, “I am doing this for God.” St Ignatius responded, “If you are doing it for me, that is fine. If you are doing it for God, then you need to do better.”

We are enjoying our summer break. Hopefully all of us can take some time to refresh ourselves. Just as in the Sunday’s gospel a couple of weeks ago Jesus invited the disciples, let us go to a lonely place and rest awhile. Let us examine the motives of all our actions. Let us ask ourselves why we parent, why we work hard, why we make money, why we take care of our families, and why we are what we are. Hopefully we can say with St Ignatius, “All for the greater glory of God.” We should be able to pray with the Psalmist: “Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name give the glory!”

God bless you!

Who is Fr. Britto?

Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.

After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...

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