Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam"

St. Ignatius of Loyola: In God's Service (2001) by Peggy A. Sklar is purportedly for high school students, but I found it to be a good, though brief, summary of the life of Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits).

As Ms. Sklar summarizes, "Ignatius believed that all of life is prayer and that everything that is done is for God" (p. 69). That sentiment lies behind the Jesuit motto, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam in Latin. In English the motto is For the Greater Glory of God.

Later, writing about Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises, Ms. Sklar states:
"One of the key defining characteristics of Ignatian Spirituality is Ignatius's ability to find God in all things" (p. 85).

Ignatius does not seem to be saintly in the manner of Francis of Assisi--and in some way that makes him more appealing to me. It would impossible for most of us to live and act like Francis. But Ignatius was more of a plodder; he accomplished much by a stubborn tenacity. That is something I can more easily emulate. And finding God in all things and doing all things for the glory of God are challenging principles that I would like to seek to pratice daily, intentionally.

I just learned that many Jesuit schools ask students to write A.M.D.G. (the initials of the Jesuit motto) at the tops of their papers to remind them that even their schoolwork is to be "for the greater glory of God." I don't think I will ask my students to do that, but starting with my first class on August 20, I am going to put Ad Majorem Dei Glorium at the bottom of the title page of my PowerPoint presentation each week.

I also like this prayer by Ignatius:
Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.

Ad Majorem Dei Glorium

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