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ww2After St. Ignatius set out on his journey to be a knight for the Lord and not for a beautiful woman, he stopped in Manrese to review his past life and repent of his sins. This was not a peaceful time for Ignatius. His ardent nature and strange ideas gave him a hard time.

He let his hair, beard and nails grow. (It was not even a time of COVID lockdown; he actually chose to do this, to quell his vain nature.) He also starved himself and worried constantly about not confessing the sins of his past life properly, thinking that perhaps he had left out some obscure detail.

This year of suffering in Manrese was a time of purification for St. Ignatius. He needed to learn the real characteristics of this new Lord he was determined to serve. Living a spiritual life was quite new to him and he had yet come to know “the Lord"" to be "a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." (Exodus 34:6)

The lessons of that painful year would serve him well for the rest of his life and make him very helpful in guiding others in their spiritual life.

Father Jean-Pierre Médaille, a century or so later, benefitted from Ignatius’ suffering: he passed his knowledge on to the Sisters of St. Joseph that he drew together into a religious community to serve their neighbour. He urged these first Sisters to “let grace act with its ordinary gentleness.” (Maxim 7.4)

He knew that there would be things in their lives and service that would be difficult and there would be times when they would be misunderstood and judged harshly. These trials would be enough to unite them with Jesus in his suffering. They did not need to invent other difficulties for themselves in order to earn God’s love and forgiveness. Father Médaille told them, “Anyone who knows how to let God to act in and through them without too much interference on their part does many things in a short time and never loses peace of heart.” (Maxim 7.5)

He wanted these women to live the message in Micah 6:8: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” He wanted them to believe in a God of love, a God with care for those in need. He encouraged the Sisters to build a humble dependence on this loving God for strength and direction on the path of life.

Sister Rosemary Fry


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