St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits. (Pope Francis is a Jesuit priest.) The order is known for its great scholarship and truly brave priests. While many Jesuits teach, the Jesuit order is, at its heart, a missionary order, charged with taking the Gospel to those who do not know it.
The Jesuits owe much of their spirit and calling to their founder. St. Ignatius was a Spanish soldier from a noble family. As a young man he dreamed of great deeds as a knight, but injuries forced him to abandon this. While recuperating, he began to deeply contemplate what God wanted of him.
One of the prayers St. Ignatius left us is called the Suscipe, or the Radical Prayer:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
No wonder it’s called the “Radical Prayer!” What a scary thought: that one should turn over everything to God! My free will, my memory … everything? Pray that I abandon my wants, desires and dreams for the will of God? Doesn’t that seem, well, just a little … crazy?
Perhaps. Lent is a good time to meditate on this prayer, even if one is not quite ready to pray it in earnest. We are Christians, after all: we bear the name of Christ because we choose to follow Him. And following Christ means a radical choice: picking up our cross, going wherever He sends us, becoming fishers of men.
St. Ignatius’ prayer acknowledges a simple truth: everything we have belongs to God. All the prayer says is, “I know that all I am is because of You, God. I want to use what You’ve given me, what You’ve made me, to do what You have planned for me.”
Even if we are not quite ready to pray this radical prayer, Lent is a good time to start asking God to lead you to it. What do you have planned for me, God? What is your will for me? How can I give everything to You, God?