St. Ignatius was all set to accomplish great things in the military when his leg was badly injured by a canon ball. As he was convalescing, he asked for romantic novels to read. But nothing like that was available, so he had to settle for books on the life of Christ and the lives of the saints. Reading them, he noticed that those books made him feel differently than the romance novels he was used to. He noted that the pleasure those books provided was fleeting, but that the joy he felt in reading the spiritual books stayed with him, and so he pursued the Christian life and began a process of conversion.
During this time of conversion, he began to write things down, and these writings served for a later work, his greatest work, the Spiritual Exercises. These Exercises became the basis for the Society of Jesus, which he formed with six others to live a life of poverty and chastity and apostolic work for the pope. This was accepted by Paul III and Ignatius was elected its first general. Ignatius’s motto was Ad majorem Dei gloria: All for the glory of God. His Spiritual Exercises have become a spiritual classic and have provided the basis rule for other religious orders over time.
Ignatius’s major contribution to the spiritual life is probably his principles of discernment, which help people of faith to know God’s will in their lives. Today, Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God as compared to a catch of fish, which the fishermen sort through, tossing the bad and keeping the good. We too, need to sort through the bad and good that life brings us, tossing the bad and holding fast to the Kingdom of God. May God grant us, through the intercession of Saint Ignatius, the discernment to do just that.