Ignatius had a deep love for Mary and as we travel on our Erromeria Pilgrimage with Ignatius, we shall discover the many varied and beautiful devotions to Our Lady that he must have encountered on his travels. It is fitting therefore to have Mary accompany us, as she would have accompanied Ignatius, as guide and companion on the journey.
This month we reflect on Ignatius’ early years at Loyola. I have always felt that Mary, mother of Jesus understood the wounded little lad Inigo, and from the start took him under her protection. Mary was able to empathise with Inigo as he was growing up with a huge psychological burden and the wrong choices he was making as a youngster. She probably realised that there was commonality between her son Jesus and Inigo, due to the shadow that enveloped Jesus, being born into Jewish society in such an unusual manner without a biological father. I personally think Mary cushioned her infant from Jewish society’s onslaughts. With the swaddling clothes, her metaphorical protective mantle was always wrapped around Jesus as she began breast-feeding him.
In my reflection, I imagine baby Jesus in an ordinary family moment of being nursed by Mary as part of his daily rhythm. This scene is common place, yet quite layered in its significance. There is no way of imagining the baby Jesus without his mother’s immediate presence. He is in a dyadic bond with her for the foreseeable future. As he curls his tiny body into the contours of Mary’s body, he looks into her eyes. He sees his reflection in her eyes and in his budding awareness knows himself alive. Mary’s vitality flows into her infant with breast milk and he feels satiated.
As Mary gazes into Jesus’ eyes, what does she perceive? The light of Mary’s maternal gaze emanates from her Jewish soul. She sees her baby through the lens of Jewish scriptures, the first-born consecrated to the God of Israel. Then Mary is transported to the realm of mystery, where God is doing new things for whole of humankind. Thus her contemplative state of mind breaks the bond of ordinary experience and uplifts her into God’s realm; she is now an integral part of God’s eternal design for the entire creation, bringing it into its ultimate destiny.
Thank you to Laetitia Puthenpadath for this contribution to our Erromeria Pilgrimage.
Laetitia is a Spiritual Director and Giver of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Auckland New Zealand and is a member of the Canisius Team at Jesuit and Ignatian Spiritualty Australia.