Ignatius and the stars

Letters from Rome
23 May 2022

Ignatius and the stars

Lights there in the dark

flicker and go,

and come again.

Awake alone in the sleeping house,

I have the stars for company.

What is light, I wonder?

God our Lord labours there:

the darkness (a vast, silent solace), those lights

flung out, are his exuberant work.

What is love? I wonder

and know. He is the stars

and between them, and beyond.

Naming the stars is counting blessings,

is praise and thanksgiving.

Watching them move is slow

as prayer, as the rhythm

of the breathing of God our Lord.

Stars are seeds of light sown in darkness.

Watching them I know

the dense clarity of light, of life, of love,

inside and outside.

There is light and light crucified

and light among us hovering.

Light speaks – to all of us, to me.

Contemplation gains love.

So make the heart an astrolabe

to reach the furthest star.

Xavier is Sirius, the brightest star,

he shines towards Cathay;

Bobadilla is the Bear:

this is the hearsay of the heavens.

Of the most distant stars, I can say

‘They are companionable’.

My companions move in the universe;

the sky rings with their happiness;

their deeds are the interchange of light.

My companions are scattered

over all the world, where each can see the sky:

however apart, we are together.

The voicing of their prayers,

brimful of joy,

echoes the music of the spheres.

Far south, men claim, shines

the Cross; let the configuration

of the companions shine like that.

Their shining makes a temple of me.

The sun’s rays fall on all my life:

we are made holy places.

The stars shine on Pamplona;

on whichever of my pilgrim places they shine,

they sign the way to Jerusalem.

Even if I die alone,

the stars will be my companions.

Take, Lord, the heavens and possess…

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty,

my memory, my intellect, and all my will

– all that I have and possess.

You gave it to me.

To You, Lord, I return it.

All is Yours, dispose of it

according to Your will.

Give me Your love and grace,

for this is enough for me.

Andrew Bullen SJ, Ignatius the Pilgrim: Poems and Prayers, 2013

Ignatius-and-the-stars