To Give and Not Count the Cost: St. Ignatius and the Good Soldier
A touching moment in today’s news: the Medal of Honor award was given to one James C. McCloughan, a former army medic who saved the lives of ten members of his platoon in Vietnam and risked his life in “acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty.” At one point he ran 100 meters through heavy fire to carry an injured person to safety. With complete disregard for personal safety, he kept rescuing soldiers even after he himself was wounded. It was recounted that while he was carrying his comrades in arms to safety, McCloughan prayed. He promised God that if it was God’s will for him to live through that trial, the first thing he would do as soon as he was able, was to tell his father that he loved him, a promise he fulfilled again and again throughout the rest of his father’s life. Once he had prayed this prayer in battle, McCloughan said he felt a great sense of peace wash over him.
How fitting that this beautiful ceremony today happened to be on the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the soldier-turned-saint and founder of the Jesuit Order. This great saint’s famous “Spiritual Exercises” guide participants to greater discernment of God’s will, leading them to follow that will no matter the personal cost. Perhaps it is this which is truly the charism of the good soldier: “to give and not count the cost.”
When we are feeling bruised by circumstances of this world, we can choose to change how we perceive the situation: and with Ignatian self-surrender, transform our wounds into a medal of honor, the honor of service given out of love, even if the only one who notices is our loving Father. When we “give and do not count the cost” we realize it is the way those who have us loved the most have done for us. We honor their legacy when we do the same for others, above all, for the love of God.
Read today’s featured poem and prayer by St. Ignatius while recalling that the saint had been a soldier, and note the best characteristics of the good soldier: that amazing combination of strength and humility which has imbued the words of this brilliant spiritual teacher. Our featured song by Bryan Adams presents a more contemporary expression of offering everything to the beloved. Listen to it as though a prayer rather than just a romantic ballad, and the effects can be quite powerful.