I was reminded this morning of one of the customs of life in a Catholic school. At the top of our test papers (and probably our homework assignments as well) we wrote +JMJ, a reminder to dedicate our work to Jesus, Mary and Joseph. As we got older this was sometimes replaced by the Latin phrase, Ad majorem Dei gloria (+AMDG), For the greater glory of God. I’m sure that sometimes we wrote it to assure a good grade rather than as a reminder of the purpose of all our work, but something of motivation must have been instilled in us with this habit.
Today is the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola whose life story is a long and tortuous recounting of transformation from soldier to mystic and founder of the religious community called the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits. It was Ignatius who took as the motto +AMDG for his “band of brothers” and who early in his conversion wrote what has become an intensive retreat model for spiritual seekers the world over called The Spiritual Exercises. The spirituality of Ignatius is summarized in a short prayer that mirrors the way he lived his life and has motivated others to deeper love for God over the past five centuries. A modern translation in song by Jesuit John Foley is my favorite rendering; the repetitious refrain especially calls to me.
Take, Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, understanding, my entire will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; that’s enough for me. Your love and Your grace are enough for me. Take, Lord, receive all I have and possess. You have given all to me, now I return it. Give me only Your love and Your grace; that’s enough for me. Your love and Your grace are enough for me. Take, Lord, receive, all is Yours now. Dispose of it wholly according to your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; that’s enough for me. Your love and your grace are enough for me.