Go forth and set the world on fire—but are you sure that’s a good idea?

I wouldn’t say the Feast of St. Ignatius is as big as Christmas at Loyola University Maryland, where I work, but three of the Jesuits said a special Mass followed by a low-key party.

Because today was a day with unexpected twists and turns, I ended up taking Leo with me to the Mass.
It was Leo’s first visit to Loyola’s chapel, so I reminded him to make his three wishes. They must have been food-related because at the party afterward, they were serving egg rolls and pepperoni and fruit kabobs—some of his favorite foods.
When one of my colleagues offered Leo a Fruit by the Foot, he practically jumped with joy. Then one of the Jesuit priests gave him a cross to wear around his neck. That’s when Leo realized this whole Feast of St. Ignatius might be a bit like Christmas.
Tonight as I was putting Daniel to bed, he noticed my necklace.

“Who dat man?” he asked.
“It’s St. Ignatius,” I told him.
“Did he get killed?”
“Well, no, but when he was an old man, he died and went to heaven.”
Daniel got upset. “Mama, I miss dat guy.”
“You do?” I said, a bit startled. “Why?”
“I like his beard.”
I assured him that St. Ignatius is in heaven and we can still talk to him. And I told him there are a lot of priests, and even Pope Francis, who are a little like St. Ignatius. I carefully didn’t mention how many of them have beards—a statistic I am not able to provide.
“And St. Ignatius told people, ‘Go forth and set the world on fire!’” I said.
“What?” Daniel said. “Why?”
I tried to explain that St. Ignatius didn’t mean that literally, but I could see the concern in Daniel’s eyes and the questions started flying. Setting anything on fire is a no-no for a 3-year-old. Finally I just changed the subject.
Lesson learned. When introducing St. Ignatius to a 3-year-old, only include quotes such as “Laugh and grow strong.” Or stick to talking about the beard.

Catholic Review

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