Dear Friends of IVC Albany,
Just over 500 years ago, St. Ignatius of Loyola began his spiritual journey when he was hit, literally, with a cannonball. The effect of this “cannonball moment” was so spiritually transformative that the ramifications are still evident today throughout the world as well as in the Capital District. To highlight the significance of Ignatius’s cannonball moment, the Society of Jesus marked the 500th anniversary this past year as an Ignatian Year, which will be closing on St. Ignatius’s feast day celebrated on July 31.
The space community had its own “cannonball moment” recently with the release of the extraordinary images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. That technology now allows us to catch a glimpse of galaxies millions of light years away is nothing short of extraordinary. You may click here if you would like to see these marvelous images.
One of the images released is named Stephan’s Quintet, made famous in the opening scene in the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. You might recall the scene of conversation among the head angel, an angel named Joseph, and a third angel-to-be, Clarence Aubody, who desperately desires his angel wings. The head angel tells Clarence that George Bailey needs help because, worse than being sick, George is discouraged. Here is a short clip from the opening scene.
The striking image of the recently released Stephan’s Quintet shows the brilliance of the light and the colors coming from these five galaxies. NASA describes the galaxies as being in a “cosmic dance.” You may click here to read more about Stephan’s Quintet (and why you only see four of the five galaxies here).
Following his cannonball moment, Ignatius’s deepening spiritual journey led to an overwhelming sense of gratitude, seeing all as a blessing and a gift from God. To “find God in all things,” a phrase that captures the heart of Ignatian spirituality, is grounded in the awareness of the presence of God in our lives, in the daily moments and the cannonball moments, and to become more thankful.
Which brings us back to Stephen’s Quintet. When It’s a Wonderful Life was released in 1946, we did not have the technological capability to see the stunning light and colors in such vivid detail, but the light and colors were present, nonetheless: we just could not see them. So too is God’s presence in our lives. We may wonder about finding God in our own lives, in our daily moments and in our cannonball ones, as well as the presence of God in our broken yet grace-filled world. God is there, in all things, as George Baily learned from Clarence Aubody – even and especially in the darkest of moments seemingly devoid of light and color.
NASA’s cannonball moment revealed to us the incredible beauty of the stars and galaxies that has been present, just not seen. The spiritual reflection set out by Ignatius of discerning God’s presence, which resulted from his cannonball moment, allows us to see the hand of God in greater detail in our lives that has been present, just not seen. A somewhat grainy image in our mind’s eye is clarified to further reveal the wondrous light for the next steps in our own journey.
May we come to know that the magnificent beauty of the universe created by the same God reflects the magnificent beauty that we each carry within us.
God’s peace to each of you,