As a brave and valiant knight, Ignatius does not set limits. If a particular saint was known for a special penance or service to our Lord, Ignatius had to match and surpass it. We have here an inner experience that someone who has been forgiven much may also be prepared to give much in return. The intensity of such effort corresponds to an inner awareness of being truly saved by God’s mercy.
«It will be helpful to recall one event that occurred during this journey as a way of showing just how God directed Ignatius. Although filled with an ardent desire of serving God, his knowledge of spiritual things was still very obscure. He had undertaken extraordinary penances not only to atone for his past sins, but also with the intention of doing something pleasing to his Lord. Indeed he declared that, though filled with the liveliest abhorrence of his past sins, he could not assure himself that they were forgiven.
Yet so intense was his desire to do great things for Christ during his austerities that he did not think of his sins. And when he recalled the penances practiced by the saints, his whole energy was directed to equal or even surpass these holy persons. He found his consolation in this holy ambition since he had no ulterior motive for his penances, knowing very little as yet about humility or charity or patience. He knew still less the value of discretion which regulates the practice of these virtues. To do something great for the glory of his God, to emulate saintly persons in all that they had done before him – this was the sole purpose of Ignatius in his practices of external penance.»
As Fr. J.M. Rambla, S.J. states in his book “The Pilgrim,” the “MORE” (MAGIS) is a keynote of the Ignatian symphony. Love always leads to a dynamic excess without measure. Love does not conform to the cold balance of what is just and right. Love always seeks out the “more,” surrenders “more,” becomes “more,” grows “more.’’ The famous Ignatian motto “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” expresses very well this growing dynamism of committed love. At the same time, Ignatius also recognizes that, during this period of his life, he also lacked the discretion “to regulate and measure these virtues” as he evaluated his great desires. It is this discretion that St.Paul identifies as a virtue which helps us in every circumstance of life to “find God’s will, that is, what is good and pleasing to God, and perfect.” (Romans 12:2). By dint of personal observation and knowledge of God’s presence, Ignatius will learn to live out of such discretion, and thus to transmit it to his fellow Jesuits. The “greater glory of God” will come about with a good dose of “love for God” and decisive action “to serve God.” Ignatius will affirm what Saint Irenaeus said much earlier: “The glory of God is man fully alive!” To this goal Ignatius pledged his life.