In his autobiography, Ignatius talks about himself in the third person and he gives himself the title of The Pilgrim. A pilgrim is a person who is on a journey, a person who is seeking. Ignatius was a pilgrim in the fullest sense of the word.
Pilgrims need guides to help them find the way, often in strange lands and places. Ignatius said that God himself became his guide. God treated him with the same patience and tenderness that a school teacher has with a beloved pupil.
Ignatius was not an easy pupil to teach. Much later in his life, he would describe St. Francis Xavier as one of the toughest challenges he had to face while accompanying others. Apparently, he was not aware that God could have said the same about him.
In the case of Ignatius, God had to repeatedly dedicate Himself to “smashing” Ignatius’ fixed ideas and projects. “Smashing” is an adequate word used to describe how God went to work on Ignatius’ great plans: to become a great soldier and to do incredible deeds to honor the lady of his dreams. “Smashing” is what cannonballs do to bring down a stubborn soldier who would not surrender.
The next fixed idea was conceived during the long convalescence period at Loyola. God had helpful allies in this second task: the pious relatives of Ignatius who would not provide Ignatius with cavalry novels, his favorite reading materials. So Ignatius had to content himself with books about the lives of the saints and the life of Jesus.
Still full of himself, he changed his dream of being a great soldier to the dream of competing with the saints. “If St. Francis did this, I must do it also (and better)”. Reading of the terrible penances the saints did for their sins, Ignatius thought he could do better (or worse, as the case may be).
And so continued the life of the pilgrim. His great dream of living in Jerusalem, the land of Jesus, doing what the Lord had done, was shattered by the authorities in the Holy Land. The threats and warnings of imprisonment did not move him, only obedience to those in authority. On the return trip, Ignatius says that he began thinking about what to do next. He went back to doing what he did in Manresa: helping others in their spiritual journeys. For that, he had to become a student and prepare himself.
It was indeed a long way of painful deliberations to form a new religious order, the Society of Jesus.
Throughout his pilgrimage, Ignatius became passionately attached to the person of Jesus. He desired nothing more than to be his disciple, to follow Jesus' poor and humble. We find a strange logic in the reading of today’s gospel, Luke 14:26. In the two examples Jesus uses, the builder of the tower and the king on the way to battle, both are encouraged to sit down and consider carefully whether they had the resources to complete their jobs. And then, Jesus reverses the logic: those who want to follow Him have to abandon their resources. The poverty of Jesus is not measured by what He does not have, but by what He does not need.
Obviously, we are not asked to “hate” our parents, children, etc. We are asked to give Jesus and His kingdom our passionate love, the love that will lead us in our pilgrimage - Like Ignatius.