Jim McDermott
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Francis Xavier and Ignatius of Loyola met as roommates (along with Peter Favre) at the College of Sainte Barbe in Paris. Xavier, was 23, born into an aristocratic family, with little interest in the spiritual life, thrown in with a middle-aged ascetic. Today, Xaviers feast day, we remember their friendship, but Ignatius also described Francis as his most difficult convert. One wonders what their first meeting might have been like....

Setting: A college dorm room.

Enter a young man in fine apparel, sword in shiny scabbard at his side. Two servants follow with trunks.

Standing in the room, a young man in simple attire.

FX: So, you must be my roommate. Im Frankie Xavier. Heres my coat.

PF: Uh, O.K. Hi! Im Peter Favre.

FX: Boys, put the trunks down by the bed near the window and go get the entertainment system. Great to know you, Patrick.

PF: Its Peter.

FX: Uh-huh. I see we have a triple to ourselves. Thank goodness. I have a lot of stuff.

Francis turns, startled to see a short, sickly man in a worn robe standing beside the door.

FX: Im sorry; I didnt see him lurking there. Is this your manservant?

PF: Uh, no, this is....

IL: ...the other guy.

FX: Sorry?

IL: Ignatius.

PF: Our roommate.

FX: Our roommate?

IL: Your roommate.

FX: He looks old enough to be my father.

IL: Im 38.

FX: And what, 37? Seriously, Ive seen Hummels that are taller than this guy.

IL: This from the kid with the toy sword.

PF: Ignatius is actually a preacher, here to study philosophy. He used to be a gentleman at the court of Navarre.

FX: Really? Im from Navarre.

IL: I worked for the viceroy there. My life was consumed with the pursuit of pleasure, adventure and romance. Then I was injured at Pamplona.

FX: Pamplona. Hmm....

IL: During my months of recovery, I used to imagine myself back at court. It seemed so hollow.

PF: Wow.

IL: Then I began to imagine myself living like a saint, and.

FX: Wait a second. Are you from Loyola?

IL: I am.

FX: Youre kidding.

PF: What?

FX: This manwhen the French attacked Pamplona, this man rallied the troops, mounted an incredible defense, even got hit by a cannonball.

IL: Thats right.

PF: My God! A hero!

FX: Yes. And then he went crazy.

PF: He doesnt look crazy to me.

FX: Yes, well you didnt know him when he had stopped shaving and showering and eating and cutting his nails.

IL: I must admit, I had a certain predilection for excessive penances.

FX: Your fingernails were so long they looked like bedsprings. I thought you worked for the circus. My mother wouldnt let us go near you.

IL: Well, those days are over.

FX: Really. So where are your shoes?

PF: Yeah, I was wondering that, too.

FX: And when did you last eat?

IL: I have a very small stomach. But I should tell you, if you ever hear me crying, dont worry. I just get very emotional in prayer sometimes.

FX: See what Im saying, Percy? Tiny Tim here is a few beads short of a rosary.

IL: Maybe so. But whats crazier, I wonder: fasting to appreciate the suffering of Jesus, or chasing a life of empty pleasures?

FX: Listen, lawn gnome, just because you dont want to enjoy life doesnt mean I shouldnt.

IL: I bet you dont even last a year.

FX: Excuse me?

IL: All your soirees and designer clothes and self-indulgence.... I give you one year before youre looking for something more meaningful to live for.

FX: Old man, theres a better chance of me baptizing babies in India.

IL: Kid, do you think I aspired to spend my 30s living in Paris with a spoiled brat from Navarre?

PF: Its a good point, Frankie.

FX: Peter, go make up my bed.

Jim McDermott, S.J. is an associate editor of America.

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