Ignatius of Loyola vs. Tikhon of Zadonsk

Welcome to the one and only Saturday matchup of Lent Madness 2019. Grab your coffee, cook up some Eggs St. Benedict, read about some saintly souls, and cast the third and final vote of the week. But first, an update on yesterday's battle: William Wilberforce forced his way past Agatha Lin Zhao 59% to 41% to advance to the Saintly Sixteen, where he'll square off against the winner of Hannah Grier Coome vs. Richard Allen.

Don't forget, our online bracket is updated and filled in with the latest results each morning by Adam Thomas (along with his inimitable headlines) on our Bracket Page. This will come in especially handy in later rounds when you need a quick reference guide to refresh your memory on the brilliant earlier write-ups provided by our Celebrity Bloggers. If you're curious about when your favorite saint will be competing, you can scroll down on the bracket page to check out the invaluable and handy Matchup Calendar.

Today we take our first stab at the Monastics & Martyrs side of the Bracket as Ignatius of Loyola faces off against Tikhon of Zadonsk. And we should note that, in a Lent Madness scheduling quirk, Distinguished Celebrity Blogger Megan Castellan has had a saint doing battle on the first three days of this new season - Mary, Wilberforce, and Tikhon. Whew!

So, go vote, don't forget to set your clocks ahead an hour tonight, go to church on Sunday, (where you'll tell everyone at coffee hour to join in the fun over at Lent Madness), and we'll see you bright and early Monday morning as John Chrysostom squares off against Margaret of Cortona.

Ignatius of Loyola

Ignatius of LoyolaIn 1521, few confused Íñigo López de Loyola for a saint. He was vain, enjoyed combat, and sought glory. While recovering from battle wounds, he longed to read about chivalry; he could only find books on the life of Christ and the lives of the saints. Íñigo followed the spirit of consolation he experienced with God and abandoned his plans for glory. It transformed his life and the life of the church. He is now known by the name he came to be called in his life and ministry—Ignatius of Loyola.

After his recovery, Ignatius made an extended retreat where he had mystical experiences and discerned a deeper call from God; this retreat inspired his great work, Spiritual Exercises, which many today use as a guide in their walk with Christ. While studying in Paris, Ignatius met companions who would become the first members of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuit order. Bound together by a vow of poverty and chastity, their aim was “to help souls” wherever the church had need of them. Yet for a group of willing servants, they had a hard time winning approval from the church’s hierarchy. Ignatius’s spirituality attracted suspicion.

Ignatius believed in a simple but profound truth: God is present in all things. If we want to find God, we must look not only to the cloisters of a monastery and the four walls of a church but also to the canvas of our lives as they are lived out in the world. If we wish to find where God calls us, we should listen to our feelings of comfort and consolation, and move away from our experience of anxiety and desolation. This “way of proceeding,” found in Spiritual Exercises, has influenced how countless Christians perceive God’s presence in everyday life and has given many more a way of understanding where God is calling them.

But in sixteenth-century Europe, such a notion was considered radical, and Ignatius was brought before the Spanish Inquisition as early as 1526, and Spiritual Exercises was examined by the Roman Inquisition in 1548. Still, Ignatius insisted that the Society of Jesus be a group of contemplatives in action—present in the world around them where God is found, not confined to the walls of a monastery.

Collect for Ignatius of Loyola
Almighty God, who called Ignatius of Loyola to the service of your Divine Majesty and to seek you in all things; Give us also the grace to labor without counting the cost and to seek no reward other than knowing that we do your will; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

-David Sibley

Tikhon of Zadonsk

TikhonTimothy Savelyevich Sokolov (Tikhon’s given name) was born in 1724 in Novgorod, Russia, and grew up to be a famous bishop and monk known as the “Russian Chrysostom.”

His family was very poor: often, he would work an entire day to earn a single piece of bread. At age 13, he was sent to a clergy-run school, where he worked his way through as a vegetable gardener. Because of his intellect, he was awarded a state grant to attend seminary in Novgorod and stayed on at the seminary after graduation to teach. In 1758, he took vows as a monk and received the name Tikhon. At the same time, he was made prefect of the seminary.

People were drawn to his intellect, piety, and humility. In 1759, he was transferred to Tver and became the archimandrite of the Zheltikov monastery. Soon after, he was also made rector of Tver monastery, as well as the head of the nearby Torch monastery. And on Easter Sunday, 1761, he was accidentally selected as the bishop of Novgorod. The metropolitan (chief bishop) of the area had intended to move him to another monastery, but instead, the bishop of Tver cast lots upon his name three times in a row, and Tikhon was selected as the new bishop.

Tikhon took his new role very seriously. He wrote a series of books for his clergy so that they could perform their tasks with diligence. He required every clergy person to study the New Testament daily. Tikhon founded a school in 1765 and emphasized the importance of education for everyone.

In 1767, he retired because of overwork and exhaustion and went to the monastery in Zadonsk to recover. However, the notion of “rest” was a bit foreign to him; while at the monastery, he wrote a Rule of Life for the local clergy, as well as three more books on the nature and mystery of Christianity.

Throughout his life, he slept on straw, covered by a sheepskin. He was strict toward himself but kind to others. One Palm Sunday, he happened upon two fellow monks eating fish soup, and when he saw their distress, he said. “Sit down, for I know you. Love is higher than fasting.” He shared their soup to calm them.

Collect for Tikhon of Zadonsk
For love does not seek its own, it labors, sweats, watches to build up the brother: nothing is inconvenient to love, and by the help of God it turns the impossible into the possible...Love believes and hopes....It is ashamed of nothing (-Attributed to Tikhon)

-Megan Castellan

Ignatius of Loyola vs. Tikhon of Zadonsk

  • Ignatius of Loyola (65%, 6,027 Votes)
  • Tikhon of Zadonsk (35%, 3,208 Votes)

Total Voters: 9,235

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Ignatius of Loyola: Public Domain, Peter Paul Reubens, Ignatius of Loyola.
Tikhon of Zadonsk: By Неизвестный художник [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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169 comments on “Ignatius of Loyola vs. Tikhon of Zadonsk”

  1. Of Loyola churchmen were critical
    His order had leanings political;
    Yet his spirit and mind
    Were so great that I find
    Such arguments quite jesuitical.

        1. Once a year i go to a Jesuit retreat center to go through the exercises...#VoteIgnatius all the way for me!!!
          Still say we need a like button for the comments!!! 😉

      1. I love the musical turn this competition is taking! “Modern major general”! Haha!

    1. The "political" rhyming with "jesuitical" is nothing less than masterful. <3

      1. If we have a like button, we will need a "groan" or an "eye roll" button.... it could go on and on.

    2. As others have said, fits Gilbert & Sullivan tune so well that that is what went through my head when I read it. Even before reading the other comments. Great poem.

  2. To honor today's competitors, we are kickin' it real ol' skool with this musical tribute sung to the tune of "Summertime (and the Livin' is Easy) from Porgy and Bess.

    Íñigo (also known as Ignatius)
    Once sought fame and some glory on high.
    He gave that up for the llivin’ that mystic,
    So hush, little Jesuits, your founder is nigh.

    His greatest work is still used to guide seekers.
    “Find God in all things” was his defining cry.
    Twice he was tried for suspicion of heresy
    For not letting walls his world define.

    Timothy (later they called him Tikhon)
    Smart, but poor-born, made his monk’s vows to God.
    By casting lots, they elected him bishop
    So hush, little Tikhon, lead Novgorod.

    He wrote several books on the orders for clergy.
    And he built a school, then it’s time to retire.
    He went to Zadonsk – where the livin’ ain’t easy.
    With straw beds and more books. Good Russian friar.

    1. Both living & loving! Lent Madness in spirit, song and rhyme. We are blessed. Merci.

  3. I do the examen daily, so I had to vote for Ignatius. "Contemplatives in action" borders on oxymoron but seems right for our paradoxical human life. Tikhon seemed like a nice man. The fish soup anecdote makes no sense to me. It must have been a Friday. But I "get" Ignatius' doctrine of the "two standards," that in the battle of life we need to look up occasionally to see which flag we are fighting under. Are we still fighting the good fight, or in the heat and dust, have we strayed over to the devil's side? The Jesuits have much to answer for in their history, but they are a teaching order, and I have to side with teachers today. And stick a thumb in the eye of all Inquisitions. And put on a beautiful pair of boots in honor of the courtly, martial early Ignatius, who's still looking pretty sharp in his scarlet and gold vestments.

  4. I have not been on the winning side of any votes so far. and I suspect I will not be today. I know and appreciate the great ideas that Ignacio's of Loyola inspired. but the Russian church, which has held true its devotion to Christ through millennia, needs to be honoured too so, today, despite all the not fake news about Russian interference, I am voting for a compassionate and caring leader!

    1. The Russian Orthodox church survived by preaching obedience to secular authority and allied itself with the power structure. I tend to think the best representative of Russian piety is Alyosha Karamozov, and he's fictional.

      1. Some say that Dostoyevsky was influenced by the writings and teachings of St. Tikhon in developing the character of Alyosha. I voted for St. Tikhon because I wanted to see some more involvement of Orthodox saints in Lent Madness (as well as for his own saintly qualities). I think the Western Church would benefit from a wider experience of Orthodox Christianity and its saints and teachings.

        1. Agree: both Greek and Russian. Also some "monophysite" (false terminology, I know) figures. Interesting that Dostoyevsky had used Tikhon for Alyosha, or perhaps for Father Zosima.

    2. I’m right there with you. It’s a great story, but voting for another Timothy made it a no-brainer!

    3. So am I - his story is truly inspiring and the idea of a New Testament literate clergy needs repeating

  5. Jesuits can be found everywhere ministering and teaching. I went to a Jesuit college, my kids went to a Jesuit college, and my spiritual directors have all been Jesuits. I guess I bleed Jesuit! AMDG ( ad majorem Dei gloriam- Jesuit motto- for the greater glory of God)

  6. Love is everything. I vote for Tikhon, who made love his objective in everything.

  7. Ignatius' message that God is present in all things gave me the thought that if God is present in all things, then the opportunity for discipleship must also be present in all things. I admit I don't know much about Jesuit teachings, but I wonder if that thought is part of it.

    1. I really wrestled with my vote this morning. I'm drawn to monastics, and scholars anyway, and both these guys are that. Eventually, my vote went to Ignatius because of his (and his order's) work in the world. I, too have a degree (a masters) from a Jesuit University.

  8. I'm a rooter for the underdog. Tikhon did not become a bishop by accident, but by act of God. Loyola may win the golden halo, but Tikhon gets my praise and honor.

  9. It looks and sounds to me like Tikhon followed the way of love. I love the collect attributed to him! Go Tikhon, spread the love!

    1. I'm with you on this one, Priscilla. I have great respect for the Jesuits, particularly in their valuing the study of Creation, but the words on love speak most strongly to me today.

  10. Ignatius is my guy. Once again God chooses an unlikely and hardly saintly person to do Hos work. The Holy Spirit must have been at work curating Ignatius’ library while he recovered. But, mark of a saint, ignatius followed Gods will in face of big human “push back” (think Inquisition) and gave us spiritual pathways and education through the ages. Oh but not to ignore Tihkon. The Holy Spirit had to be at work anointing him bishop. He too deserves his saintly glory and more study on my part. Next year, Tikhon.

  11. I love Learning About Saints I didn’t know before. I am fascinated with the life of Tikhon he as diligent in following Christ and helped
    The other leaders of the Faith follow Christ more diligently. I love that he became a Bishop in the Biblical way of casting Lots. Three times makes me wonder if they were looking for a different answer.

    I started out knowing I would choose Ignatius but found I was compelled to change my mind

  12. So many wonderful things come out of “accidents” that open unexpected opportunities and reveal hitherto unexpected talents. Ignatius is widely known and admired. Today I am going with Tithonus, fish soup, and love.

  13. There are a lot of things about Ignatius I admire, but he's already winning in a landslide and I'm gonna go for the underdog this time. My brother was remotely associated with Russian Orthodoxy when he was teaching Russian language/literature/culture and gave a few well-received classes on Russian Orthodox iconography. Plus, the modern British composer John Tavener was Russian Orthodox (converted from a proper Anglican upbringing--irony alert) and did a stunning (and little-known) setting of Akathist of Thanksgiving based on a Russian Orthodox text.

  14. As a retired educator, my vote went for Tikhonwith with his emphasis on the importance of education for everyone.

    1. I think the context was that they were supposed to be fasting and he caught them mid-slurp. Instead of chiding, he reached out and joined in. Love was more important than law.

  15. St. Ignatius for me! I follow Richard Rohr and love the idea of contemplatives in action. Both contemplation and action are necessary in our world. Also, when I was a child, our neighborhood Catholic church/school were named for St. Ignatius. My sister and I both took music lessons there and got their over-flowing folk masses inspired our Episcopal youth group to start doing folk masses too.

  16. I vote for the underdogs, too. Tihkon's story resonated with mine, a Mennonite pastor, from a tradition that chose their pastors by drawing lots. I am also an elementary school teacher, and loved reading that Tihkon promoted education for all. I am more educated, having read of him today!

    I practice Ignatius's daily examen, however, but he is so famous, I went with my gut feeling to help make some lesser known saints more well known.