Ever since we entered Xavier, we have been learning all about our patron saint, St. Ignatius of Loyola. We all know his story: how he was a soldier, got hit by a cannonball, and was converted during his time of recovery. However, can we really say that we know him completely: how he felt, thought, and suffered? During our Ignite Pilgrimage, we learned about St. Ignatius and his journey from Loyola to Rome, and instead of just listening to lectures in CLE class, we actually lived St. Ignatius’ experiences, and this had more of an impact on us.
The stages of our pilgrimage included Loyola, Ignatius’ birthplace, Pamplona, where he was struck by a cannonball; Manresa, where Ignatius spent ten months living in a cave, reflecting on his life; Montserrat, where Ignatius offered his sword to our Lady of Montserrat, signifying his giving up his past life for a life with God; Paris, where Ignatius went back to school and met his lifelong friends, Francis Xavier, Peter Faber, and others known as the first Jesuits; and finally, Rome, the place where Ignatius stayed for the rest of his life to organize Jesuit affairs.
We didn’t go to these places physically, but instead, we went there spiritually, and were guided through the stages of Ignatius’ journey. The experience was meant to help us understand more about his journey and apply it in our Christian lives.
The pilgrimage started in Xavier, then continued on to Elsie Gaches Village, where we interacted with clients (not patients) with cerebral palsy, a condition of the brain. Most of the clients there were incapable of speech or control of their movements.
Before we went to Elsie Gaches I was nervous about meeting the clients. I wondered if I’d be able to interact well with them, or if I’d be able to make them feel happier. When I first met my partner, I was slightly frightened, afraid that one of them would hurt me in some way. However, after a while, I grew more comfortable around them and learned that they were harmless. When I interacted with them, I was overcome with sadness about their situation. It was truly moving to see all of them, unable to do things that we so often take for granted.
After my experience at Elsie Gaches, I became more thankful for the blessings that I have been given. Everyday, we complain about our trivial problems, about not getting the latest iPhone, being punished by our parents, and more, but looking at those at Elsie Gaches, I learned that we have so little to complain about and more to be thankful for.
“What exactly does the visit to Elsie Gaches Village signify?” you must be asking. This stage of the pilgrimage was referred to as Pamplona, where a turning point in Ignatius’ life took place: he was hit by a cannonball on the knee. Bedridden for months, he was completely helpless, much like the clients at Elsie Gaches Village. By interacting with the clients there, we were able to see what it was like for St. Ignatius, having been stuck with a broken leg for months.
Moving on, the rest of the pilgrimage took place in Xavier Nuvali. This was the part we were all waiting for. I had always been curious about Xavier’s other branch. One of the things we first noticed about Xavier Nuvali: it’s a lot cleaner there–the classrooms, the grounds, even the bathrooms–all of them were clean as a whistle, which is why we had no complaints about the showers there.
What I particularly liked about our time in Nuvali was the freedom we were given. In the morning, we woke up early so that we could explore the school. Apart from exploring Nuvali, the activities there were meaningful as well. The activities were well designed, all balancing fun and prayerful silence. In the recollection, we were taught the value of silence, not just silence with our mouths, but also silence mentally and spiritually. The silence in our hearts was what helped us be more open to what God wanted of us. We were taught the importance of magis, to be able to do more than what is asked for the greater glory of God.
Some of the activities we had were journal writing, small group discussions, art activities, and class discussions. I preferred the small group discussions over the larger ones, since it was easier to share your own thoughts. The journal writing was also good because it made reflecting and thinking about the events of the day easier.
The activities, the small group discussions, and other activities all helped our class become closer with our selves, with each other, and with God.
Now, I bet there’s one more thing you’d like to know. Why is the recollection entitled, “Ignite”? The first three letters of “Ignite,” I-g-n, are the same as the first letters in the name of St. Ignatius, which shows St. Ignatius’ significant role in our recollection. It also has to do with Xavier’s school motto, “Luceat Lux,” or “Let your light shine.” Ignite means to be set on fire, not literally of course, but metaphorically. By being on fire, we show magis, by doing more than what is asked, and letting our light shine for others, so that others can also follow Ignatius’ example offering one’s self to God.