The following homily was delivered at FPTI-ERDA Tech last 23 July 2015 by Fr. Munching De Guzman, SJ, Chaplain of Xavier School, during the Mass in celebration of the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola
What is there to learn from St. Ignatius? Allow me to share with you three of my personal insights I learned from the life of our founder which you might want to consider for your own reflection.
1. Finding God in all Things. “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Andre Gide
Up ’til about the age of 30, Ignatius’ main goal in life had been to achieve fame. He was content to seek his own glory. He also looked up to the knights as models of courage and gallantry. Up ’til about the age of 30, Ignatius tremendously basked on the shores of the vanities of the world.
Then he was hit in the leg by a cannon ball. The comfortable ‘shore’ he was on was shattered. While recovering, God stirred a strange desire in him: God’s glory, not his, and the imitation of two of the greatest saints in the Christian tradition (St. Francis and St. Dominic.) This was the beginning of Ignatius’ spiritual journey of finding God in all things. If Ignatius indeed discovered new spiritual oceans, it is because he had the courage to lose sight of his familiar shore.
Likewise, we must learn to leave our personal shores (of pity, of low self-esteem and self-confidence, of hopelessness and despair) if we want to discover a better life – if we want a life live for God.
2. Take, Lord. Receive. “The great end of life is not knowledge but action.” Thomas Henry Huxley
At 30, Ignatius labored to learn Latin with grade school students. Latin was his means to learn more about God. But Ignatius discovered that one discouraging thing about learning the Word of God is that they won’t work unless we do. In his spiritual exercises he said, “Love is expressed more in deeds than in words.” So he searched for places to serve the Word of God. For Ignatius, we are better or aren’t better but depends on how we respond to what we know about God with our whole mind, our whole heart, and our whole soul. Our God is not interested with our knowledge and accomplishments but our will and our center of attention. God is more interested with how we use what we know about Him. God wants us to say, “Take, Lord. Receive.” For the greatness of a person is not measured by what the person receives but by what one gives. Our success depends on how much we can give. “The great end of life is not knowledge but action.” Thomas Henry Huxley
3. Discernment. Getting God’s point of view.
At 30-something, Ignatius was on a journey to find God when he met a Moor who criticized Mary. Ignatius wanted to kill the Moor, who was now riding a mule ahead of him, for his comment about Mary. But he could not decide. So he discerned – he will ride his mule. If he catches up with the Moor, then he kills him. If not, then the Moor is free. —Unfortunately, the Moor’s mule turned right and Ignatius’s mule turned left. Ignatius took this as God’s will for him.
For Ignatius, a good spiritual life lies in the person’s capacity to get God’s point of view and see things from His angle. If we really mean to be a true servant of God, then we should allow God to wreck our plans. Often times we are happy because we are able make things happen. But true joy is in God’s will not ours be done.
If, indeed, Ignatius enjoyed a life he never saw before, it was because he never kept his sight off Him. Likewise, we should not keep our eyes off Him.
My dear friends, in the end, St. Ignatius tells us that our goal in life is to be with God forever. So whatever weakens our reason, harms the spiritual delights of our conscience, complicates our sense of God – whatever increases the authority of our body over our spirit – that thing to us is sin. And remember this, he who marries the spirit of sin today will be a widower tomorrow.
The way of Ignatius has been travelled by millions of people who are searching for God in their daily lives. And they’ve been helped to bring themselves closer to God. And for that we can thank our friend, St. Ignatius Loyola. Amen.