Last July 28, 2016, the entire high school body watched the Filipino-produced film led by Director Paolo Dy, “Ignacio de Loyola.” The day started with the general atmosphere of a school-wide field trip with many students simply eager to get out of the classroom. The din of excited chatter filled the different nearby cinemas.
I entered the theatre with a throng of students. As we sat in the muffled darkness and waited for the theatre to fill up, none of the students bothered to ask about the upcoming movie. I knew what that bored expectation felt like. Coming from a Jesuit university, I had what I thought was a thick background on Ignatian jargon. I have read the story of Ignatius’ conversion so many times, I could do a dramatic retelling on cue–from the wayward cannonball, to the exact two books on the bedside table, to the nine friends that built the proverbial pillars of the Society of Jesus. What I didn’t know, however, was how the movie would take these dead words on paper and eventually breathe purpose into them.
You see, while it was interesting to see faces in a familiar story, what struck me the most were the filtered parts I never read about in school. There is something to be said when a Jesuit-funded movie includes a line like, “The Church has always been broken.” This awareness, acceptance, and humility is so moving that I am reminded of how real faith does not ask for blindness. It seeks to be understood, it works with reason, and is not afraid to be questioned.
We often portray Ignatius as the valiant commander because that is the shiny and impressive thing to be, but we often forget Ignatius as the humble beggar, without whom none of this would have happened. In many interviews, including the press conference for the film, lead actor Andreas Muñoz was asked regarding his experience and what he has learned from Ignatius. He has consistently responded with “silence and patience”–two things that are the simplest, yet most difficult to find.
My good friend Aaron from college, who has had the opportunity to work with the production team in Spain, had this insight to give, “I find it a little funny, and quite profound, that despite not being religious myself, the experience of spending many nights alone and looking up at the stars have taught me the same, teaching me the ‘indifference’ Íñigo preaches about in the film: to love neither pleasure nor pain, to see and appreciate everything as part of the path.”
Aaron was responsible for the beautiful time-lapse of the changing skies and the iconic celestial photography. He adds that, “Feeling infinitely small under the great weight of the universe, to me, isn’t to feel that everything is meaningless anymore. On the contrary, it means that everything matters. All of this, our human existence in a lonely corner of the cosmos, amidst all the triumph, defeat, and mundane days between – is a gift.”
As the credits rolled and I sat there thinking how I never fully understood the wolves in the coat of arms before the movie, I felt my student beside me rouse from his position. I looked at him wrapped snugly in his varsity jacket and before I could ask for his opinion on the film, he quietly says, “’Cher… I cried.”
Ignacio de Loyola will be screening in the US, UK, Spain and Canada starting August 26, 2016.
*Special thanks to Aaron Palabyab, Second Unit Director, time-lapse and celestial photography.