Homily of Fr. Arnel Aquino, SJ for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2011

Faces

by Fr. Arnel Aquino, SJ
Feast of Immaculate Conception 2011
Church of the Gesu

I’ve thought about this for quite some time and with some difficulty. I figured, Mary being conceived without original sin, and remaining free of sin throughout her life—all this would be just too conceptual for me unless I tried to make sense of it from ordinary human experience. If I wish to continue firmly holding in faith this dogma of the Church and giving it my unflinching assent, I figured I had better get busy. I’d better get busy trying to make sense of Mary’s extraordinary estate from what I can ordinarily grasp in this day and age, where you and I are right now, and with a sinner’s eyes like mine. I mean, just what kind of conscience could I suppose Mary to have had, so that she freely chose to not sin all of her life? What kind of consciousness, what moral landscape, what spirituality could I suppose Mary to have had, so that her sinlessness in conception and through life would, (a) continue to make sense to me and my faith, and (b) teach me to live as a good person here and now?

My brother Jesuits and the Cenacle sisters and I are good friends with this married couple. Itago na lamang natin sila sa pangalang Gorio at Betchay, a wonderful married couple, highly successful, sweet kids, a beautiful home. They do say that they’ve had their moments, and we believe them. They’re very sincere couple, and they’re able to laugh at themselves and their own foibles even with us around. And Gorio has this funny way of toasting Betchay, sort of giving her a tribute in front of us. He would raise his glass and say, “For my wife—she is a saint to be married to a man like me.” But see, Gorio is a good man, a dutiful and faithful husband and father despite the many temptations in his line of work. I asked him one time, “So, Gorio, how do you keep from falling?” And with great candor and naturalness, he said very quietly, “Alam mo, Arnel, kapag dumarating ‘yang mga sandaling ‘yan, iniisip ang asawa ko. She immediately comes to mind. I think of her face, the face of a woman who’s been very patient with me, who’s done a fantastic job with our kids, who continues to hope in me, in us as a married couple and as a family. Si Betchay, Father, nasa isip ko parati.”

I have another old friend in Cebu, his name’s Roy. I’m very close to him and his wife, Joy. They’ve been married 23 years. They have eight kids—all still in school. Manoy Roy used to run an upscale talyer. It was doing very well for some years. It put all of his kids through school, funded travels with his wife, awarded them a very comfortable life. Until he and his Joy joined the Alay sa Dios community at the Jesuit parish in Cebu. Their business went downhill from there. Why? Because Manoy Roy finally decided to be honest in business. “Gikapoy na ko’s panikas, Father. I just got sick and tired of these under-the-table deals that garages habitually make with insurance companies, at the expense of customers.” Since then, Manoy Roy and Joy have depended a lot on scholarships and grants to put their children through school. Gone are the niceties they used to enjoy. But, you know what, it is amazing how deep their joy is—their commitment to the parish is steadfast, their resilience puts me to shame, and their cheerfulness just bowls me over. I asked Manoy Roy one time if he was ever tempted to go back. “Natental ko, Padre oy; I’ve been tempted a lot, Father” he says. “If I really wanted to, dali ra kayo; it would be so easy. But I always think of my family, my sick mom, and my community, Father. And I realize, nah, it’s not really worth it.”

Something closer to home now; my mom and dad always had a difficult marriage when I was younger. In fact, in all my high school years in the Ateneo de Davao, I often played the role of reconciler at home. But I did it for selfish reasons. I was always afraid my parents would split up and I’d be known in school as someone from a broken family. Back in those days, that was a stigma. So I took it upon myself to always end wars between them. I’d talk to them separately, and then together, and try to knock sense into them. When I talked to my dad during those times, he would always say: “Alam mo, anak, kung hindi dahil sa inyo ng Kuya mo at ni Jonathan (my younger brother), matagal na kaming hiwalay ng mommy mo.” My dad, all these years, mightily fought the temptation of abandoning us, because our faces were always before him.

Now maybe, just maybe, one thing that kept Mary freely choosing the good was always seeing faces of real people whom she really loved especially through difficult times. Maybe, her being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit was something that happened all her life long, not just during the annunciation. Maybe she was always overshadowed by these faces her beloved, most of all, the face of her son. This must have been the kind of conscience that Immaculate Mary had, the kind that has kept Gorio faithful to Betchay, the kind that has strengthened Manoy Roy’s resolve to keep being honest, the kind that’s kept dad and mom together for 47 years—that appearance, that arrival of faces of the beloved in her consciousness. Mary, of course, might have been privileged to have loved so much more deeply than we ever can, so that her beloved’s faces lasted her through her own deaths and resurrections. By this kind of love might her days have been ruled. Right now, I could not think of any other reason how one could remain ever so sinless, unless she actually loved at every single moment of life, seeing the faces of her beloved—faces more than ideals; faces, more than regulations; faces, more than paradigms; faces of real people she really loved.

Could it be that what somehow divides us as a people, as a Church, as a community is caused by the blurring from our consciousness of faces of real people we love? Do we seem to see abstracted ideals, norms, paradigms much more vividly than we can actually tie faces to them, faces of real people we profess we love? Or could it be that when we are at each other’s throats, we’ve long begun fighting for some thing rather than some one? Could it be that one of the most profound reasons why we hit an impasse is that we no longer have faces before us in our passionate desire to fight for our ideals? Would it be safe to say that while Mary lived each day from ideal to ideal, from norm to norm, from fight to fight–to all of these were nevertheless fastened the faces of her beloved—so that whatever she chose to obey, to do, or to fight against, she did out of real love for people whose faces were always before her?

As a Church, we need to take stock not only of what we love but also and more so whom we love. When we say we love God, that love must have faces automatically if not desperately attached to it, and not just some free-floating ideal of what loving God is, or what a Church is, or what a family is, or what Jesuit education is, or some kingdom of God, some rarified realm, glorious and triumphant—but faceless.

I don’t think “immaculate” means “rid of what is totally human in order to engage the totally divine.” Rather, I think immaculate means being overshadowed by the Spirit of great love for real people, through whose faces God emerges and disturbs and calls. When we, your pastors, desire to keep the Church “immaculate”, pray for us so that faces of real people light the way towards our ideals, instead of our ideals blinding us from the faces of people we’re supposed to love and serve. And we pray for you, too, that people you love may continue to be the deepest reason to choose wisely, to obey, to do, and perchance, to fight.

And so we pray for Mary’s help: “Turn then, o most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy towards us, and after this, show unto us the fruit of your womb, Jesus.” Show us his face that we may desire sin less because we love more.

Ad majorem + Dei gloriam!

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Margaret Silf to give a talk on Ignatian spirituality in Ateneo de Manila University on

Everyone is invited to REFLECTION DAYS WITH MARGARET SILF a four-day
lecture and reflection series featuring renowned spirituality writer
Margaret Silf on January 26-29, 2012 to be held at the Walter Hogan
Conference Center, ISO Complex, Ateneo de Manila Campus.

Silf is the author of several books on prayer and the spiritual journey such as Inner Compass, Companions of Christ, Close to the Heart, Taste and See, and the The Gift of Prayer (Winner, Catholic Press Association Award). The featured topic for each day is as follows:

Jan 26, 2012 – Living God?s Dream: A Fresh Look at the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Jan 27, 2012 – Discernment: Finding a True Course in a Bewildering World Jan 28, 2012 – The Other Side of Chaos: Breaking Through When Life is Breaking Down

Jan 29, 2012 – Faith in the Future:What It Means to be a Person of Faith in Today?s World

This event is a joint project of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality (celebrating its 20th year), the Center for Family Ministries (celebrating its 25th year) and EMMAUS Center for Psycho-Spiritual Formation (celebrating 30 years)

Registration fee is 1,000 PHP per day inclusive of snacks and materials. A discounted rate of 3,600 PHP is offered to participants who register for all four days on or before January 16, 2012.

Interested participants may contact Ruby or Bheng at telephone numbers 426-4250 or 426-4251, celphone number 0916-3020702 or email,
silf.manila@yahoo.comsilf.manila@gmail.com.

Born in l945 and raised in Sheffield, England, Margaret Silf currently lives in Cheshire, in the northwest English midlands. She received her B.A. in English from the University of London and an M.A. from the University of Keele.  In 1992, Margaret Silf made her first retreat and shortly after began training as a prayer guide, mentored by Jesuits in the British Provence. She made the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in daily life in 1996-97 with the British Jesuit, Gerry Hughes, author of God of Suprises. After having worked as a translator in Germany and a systems programmer in the UK, Margaret decided in March, 2000, to retire to write and conduct retreats, full time. As a result of conducting retreats and making
speeches, she spends a great deal of her time on the road, an experience she enjoys. Aside from writing books, she is also a regular columnist for America magazine, a contributor to the New Daylight series of daily readings for Bible Reading Fellowship and can be heard on BBC local radio.

From Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit:

MARGARET SILF was born and grew up in Sheffield. Although her parents were not Christians, she was baptized in her local Methodist Church and attended Sunday School until the age of 11. At the time, Margaret did not appreciate this, but has since come to cherish and be deeply grateful for her Methodist roots. After being confirmed at 14, Margaret felt herself to be in a ‘spiritual desert’ in her early adulthood, until a personal crisis led her to resume her search for God – she was greatly helped by an ecumenical chaplaincy near Keele University where she was studying for an MA in English, and where she still worships today.

Margaret doesn’t see herself as belonging to any particular denomination, despite her connections with both the Methodist and Roman Catholic churches, but rather identifies herself as an eager spiritual pilgrim.

Margaret now travels widely, meeting people from many religious backgrounds and exploring their faith. She reads widely, and is particularly interested in developments in science and their implications for theology and spirituality, and spends much of her time leading retreats. Margaret’s On Making Choices and On Prayer are two slim volumes in which she offers words of wisdom, encouragement and advice on two important aspects of our spiritual life. Margaret’s previous books for Lion are Sacred Spaces: Stations on a Celtic Way and One Hundred Wisdom Stories from Around the World (2003).

Eulogy for Fr. Guido Arguelles, SJ (1930-2011) by Ricky Jalbuena

Fr. Guido Arguelles, S.J. (Sept. 17, 1930 – Oct. 29, 2011)

My dear friends, today I share a tribute to a man of Christ, not just for the sake of honoring him, but to inspire and enlighten all of you in your own personal quest, by knowing more about our dear friend, Fr. Guido Arguelles of the Society of Jesus, who died on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2011, at the age of 81.

Much of what I shall share with you today, I have shared with Fr. Guido and the A.I.M. Chapel community during his 70th birthday. Guido was more thrilled to have a eulogy whilst alive, as he could bow, smile, sing and dance to all in great gratitude for a wonderful and beautiful life. I’m sure he’s now doing his oratory, song and dance to Our Lord and the Saints, as he marches into heaven.

Many have asked me who inspired me to serve the Lord and His community. I have already committed 32 years of my life for the A.I.M. Chapel community.

Many of you may presume that it was the influence of our dear friend, Fr. Jim Donelan, S.J., who was a former President of the Ateneo de Manila, and a founder of A.I.M. and our chapel. I must admit that Jim was only the
third mentor and influence. The second was the great Fr. Horacio de la Costa, a world-class historian, a former Jesuit Provincial, who was my college professor. The foremost inspiration is Fr. Guido Arguelles; I love Guido dearly.

I have known Guido for over 42 years. He was my theology and homeroom
teacher in 1st Year High School at the Ateneo de Manila, back in 1969. What
made him my #1 mentor and inspiration through all these years?

First, Guido was one of the humblest, sincerest and funniest Jesuits I have met. He may be a ham, but that’s for show. Guido readily admits faults upon his realization, and many times, he has apologized in public, that he is also a sinner like us, and that he has grave sins. That is a humbling experience, and takes a lot of courage.

What could be his grave sin? That is between him and God. But as a long time friend, I can speculate, which brings me to the 2nd reason, Guido emulated Christ’s commandment of LOVE. Sadly, that may have been Guido’s biggest problem. Guido loved “his neighbor”, particularly the poor and oppressed, too much….to the point that the love becomes too heavy a cross, and he would be hurt gravely. His being “Christ-like” becomes a dilemma because as man, we have limitations. Christ could turn water into wine, multiply bread and most important, carry OUR sins. Guido can’t. Yet, due to his great love, Guido tried to serve to the point that he over-extended himself, spread himself to thinly, and at worse, be bitter and cynical to those who oppress the masses. Thus, contradicting the commandment of love and not properly using the talents Our Lord gave him, are two sins Guido has confessed to his intimate friends. On top of that, pushing himself to the limit compromised his health, both physically and mentally. I personally believe that this continued stress may be the root cause of his smoking addiction, which eventually caused the emphysema.

This leads me to the 3rd reason why I look up to him. Throughout his life, Guido was committed to God’s Word, the Truth, and endless fought for social justice. From the time I met him in the late 60’s, together with Fr. Jose Blanco, S.J., Guido would be active in rallies against the Marcos dictatorship, and he eventually continued this crusade in his radio programs at Veritas. Guido would be active in fighting corruption through our justice system. He would always set up programs to feed or educate the poor.

But even in this respect, Guido has humbly admitted his sin of prioritizing his projects over the priority of God. This is a common problem with us, as our pride and sense of being become focused on our work, accomplishments and vanity; all these are useless escapes promoted by media and our material driven society.

Amazingly, at the end of the day, the Spirit brings Guido back to focus, to serve God primarily, and then His children.

This then is my 4th reason: Guido has been strengthened, guided and protected by the Holy Spirit whenever he put himself in the line of fire. I use to wonder if Guido would survive the martial law years with his endless battle for social justice and against corruption. His life was at risk many times. During the late 70’s, Guido was a regular celebrant at the U.P.
Chapel, but sadly, he was asked to leave due to his vigilance. For roughly 10 years, Fr. Guido was a fiery crusader in his radio program at Veritas. On the air, he would put himself at great risk to serve the people and many would wonder if he would still be around for another day. We have a history of hundreds of media men, many on radio, who have been snuffed by those in power. Guido was blessed and was a pillar at Veritas during the 80’s.*

But it was not only physical threats that he had to encounter. There were many mental, emotional and spiritual trials. Guido would even be ostracized by many of his fellow Jesuits. I thank God for giving Guido the perseverance to stay and even soar with the Society of Jesus.*

Unfortunately, the mental and emotional torture became too heavy, and in the mid-80’s, Guido got burnt out and had to take a sabbatical in the U.S., to rest and have a much needed retreat and encounter with Our Lord. Guido was abroad when the EDSA Revolution came. The Lord humbled Guido to be away in our day of social and political triumph.

God did not want Guido in the euphoria, because the work for social justice was not over, as all of us clearly know today. Furthermore, can you imagine the effect on Guido’s pride if he became a hero of EDSA? God wanted Guido to be a hero in ordinary times, for the ordinary lives of ordinary people, everyday of their ordinary life. Given that, Guido was gifted with a SPARK for our ordinary lives.

This brings me to my 6th reason: Guido was gifted with one of the sharpest and creative minds that I know, to the point of insanity. Through the years, I have seen so many great ideas flash in his head, that organizing
and editing his work is indeed a task. Many of you have read his work and reflections. Simple, beautiful and inspiring. Hopefully, much of these writings will soon be consolidated in a book. During the last two years, Guido would tell me that he should have spent more time writing, and in the process, could have been more effective in serving, inspiring and helping others, particularly the poor.

Guido is indeed a great communicator. His effectiveness is complemented by his sense of humor, and his love for music, literature and the arts. All of us have been entertained by his singing and dancing. He could sing the tunes of many Broadway musicals, and even add a dash of opera and inject an oration from a play.

In the process, Guido made us laugh, cry, and feel the word of God deeply. He hits us in our core. How does this happen? When we come to mass, most people have defense mechanisms around. The Israelites where similar; they didn’t even want to hear God directly. This defense mechanism makes many of us not listen to God’s Word. It could come as rationalizations or simply, justification as a social trend. Guido has a gift of humor, which opens our hearts and minds. The laughter puts down the defenses. Then, when Fr. Guido delivers God’s Word, we are hit in our hearts, many times deeply, as our conscience is naked and open to true examination. Yes, Guido hits us in our core.

My final reason is that Guido was ALWAYS THERE, particularly to comfort you. He may do this through his singing, dancing, jokes, or simply through his charm and smile. He has even made dying people laugh. Many years ago, while he would do socio-political work with student group like KASAPI, Guido was known to make “beso-beso” on the cheeks of the high school and college girls. The girls would complain about his “wet kisses”; yes, wet from perspiration, dust, dirt, fumes and smoke, as Guido would return from a rally, street march, or from charity work with the poor and marginalized. In spite of the sweat, many girls would still line up for a kiss, and we young men would envy his charm. We all loved him.  In his desire to help and comfort all, there were sadly a few, who took advantages of him, and yes, he gets burned and had to suffer the consequences.

Fr. Guido was helping street children way before it became a trend. During the 70’s, Guido was in charge of Boys Town, Marikina. About 12 years ago, Guido managed a home for homeless teenage boys, a group which was difficult to handle and generally avoided by philanthropic homes. He tried his best, but eventually had to terminate the project when his health began to deteriorate.

For several decades, Guido helped the poor, particularly farmers, and started a livelihood project in Payatas. Indeed, Fr. Guido was a man for others. His example and dedication, managed to convince me when I was a young high school student, to spend two summers being a volunteer in Boys Town, and to even commute regularly with the public transportation to Marikina. Years later, his inspiration made me volunteer to serve Fr. Jim Donelan at the A.I.M. Chapel. I have now been serving the chapel for 32 years, and the SPARK came from Guido. From 1996 till 2009, I requested Fr. Guido to be a regular mass celebrant at the A.I.M.  Chapel, and I am proud to day that he was the most dedicated and committed amongst the pool of priest we had. His energy even surpassed the younger priest.

In summation, I can attest that Fr. Guido Arguelles SJ is TRULY A MAN FOR OTHERS and a LOYAL SERVANT OF CHRIST. Guido lived a life of simplicity, and did his best to imitate Our Lord. His gravest fault may be that a mere man with so many limitations, tries his best not to just preach, but to truly live a Christ-like life, to the point that it hurts. Just like Christ,
Guido loves his neighbor, particularly the ordinary person and the poor. Guido loves all of us here. In fact, he loves us too much. That’s the cross he bears, whilst at the same time singing and dancing. That’s why I love
him. That’s why you can learn and be enlightened by his life’s story, with all its trials and jubilations.  I shared many of these thoughts twelve years ago during Fr. Guido’s 70thBirthday and his 50th Anniversary as a Jesuit.

Today, I share them with you as Fr. Guido marches with the Saints as he
enters Heaven, and eventually sings and dances for Our Lord.

–Ricky Jalbuena / Oct 30, 2011

A visit to the Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola at the Loyola House of Studies

Main entrance of the Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Main entrance of the Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola at the Loyola House of Studies

I went to the Loyola House of Studies this afternoon to meet with Fr. Jose Quilongquilong, SJ. It was difficult to catch him. I went to LHS a few days ago and the porter told me that Fr. Joe will be back this Friday. So I prepared my letter of request and decided to meet him at about 5 pm. I waited at the lobby and sat on one of the sofas.

The porter called. He is not around in his office.

“Paging Fr. Quilongquilong.”

After a while Fr. Quilongquilong came. Fr. Quilongquilong is the Rector of the Loyola House of Studies. He was ordained priest in 1993 and finished his Doctorate in Spirituality in the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. He worked as regional secretary for Asia-Pacific at the Jesuit General Curia. For his dissertation, he wrote about the grace of vocation in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola with Fr. Anton Witwer, S.J. as mentor. (Loyola School of Theology)

“Father, Dr. Sugon of the Latin Mass Society would like to meet you. Oh, there he is.”

So I stood up and went forward.

“Father, I am Dr. Quirino Sugon of the Ateneo Latin Mass Society.”

Fr. Quilongquilong signed me to sit down.

“Our priest is Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ.” I continued. “We would like to request the use of the Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola for a Traditional Latin Mass.”

“When would that be?” Fr. Quilongquilong asked.

“November 24, 6:30-8:00 p.m.”

“Do you have a letter?”

“Yes,” I said and I handed him my letter.

“Would you like to visit the oratory?” he asked.

“That would be great, Father.”

“How many are you in the mass?”

“About 20 to 30, Father.”

“The oratory is too big for you.”

“I think we can double the attendees.”

On the far end of the lobby is a spiral staircase. Beneath it is a white statue of our Lady. Behind the staircase is a glass wall with a view of a green field of grass with a statue of St. Ignatius looking at an empty pond. A corridor to the right leads to the Cardinal Sin Center where the LHS Theological Hour is usually held. In normal days the center functions as a cafeteria.

We went up the staircase. On the second floor is the Oratory. We genuflected upon passing by the altar.

Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola (North side) at the Loyola House of Studies

Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola (North side) at the Loyola House of Studies

It is an empty church, but unrivaled in architectural design. It is the most fitting for the Traditional Latin Mass. I think it can fit about 200 to 300 persons. There are still enough space at the overhanging second level. On the far side near the entrance is the choir loft–truly aloft. I can’t still make out of the Altar. It is dark. The sun is setting and light streamed through the stained glass windows. Then I recall the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral:

The first has to do with the stained glass windows, which flood the interior with mystic light. From the outside, those windows are dark, heavy, even dreary. But once one enters the church, they suddenly come alive; reflecting the light passing through them, they reveal all their splendor. Many writers — here in America we can think of Nathaniel Hawthorne — have used the image of stained glass to illustrate the mystery of the Church herself. It is only from the inside, from the experience of faith and ecclesial life, that we see the Church as she truly is: flooded with grace, resplendent in beauty, adorned by the manifold gifts of the Spirit. It follows that we, who live the life of grace within the Church’s communion, are called to draw all people into this mystery of light.

(New York Times)

We went farther to the main entrance. It’s the crossroads.

“That’s the refectory,” Fr. Quilongquilong said as he pointed towards the West. “People would be coming from there (the North wing) and pass by this corridor. I don’t want a religious activity going on while the community is having supper from 7:00-8:00 p.m.”

“Ok, Father. I understand.”

“I shall first check with the community.”

“Thank you, Father.” And I raised his fingers to my forehead for blessing. Then we parted.

When I arrived at my office at Manila Observatory, I received a text from Fr. Quilongquilong. He confirmed that there is no scheduled activity at the Oratory on the 24th of November. But he suggested that we move the time to 5:30-7:00 pm.

“If Latin Mass is earlier then I would like our Jesuit scholastics to attend it,” he said.

I replied that the schedule is ok with me, but I shall first confer with Fr. Tim and my group in ALMS.

God works in wondrous ways.

Please pray for the Philippine Jesuits and the Ateneo Latin Mass Society.

Vocation stories of Philippine Jesuits by Fr. Victor Badillo, SJ

by Fr. Victor Badillo, SJ

1.  Fr. Alfeo Nudas, SJ

Al recalls an unusual sight.

Alfeo Nudas lost his father when he was young.  The Nudas were poor farmers
in the small mountainous town of Naguilian. Al recalls his mother in a
deadly tug-of-war with a group of Japanese soldiers over her only carabao,
her work carabao.  His eldest brother, Hilario, abandoned his studies and
marriage plans to support his siblings.  In this atmosphere Al developed the
spirit of caring for others.  The seed of a vocation fell on fertile ground.
How he learned of the Jesuits, I do not know.

A year before he died, he lost his mind.  He was helpless.  At meals, Al
asked for fish. I heard him say, “I want a fish.  This is not a fish.”
Caretakers had given him fish fillet, without head and tail.  How Jesus must have smiled at At.

Behold Jesus beholding Al.  Smiling.

God wants us to know that he is glorified by our illness and uselessness,
no less than by magnificent achievements.

2. Fr. Horacio de la Costa, SJ

De la Costa made a retreat in SHN to discern his career.  He saw he was to
serve God as a writer.  But he was told later that he could be a Jesuit and
a writer.

3.  Fr. Romeo Intengan, SJ

Dr Romeo Intengan organized religious activities for the staff and patients
of PGH.  His companions called him Archbishop which was shortened to Archie. He was inspired to be a Jesuit from meeting the Jesuit chaplains.

4.  Fr. Guido, SJ

Guido had one foot in the novitiate since he had some lingering doubts.  One
day he watched the movie “The Little Women,” then in town. In one scene, Jo
sells her long hair to buy a birthday gift for her mother.  Meg, her sister,
saw her shorn of her beautiful air and exclaimed, “Jo. What a mess.” Guido
reflected that her mother saw how beautiful Jo was..   He felt a warm
sensation and all his doubt vaporized.  The scene had no connection with his
doubt.  But in the warm glow of consolation, every  thing was seen in the
light of God with eyes of God.  When the sun is up all are seen.  When water
rises all boats float.

5.  Fr. Karel San Juan, SJ

Karel San Juan delayed being a Jesuit to be a lay apostle.  After
graduation he gave of his time and even volunteered for Cambodia. There he
heard of what Richie Fernando did. That inspired him to delay no more his
entrance to tbe Jesuit novitiate.

6.  Fr. Victor Badillo, SJ

I entered the novitiate to do my part about the shortage of
priests in the Philippines. I thought I was doing the church a favor, to do
a job that needed doing, that I was doing something noble.  I did not know
Jesus was seducing me to loving him.

7.  Fr. Jim Hennessey, SJ

Jim Hennessey visiting our Lord in the Georgetown University chapel , saw
in the dim light, a sight that warmed his heart, a Filipino Jesuit kneeling
some distance in front.  It could not be anyone else but Sammy Dizon, by the
circular bare skin at the back of his head.  Sammy was predestined to be a
priest.  He was born with a tonsure.

8.  Fr. Hilario Belardo, SJ

Hilario Belardo used to go to Baclaran church to get pamphlets for his
brother who was interested in becoming a Redemptorist.  He too became
interested.  But he dillydallied.  While boating with friends, his girl
friend dropped her fan.  He jumped into the bay to recover it.  Then the
boat’s motor failed and the boat drifted away. H He vowed to be a priest if
he were saved.

9. Fr. Tony Olaguer, SJ

The father of Tony Olaguer traveled all the way from Bicol to Manila to see
off his sons Valdemar and Antonio off to America where they had
scholarships. The ship sailed off without Tony appearing.  He had entered
the novitiate without telling anyone.  When his mother was a student, she
and two friends prayed that their first son would be a priest.  Toti’s
mother married a widower with several sons. Toti was her first.

10.  Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ

Ben Nebres studied in the Vigan Seminary when it was run by the SVD
fathers.  Earlier it had been the Jesuits.  When these left, they left
behind books, some of which was the Tom Playfair series for boys.  In
reading this series, Ben was influenced to join the Jesuits.*

11.  Fr. Francisco Perez, SJ

Francisco Perez was a spy who reported Japanese movements during the
war.  This resulted in his being alone in the mountains often and he enjoyed
contemplating God in nature.  After the war he joined the Philippine Air
Force.  In Fernando Air Base in Lipa, he read a pictorial supplement in the
Manila Times about the Jesuits. He said, “That is what I want to be.”  He
took the bus and reached Novaliches in his uniform.  Fr Master Lynch gave
the hungry man lunch before  showing him around. He told Cisco to apply at
Sta Ana.

12. Fr. Francisco Arago, SJ.

It was in Sta Ana that Francisco Arago met his first Jesuit in Fr Cullum
who interviewed him and accepted him.  He was the helped of the parish
priest in Samar and had read about the Jesuits in a magazine.  Many
vocations are developed in men in close contact with our Lord in service the
parish priest.

13.  Fr. Rudy Fernandez, SJ

During the Jap occupation, Japanese killed Rudy Fernandez’s, father.   When
he became a Jesuit, he volunteered to be a missionary to Japan,  to repay
the Japanese with goodness.

In Japan, one morning he overslept and hurried not to keep the sisters
waiting for mass.  He entered a single lane road where the rule was first
come first served.  He reached the road ahead of a car headed in the
opposite direction.  But that car did not give way. Rudy let the other
ahead.  When they were abreast, he greeted the driver “Ocage sawa,” which
means “I am in your shadow”. He made a friend.

14.  Fr. Roberto Gana, SJ

After graduation from the Ateneo law school, Roberto Gana and some batch
mates made a retreat in SHN.  There he saw Manny utterly helpless. He
reflected that he, Gana, was utterly dependent on God for existence itself.
He decided to devote the rest of his life to provide law services to those
who could not afford it. He founded the Gana Foundation, recruited, inspired
and formed young law gradates.  When he died, the apostolate did not die
with him.  Manny was God’s instrument.*

* ** *

Xavier  an ambitious man, with world at his feet, was pestered by Ignatius:
what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul.
Dying on on Sancian Island at the doorstep to China, Jesus told him that had
gained a world greater than the world he had surrendered.*

* *
blog:  pedrocalungsod.blogspot.com
God bless you and all your efforts.  Victor Badillo SJ

Ateneo Latin Mass Society: Homily for the Solemnity of St. Ignatius of Loyola by Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, SJ

SOLEMNITY OF SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA
31 July

PROPHETS, LOVERS, DREAMERS: CATALYSTS FOR CHANGE

by Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, SJ
Latin Mass (Ordinary Form) at the Ateneo de Manila High School Chapel of the First Companions, 28 July 2011, 6:30-7:30-pm.

Fr. Tim Ofrasio in a Latin Mass (Ordinary Form) at Ateneo de Manila High School, 28 July 2011

Fr. Tim Ofrasio in a Latin Mass (Ordinary Form) at Ateneo de Manila High School, 28 July 2011. Photo by Dinky Nievera.

The saint we commonly know as Ignatius of Loyola was born Iñigo López de Loyola in all probability in the year 1491, the last and youngest son of Beltrán Ibáñez de Oñáz and Marina Sánchez de Licona. He took the name Ignatius about the year 1540 out of devotion to the martyr-saint of Antioch. Around the year 1507, at about 16 years of age, he left his ancestral house for the town of Arévalo to serve at the court of a distinguished Castilian hidalgo, a friend of his father’s, Don Juan Velázquez de Cuellar, the contador mayor or chief treasurer of Castile. His first biographer, Pedro de Ribadeneira, describes the young Iñigo as “a lively and trim young man, very fond of court dress and good living.” A collaborator of Ignatius, Juan de Polanco, tells us that “Iñigo’s education was more in keeping with the spirit of the world than of God; for from his early years, without entering into other training in letters beyond that of reading and writing, he began to follow the court as a page; then served as a gentleman of the Duke of Nájera and as a soldier till the age of twenty-six when he made a change of life.” In Ignatius’ own words in his Autobiography, he was “up to the age of twenty-six…a man given over to the vanities of this world, and took special delight in the exercise of arms, with a great and vain desire of winning fame.” In 1521 while he was at the service of the Viceroy of Navarre, Don Antonio Manrique de Lara, the Duke of Nájera, he fought with others in a bitter resistance against the French troops in the siege of the fortress of Pamplona. The events of that day are well known. A cannon ball of a culverin or falconet passed between the young soldier’s legs, shattering the right one and damaging the other. The disabled Iñigo was out of the fight, and his fall meant the end of all resistance.

His conversion from worldliness to spirituality did not come easy. During his convalescence in the castle of Loyola, he read two books which focused his thoughts on Christ, whom he was to serve so outstandingly well, and on the saints he felt he wanted to emulate. He reflected and questioned himself on the ‘spirits’ he felt were at work within him, some disturbing and some consoling, and learned to distinguish what was authentic from what was false. This experience of ‘discernment’ was to be with him all his life. Renouncing his hopes of a great career, he left the world of human glory to lead a life of prayer and austerity at Manresa, racked by scruples and temptations. This hard apprenticeship, in which God treated him “as a schoolmaster treats a child,” helped him to master his tendency to extravagance and indiscretion.

Deeply sorry for his sins and disorderly life, he asked for the grace to have a horror of the sinful world, but this spiritual introspection was not morbid. Rather, it brought him face to face with Christ on the cross, who had died for his sins. His whole being was alive with the sheer wonder of having been pardoned and saved, and with what he came of speak of as ‘familiarity with God’. “What am I doing for Christ? What shall I do for Christ?” These colloquies of master and servant, friend to friend, reach out beyond the life of Ignatius so that his sins, together with the sins of the human race, are gathered into the redemptive dispensation, the work of the Blessed Trinity. His meditations and the mystical experiences granted him by God made of him an apostle determined, for the love of Christ, to save souls and lead them towards perfection. Later, a number of companions were to share his ideals and in their turn spread and defend the faith by preaching and the ministry of the word, by the sacraments and every form of charitable service. Ignatius never stopped urging them to come ever closer toward the pure love of Jesus Christ, to seek his glory and the salvation of souls until they excelled in the love and service of God. Thus the human dynamism of the convert Ignatius had found its firm and sure direction.

In our present context, how relevant is the experience of St. Ignatius to us who are over five hundred years removed from him and his time? Specifically, what does he say to us as we strive to live out in our daily grind the ideal of being prophets, lovers and dreamers for the renewal of the Church—the same Church which Ignatius so well loved, and for which he founded the Company of Jesus?

For starters, Ignatius was himself a prophet. He discerned the need for renewal for the Church in his time, just as Martin Luther saw the abuses committed by churchmen of his time, and sought change. But while Luther chose to effect change outside the Church, Ignatius sought change within the Church. He felt that a spiritual renewal was in order, and he proposed the fruits of his mystical experience at Manresa to change the lives of individuals—men and women who had influence and who could assist in his perceived mission of change.

Ignatius, too, was a lover – not in the worldly sense by which he understood the word, and probably has progeny to prove it – but in the sense that his worldly love that sought satisfaction in romantic exploits and knightly pursuits was transformed into a deep love for the person of Christ and his kingdom. Thus, from a vain and haughty man of the court skilled in the use of arms and warfare, he offered his sword to the Virgin at Montserrat, and exchanged his fine and elegant garments of a gentilhombre for a poor beggar’s rags. It was his deep love for Christ crucified that inspired him to offer himself completely, asking nothing in return save that of knowing and doing God’s will for him. It was this love burning so ardently in his heart that contaminated and inspired his first companions, not the least Xavier of Navarre, to go on a perilous mission in the unchartered East – India, Japan and China.

Ignatius was a dreamer. He dreamed of conquering kingdoms in the hearts of men and women, and replacing them with the Kingdom of Christ. His meditations on the Kingdom and the Two Standards in the Spiritual Exercises were transformed visions of his court experiences before his conversion. In his own lifetime, he witnessed the young Company of Jesus proclaiming the Kingdom of God in far-off places where only the conquistadores dared to venture – in the New World and in the East Indies. But where the imperial sword cut off life and looted the resources of the natives, his companions sought to defend the defenseless indios and planted in them the seeds of Christian faith. Many of his companions shed their blood for the realization of the dream they shared with him.

Only men and women of vision – men and women who have dreams, who are in love, and who are unafraid to venture into the unknown – can effect change. They are the visionaries who transform the Church in any age in order that the enduring message of the Gospel may speak and be understood by its hearers. The long, colorful, and tumultuous history of the Church bears this out: men and women of vision being catalysts of change: Peter and Paul, Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo, Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Ignatius of Loyola, and other great men and women of the Church after him.

I used to believe that compared to the youth of yesteryears today’s young people are devoid of idealism, of vision, of dreams, immersed as they are in the wonders of modern information technology. But the many fine young men and women I have met in my years as a seminary formator, theology professor, and more recently as pastor disproved my belief. Today’s young people—and you who are present here—are still capable of idealism, of vision and of dreams. Your very presence here says that you want to channel your dreams and ideals for the greater glory of God and for the good of this country. If radical leaders can harness the idealism of the young for their own political ends, more so can Jesus Christ our King inspire you and keep your hearts aflame for a greater, more noble venture for an even nobler purpose. He challenges you to follow His Standard, the Standard of the Cross. Unlike other human ventures, yours will not be a lost cause, because it is not self-serving. Our Church today needs young people like you to effect change, to strive for renewal. It will not be an easy task, but our Commander-In-Chief has already triumphed, and our victory is assured. Can you and will you, like Saint Ignatius of Loyola, follow Him? Praised be Jesus Christ!

Ateneo Guidon: Fr. James Reuter, SJ clarifies statement vs pro-RH Bill professors

The Guidon, vo. LXXXII no. 1 June 2011

Reuter clarifies statement vs. pro-RH Bill profs

By A.J. M. Santos and Rhett D. Gaerian

If you’re supporting the Reproductive Health Bill, you should not teach in the Ateneo.

Jesuit priest Fr. James Reuter, SJ stirred controversy after making this statement over radiio station DZIQ 990, also known as Radyo Inquirere, last May 17.  Reuter expressed his opposition to the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011, or more commonly known as the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.

He also denounced the pro-RH Bill professors who teach in the university.  His statement touched on the 14 Ateneo professors who released a position paper entitled “Catholics can support the RH Bill in good conscience,” which was released in October 2008.  The 14 professors released the paper as their own joint opinion, separate from the university’s official stand.  60 more Ateneo professors later signed a statement of support for the RH Bill.

Ateneo maintains its official stand as being that of the Catholic Church’s,. which is opposed to the RH Bill.

Uphold Catholic Tradition

Reuter said the current bill is unclear on what exactly it supports.  While he admitted that he is no expert on the i on the issue and has not studied the text and fine print, he insisted that a bill that “admits abortion as a moral thing” is wrong.

“Let me make this crystal clear.  When I say RH Bill, I mean it justifies abortion.  If it does not justify abortion, then I’m not against it,” he said.

He added that teachers with opinions contradicting Catholic teachings should not teach in a Catholic school like the Ateneo as they will most likely pass it on to students.  “If they themselves are convinced that abortion is not murder, they should not be allowed to teach.”

But when asked if he wanted concrete actions on the part of the school, he said that it was up to  the administrators’ discretion.  A former teacher himself, Reuter said that he would be wary of hiring a teacher who believes in abortion.  “You have to be sure that you don’t have a teacher in the Catholic [faith] teaching something contradictory to the Catholic Church.  The teachings of the Catholic Church are a body of truth  that is crystal clear and you should not teach something contradicting it.”

Reuter, however, is supportive of the bill’s provision on sex education, as long as it is age-appropriate.

Opinions and Beliefs

In the radio interview, Reuter also said that the freedom of speech-alluding to the 14 professors statement–is not absolute.

Despite his strong reprimand, he clarified that a teacher may believe differently from the Catholic Church, but it should not be presented as a moral truth nor taught to students.  He admitted, however, that that would be a difficult thing to do.  “You teach what you are,” he said.

While he had a definitive stand about the pro-RH bill professors, Reuter said that students with differeing opinions are free to go to the Ateneo.  He said that a teacher could eventually influence a student to think otherwise.  “The Catholic boy or girl going to a Catholic school would build all their opinions on the truths of the Catholic Church.”

More sympathetic opinions

Not all Jesuit priests share the same hard line stance. Lawyer Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ has been more sympathetic towards the RH Bill, although he recognizes the need for more fine-tuning.  A member of the commission  that drafted the 1987 Constitution, Bernas has presented religious pluralism in the country as a reason for passing the bill, even if he sides with the Church teaching on artificial contraception.

He also decried fellow clergymen who preach that support for RH is an automatic sin, but he has expressed opposition to the compulsory nature of the age-appropriate sex education for schools.

In a memo dated March 24, former university president Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ, said that the university still opposes “the present bill in the light of our Catholic faith.”  He does, however, commend the critical thinking and opinion that the debate on the bill has generated.

“We appreciate the efforts of these members of the ATeneo faculty to grapple with serious social issues and to draw from Catholic moral teaching in their study of the bill,” he said.  “We recognize the right of our faculty, as individuals, to express their views, and appreciate their clear statement that these views are their own and not that of the University.”

On the other hand, another veteran Jesuit, Fr. John J. Carroll, SJ, expressed his disagreement towards other Philippine bishops who are against the RH Bill.  In a commentary written for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Carroll noted that the bill does not legalize contraceptives, since these are already legal and available in durgstores.  He also noted the bill’s categorical opposition to abortion.

Carroll also recommends the further fine-tuning of the bill, particularly on strengthening the ‘conscience clause’, in which health workers and teachers whose religious values conflict with certain aspects of the bill are protected.

Carroll is the namesake of the John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues, which is located in the Social Development Complex of the University.