S e n t i r e C u m E c c l e s i a

"To keep ourselves right in all things, we ought to hold fast to this principle: What seems to me to be white, I will believe to be black if the hierarchical Church thus determines it. For we believe that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Spouse, there is the one same Spirit who governs and guides us for the salvation of our souls..." - Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius [365]

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Pilgrim named IGNATIUS

The Universal Church celebrates the memory of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, every July 31st. When we honor the Memory of St. Ignatius, we thank the Lord for the gift of his person to the Church and to the world.

Perhaps it is helpful if we reflect on St. Ignatius' greatest gift to the Church. As a young Jesuit, I would personally say that his greatest gift to all of us is his Spirituality (often referred to as Ignatian Spirituality) en fleshed in his obra maestra the Spiritual Exercises. And for me, Ignatian spirituality in a nutshell is simply this: "Finding God in All Things." We often hear this phrase from both Jesuits and non-Jesuits, but if we reflect on it more deeply, then we will realize how simple, yet powerful that phrase is. St. Ignatius would say that the finger of God, His Divine Presence, is very much active in our life. Hence, God is present in all events, places, persons, even our emotions and dispositions. All we need to do is open our eyes and hearts to feel the gentle and loving presence of this God. And the realization of how active and near this God is to us fosters a deeper and more intimate relationship with this God. I believe that this realization brought about Ignatius' deep devotion to and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

The interior of the Church of San Ignacio in Intramuros before it was destroyed during the Second World War

As we celebrate his memory then, let us ask the Lord to give us the grace to be like St. Ignatius. That even in the midst of the busyness of our day, the good and not so good things that happened to us, the many good and not so good people we meet and work with, we may truly find Him and feel His gentle and loving presence. For indeed, the world is filled with the grandeur of God!

San Ignacio de Loyola,
Pray for us.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Contemplatives in Action

Today's Gospel passage from the Evangelist Luke speaks of the two sisters who are quite close to the heart of Jesus. These sisters, together with their brother Lazarus, served our Lord and His needs during His public ministry years. And here we heard of the variety and distinctness of Mary's and Martha's acceptance of Jesus. Martha was very busy with the details of hospitality -- preparing the house, setting the table, cooking the dishes, etc... As if she is part of the Housekeeping and Food & Beverage Sections of a hotel. Mary on the other hand was busy entertaining our Lord with her company, much like a guest relations officer or a guest assistant of a hotel.

We heard Jesus telling Martha that she was too preoccupied with many details and that Mary has chosen the better part. I think Jesus is not saying here that what Martha did was wrong. I think that Jesus was just putting focus or direction, or perhaps a deeper reason of what Martha is doing which is best expressed in Mary. The Jesuits have a term for this, "Active Contemplation."

Dear friends, Jesus is once again reminding us that we should not only focus on the details of our task (mission) to the point that we make our mission a "career" by perfecting it (for selfish and ego-satisfying reasons). More importantly, He wants us to be sure of the reason behind our doing those tasks. Why am I serving in my parish? Why do I want the church choir that I'm directing to sing perfectly? In the end, Jesus must be the reason of our meticulous following of the details of the task. Perfection must only be viewed in the light of Jesus. Let us pray then that we may sanctify our work (action) by our love for Jesus (contemplation). Amen.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Good Samaritan

In the Gospel of today's Liturgy, we once again hear of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus, in the story, tells of three persons who met a dying man along the way. The two -- the priest and the Levite, saw the wounded man but did not bother to help for an acceptable reason: ritual impurity. As "clerics," they cannot afford to get impure else they are disqualified from leading (or participating even) in the community worship. The third man however, a Samaritan (someone despised by the Jews) stopped and attended to the man's needs. He did not only dress the man's wounds but went a step further by bringing him to an inn and taking very good care of him.

In one word, the Gospel only wants to get one simple yet powerful message across: CHARITY. Many reflections on this parable would focus on our challenge to be charitable, to emulate the example of the Good Samaritan. But allow me to rather focus on the wounded man. Many times in our life we get to a point of "being robbed" by unfortunate events which drain our physical and emotional resources. Many times we are left alone by the very people we love in trying and difficult moments. At one point in our lives, we were like this man -- robbed, beaten, and left half-dead. But God in His providence and love would always send people who will help us out and who will rescue us from such unfortunate circumstances, in the same way he sent the Good Samaritan to this beaten man.

Let us try to remember moments when "Good Samaritans" came to our rescue. People who we know and may not know yet in a very gentle and assuring manner showed us that we are not alone. Let us thank God for them. They, in their simplicity of ways and generosity of heart, have manifested to us in a very powerful way the Providential presence of our God. They made the line "God is love" real and tangible.

God bless you.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

I Will Comfort My People

The First Reading of this Sunday's Liturgy is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, particularly from the Trito Isaiah (Ch 55-66). The Third Isaiah emphasizes the promises of the Lord YHWH to His people. And here the Prophet talks about the Lord blessing His people with abundance and prosperity -- YHWH comforts His people.

Many times in our lives we are placed in a situation wherein options are not possible; circumstances that bog us down and make us feel hopeless. But wait... there is hope, There is GOD. I know some of us if not most of us are feeling a bit wary about many things -- familial concerns, academic demands, career struggles, difficulties in relationships, etc... Things that seem to suction all our strength and hope. And yet, here is Isaiah telling us to hope for "The Lord will comfort you as a mother comforts her child" (Is 66:13).

Let us then pray for this grace of God, the Grace promised by Him and relayed to us by the Prophet Isaiah. May we truly cling on to our Faith in Him, no matter what will happen, no matter how hard the situation is. For He will truly bring us comfort and consolation. Amen.