This appeared in the XU Crusader Publication and was written on July 31, 2010.
by Fr. Jet Villarin, SJ

Today is the Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Fr. Jet wrote this for students of Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan when he was President there. I have edited it to be more accesible to everyone.

Fellow Pilgrims,

First of all, in the tradition of twitter, I would like to ask, “what are you doing?” I don’t expect you to answer this in 140 characters or less, but that question can very well be the starting point of everything there is to know about life and your place in this universe.

If you had asked that of me after the defeat in Pamplona, I would have tweeted: “@fellowpilgrim: Bored. Recovering from wounds in battle. Might read whatever is available.”

You know the story. The two books I read while I recuperated were a portal of sorts that opened me to Jesus Christ. On this therefore, I ask you to be always open to life, even when you are defeated or disheartened. Even wounds and surrender can be transformed into a portal that opens you to healing and redemption.

Know yourself, especially your delusions and desires. That is what I expect of all those who wish to be true companions, that they be men and women who are truthful about themselves and who are moved by great and holy desires. When you deceive yourself, you lie to others as well. When you lose your passion, you waste your life.

Seek therefore to listen well to yourself and to others. Do not be afraid to be alone. Do not be afraid to be with others. Learn to appreciate the subtlety and nuance of everything, and avoid trite and tweeted answers to the questions of life.

I know, I know, these are such lofty stratospheric concerns. I don’t want you to suffer nosebleed while you read my PM to you. But sooner or later, you will have to face these matters head-on: what are you doing? What’s happening? To you, to the ones you love, to your life? Why are you doing what you are doing? Why aren’t you doing what you want to be doing? Do you even know what you want to be doing? Why are you even here? In this universe? Where did you come from? Where are you going?

I managed to evade those questions when I was proud and young, until thankfully the humiliating defeat at Pamplona brought me to my very self and to our forgiving Lord. Do not wait for your Pamplona to bring you to your knees.

Learn to love Christ because it is love that will give sense to all your asking and to all that you live for. Love is given, but love is learned as well. You start to love by getting to know your beloved. You start to know your beloved by learning to stand down in order to see and listen and read. To know Christ therefore, you need to see him take shape and come to life in the stories of the Gospel. You need to find him in the face of others, especially the poor. You need to recognize him in their stories and in their longing, while reading him as well between the lines of your life, as you live it with and for others.

When you begin to love, you will be moved. Learn therefore to be light and moveable. Learn to let go of things and to unfriend those that weigh you down. Then begin to embrace those that move you closer to your beloved.

As you are moved by love, you will not settle for what is merely good and passing. You will want to become better; you will do whatever is greater; and you will desire to express your love in deeds of greater moment. The magis is what the Beloved awakens in the lover.

In the end, it dawned upon me what we all of us are doing:

@fellowpilgrim: we are here to be with God forever.

In a few years, you will move on to other things. I hope you will have learned to ask and live the questions that matter.


About Jet Villarin, SJ

Fr. Jet is a Filipino Jesuit priest and scientist, who is the university president of Ateneo de Manila University. He received the National Outstanding Young Scientist award in 2000, and the Outstanding Book Award for “Disturbing Climate” in 2002. He is also an active member of several local and international environment and climate committees, such as the United Nations’ Consultative Group of Experts for Developing Countries, and the Inter-Agency Committee on Climate Change, among others.

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