This was supposed to be my read for the month of July. First week and I’m through. I don’t think Iggy will be happy about it, or maybe he’d be. *cannon ball incoming*
The way Ateneo introduced me to St. Ignatius was peculiar. I do not remember being asked to read about his life (compared to how fierce the requirement was about reading and memorizing the dates and details of saints back in younger Catholic school days). I remember some anecdotes about Iggy’s journeys, though. (I call him Iggy. Not Inigo. Just because. He is Iggy to me.)
Ateneo introduced me, however, to the way Ignatian Spirituality creates and confronts questions of existence. The kind of Spirituality that never settles; that the way to the big Truth is excruciating but fulfilling to the inquiring mind. But at the same time, this Spirituality connects outward; that you learn to trust and ride with the wind, in and with hope and faith that the Universe will provide, on the right time, in the right place. That the Self is made through the Other. Nagiging tao ka sa pagpapakatao. At sa ganoon, nagmemeron ka. Hindi ka wala. Ikaw ay meron, kasama ng sansinukob. Ang sansinukob, at ikaw, ay iisa. (INSERT JESUIT JEDI CODE)
I am not particularly drawn to the part of his life narrative wherein he gives up his lordly position and goes out to beg for alms to support his pilgrimage. He rejected the life, but at every point some noble or person of power would help him get out of prison, or support his studies, or give him his necessities. That is just being plainly purely blessed. However, at this first reading of his autobiography, I am drawn to his utmost stubbornness. What an inexplicably stubborn man.
With that sense of stubbornness I understand my Ateneo philosophy better. Iggy lived his life in his self-inflicted excruciating spiritual journey. I find a bit of humor with the way he never settles with an answer, that it always takes some “vision” (which he rarely explains in the book) to appease his questioning. He takes on physical pains until he gets sick (HIGH FIVE!), and finds consolation in the idea of death, but at one part of the book, he says he had to stop himself with the idea of death because it provided him “too much consolation”. Whenever his Exercises and his teachings get him to Inquisition, he would go straight to the deciding entity and demand closure of his case, even if it meant being in prison for extended periods of time. Again, what an inexplicably stubborn man.
To be stubborn is to never settle with the easy. To be stubborn is to be at peace with the difficult. I believe in that; that difficulty in the level of the spiritual is a cleansing process. The discipline of boundlessness forces one to focus on the essentials, the meaningful. Iggy tore off the non-essentials layer by layer by layer – from affluence to vanity to physical comforts (dude, clothes in winter). And he also did that for his mind.
I imagine him a man who has a certain unease with his physicality – you know, being slow and in slight pain all the time, either because of the uneven cannoned feet, or by being sick too frequently. But I also imagine him with astonishing insights and distinct clarity in his thinking. This narrative is his autobiography, and I am impressed with how concise but elegant his memory was of events in his life. I ache for more details about his visions – especially when he said that his visions are usually about something “large round and gold”, and in the random lines he would nonchalantly say “Christ/Blessed Mother appeared to him in [insert whatever place]”. But I guess in the telling of his life it was not the visions he was inclined to share. He did spend some length describing his companions, or his encounters with the inquisitions. Perhaps those are what mattered to him, looking back. In narrating his life, he left out the juicy intriguing parts of what he saw to achieve enlightenment, and focused on begging and studying and more begging and more defenses to inquisitions. And oh prison. —–
—- You know, all those times he was being stubborn. Choosing the hard way when more convenient options were at hand anyway. That dimension of Iggy greatly appeals to me.
Now I have two options:
- Watch his life’s movie on July 27, and then read the autobiography again. Maybe I’ll uncover something more; or,
- Start reading the Spiritual Exercises now. [But I am sh*t scared about this one. Because, you know, examination and more examination. I might need to call a Jesuit hotline for this.] However, to be fair, if a book starts with this, I could be a little more courageous to begin it:
“The human person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord, and by doing so, to save his or her soul.
All other things on the face of the earth are created for human beings in order to help them pursue the end for which they are created.
It follows from this that one must use other created things, in so far as they help towards one’s end, and free oneself from them, in so far as they are obstacles to one’s end.
To do this, we need to make ourselves indifferent to all created things, provided the matter is subject to our free choice and there is no other prohibition.
Thus, as far as we are concerned, we should not want health more than illness, wealth more than poverty, fame more than disgrace, a long life more than a short one, and similarly for all the rest, but we should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created.”