This is the homily I prepared for the Mass at the blessing of The Pilgrim’s Shrine at Anima Center, Sta. Elena City, Santa Rosa, Laguna.
Today we come together to inaugurate and bless The Pilgrim’s Shrine where we hope you, all of us, who seek God’s will and mission for us in our journey through life will come and pray to renew the flame of inspiration in our heart. The image of the Pilgrim Ignatius is an apt companion in prayer for us who come to this shrine and pray for the grace to experience once more our “hearts burning within us.”
In his autobiography, Ignatius of Loyola referred to himself as a pilgrim seeking an ever growing inspiration, the “magis” or the more in loving and serving God and others. For Ignatius, the journey was a daily seeing of Christ more clearly, loving him more dearly and following him more nearly.
As Ignatius prescribes in the second week of the Spiritual Exercise, it is the grace we pray for ourselves: that we see Christ more clearly, love Him more dearly, follow Him more nearly, day by day.
Today’s Gospel from John is the narrative of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, the prefiguring of the Eucharist.
For us pilgrims, there is no better way to renew our inspiration than the grace of the Mass in our day to day life.
Ignatius, after his ordination, did not celebrate his first Mass until close to 18 months later. He felt he needed more time to prepare himself—setting a yearlong period to prepare and then extending it on a monthly basis. People later on would narrate how Ignatius would be in deep spiritual communion whenever he would celebrate the Mass.
Pattern of our journey
In today’s Gospel, we have the four moments or graces of the Mass: to take, to bless, to break and to give.
The moment we “take” is a moment of awareness of our life journey. It is a moment to take stock of our life, an awareness that leads to acceptance. It is only in accepting everything in our life that we encounter the reintegrating grace of love—the love of God, the love of others and our own love for our self.
As Parker Palmer put it in “Let Your Life Speak”: “But if I am to let my life speak things I want to hear, things I would gladly tell others, I must also let it speak things I do not want to hear and would never tell anyone else! My life is not only about my strengths and virtues; it is also about my liabilities and my limits, my trespasses and my shadow. An inevitable though often ignored dimension of the quest for ‘wholeness’ is that we must embrace what we dislike or find shameful about ourselves as well as what we are confident and proud of.”
In this moment of acceptance that leads us to “bless” God, giving thanks. And the natural response out of gratitude is to love God in return; “returning love for love,” in Ignatian parlance.
Unless we accept we will fail to see and experience the fullness of such a love; a love that moves us “to bless,” to be grateful for this love.
“He took. He blessed. He broke…” So it is that out of gratitude we “break” ourselves in offering, committing to the mission God has called us to. This is a breaking done in freedom, choosing to “break” ourselves that we may “give” to others, to those whom God sends us to. We give and we give generously to God and to others.
This is the pattern of our journey, the cycle and process that is repetitive; renews us toward integration and the more, the “magis” in living out our mission.
This is our prayer—that all who come here may renew the experience of or rediscover Christ as companion on the road, on this journey of mission as the two disciples on the road to Emmaus did, encountering the Risen Christ; that all who come here may bring to Christ their own “five barley loaves and two fish”; that all who come here may experience their “hearts burning within.”