Be transported back into the age of kings, princesses, nobility, chivalry, romance and conquest. Feast your eyes on the lovely, natural backdrop of Spain and get a glimpse into the life of the man who gave us our dear Jesuits and the Ateneo. Full of inspiration and substance, Ignacio de Loyola is totally worth your time and money!
The first Filipino film ever to be screened in the Vatican (yes, that’s right!) lit up cinemas nationwide on July 27 to the delight of Ateneans, Jesuits, devotees, history buffs and to whomever is familiar with the story of Saint Ignatius of Loyola whose feast day falls on July 31. He’s the same saint who gave us the prayers we say and sing today like Prayer for Generosity (‘To give and not to count the cost…’) and Suscipe which means ‘to receive’ (Take and receive, O Lord, my liberty…).
I loved the movie! The story was well-written. The costumes, the casting, the props, production design, et cetera were on point! Andreas Munoz did a stellar portrayal of Ignacio. I can’t think of anyone else perfect for the role. A lot of scenes were heartwarming, some tragic, and most were thought-provoking. If I was proud of being an Atenean, then I am even prouder now knowing how Saint Ignatius went to such great lengths to contribute to our faith and spirituality. (I’m so inspired that I wanna do a Philippa Gregory and pen a historical fiction novel on Saint Ignatius of Loyola!)
Here are five things I learned from Ignacio de Loyola —
The value of Sacrifice / The Art of Detachment. One of the main themes of the movie was, “What would you give up?” A lot of times, the one destined for greatness must always leave something behind. After recovering from his battle wounds, Ignatius gave up his wealth and status and lived a life of simplicity, helping the less fortunate, inspiring the lost, and preaching about God to others. An existence sans all that excess and privilege need not be meaningless. In fact, Ignacio found purpose and contentment all the more. This reminds us to examine our lives; to remove what does not promote growth, to seek balance, and to change what needs to be changed.
Sometimes we must fall to rise again and begin anew. Ignatius gained enlightenment after being fatally wounded and finding himself stuck in his room for days on end to recover. There was no TV nor wifi back then, so his only means of entertainment were reading books, and that’s when he stumbled upon one about spiritual exercises. After much contemplating (and some pangs of hopelessness and depression), he began to see the hand of God in his circumstances. Right then and there, things gradually started falling into place. His outlook in life changed as well. Everything else that happened after that just simply paved the way for the birth of The Society of Jesus. It gets worst before it gets better, right?
Surround yourself with people who are genuine, loyal, who share the same values as you do, and who would be there for you unconditionally. The Spanish Inquisition were skeptical of Ignatius and his way of life. He was imprisoned, brought into trial and interrogated. A longtime priest friend of his went out of his way to clear his name. Ignatius was alone in that prison cell of his… at first. Then his four other friends (the ones who always joined him in preaching) moved into the adjoining cells when they surrendered themselves in spite of Ignatius not wanting them to get involved. Never mind that they could get executed. What mattered most to them was being there for each other – through the good and the bad. Now this is THE REAL #SQUADGOALS! And when you think about it, this moving gesture of friendship reflects the famous Prayer for Generosity which goes this way – ‘Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as I should. To give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and ask not for reward, save that of knowing that I do Your most holy will.’
God’s love and mercy is abundant. Cliche as this may sound, but every sinner has a future and every saint has a past. Prior to Ignatius being proclaimed a hero and a saint, he was just like any guy his age. The youngest son of a noble family and well-trained in swordfight, Ignatius had everything – inheritance, status, a privileged life! He loved women, winning duels, and aspired for fame and glory in battle. Never did a single thought of purposeful greatness crossed his mind until that harrowing experience in battle and secluding himself in a cave where he reflected, wrote, and even self-flagellated. Then he emerged a wholly new person – restored and redeemed. And then there’s the prostitute, Ana, who we later on discover is actually a kindhearted and hopeful lady who was only a victim of her circumstance. She confesses to Ignatius that she has always dreamed of being a seamstress and how she has been saving up to fulfill that dream. It was so touching to see Ignatius treating her the way a lady should be treated and how he saw her as someone with a promising future rather than the loose woman most people in that time would only see her to be. This teaches us that first and foremost, we are all not perfect and we may have done things we regret later on but that doesn’t mean we can’t make something out of ourselves. Sometimes, God allows us to make mistakes; endure challenges; to move on and draw strength from these discouraging experiences that He may mold us into the people he wants us to be. It’s all part of the process, really! We’re always praying and waiting for that extraordinary destiny, never realizing that God is already setting things in motion. We should also strive not to judge someone based on their present circumstances, or their shortcomings, or whatever bleak past they have cause you never really know what their journey is about, and yes, people change for the better.
In Everything Love and Serve the Lord. Everyone we encounter is created in His image and likeness and all that we see around us is a reflection of His love and grace. This motto-slash-affirmation upholds peace, service, love, and humility. Let this be a reminder to us that whatever we do, no matter how mundane it is; whatever happens to us and whoever we meet, we should keep His love for us burning and this will reflect positively in our actions and character.
Remember Catalina, the Spanish princess that Ignacio secretly loved from afar? She was actually on the verge of taking away her life when she bumped into Ignacio that fateful evening. They shared a lighthearted moment – talking and dancing – and it was enough to make Catalina believe that life was still worth living. He showed her what it was to truly live and laugh. Ignacio never confessed his feelings but it was certainly his way of showing her his love. He was still dreaming of grandeur that time and not yet the transformed soldier. And yet, he had already saved a life in his own simple way. Even then, without him knowing it, his destiny was already being laid out for him.
Stuck in a job you don’t really like? Just think that what you’re doing and where you are at the moment is where He wants you to be. Maybe you’re bound to learn something as you go along. Who knows? Or you could be in a happy state already – surrounded by family and friends, stable career, accomplishments, and the like. Well, then, good for you and all the more reason for you to spread the goodness and share the blessings!
Ignacio de Loyola is a world-class Filipino production by Jesuit Communications Philippines. I highly encourage you to watch the movie. It’s still showing at a cinema near you! 🙂
DISCLAIMER: All images here belong to the Ignacio de Loyola Facebook page & Jesuit Communications.