(This homily was delivered by Fr. Braulio Dahunan, SJ during the closing mass of the Ignatian Youth Festival held at Xavier School Nuvali last July 14, 2019.)
Do you still remember your dream when you were a child? I am sure all of us DREAMT BIG when we were kids.
Like all of us, the boy Inigo also dreamt big. He dreamt of becoming a renowned soldier who would win battles and eventually would win the admiration of a noble lady. As a young and valiant soldier, he led men to defend a castle in Pamplona against French troops. But his dream was shattered when a cannonball hit his leg and lost the battle to the French.
His dream however did not die easily. He was taken back home to the Castle of Loyola, where he had a surgery for his shattered leg. When he noticed that the bone of his leg was poorly set, he insisted to open it up again and to shave down the bone to avoid the lump that would ruin his appearance as a soldier.
During his long and boring convalescence, he reluctantly read two books, the Life of Christ and the Lives of Saints, since there were no available books on romance, adventure and chivalry. The stories about Christ and that of the saints inspired Inigo. And this made him develop a new dream. He began to dream of a life devoted to God and to the service of God’s people. Now, a much bigger dream, a more challenging dream. But Inigo would pursue this new dream of radical devotion and service to God. The new dream gave him a sense of peace, fullness and gratitude, while the old dream left him empty, dry and restless. He then continued to discern God’s will and tried to purify his motivation to love and serve God.
In Manresa, he struggled with scruples, doubts and a feeling of unworthiness. But with the help of a spiritual companion, he was directed to focus his attention on God, whose love and mercy abounds, and who was calling him despite his limitations and sinfulness.
He documented the process of discerning God’s call that he learned in his experience and wrote the Spiritual Exercises that would later on serve as a manual for spiritual directors and a guide to those who would undergo an Ignatian silent retreat. Through the Spiritual Exercises, Inigo attracted friends and companions. He shared his dream to them. They all shared a common dream as a collective body called Companions of Jesus or the Society of Jesus. This common dream is continually being shared to the world to this day.
Today, this dream is being ignited in all of you, young people educated and formed in the spirit of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Does this dream give you peace, and fullness? Does this dream make you grateful? Does this dream draw you closer to God, who loves you unconditionally? Does this dream give you courage and hope to conquer whatever blocks or hindrances that may come along your way?
During an ecumenical meeting with young people at North Macedonia, Pope Francis said, “One of the big problems people have today, including so many young people, is that they have lost their ability to dream. They don’t dream, either much or little. When someone does not dream, when a young person does not dream, that empty space gets filled with complaints and a sense of hopelessness.”
My dear young friends, never stop dreaming even if at times you experience challenges and setbacks. Always remember who you are, that you are gifted, beloved and empowered. Remember to focus your attention on God who loves you so much. Dream with God. Offer your dream to Him. Dream for God. Be open to God who continues to work wonders and marvelous things in your life. God will help you fulfill your dream. In fact, He himself has a dream for you. Your dream is just a part of God’s bigger dream.
Continue to dream big my dear friends. Because if you dream big, you have enough space for others to be part of it. Do not just dream for yourself, include those who have lost the capacity to dream or those whose dreams were shattered by others.
Never dream alone, always dream together. Let your dream ignite others to share the same dream. You have to go beyond those barriers that might hinder you to dream together.
Like St. Ignatius of Loyola, may you continue to journey through life seeking to discover and discern your dream and God’s dream for you, and start to live this dream with and for others–AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.