The next stop of our Marian Pilgrimage was in Loyola, the birth place of St. Ignatius. We were able to celebrate Mass in his "Room of Conversion." There were four Spanish people who also attended our English Mass, but then I took the opportunity to address them with some words of thanks since it was their older generations who transmitted to us the Catholic Faith.
I prayed fervently for our Ateneo de Manila professors who have publicly dissented from the Catholic teaching on the artificial means of contraception. Paradoxically, upon returning home, 40 more professors would do the same public dissent. I am sure many of us feel the pain of this internal dissension. A word of caution as well, not because they are Ateneo professors, we would take their position as something worthy of emulation and put into question the wisdom of the Church. It will be tragic to believe that their being part of the intellegentsia makes them above the Church Teaching and God's Word.
This also serves a call for the Catholic intellegentsia to make your voices be heard and articulate in the public realm the soundness and logic of the Catholic doctrines! The Catholic Faith is rooted in Sacred Scripture and backed-up by reason. Faith and Reason go hand-in-hand and in the particular issue of the Artificial Means of Birth Control (by the way, let us not fall into the trap of calling it Modern Means of Contraception, it is not modern, it is plain and simple Artificial), Faith-Reason-Science go together. The Church position on the Artificial Means of Contraception espoused and promoted by the Reproductive Health Bill, among other things, is based on all three: Faith-Reason-Science.
Our Bishop in the Diocese of Tarlac, Most Rev. Florentino F. Cinense, just came from Germany and he had a discussion with some university students. And guess what was one of the questions! Why does the Church oppose Artificial Means of Contraception when it is better than the option of abortion! And my Bishop responded that both are evil, and it cannot be a choice of a lesser evil. He went on to make an analogy: What would you want me do to you: slap you or kill you? Certainly, we would choose neither.
Let me add as well that although not all contraceptives are abortifacient, nonetheless, all artificial means of contraceptives act against the very nature of the marriage act: that is both unitive and procreative.
St. Ignatius of Loyola's road to conversion began when he was wounded in Pamplona and had to stay in bed in his home in Loyola. As time went on, he became increasingly bored. He asked for novels to read, but the only books to be found in their house were two religious ones: The Life of Christ by the Carthusian Ludolf of Saxony and a medieval best seller, variously known as the Golden Legend and the Flower of the Saints by a Dominican named James of Varazze:
When he was thinking of the things of the world, he was filled with delight, but when he had dismissed them from weariness, he was dry and dissatisfied. But when he thought of performing the rigours he saw in the lives of the saints, he was not only consoled while he entertained the thoughts, but even afterwards he remained cheerful and satisfied. ( Michael Ivens SJ: An Approach to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, p.8)
St. Ignatius' encounter with God through sound books reminds the need for good books for our children and young. We remember St. Augustine whose conversion was also facilitated by the reading of good books. Tolle and lege, Take and Read, was what he heard and followed. And such reading led him, as it would lead St. Ignatius, to encounter God and his truth.
Thus began, Yñigo's own "road to Damascus." His conversion grew and matured in time. One of the highlights was his pilgrimage to Monsterrat, a renowned Marian Shrine. There he made a confession of his entire life. Then on the eve of the Annunciation, after putting on his pilgrim garb and donating his fine clothes to a beggar, he spent the entire night 'without ever sitting or lying down, but now standing, now kneeling before the altar of Our Lady.' (Ibid. p. 11). There before
Our Lady, he "surrendered" his sword.
At Loyola, our group prayed and sung his prayer:
Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
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 not to seek reward,
save that of knowing that I do your Most Holy Will.
Wounded and battered are good soldiers. And good soldiers do not fade, they triumph eventually.