‘Are We All Ready to Follow Jesus? – Fr Marcel Rodrigues Sj in His Homily during St Ignatius Loyola Feast Mass

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‘Are We All Ready to Follow Jesus? Let’s Journey Together with Jesus Christ – Fr William Marcel Rodrigues SJ, in His Homily during St Ignatius Loyola Feast, held today, 31 July at St Aloysius College Chapel, Mangaluru

Mangaluru: “Whatever you are doing, that which makes you feel the most alive that is where God is” having said by St Ignatius Loyola, for the FIRST time in the history of St Aloysius Institutions, that the Feast of St Ignatius Loyola, the founder of Society of Jesuit, (a Jesuit Congregation) was celebrated by the Institution Jesuits in a Sombre and Simple Mass at St Aloysius College Chapel, Mangaluru on Friday, 31 July 2020, at 7.15 am, due to the restrictions of Covid-19 virus pandemic.

The mass was concelebrated by Fr Dionysius Vaz SJ – Rector of St Aloysius Institutions, along with Fr Marcel Rodrigues SJ, Head of Mass Communication Dept, St Aloysius College, Fr Praveen Martis SJ-Principal of St Aloysius College (Autonomous) Mangaluru; Fr Santhosh Kamath SJ- Former Director of Fatima Retreat House; Fr Melwyn Pinto SJ- Principal, St Aloysius Gonzaga School; Fr Gerald Furtado SJ- Headmaster, St Aloysius High School; Fr Denzil Lobo SJ- Treasurer, Mangalore Jesuit Education Society; Fr Cyril D’Mello SJ- Director, St Aloysius Industrial Training Institute; and Fr Vincent Pinto SJ- Finance Officer, St Aloysius College. Fr Leo D’Souza SJ- former Principal/Rector also graced the feast mass.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola (23 October 1491 – 31 July 1556) was a Spanish Basque priest and theologian, who founded the religious order called the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and became its first Superior General. The Jesuit order served the Pope as missionaries, and they were bound by a vow of special obedience to the sovereign pontiff in regard to the missions. They, therefore, emerged as an important force during the time of the Counter-Reformation. Ignatius is remembered as a talented spiritual director. He recorded his method in a celebrated treatise called the Spiritual Exercises, a simple set of meditations, prayers, and other mental exercises, first published in 1548.

Ignatius was beatified in 1609 and then canonized, receiving the title of Saint on 12 March 1622. His feast day is celebrated on 31 July. He is the patron saint of the Basque provinces of Gipuzkoa and Biscay as well as the Society of Jesus and was declared the patron saint of all spiritual retreats by Pope Pius XI in 1922. Ignatius is also a foremost patron saint of soldiers. Locally here in Mangaluru, St Aloysius Institutions celebrated the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, which was attended by the lecturers/teachers of the Jesuit institution- but in small numbers due to COVID-19 restrictions.

St Aloysius College Choir under the leadership of Fr Felix Victor SJ, the St Aloysius College Campus Minister, who also was in-charge of today’s Eucharistic celebration, rendered some melodious hymns, which was enjoyed by everyone gathered at the chapel. The choir is made of many voices, including yours and mine. But today we sang in one voice and it was due to the College Choir led by Ms Sharon D’Souza (college teaching faculty) and her melodious team of singers, who all enhanced the solemnity and divinity of the Eucharistic Celebration. The other members of the choir comprising of teaching faculty of St Aloysius College, were, Ms Jyothi Vaz, Ms Reshma Olwin Rosario, Ms Felcia Roza Martis, Ms Preema Cealla Pais, Ms Meghana Mathew, Ms Sonal Lobo and Joel Fernandes, with College student Arnold Fernandes on Keyboard.

Before the mass concluded, the Rector Fr Dionysius Vaz S.J in his valuable message said to be sensitive and compassionate to each other and mother nature. He said that St Ignatius Loyola shows us the way forward to face this pandemic by JOURNEYING INWARDS in contemplation and JOURNEYING OUTWARDS in compassion. Dr Alwyn V. D’Sa is an Associate Professor of English and Controller of Examinations at St Aloysius College in expressing gratitude thanked Rector Fr Dionysius Vaz, SJ, for motivating and encouraging the faithful and ensuring that this year’s Feast of St Ignatius Loyola is observed and celebrated in a befitting manner in spite of the challenges of the pandemic. Thanking Fr William Marcel Rodrigues for the homily which was done precisely, Dr Alwyn D’Sa said, “I am sure we go home with the vivid imagery of the circle and its pivoting center and the message that however larger we expand or annexe the space, we should not lose sight of the centrality of the centre that is Jesus Christ as St Ignatius did. The deep and baritone voice added value to his message”.

Dr D’Sa also thanked all the Jesuit fathers who had joined the solemn festal mass and blessed everyone present on this special grace-filled occasion; Rev. Dr Praveen Martis, SJ for motivating the College campus ministry team; Fr Felix Victor SJ for leading the campus ministry team effectively and making the celebration solemn and meaningful; Alwin D’Souza for the appropriated introduction before the mass; Dr Roseveera D’Souza and Dr Denis Fernandes for the readings from the Bible, Dr Manuel Tauro for articulating prayers and intentions; and Alwyn, the sacristan for making arrangements for the mass. “They deserve a round of applause. Let’s keep Jesus at the centre. Let’s be grateful. Happy feast to you all!” said Dr Alwyn D’sa.


Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, among all the geometric shapes, it is a circle which is favourite of many and one of the easiest ones to draw. The best way to draw a circle is to have a pivoting point and draw the circumference around it by holding a rope, thread or a `compass. We can change the size of the circle to any extent provided we pivot on that central point. Saint Ignatius of Loyola has given us the coat of arms, the monogram in the form of a circle with acronym IHS in the center referring to the name of Jesus – Jesus the saviour of the world. Our Aloysius College chapel is adorned with this monogram in different places.


The monogram constantly reminds us of a reality we must never forget the centrality of Christ. The monogram calls us to move out of ourselves without losing the central force. As Pope Francis says, “this brings us Jesuits and the whole Society to be “off-center”, to stand before “Christ ever greater”, who leads us continuously out of ourselves, leads us to a certain kenosis, self-emptying “to give up self-love, self-seeking and self-interest”.

For all of us who follow Christ, Is Jesus the center of our lives or do we make ourselves as the center? In the first reading today God places before the Israelites and before us a choice. I have set before you life and good, death and evil. If you choose life and good you would live and multiply and Lord God will bless us in the land you enter.

Even St Ignatius basing his experience of God’s call to him makes Jesus as the center of his life, gives up worldly ambitions and chooses life and good. He gave us spiritual exercises and the Constitutions, his Spiritual Diary, personal letters to Jesuits and even the autobiography where every Jesuit is called to make choice through discernment. Even today, Jesuits all over the world are working effectively because of this committed love to Jesus and making even the Church as the center and choosing good and life through discernment. It is double centrality as Pope Francis tells us. Making Jesus and the Church as the center of our lives.

The second reading from the first letter of St Paul to Timothy, tells us that Jesus chose Paul and appointed him to his service by pouring in mercy and grace. Christ came to call sinners and save them. Christ called St Paul on the way to Damascus and St Ignatius was called in his home Loyola as he was recovering from his battle injury. Both were ambitious, but for the worldly cause. God showed them the divine path to eternal life through his mercy. Thus, St Paul says “I press on toward the perfection of Christ because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Phil 3:12).

This following of Christ is never without pain. The meditation on the “Kingdom in the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises”, Christ Our Lord, the eternal King, calls each one of us, saying, “To anyone, then, who chooses to join me, I offer nothing but a share in my hardships; but if he follows me in suffering he will assuredly follow me in glory”. To follow this eternal king to render perfect service and greater praise of his Majesty is putting up with all injustice, all abuse, all poverty of our selves and work for the liberation of all asking the profound questions like- what have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What must I do for Christ?

In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks of true discipleship. ‘For whoever saves his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake he will save it. For what does profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself or loses soul?’. These were the words that inspired St Ignatius to follow Christ rather than vein glory of the World. These are the words, which he used as a life-changing instrument in the life of his friend – St Francis Xavier. And today, he reiterates these words of Jesus to us again. Are we ready to follow Jesus?

Let us not be ashamed of Jesus and of following him in any capacity as Jesuits or as Family members, as the staff of this college embarked upon Christ’s mission. Are we ashamed to witness him and his words? Jesus also would be ashamed of us if we were ashamed of him. Today, along with lockdown, several families also have locked-down their faith and trust in the Lord.

St Ignatius teaches us to feel ashamed. It’s also grace. In the first week of Spiritual Exercises, he teaches us to look at Jesus Crucified feel that most human and most noble sentiment which is shame at not being able to measure up to him; we look at Christ’s wisdom and our ignorance, at his omnipotence and our impotence, at his justice and our wickedness, at his goodness and our evil will. This shame would attune us to the life of Christ. It’s the humility of identifying ourselves with Christ who humbled himself. Thus serving Him and his Church by pivoting on him in every sphere of our life.

May Mother Mary, who carried Christ in her womb and accompanied the Church as she took her first steps to help us to radiate God’s grace by making Jesus and the Church as the center of our lives. May she teach us her humility to say, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let your will be done. For this grace, let’s pray to St Ignatius our model and our inspiration. Amen


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