Jesuit Father General Celebrates Mass and Meets with the Magis 2011 Pilgrims
Magis 2011 officially started on Friday, August 5 with an opening ceremony on the grounds of the Sanctuary of Loyola in Azkoitia, Spain. More than 3,000 young people from 50 different countries gathered together on the grounds of the Sanctuary of Loyola where they were welcomed in their own official language and treated to a performance with dance, music, light and special effects. The performance, given by group of Jesuits and lay people from Portugal, was based on the Meditation on the Two Standards, a fight between good and evil. During the night prayer that followed this performance, the reading told of God calling Abraham to leave his home and begin his journey. Prayer finished at midnight with a procession of torches carried by young people from different parts of the world. You can view this video to see a summary of the opening events from that evening.
The next morning, pilgrims woke up to a morning prayer in different languages in the garden. The Magis 2011 coordinator, Jesuit Father Abel Toraño, delivered a speech to the young people giving thanks “to all the people who have been doing so much to make MAGIS come to reality.” He asked the young people “to be open to an encounter with ourselves, with others and with God during this weekend in the hometown of Saint Ignatius”.
Today, around 3,500 people attended Mass celebrated by Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolás, leader of the Society of Jesus, in the plaza of the Sanctuary of Loyola. The pilgrims celebrated this special Eucharist before being sent forth to their experiences, which will start tomorrow in more than 100 locations across Spain and Portugal. During his homily, Fr. General evoked the founder of the Society of Jesus in this significant place: “God is in the gentle breeze, in its peace and its refreshing calm. And Saint Ignatius tries to make us sensitive to that breeze, to the soft voice of God.” He also wanted to send a message to all the young pilgrims before they left on their experiences tomorrow, “If we are only worried about our welfare or success, we will sink helplessly. If we are worried about service and the suffering of others, where Christ lives… we will walk on the sea.” After Mass, Fr. General, accompanied by all the concelebrants, prayed in the Chapel of Conversion of St Ignatius.
Later, in an afternoon press conference, he highlighted the role of young people in facing the challenges of this globalized world. “The young people are the ones who can change our world”, but they need to be ready “to answer questions that we cannot even imagine,” Nicolás said. “As information increases, the capacity for reflection decreases”. Fr. General encouraged them to have “profound feelings”. He insisted that every person must find his/her own vocation, own path and own way to serve. According to Fr. General, if you find it, you will be what the world needs and you will be happy – and both things are important. The big challenge that young people face today is to fight against “the globalization of superficiality.” To counteract that, young people must choose to live with wisdom and depth. “Think about Ignatius and how he changed his dreams. He stopped dreaming the dreams of a small valley and started dreaming dreams of the world. Go and do the same,” Nicolás encouraged the pilgrims gathered to hear his press conference.
From there, the pilgrims set off for their 10 days across Spain and Portugal for their Magis experiences. There are six types of experiences: Pilgrimage, Social Service, Art and Creativity, Faith and Culture, Spirituality, and Ecology. These include visiting Fatima, volunteering in a prison, accompanying marginalized families, serving pilgrims at Lourdes and restoring a hermitage.
The video below showcases this last day in Loyola before the pilgrims were sent off by Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolás: