A WOMAN OF THE BEATITUDES (Part 3)

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Sunday, July 20, 2014


MOTHER IGNACIA DEL ESPIRITU SANTO: (Foundress of the Religious of the Virgin Mary)

“BLESSED are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled. Blest are they who show mercy; mercy shall be theirs. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5: 6 - 9

It is not the one who attained righteousness who is blessed but the one who longs for it. Mother Ignacia lived this beatitude by not being satisfied with serving God as just an ordinary Christian; she longed to serve God in a deep and committed way. She was not satisfied with the way religious life was reserved for a few, the Spaniards and mestizos; she opened the doors for Yndias like her. She was not satisfied with their difficulties and poverty, through her leadership; she encouraged them to make penance. She was not satisfied with living holiness among them; they went out to reach and win souls for Christ through their retreat and catechetical work. Ignacia was never content with things as they were; she knew there was always more to hunger and thirst for; she longed not only part of righteousness but the whole of it.

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Mother Ignacia and the beatas who longed to serve God and his people became instruments of God’s mercy and compassion to the poor. Their acts of kindness and compassion gave them hope. She did see the greater need for service and possessed that merciful heart because of her exemplar spiritual life that sprung from singleness in devotion and loyalty to Jesus Christ. She truly internalized these words: “You will seek me and you will find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Her 1726 Constitution strongly stressed that “ALL SHOULD AT ALL TIMES AND IN ALL PLACES BE IN GOD’S PRESENCE.” In order to live this Mother Ignacia and the beatas need to develop great purity of heart. Fr. Murillo Velarde, SJ observed that “she never caused gossip or scandal” instead she drew more young women to follow her way of life.

A person whose heart is pure can make genuine peace with others even in difficulty, unpleasantness and trouble. Mother Ignacia as a woman of the Beatitudes is a peacemaker. Like our Mother Mary, she is a woman of reconciliation. Her integrated personality fostered right relationships with others – with the beatas, with the Church and government officials of her time and the people she worked for. With these she was able to project her charism and vision in her Rules and Constitutions. Mother Ignacia is exhorting us to live in unity, to have peace and concord with all, to avoid discord by a prudent use of the tongue and above all, to live at all times and in all places in God’s presence.

Mother Ignacia as a woman of the beatitudes lived a life which is rooted in a deeper reality – her aspiration to resemble Christ more closely. She followed God’s will and God gave her the courage to commit herself totally to Him. She lived in great poverty trusting in God’s loving providence. Her experience of God’s boundless mercy inspired her to become an instrument of God’s compassion. Realizing her nothingness before God, she lived a life of humility, meekness and fidelity.

Striving to live in God’s presence, she endeavored to resemble Christ more closely through a life of penance and self-sacrifice and by becoming a woman for others. As she live the gospel message to the full, she became “the salt of the earth” which gave zest and meaning to Christian living in spite of challenges. She became “the light of the world” to the Filipinos of her time. What Mother Ignacia did mattered not only to the Filipinos of her time but also to us today. We are called to be “salt of the earth and light of the world,” by moving away from our self-willed life and be transformed into Christ.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 20, 2014.

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