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Christian Life Community

Iniqo (Ignacio - Ignatius) of Loyola was born in 1491 in Azpeitia in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa in northern Spain. For a number of years he went about in the uniform of a fighting man, wearing a coat of mail and breastplate, and carrying a sword and assorted arms. Eventually he found himself at the age of 30 in May of 1521 as an officer defending the fortress of the town of Pamplona against the French, who claimed the territory as their own against Spain. The Spaniards were terribly outnumbered and the commander of the Spanish forces wanted to surrender, but Ignatius convinced him to fight on for the honor of Spain, if not for victory. During the battle a cannon ball struck Ignatius, wounding one leg and breaking the other. Because they admired his courage, the French soldiers carried him back to recuperate at his home, the castle of Loyola, rather than to prison.

Conversion of St. Ignatius of Loyola
During the long weeks of his recuperation, he was extremely bored and asked for some romance novels to pass the time. Luckily there were none in the castle of Loyola, but there was a copy of the life of Christ and a book on the saints. Desperate, Ignatius began to read them. The more he read, the more he considered the exploits of the saints worth imitating. He noticed, however, that after reading and thinking of the saints and Christ he was at peace and satisfied. This was the beginning of his conversion and the beginning of spiritual discernment, or discernment of spirits, which is associated with Ignatius and described in his Spiritual Exercises. He had decided that he wanted to go to Jerusalem to live where our Lord had spent his life on earth. As a first step he began his journey to Barcelona.

The Experience at Manressa
He continued towards Barcelona but stopped along the river Cardoner at a town called Manresa. He stayed in a cave outside the town, intending to linger only a few days, but he remained for ten months. He spent hours each day in prayer and also worked in a hospice. It was while here that the ideas for what are now known as the Spiritual Exercises began to take shape. It was also on the banks of this river that he had a vision which is regarded as the most significant in his life. Ignatius himself never wrote in the rules of the Jesuits that there should be any fixed time for prayer. Actually, by finding God in all things, all times are times of prayer. He did not, of course, exclude formal prayer, but he differed from other founders regarding the imposition of definite times or duration of prayer. One of the reasons some opposed the formation of the Society of Jesus was that Ignatius proposed doing away with the chanting of the Divine Office in choir. This was a radical departure from custom, because until this time, every religious order was held to the recitation of the office in common. For Ignatius, such recitation meant that the type of activity envisioned for the Society would be hindered.

The Return to School
By now he was 33 years old and determined to study for the priesthood. However, he was ignorant of Latin, a necessary preliminary to university studies in those days. So he returned to school to study Latin grammar with young boys in a school in Barcelona. After two years he moved on to the University of Alcala.

The Company of Jesus
Ignatius, along with two of his companions, Peter Faber and James Lainez, decided to go to Rome and place them at the disposal of the Pope. It was a few miles outside of the city that Ignatius had the second most significant of his mystical experiences. At a chapel at La Storta where they had stopped to pray, God the Father told Ignatius, "I will be favorable to you in Rome" and that he would place him (Ignatius) with His Son. Ignatius did not know what this experience meant, for it could mean persecution as well as success since Jesus had experienced both.

The Years as Superior General
Ignatius, whose love it was to be actively involved in teaching catechism to children, directing adults in the Spiritual Exercises, and working among the poor and in hospitals, would for the most part sacrifice this love for the next fifteen years. From his election as superior general until his death he would work out of two small rooms, his bedroom and next to it his office, directing this new society throughout the world.

The Jesuits and Schools
Perhaps the work of the Society of Jesus begun by Ignatius that is best known is that of education. It is interesting that he had no intention of including teaching among the Jesuits' works at the beginning. As already mentioned, the purpose of the first members was to be at the disposal of the Pope to go where they would be most needed. Before 1548 Ignatius had opened schools in Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and India. These schools, however, were intended primarily for the education of the new young Jesuit recruits. Ten such colleges built within six years indicated the rapid growth of the Jesuits. But in 1548 at the request of the magistrates of Messina in Sicily, Ignatius sent five men to open a school for lay as well as Jesuit students. It soon became clear by requests from rulers, bishops and cities for schools that this work was truly one of the most effective ways to correct ignorance and corruption among the clergy and the faithful, to stem the decline of the Church in the face of the Reformation, and to fulfill the motto of the Society of Jesus, "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam," - to the greater glory of God.

Ignatius the Person
It is probably true that the picture of Ignatius that most people have is that of a soldier: stern, iron-willed, practical, showing little emotion -- not a very attractive or warm personality. Yet if this picture is exact, it is hard to see how he could have had such a strong influence on those who knew him. Luis Goncalves de Camara, one of his closest associates wrote," He (Ignatius) was always rather inclined toward love; moreover, he seemed all love, and because of that he was universally loved by all." There was no one in the Society who did not have much great love for him and did not consider himself much loved by him. We regard a number of saints as great mystics but never think of Ignatius as one of them. We have recounted a few of the many visions and mystical experiences in his life. His holiness, however, did not consist in such, but in the great love that directed his life to do everything A.M.D.G., for the greater glory of God.

Last Illness
Ever since his student days in Paris, Ignatius had suffered from stomach ailments and they became increasingly troublesome in Rome. In the summer of 1556 his health grew worse, but his physician thought he would survive this summer as he had done others. Ignatius, however, thought that the end was near. The former worldly courtier and soldier who had turned his gaze to another court and a different type of battle had rendered his soul into the hands of God. Ignatius was beatified on July 27, 1609 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622 together with St. Francis Xavier.

Ignatius' feast day is celebrated by the universal Church and the Jesuits on July 31, the day he died and became one with the Saviour.

Christian Life Community
St. Xavier's Collegiate School's, Christian Life Community (C.L.C.), has left its footprints in the sands of time. The C.L.C. got a fresh start under the close supervision of Fr. Sebastian James, S.J. With the motto of "LOVE, SACRIFICE AND FAITH", the community has been growing layer by layer, phase by phase and ideal by ideal. It got an official structure with Andrew Watson, of class 12, as its first President in the academic year of 2006-07.

The next board of 2007-08 included Albert Gomes (President), Tijo Thomas (Vice-President), George Matthew (Secretary), Allen Gomes and Adip Daniel (Treasurers). This board conceived the idea of 'XAVO CHRISTI', but unfortunately plans could not move beyond the drawing board. However, the flame of having our very own fest did not die. The present board of 2009-10 took up the mantle of managing the community from its previous board of Alistair Braganza (President), Amit Hazra (Vice-President) and Debraj Boila (Treasurer) in June, 2009. The C.L.C. is presently guided by the constant support of Animators: Mr.Gabriel Gomes, Mrs.Soma Gomes, Mr. Brian Gilhooly and Br.Vivek.

The C.L.C. in St. Xavier's is one of the largest bodies of Christian Students in Kolkata. We organize a range of activities throughout the year. A special celebrant celebrates the Eucharistic celebration in the School Chapel. Thus, the morning of the First Friday of every month begins with a solemn gathering of Catholic students and Staff in the Chapel.

On the occasion of Teacher's Day celebration in our school, the C.L.C. organized a Eucharistic Celebration for the teachers. This is the first year that the celebration has experienced such an auspicious beginning and the response has been truly encouraging. In addition to these celebrations, the feasts of St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius Loyola are celebrated with great enthusiasm. On 31st July and 3rd December respectively, the C.L.C. conducts Eucharistic Celebrations for the beloved patrons of our school, which is attended by all Christian students and families along with the members of the staff. The Celebration is followed by refreshments for the congregation. Students from all faiths are invited to be a part of the feasts. The 'World C.L.C. Day' was celebrated in the Primary School Campus on 25th April, 2009. We conducted a quiz along with a Eucharistic Celebration for our community.

In the year 2008, we organized a 3 day retreat for classes 11 & 12 respectively. Over 150 catholic students participated in the retreat conducted at Dhyan Ashram. Catholic students of classes 6 to 8 made a full day retreat on the 23rd of October in the school itself. We also conducted the Sacrament of Reconciliation for all the catholic students of our school. In the same year, members of the C.L.C. marched to the Metro Channel, Esplanade, to protest against the atrocities committed against Christians in Kandhamal, Orissa. We merged into the large gathering by forming a human chain at the venue and cried for peace in unison with them. Hymns were sung by the C.L.C. choir, while the other members took part on a signature campaign. After spending close to two hours, we returned to our school as newly energized Christians, refreshed in our faith. We were invited to join students from Loreto House in the 'Mass for the Holy Child'. The C.L.C. choir joined other choirs in singing hymns in the Eucharistic Celebration. Every year, the C.L.C. members of our school join the 'Corpus Christi Procession', which is annually held on the St. Xavier's College Grounds. In the month of December, the choir also takes part in Carol singing competitions hosted by various institutions of the city. A Christmas Assembly is held every year in order to fill the heart of every Xaverian with the joy and warmth of Christmas.

'XAVO CHRISTI' in 2008, the annual C.L.C. fest, ignited once again the hope of having our own fest. We were successful in reaching out to the Christian communities in other schools. 'XAVO CHRISTI 2009' was held on 24th October, 2009, and was participated by St. Mary's School, St.Anthony's School, St.Teresa's School, Don Bosco Park Circus and Our Lady Queen of the Missions School. The various events of the festival were T-Shirt painting, Collage, Football, Music and Dance Competition. St.Xavier's Collegiate School was declared winners, Our Lady Queen of the Missions School was runners-up; Don Bosco Park Circus and St. Mary's School were joint second runners-up. The true success of 'XAVO CHRISTI' lies in its attempt to uncover untapped talent in Christian students.

The C.L.C. is a platform for all those Christians who feel the need to voice their opinions and thoughts. The present office bearers, Siddharth Rao (President), Johann Britto (Vice-President) and Matthew Patridge (Treasurer) wish the best to the upcoming batches of young Christians, to earn and respect their heritage and integrity, value the significance of this community and raise it to colossal heights.