“You go with all the excitement in the world to ‘Magis’ and are placed in an experiment you dread the most. How do you feel? Hmm… Tell Me…Ughhh! I was assigned a group that participated in the experiment on Sports and Spirituality in the recently concluded ‘Magis 2023’. I was like, God! Why me? Adding to my woes, I was the only girl from India in the group. And worse, I was told I could not change the group. It was not what I asked for when I signed up for Magis. But when you have studied with Jesuits for a long time and have seen their life closely, you hear the gentle whisper of Ignatius saying, ‘Sissy, be free, trust the Lord. He has a plan.’ And now, as I look back, He indeed had a plan.
“We had to play different games as part of the experiment. It was difficult since I suffer from athlemaphobia. I felt insecure and wanted just to quit. In that moment of frustration and despair, I was touched when our animator, Fr Alphonso, and my spiritual director, Fr Angel from Spanish Province, reflected on the themes of Spiritual Exercises. He emphasised being human with all its joys, fears, frustrations and sorrows. That reflection assuaged my insecurity. Surprisingly, I played volley ball, frisby, basketball, gymnastics and athletics for a person who was scared of sports from childhood. For the first time, I experienced God in what I feared the most. Paradoxical and yet liberating.
“When we trekked a nearby mountain, I felt like Mosesand heard the voice calling, ‘Viola, take off your shoes, for you are on sacred grounds.’That day, I took off the heavy shoes of my phobias. I had tears in my eyes. God wiped off my phobia and trauma with an experiment, good company, an experienced animator, and that too in Spain! What more could you expect?
“Magis 2023 was such a great experience. You know what, (drumroll please) I received Holy Communion from Fr Arturo Sosa. I mean, he is the Black Pope, right? It was just a WOW moment! I was thrilled by the way the Jesuits organised the entire event. The way they engaged Gen Z, making a mocktail with the right amount of fun, prayer, social concern, music, dance, friendship, yummy food, sports, art, and whatnot. I believe each participant has similar transformative experiences from Magis 2023. I hope we relish and live them in our day-to-day lives.
Magis 2023reminds me of the meaning of being human. As Jesuits, please continue to inspire us by being fully human and fully alive.”
I would emphasise Viola’s message with a big fat, Amen!
Ms Viola Reshma Lewis was part of the Indian contingent to Magis 2023 and WYD Lisbon 2023. She is pursuing an MBA from Jain University, Bengaluru.
Nithin Monteiro, SJ, (KAR) is currently pursuing his Ph.D Studies in Ethics & Artificial Intelligence at XIM University, Odisha. Contact: email@example.com.