MAGIS 2014: A Journey of Self-Discovery
“When we put ourselves in new situations for the sake of seeking God, situations which force us beyond our comfort zones, it is difficult and can make us feel vulnerable,” wrote Catherine, one of the young Catholics taking part in MAGIS Ireland recently. “The whole MAGIS experience of the past few days seemed to resonate with … Jesus (talking) about leaving our homes, family and land; he is perhaps talking about leaving the things which are known to us and which give us an easy way of defining ourselves.”
More than 60 young adults from several European countries gathered in Dublin for a summer event organised by the Jesuits and the Ignatian family that combined friendship, service and spirituality. Dating back to 1997, it offered an opportunity for them to discover and experience God by reaching out to and sharing with others. This year's theme was many gifts, one Spirit.
Magis is the Latin word for "more" used by St Ignatius in encouraging those around him. Among the experiences of the participants was a visit to the ruins of the monastery of Clonmacnois, south of Athlone. “The silence here is overwhelming,” wrote pilgrim Hanne Van Meirhaeghe. “We don't like the vulnerability and we don't want to face ourselves. But that's what the experience is about. That's what we came here for.”
Among the Jesuits who provided input during MAGIS Ireland was Fr Michael Kirwan SJ who provided reflections for the Community Experience; Dr James Hanvey SJ, the Master of Campion Hall, Oxford, who stressed the importance of pilgrimage in a Christian’s life – especially for anyone with an association with Ignatian Spirituality; and the Flemish Provincial, Fr Johan Verschueren SJ, whose theme was the Resurrection. You can hear some of the talks and interviews with MAGIS organisers and participants via Pray as you go.
Catherine’s experience on MAGIS Ireland was with a local charity called COPE which aims to aid the homeless population in Galway. Their house is part of a very important project to reintroduce the homeless into domestic living.
“For many, coming to MAGIS has been such an experience: leaving behind the familiarity of home to go to a new place where they know few people and cannot speak their own language freely,” she wrote. “However it is in these states of vulnerability that we can discover more of ourselves and more of how God wants to work through us - we see ourselves not as we define ourselves and our surroundings, but as defined by God. And taking that step is rewarded in many surprising ways. Here in Galway, there is such a growing sense of joy and learning from one another (even with a total of seven different nationalities under one roof!) that it is hard not to feel some sense of reward.”
Méabh Carlin from Ireland summarised MAGIS 2014 as a life changing experience, a journey of self-discovery. “It taught me about myself and my faith and strengthened my desire to get to know God on a deeper level!”