Go Forth and Set the World on Fire

“Act as if everything depended on you; trust as if everything depended on God” -Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Itapúa, Paraguay

The title of this post also happens to be a quote by Saint Ignatius and it has had great meaning to me in the last few years. Said several times at my graduation ceremony at Gonzaga, the quote initially was said to Jesuit missionaries when Ignatius formed the Society of Jesus. However, in my time at Gonzaga and in Paraguay, it is a motto to live by, to spread change and love and humility. And that is a motto we all can live by.

Going to a Jesuit school gave me an amazing education and I am extremely proud to be able to call Gonzaga my Alma Mater (particularly now, as our basketball team is ranked 8th in the nation). That being said, this weekend opened my eyes to even more Jesuit history and to the original meaning of the title quote.

Chara and I needed to go into the city to do some shopping for groceries and house-related items and when we usually go down to Encarnación, we stay with our friend and fellow volunteer Ruchi, who lives in the small pueblo of Trinidad. The town was originally formed by Jesuit missionaries in 1708, where they lived with the indigenous people and influenced them in a life of spiritual and intellectual integration. They built a large complex with a cathedral, housing, and schools, known as La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná, but the society was abandoned in 1768 when the Spanish colonies expelled the Jesuits. Much later, a modern town was built around the complex and the ruins still stand in excellent condition. They were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is open to the public to walk around the compound and see a sample of the rich Catholic history that Latin America still holds true. Luckily, Chara and I were able to get in for free, as Ruchi is well known by all citizens of Trinidad, including the staff who guard the ruins.

You would think that the ruins would have an eerie feel to them, but oddly, they felt very tranquil and serene. We walked along the red stone paths past classrooms and bunkhouses and eventually found ourselves in the large cathedral, whose roof gave in long ago, letting the sun shine down on the decapitated saints. I felt overwhelmed, simply because of my connection to the Jesuits and my education. I felt proud to be able to stand there, in another Jesuit campus from such a different time period, and be able to relate somehow to these Paraguayans, who also earned a “Jesuit Education”. It made me remember the quote from my commencement and further instilled it in my brain. It is a quote we should all know and live by, so go forth, set the world on fire and in flame, and as always, Go Zags!

Representing my Alma Mater was only fitting at the Jesuit Ruins

Representing my Alma Mater was only fitting at the Jesuit Ruins

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One of several Jesuit schools in the compound

 

Chara, looking quite priestly if I do say so myself

Chara, looking quite priestly if I do say so myself

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St. Joannes, sin cabeza

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Walkway to the chapel

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Door within the sanctuary

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Detail on the columns

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Chara, with the modernity of Trinidad in the background

 

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5 thoughts on “Go Forth and Set the World on Fire

  1. Beautiful, Chance. We well remember that quote from your commencement; it is a cherished reminder of sharing that experience with you and your family. And, yes, it is a wonderful reminder to us of how we are to live our lives.
    God Bless,
    Grandpa and Grandma

    Like

  2. We probably heard that quote 500 times during graduation weekend, right? Haha I love it though, and loved your post! So happy to see you’re exploring Paraguay and stumbling across things that connect you back to Gonzaga. Miss ya!

    Like

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