I have been mistaken for being a professor (I was once a lecturer) and a lawyer (perhaps people confuse Men Sta. Ana with Mel Sta. Maria, the dean of Far Eastern University’s law school). It thus no longer surprises me that some people address me as Professor or Attorney.
But what stupefied me was a question that Greg, the husband of my cousin Lynn, forwarded to me: “Is Filomeno Sta. Ana an XJ?” (XJ stand for ex-Jesuit.) Wow!
Greg, an XJ, was relaying to me a message from his friend, an ex-Jesuit novice. Greg is the author of Magis: Things that Matter Most in Life (2021). And he invited me to write the book’s foreword, which I did.
Greg’s Jesuit-trained friend sent his reaction to Magis. And he told Greg that he learned “facets of you that you did not show of yourself in the seminary or novitiate. But that only illustrates that life’s momentum is growth and constant unfolding of who we are.”
Further Greg’s XJ friend said, “I found the Foreword on Magis thought provoking.” (Thank you.) Which led him to ask: “Is Filomeno Sta. Ana also an XJ?”
So, Greg asked me how he would respond to his friend’s question. I told Greg that his friend’s question is the spur to action for me to fulfill a promise to write a column about magis. I said: “Tell your friend to anticipate the column on magis. He can discern from reading it whether I am truly XJ.”
I have procrastinated writing another piece on the same topic. After all, I had written what I have wanted to say in the foreword. But with the topic brought up again, I realize there is always something new about magis. To use the phrase of Greg’s friend, whose prose is that of a Jesuit than a lawyer, I see magis as “life’s constant unfolding.”
But let’s digress and dwell on Greg’s Magis. The book has gotten good reviews. To entice the curious to read Magis, I quote two of our friends.
Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz wrote: “No frills, no gimmicks, just a wise, no-nonsense, full of heartwarming stories, authentic life survival and realities shared and packed with life’s lessons. I highly recommend it, page by page, story by story, from beginning to end!”
Marilen Abesamis in her book review described Magis as “a brave and truthful chronicle of the past five decades (1970s to 2020s), mirroring the lives of a generation that would not revise the horrors of the Marcos martial law era, nor quit searching for social justice in uncertain times.” She also said, “Greg writes intimately, so simply and so forthrightly of deeply personal events.”
“Magis” is a mystical, esoteric word. It is for the Jesuits, the society founded by Ignatius of Loyola. I myself, Jesuit-educated and mistaken for being an XJ, learned its meaning only late in life. I wish I had known and internalized its meaning when Mae, my late wife, and I were together. In loving people, Mae typified magis.
Magis is the Latin word for “more.” This word is connected to another Latin phrase, ad majorem Dei gloriam, which means “for the greater glory of God.” Conjoining magis and ad majorem Dei gloriam, we subscribe to striving more, doing more, and performing better for the greater good, for God’s greater glory.
Nowadays, in an election campaign where one camp has been notorious in deceiving the masses and extolling Marcosian rule, we have to strive more and perform better for the greater good. We must exert our greatest effort and all the more harness our skills and resources to defeat disinformation, terror, and sloth.
The candidate that champions the greater good must win. And, like the Jesuit founder Ignatius, she has been bruised wounded. And she has big obstacles to clear. But like Ignatius, she and we attempt to make history.
She demonstrates what radikal na pagmamahal (radical love) is. She herself has given hope and inspiration to millions. She and we have made the choice; with fortitude and bravery, we carry on and fight.
All this has led me to return to magis and Greg’s book. One does not need to be a Jesuit or an XJ to practice magis.
For orders of Greg Castilla’s book Magis, contact Vic Nierva (0917-307-6291) or Djai Rugeria (0916-239-8306). The book is also available at the Ateneo de Naga University Press/Bookstore. Proceeds from the book sale will benefit the O’Bikoliana section of the James J. O’Brien Library at Ateneo de Naga.
Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III coordinates the Action for Economic Reforms.