[Blueboard] Our young men have fulfilled their quest.

Rona Valenzuela ronapres at admu.edu.ph
Wed Oct 9 09:00:53 PHT 2002

Clear Day
Ateneo de Manila University


8 October 2002





       FROM   :    THE PRESIDENT




            Several years ago I wrote a column on the journey of our young people as a quest. I returned to these images of quest in my reflections with many of you on a truly remarkable championship and memorable season. I wrote then:


            “In ancient stories, a frequent theme is that of the quest. They often begin with a kingdom in peril or in decay and the ancient wisdom says that they can only be delivered if a young man goes forth on a quest. There is a mission to be accomplished: to bring back a lost treasure, to hear the words of the Old Man of the Mountain, to save an imprisoned maiden. Along the way, the young man must face many external dangers: enchanted forests, witches and dragons. He must spend nights of vigil and days of fasting. As the story goes on, though, it becomes less of a story of the mission and more a story of the young man. He is wounded. He experiences fear, doubt, at times, despair. He begins to realize that the greatest peril is not outside in witches or dragons. The greatest peril lies inside himself, in his weaknesses, doubts, fears. In the question of whether he can overcome his woundedness.


            When he finally accomplishes his mission, we realize that the greatest triumph has been with himself. He set forth on the quest a generous, but weak and untried youth. He returns with the courage and wisdom gained from facing his wounds, his fears and his doubts and overcoming them. The stories end with the kingdom delivered from its peril and decay and restored to its former glory.”


            The classic story of quest in the Philippines is the Ibong Adarna. For the younger generation it may be George Lucas’ “Star Wars” -- externally it is the story of conquering the Death Star, but it is actually the story of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia learning from their Jedi Master and trusting the Force within themselves. Or if you are a Tolkien fan like myself, you would paraphrase Gandalf's cry in the last battle on the Field of Cormallen in the “Lord of the Rings”:



Our title-drought is ended. 

Our young men have fulfilled their quest.



            This season was a quest that tested our players' hearts, that tried their faith and their courage. They came to a lowest point at the time of their 4-5 record and the injury to LA Tenorio. From this low point they started to win, game after game. To our wonder, they and we discovered that from this lowest point they had found themselves and found one another and had become a team. As in all stories of quests there were many weaknesses and trials, as well as unlikely heroes and unlooked-for graces. After the 14th game of the season against La Salle we gathered in our traditional post-game mass at the Ateneo Church of the Gesù. In the Final Four round and in the championship series our numbers at the Church continued to swell. We found that we were becoming more of a community. And the Church of the Gesù was becoming the field of our dreams, the shrine of our prayers and aspirations. 


            Thus after winning the championship last Saturday, we gathered to overflowing at the Church of the Gesù in a Thanksgiving Mass. At the end of the mass, we invited our players and the coaching staff to write and sign in what may become a “Book of Memories” of battles fought and quests fulfilled. The Book comes from an unforgettable memory of visiting the Shrine of our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland in 1982. As we ascended the steps to the Shrine, a tower to our right was pointed out to me, and I was told that since the 15th century Polish armies would go to the shrine after their battles and leave their weapons in symbol of their commitment and dedication to Our Lady. 


            We will keep the Book in the Chapel of Our Lady and in years to come it may become a Book of Memories for us. 


            My most enduring memory of our mass last Saturday will be that of the little boys and girls in front of the altar in rapt admiration of our players. Five to ten years from now many of them will be in Ateneo College. I hope they will visit the Chapel of Our Lady and leaf through the Book of Memories. They will open the first page and remember, “Yes, I was there.” They may understand then that they too have their quests and their low points and moments of self-doubt. And they may remember that our constant prayer these last weeks was 


            For Faith, For Courage, and For Victory


They will savor the memory of victory. But above all they will remember, I hope, that the greater gift is faith and courage. 


            Mary, for you, for your white and blue.

            We pray you’ll keep us, Mary, constantly true.

            We pray you’ll keep us, Mary, faithful to you.




                                                                                    BIENVENIDO F. NEBRES, S.J.


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