manda [mahn'-dah], f. 1. Offer, proposal. 2. Legacy or donationleft by virtue of last will.
-- Velazquez Spanish and English Dictionary
I did a 6-mile ride for St. Ignatius this afternoon. My body is sore, but I feel very relaxed. The afternoon air is crisp despite the desert's evening freeze. Coffee and afternoon tea make a big difference here.
My pilgrimage was a manda i made with St. Ignatius, part of the cadre of saints i prayed to every night during chemotherapy and since. I realize some of my readers are unfamiliar with Spanish and Latin American Catholic tradition. so I'll explain a manda real quick before I return to my story.
A manda, as I understand it, is a promise you make with a saint, the holy trinity or even god itself. typically it is made out of desperation or fear. sometimes prayer is all you've got. For example, Mothers pray to La Virgen asking for fertility and in exchange they'll promise to name their child Guadalupe.
when it was discovered there was a tumor in my right testicle, a few mandas were made for me and for my health.
personally, I don't entirely like the idea of making mandas with the spiritual world. not for any existential or logical reasoning. very simply, I think there's plenty of other problems in the world that need attention and mine feel very minuscule in comparison. nonetheless, every night, when i pray, I invoke several saints: St. Francis, St. Ignatius, St. Augustine, Saint Peregrine, San Martin de Porras, St. Michael, St. Judge and La Virgen. People who have asked me to pray before a meal have heard my litany and sighed in exasperation. Anyway, during chemotherapy I would pray and ask for strength, not only for myself, but for those who were by my side, physically and emotionally. i also pray for my father and lately I've added a new name, Henry Ortega, Jr., the nephew of a Loyola classmate and young cancer patient.
So, as i previously wrote, when I had the chance, I visited the basilica in Mexico, D.F., and thanked La Virgen for her support during chemotherapy.
This week, as I was looking up mass times for the feast of our lady of Guadalupe, I stumbled across this address: 785 W. Sahuaro Street, Tucson, AZ 85713.
It was the address of a capilla, or chapel, of St. Ignatius of Loyola. that night, after work, i drove to the capilla, which was adorned with flowers and portraits of La Virgen. unfortunately when I arrived, they were locking up the folding gates placed at the entrances of the capilla. I promised to return.
the capilla is in the heart of Old Pascua and on the grounds of the Old Pascua neighborhood center.
It shouldn't be surprising that the Yaqui community has a capilla dedicated to San Ignacio.
A brief history lesson: the first known Europeans to wander the southwest were Alvaro Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and three others, shipwreck survivors from a Spanish expedition in 1528. One of Cabeza de Vaca's companions, Esteban the Moor, as he is called, later led the Franciscan Missionary Fray Marcos into the Southwest. Marcos' reports led to the Coronado Expedition of 1540, which was the first major European excursion into the Southwest. Disappointed that there were no obvious resources to appropriate, Spaniards left the area and its inhabitants alone (well, lets just say they didn't rape, pillage and decimate, like they did in Mexico, Central and South America) for nearly a century, until mineral wealth was discovered and mines created in Sonora. the new found source of wealth prompted a Jesuit mission in1686, which was lead by Father Esubio Francisco Kino, who is buried in Magdalena de Kino, south of Nogales, Sonora. The Jesuits helped the Spaniard government colonize the area until 1767, when the Jesuits were expelled from the new world by the Spaniards.
The effect of the Jesuit missions were long lasting, physically evident by the missions that dot the Sonoran landscape and metaphysical, by allowing the Yaqui to mix their own religious practices with Catholicism. Pascua ceremonies, and I'm extremely simplifying things here, are an amazing mix of the two.
Now back to the twenty first century: I am the product of Jesuit education -- Loyola High School class of '97, University of San Francisco class of '01. I am interested in the history of the Jesuits and the personal journey of St. Ignatius. To be honest, I often thought about his own convalescence and conversion during chemotherapy.
I've prayed to him for many years and this one was no different.
So I awoke this morning, had breakfast, took care of some bills and paperwork and a little after noon made out on my bike for a my own small pilgrimage to la capilla San Ignacio de Loyola.
It was my first long bike ride since before chemo. and I gave myself a couple hours for the ride. I didn't know what I'd be capable of.
with helmet and yellow safety jacket on, I pedaled my rebuilt JC Penny cruiser north up Park Ave., about a mile and half, to Grant Road, where I turned West. As the traffic wizzed passed me and a few cars and trucks encroached a little too much on the bike lane, I continued past First Ave., Stone Ave. and eventually past Oracle Road, and down south into Old Pascua.
My calves burned at first, especially on the slight inclines on Park Ave. just north of the University of Arizona. But the ride, from my apartment to Old Pascua, took only about thirty minutes. It's a little more than three miles, according to mapquest.
i dismounted my cruiser, chained it up at the Old Pascua Community Center entrance and walked across the dusty, dirt courtyard to the entrance of the capilla. The front gate remained locked. Adornments from the feast of La Virgen were still out. So I kneeled on the concrete, up against the gate, said a prayer and thanked St. Ignatius.
The ride back was peaceful, going slow through Old Pascua, looking at the architecture of the homes and trailers, the corner stores and warehouses. I stumbled upon Esquer Park, 1331 N. 14th Ave., a large, green plot of land in the shadow of Tucson's downtown.