From Cannonball Experience to Radical Dispossession: A Reflection

1 Cannon Ball

The faculty and staff of Sacred Heart School-Hijas de Jesus underwent a two-day formation session with the theme “From Cannonball Experience to Radical Dispossession” facilitated by Sr. Catherine S. Cheong, F. I. from March 31 to April 01, 2022. 



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In the past, particularly in 1521, St. Ignatius, a Spanish soldier, experienced his leg shattered by a cannonball in the Battle of Pamplona. The injury, the damage it left, and his own vanity, caused him to need a lengthy period of convalescence. As a result of his solitary time, St. Ignatius read two books—one about Christ and one about the lives of the saints—leading him on a path to conversion.


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At present, every one of us has been struck by cannonballs in our own lives—the sudden death of someone close to us, a near-death experience, sickness of a family member, closure of business, heartbreak, betrayal, and many more. Sometimes, it is huge—physically, emotionally, or spiritually debilitating—and other times, it is subtle, coming in the form of a light quiet sound rather than in a strong typhoon, an earthquake, or a fire. Cannonball moments are experiences that force us to stop how we are living and invite us to live in a new way. Significant events, like the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis between Ukraine and Russia, Super Typhoon Odette, and many more, have collectively jolted our global family into a new way of understanding the world and God’s call to recalibrate our lives and what we seek for our communities. We are, indeed, living in another “cannonball moment” in history.

God knows the big picture, a picture that is impossible for us to see from our limited perspective. These “cannonball moments”, both great and small, can determine a life path of incredible beauty and courage; of faith, hope, love, joy, and gratitude. Therefore, we need to recognize those moments; otherwise, we will remain merely wounded soldiers in the battle of life rather than victorious warriors who are welcomed home by the true King whose glory we have defended.


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With the inspiration from St. Ignatius and Mother Candida, the session poses a challenge for me to live a life of gratitude with eyes that see God in all things, a life surrendered in trust to God who has good in store for me even when those cannonball moments hit. Processing my cannonball experiences in life through a grateful lens does not mean denying negativity. It means realizing the power I have to transform an obstacle into an opportunity. It means reframing pain into a potential gain and recasting negativity into positive channels for gratitude. This is a challenge for the Catholic Church to keep religious faith alive among its adherents and to represent in its teaching an attractive and radical living of the Gospel. This is also a challenge for educational, health, and social organizations to nurture deeply and explicitly in those who work within them and in society at large the great gifts of faith and Gospel values. 




In a world that is interconnected with technology, but with people now kept distant from the same technology, where the shared language and symbols of Christian society are fading, we, as educators, need to step up and accept the challenge in front of us in order to create a just and humane society for the present generation and the next generations to come.


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