G.C. 35 Decree 2: A Fire That Kindles Other Fires
(A summary with questions for reflection)
(A summary with questions for reflection)
The Society of Jesus has kept its flame alive for nearly five centuries. She has done so against all odds at all times. She continues to do so in present times. And this is no mean task because the world situation today is evermore challenging as it overwhelms people with an abundance of sensations, ideas and images. The Society’s flame – her original inspiration – offers people warmth and light. It is an undeniable proof of the goodness of God towards the Society. Keeping that fire alive enables us to give meaning to people and to provide them focus in a fragmented world.
One outstanding characteristic of the Society has been unity-in-multiplicity. At the heart of this unity is Jesus Christ. Our desire to serve Him; to be prompt and ready to do His most holy will is what unites us. Therefore, “Jesuits know who they are by looking at Him.” And the Jesuits find their identity in companionship. It is the companionship with Jesus who calls and with those who share this call. The foundation of this insight lies in St. Ignatius’ La Storta experience where he was “placed” with the Son and called to serve Him as He carries his cross. That unique experience of Ignatius remains alive in the life of every Jesuit. It calls for a continuous conversion from the life of the world to life for Christ.
Furthermore, this experience leads a Jesuit to view everything in a new light. He looks to find God in all things. Just as Ignatius did, after his experience at the river Cardoner. The Jesuit then endeavours to be a contemplative in action. To see the presence of God in the grim present day realities like poverty, forced displacement, violence between people, abandonment, structural injustice, sin etc. and the desire to seek the face of God in the world takes Jesuits to limit situations. This is achieved through commitment to “the service of faith and promotion of Justice” and dialogue with cultures and religions. Jesuits encounter sources of life and energy but also grave forces of death and suffering. Never for a moment losing faith in God, Jesuits succeed in finding Him in the most hopeless and darkest of realities. Thus, they become evermore truthful “servants of Christ’s mission.”
Jesuits’ mission of hope is to find divine life at the depths of reality. The aim is to find Jesus at work in all places and situations. Hence, Jesuit on a mission struggles with the polarity of being firmly rooted in God at all times, while at the same time remaining involved in the reality of the world.
So, polarities like being and doing, contemplation and action, prayer and prophetic living, being completely united with Christ and completely inserted into the world mark the life of a Jesuit. This pattern is based on the life of Christ on mission. Deep love for God and great concern for the world inspire Jesuits to continue their mission with zeal. It provokes people to know more about Jesuits. The Jesuits in turn plunge into every reality of the world with the belief that nothing is too profane to get involved in for the greater glory of God. They light a fire that enkindles other fires!
In the grace of La Storta, the Father placed Ignatius with Christ, His Son, carrying His cross. For Jesuits, this grace poses a challenge in daily life – that of announcing the Gospel of hope to the poor of this world. The hope that can “restore entire human persons in their integrity, reintegrating them in community and reconciling them with God.”
The Jesuits can fulfill this task by following the example of Jesus. As companions with Him on Mission, his way is their way too. Therefore, the service of faith and promotion of justice as two sides of one reality appears as the core of the Jesuit mission. Along with it availability for the Church’s universal mission to be carried out under the Roman Pontiff - in the spirit of obedience and magis – remains a distinguishing mark of the Jesuits.
To excel in the practice of our vow of obedience is to excel in Jesuit vocation. Along with obedience, the Jesuit vows of poverty and chastity complete our commitment to God’s call. Inspired by this commitment each Jesuit serves the Church in accordance with his particular vocation.
Companionship in the community gives Jesuits working on different missions a common identity. Indeed, identity, community and mission are a kind of triptych that explains our companionship. Our living together as “friends in the Lord” should inspire others, especially the young to join our ranks.
Our mission today is in the global context. It is for the worldwide community. Globalization, technology and environmental concerns have made us aware of our responsibility for the welfare of the entire world. Today, ever more than in the past, we need to work in collaboration with all persons of good will.
There is a lot of diversity among people across the world today. At times this diversity becomes the cause of grave inequality and injustice. Consequently, some prosper at the expense of the others. Jesuits are called upon to go to ‘Nations’ that today include those who are poor and those ignore the existence of God, and those who use God as an instrument for political purposes.
The changing situation of the world changes the context of our mission. Accordingly, today we look to dialogue with religions; promote justice and campaign to save the earth from further degradation. It is a serious challenge before all Jesuits to become and remain whole, as Jesus Christ, in a fragmented world! It is only through fraternal and joyful community living that we can meet this challenge and become whole.
Questions for Reflection:
1. What is my ‘ la Storta’ experience?
2. When did it take place?
3. What were the contents?
4. What are the challenges that I continue to embrace as a result of my ‘la Storta’ experience ?
5. Have I undergone a conversion? From what to for what?
6. Is there a harmony in my life between my world-view and my actions?
7. Am I able to find God in poverty – both actual and spiritual – in insults, abuse, sufferings, humiliations, injustices, dishonors, sickness and death, in the depths of darkness where Christ’s divinity is hidden?
8. As a Jesuit, am I able to give people meaning and focus in a fragmented world?
9. Am committed to restore the integrity of creation by facilitating the process of reconciliation with God, world and self?
10. What is my commitment to community life?