After a 16-month discernment process, the Society of Jesus has announced its four Universal Apostolic Preferences for the next 10 years.
Father General Arturo Sosa, the head of the Society of Jesus, is asking Jesuits and partners in mission to focus on how our current and future ministries can integrate the Universal Apostolic Preferences to address the real-world issues that they embrace.
Each Jesuit, each community, each province and conference of provincials will discern how to implement these preferences and take action based on that discernment. The Universal Apostolic Preferences invite all Jesuits and partners in mission to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and inspire them to take action.
In a letter to the whole Society, Jesuit Superior General Fr Arturo Sosa said the Preferences are the result of a process that was guided by the Holy Spirit at each stage.
‘Our desire has been to find the best way to collaborate in the Lord’s mission, the best way to serve the Church at this time, the best contribution we can make with what we are and have, seeking to do what is for the greater divine service and the more universal good.’
Below we’ll take a deeper look at each of the apostolic preferences, sharing some of Fr General Arturo Sosa’s reflections on each from his letter to the Society. You can read Fr Sosa’s full letter introducing the Preferences here.
1. PROMOTING DISCERNMENT AND THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES
We are constantly being bombarded with images and options and there is almost no space to find our true self or to let God find us. We often don’t know or drown out our own desires, our passions and a sense of our true vocation. Without the wisdom of the Spirit we can easily have a sense that we are not in charge of our own destiny, merely puppets at the mercy of the moment.
‘The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola are a privileged instrument for making the life and action of the Lord Jesus present in diverse social contexts in today’s world’, said Fr Sosa.
‘Therefore we resolve to gain a deeper experience of the Spiritual Exercises so that they lead us to a personal and communal encounter with Christ that transforms us.
‘At the same time we resolve to offer the Spiritual Exercises in as many ways as possible, providing many people, especially the young, with the opportunity to make use of them to begin or to advance in following Christ.’
2. WALKING WITH THE EXCLUDED
We see the gap between rich and poor widen across the world and we hear weekly reports of hundreds perishing as they try to reach a new home. Political leaders have kindled hatred and erected walls between rich and poor, young and old, those at home and those who have to migrate. The reality of children who have been abused, physically or sexually, is also painfully and personally present to us.
‘The path we seek to follow with the poor is one that promotes social justice and the change of economic, political and social structures that generate injustice; this path is a necessary dimension of the reconciliation of individuals, peoples and their cultures with one another, with nature and with God’, said Fr Sosa.
‘Care for indigenous peoples, their cultures and their basic rights occupies a special place in our commitment to reconciliation and justice in all their dimensions.
‘We confirm our commitment to care for migrants, displaced persons, refugees and victims of wars and human trafficking…
‘We commit ourselves to help eliminate abuses inside and outside the Church, seeking to ensure that victims are heard and properly helped, that justice is done, and that harm is healed.’
Read more here: https://jesuits.global/en/uap/walking-with-the-excluded
3. CARING FOR OUR COMMON HOME
Creation today is crying out as never before, labouring to be set free (Romans 8). Today’s environmental crisis is impacting in a particular way on the poor and vulnerable. Action is needed urgently by Christians and by all people of good will. Whole nations and peoples need an ecological conversion if we are to be honest custodians of this wonderful planet. We can still change the course of history.
‘We resolve, considering who we are and the means that we have, to collaborate with others in the construction of alternative models of life that are based on respect for creation and on a sustainable development capable of producing goods that, when justly distributed, ensure a decent life for all human beings on our planet’, said Fr Sosa.
‘The preservation over time of the conditions of life on our planet is a human responsibility of immense ethical and spiritual importance. Our collaboration should include both participating in efforts to analyse problems in depth and promoting reflection and discernment that will guide us in making decisions that help to heal the wounds already inflicted on the delicate ecological balance.
‘We are especially concerned about areas that are so crucial for maintaining the natural equilibrium that makes life possible, such as the Amazon region; the river basins of the Congo, India, and Indonesia; and the great extensions of open sea. Caring for nature in this way is a form of genuinely worshipping the creative work of God. Bold decisions are required to avoid further damage and to bring about lifestyle changes that are necessary so that the goods of creation are used for the benefit of all.
Read more here: https://jesuits.global/en/uap/caring-for-our-common-home
4. JOURNEYING WITH YOUTH
Youth is a time for fundamental decisions and the beginning of fulfilling our dreams. And yet, young people today face enormous challenges: the uncertainty of relationships in a digital era, diminishing opportunities for work, the growth of political violence, discrimination, degradation of the environment. All of this makes it difficult for them to find a road where they can build supportive personal and family relations based on solid spiritual and financial foundations.
‘The apostolic works of the Society of Jesus can make an important contribution to creating and maintaining spaces that are open to young people in society and the Church’, said Fr Sosa.
‘Our works seek to be spaces open to youthful creativity, spaces that both foster an encounter with the God of life revealed by Jesus and deepen the Christian faith of the young. Such spaces should help young people discern the path by which they can achieve happiness by contributing to the well-being of all humankind.’
Read more here: https://jesuits.global/en/uap/journeying-with-youth
Read more about the Universal Apostolic Preferences here: https://jesuits.global/en/uap