Service is at the heart of Ignatian Spirituality and education. While traditional service programs have been put on hold during the lockdowns, St Aloysius’ College is launching a new ‘Faith-in-Service’ program to keep the spirit of service alive for students. Fr Ross Jones SJ introduces the program.
One of the qualities that ought to characterise any Ignatian enterprise, true to itself, is accommodation. But here we are not talking about where we live, but how we live.
The concept can be traced back to Ignatius’ freedom for ministry. When he penned his very lengthy and long-considered Constitutions for his Jesuits, his rules for this-and-that seemed very clear, comprehensive and unambiguous. Yet peppered throughout the pages was the phrase, ‘however, let the local superior adapt this to times, places and circumstances’. The Constitutions set the ideal goal, of course, but that accommodating phrase allowed for local and evolving adaptation.
In new missions at the edges of the known world, those early Jesuits modified clothing, liturgy and sacraments, theology and philosophy, in order to engage with new times and new cultures. Not infrequently, this adaptation earned criticism from a rather inert Rome.
A few years ago, Pope Francis reminded the Jesuits of this freedom. He said we have to walk with a heart that ‘beats to the rhythm of a journey undertaken’ with all God’s people. We are to have ‘the face, the accent and the lifestyle of all peoples, of every culture, inserting ourselves in all of them, in the very heart of every people’.
All very well, you might say, for St Francis Xavier arriving on the shores of Japan, or Ippolito Desideri SJ engaging with the Mogul ruler of Tibet in the early 1700s, or Robert de Nobili SJ, a century earlier, becoming a Hindu mendicant in Tamil Nadu to preach the Gospel. But what about us?
Well, these present times have us in a new culture, in a novel orientation and engagement with our world. We have already taken normal face-to-face instruction and reshaped it to Aloys Online. Our communications, our reflections and liturgies, are now Zoomed, Vimeo-ed or EDMed. Now for the next step …
Service programs are never far from the heart of an Ignatian formation. Our spirituality has often been called ‘a spirituality of service’. Now new contexts call for new expressions of service. An accommodation.
Isolation, limited freedoms and health concerns are present realities. We are in very new territory, not unlike those early Jesuit missionaries. But we must resist a drawing into ourselves, thinking in old ways. There are always opportunities for outreach, for the other, for service.
Now we are launching Aloys in Service. A new way to minister to others.
A commitment of will. A creative mind. A generous heart. Finding a fresh freedom to serve.
Aloys in Service
Aloys In Service is a way for students to complete their Faith-in-Service Programs from home, commencing these school holidays. The desire to be a man for others is integral to Ignatian Spirituality and is not constrained by context. Therefore, in our current context, our desire to serve others can be focused on those closest to us, our family.
Families with students wishing to participate in the program are encouraged to discuss and decide on activities that can be completed in the service of their family.
- General cleaning – inside and outside the house
- Mowing the lawn, raking leaves, weeding and pruning gardens
- Calling grandparents or other family members for a chat
- Assisting younger siblings with their learning, such as listening to them read or completing an activity with them
- Learning to iron, doing the ironing
- Cooking a meal – consider a Masterchef style meal for a bit of friendly competition and humour! • Organising games or activities for younger siblings
- Helping with the washing
- Filing all family photos into a folder on the home computer or on a memory stick