Spiritual path for ecology

Father General’s Extended Council recently convened in Rome
to evaluate the Jesuit response to the planet’s ecological crisis.

 CARING FOR OUR COMMON HOME 

Last month, Father General Arturo Sosa SJ convened his Extended Council (Consiglio Allargato) as he does every year. The focus was on the topic: “Understanding and evaluating the Society’s commitment to the Fourth Universal Apostolic Preference; also discerning opportunities to adopt specific measures at the universal level”. The Fourth Preference underlines our commitment to care, with others, for our common home. 

As at every meeting of the Extended Council, an atmosphere of prayer and sharing using the method of spiritual conversation set the tone. To launch the reflection on the theme of ecology, the Council invited Salesian Fr Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, coordinator of the Ecology and Creation section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat was of course involved as well. Two sessions were focused on spirituality: one proposed by James Hanvey, Secretary for the Service of Faith, and the other an experience of contemplation of nature led by Johan Verschueren (chosen because of his profession as a specialist in botanical sciences), Father General’s Delegate for the Roman Houses. 

Because of the importance of the theme for the younger generation, four scholastics from different parts of the world were among the speakers. Here are some of their reflections. 

Brent Gordon, SJ 
Brother, US Central and Southern Province, in service to ARSI (Archivum Romanum), Rome 

“For me, ecological conversion is a balance between, on the one hand, interior and personal conversion, and, on the other hand, communal and institutional change. Finding this balance is not easy. My primary message to Father General and his advisors is that this balance will be found within our Jesuit communities, between Jesuits of all ages and stages of life. While we are often comfortable envisioning and implementing programs and initiatives for and with others, true ecological conversion needs to begin within us as the body of the Society.” 

Gleison Pereira, SJ 
Regent, Brazil Province 

“I am a Brazilian Jesuit collaborating with the Jesuit Service for Migrants and Refugees (SJMR) in the Brazilian Amazon region during my regency. I am filled with hope as I contemplate the path we are taking as the Society of Jesus towards an ecological conversion. I believe we can make a deeper commitment by allowing the calls of our Common Home to change our consumption habits and community structures for a more sustainable lifestyle.” 

Pál Füszfás, SJ 
Scholastic in First Studies, Hungary Province 

“Once upon a time, human beings lived in greater harmony with Nature, just because they didn’t have the possibility to live in any other way. For the past few centuries, humanity has been capable of destroying Nature. This has resulted in an environmental disaster. I believe, though, that with this opportunity God is teaching us to act with greater freedom. Today we are not supposed to simply accept the limits that we are facing but – out of love – we have to set some limits ourselves and respect them, just like God does.” 

Boris Foka Wadem, SJ 
Regent, Eastern Africa Province 

“My journey of involvement with the care for our common home began before I joined the Society and the publication of Laudato Si’. However, the Encyclical enabled me to integrate spirituality into my reflection and my commitment to ecology. Once in the Society, I witnessed both an unconscious collaboration with the Fourth Preference and a total neglect in practice. Knowing that the Society initiated this reflection 30 years ago, I’d like to suggest to the Council members a few ways of overcoming the resistance to its implementation: ensuring strong motivations, finding the right balance between rules and vision, and providing information on the reality of the crisis.” 

The original version of this article was published on the Jesuits.Global website 

Banner image by Marek-Levak, Canva.

 

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