There is a well-established tradition that on the occasion of a Jesuit General Congregation, the Holy Father meets with the delegates. In the past they have gone to the Vatican, but on Monday 24 October, Pope Francis came to the General Curia in Rome and was greeted by Fr General Arturo Sosa SJ and the superior of the Curia community, Fr Joaquín Barrero SJ.
These two accompanied him into the aula (the meeting room), and the Pope participated in morning prayer with the delegates. The theme of the prayer, the Good Shepherd, had been chosen for the occasion.
The Ignatian tradition reflection made a reference to Fr Franz van de Lugt SJ, who made himself pastor of his own in Homs, Syria, until he was killed by the insanity of war. The members of the Congregation prayed for Pope Francis, as he often requests of those he meets.
Pope Francis came to the General Congregation with a message. He gave an encouraging speech that set a direction.
The speech gave a good idea of the manner in which he is coming to see the service of the Church and of the world that the Society of Jesus can offer — a way connected to his own ministry.
His whole intervention was characterised by an openness to what lies ahead, a call to go further, a support for caminar, the way of journeying that allows Jesuits to go toward others and to walk with them on their own journey.
To start out, quoting St Ignatius, the Pope recalled that a Jesuit is called to converse and thereby to bring life ‘in every part of the world where a greater service of God and help for souls is expected’.
Precisely for this reason, the Jesuits must go forward, taking advantage of the situations in which they find themselves, always to serve more and better.
This implies a way of doing things that aims for harmony in the contexts of tension that are normal in a world with diverse persons and missions. The Pope mentioned explicitly the tensions between contemplation and action, faith and justice, charism and institution, community and mission.
The Holy Father spelt out three aspects of the Society’s path:
The first is to ‘ask insistently for consolation’. It is proper for the Society to know how to bring consolation and real joy; the Jesuits must put themselves at the service of joy, for the Good News cannot be announced in sadness.
Next, Francis invited us to ‘allow ourselves to be moved by the Lord on the cross’. The Jesuits must get close to the vast majority of men and women who suffer, and, in this context, they must offer services of mercy in various forms.
The Pope underlined certain elements that he had already had occasion to present throughout the jubilee year of mercy. We who have been touched by mercy must feel ourselves sent to present this same mercy in an effective way.
Finally, the Holy Father invited us to go forward under the influence of the ‘good spirit’. This implies always discerning, which is more than simply reflecting, how to act in communion with the Church.
The Jesuits must be not ‘clerical’ but ‘ecclesial’. They are ‘men for others’ who live in the midst of all peoples, trying to touch the heart of each person, contributing in this way to establishing a Church in which all have their place, in which the Gospel is inculturated, and in which each culture is evangelised.
These three last words of the Pope’s speech are graces for which each Jesuit and the whole Society must always ask: consolation, compassion, and discernment.
Source: GC36 Communications