SHOWING THE WAY TO GOD
On 31 July, the Feast of Saint Ignatius. Father General Arturo Sosa offered a “present” to the Society of Jesus and its entire apostolic body! This long-awaited document is usually referred to by its Latin title, De Statu Societatis. In English, this translates as The State of the Society. This text provides a global portrait of the condition of the Society, its commitments, and the challenges it faces. It is also a document to orientate us in the years to come. When we know ourselves better, when we understand our current situation and capacities, we are in a position to make the necessary decisions more prudently.
By way of background, we recall that in May, a Congregation of Procurators brought together representatives from every Province and Region of the Society of Jesus. The meeting was held in Loyola, Spain, the birthplace of Ignatius of Loyola. For eight days, the members of the Congregation prayed over a first draft of the De Statu document which the Superior General had prepared. They then spent a week discussing each part of the document to help Father Sosa produce his final text. This edition is now ready. First of all, the De Statu can be the basis for prayer and sharing in Jesuit communities. But it is also directed to apostolic groups, to the various institutions of the Society, and to the houses of formation of young Jesuits.
The end result of the long process of preparing for the Congregation of Procurators, and its meeting, is not just another letter from the General. In some forty pages, the De Statu offers a broad panorama. To help us access it and discover its richness, Father General has recorded a video that highlights both the structure of the text and the spirit that inspires it.
What do we find in the De Statu Societatis? Firstly, it testifies to the ways in which the Holy Spirit acts in the Society of Jesus. Secondly, it holds an invitation to allow this same Holy Spirit to act in the personal lives of Jesuits and in the life of the apostolic body of the Society generally. Six chapters deal with the following themes:
- Following Ignatius, we are sent into the world;
- We are sent by the Church to bring the Good News to all;
- We are called to become intimate companions of Jesus, ever more humble and poor;
- Our lives, associated with our mission, are in tension between God and the world;
- We are collaborators in Christ’s mission, not the architects of our own projects;
- We seek forms of governance that will enhance our service, our mission.
In summary, we are called to “love and serve” more authentically.
Of course, some might say that none of this is essentially new. Since the 36th General Congregation (2016) during which Father Arturo Sosa was elected Praepositus Generalis of the Society, the Universal Apostolic Preferences have guided the formation, commitments in the world, the pedagogy in educational institutions, and much else in the Society.
Reflecting on the current state of the Society will first help Jesuit communities to reposition themselves with respect to these orientations. It will enable the entire apostolic body of the Society, both religious and committed lay people, to benefit from the dynamic of the Ignatian Year (2021-2022). It will give new impetus to our prayer, supporting the life and witness of so many of our brothers and sisters who live in difficult situations, in poverty and even in persecution.
So, take advantage of Father General’s gift for the feast of Saint Ignatius! Watch his video address and give yourself some time to read, in a prayerful way, The State of the Society.
The original version of this article can be seen here on the Jesuits Global website.
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