“WHAT IS IT TO BE A JESUIT TODAY…? ” : This can be an eternal question. The 32nd General Congregation (1974-75) did a soul-searchingly and came up with an enduring definition, to what it is to be a Jesuit. They said, “ A Jesuit is a SINNER and yet, called to be the COMPANION of JESUS, to labour under the CROSS for the service of FAITH and for the promotion of JUSTICE.”
The definition of a Jesuit, got further amplified through successive General Congregations 33rd - 35th (2008). Accordingly, we the Jesuits are called to commit ourselves to working towards, A MORE JUST COSMOS, in synergy with women and men of other Religious and Humanistic convictions, from all Nations and Cultures (GC 35. D.5: 3). A tall - call indeed! It calls for sustained, progressive & prophetic actualization of this mandate.
Let me attempt to imagine, “WHAT WOULD IGNATIUS WISH TO TELL US, THE JESUITS AND OUR COLLABORATORS ON THIS 31ST JULY OF 2016… ? ”
IGNATIUS SPEAKS TO THE JESUITS OF TODAY :
My friends in the Lord, I’m indeed delighted to have this opportunity to connect to all of you. I love each and every one of you and love our Society of Jesus as it is. In my paternal love for the Society and every Jesuit, let me to place before you three challenges.
Your globalized world more complicated than mine ever was, is substantially developed, in many spheres: Science and Space; Commerce and Cosmology; Communications and Transportations and, many more. The net result is, all sorts of comforts and compromises are now easily available, for the asking. Understandable, you are also being driven by that classistic and consumeristic current. Still, I must tell you, it is not at all justifiable..! Remember my words? (Sp. Ex.23) : Use the created gifts of God in so far as they help you come up as a loving and loveable person, and also help you reach the your ultimate goal ..!
There is NO CHOICE here, if you have to be credible witnesses of mine, in line with the AMDG - charism of our least Society. Credibility, is the primary response. You have to walk the talk. I would even say: Walk and then, talk. I’m not here recommending, “asceticism”. Rather, “mysticism”. That means, “profound thinking but plain living”. All, imbued with a certain depth of the Divine. I expect each of you to be a crucial and credible challenge to your contemporary context. What do you say?
If credibility has to characterize the personal life of every Jesuit, “cordiality” with God, with your communities, with your collaborators, is a must. Much more, with the poorest and the powerless! Do young people see us working together, sometimes struggling but still supporting one another, praying together..? Does our apostolic zeal communicate itself to others, so that they too, want to commit themselves to God’s service…?”
Again, the GC 35 (D. 6:14) has insisted on this, asking each and every Jesuit community to explore ways and means of offering hospitality! In all this, where are our communities and movements now…? Make a quick check, please!
This takes us to what our very own Francis is highlighting as Bishop of Rome: “Go to the existential peripheries! Reach out to the neediest! You’ll find life by giving life, hope by giving hope, and love by giving love” (Witnesses of Joy, 2014). He knows what he is saying. And, you know what you should be doing!
Credibility in one’s personal life, Cordiality in one’s collective life are not and should not be for their own sake. Rather, for the sake of our ministerial participation in and a greater, contribution to “ God’s Covenant with Creation” (GC 35. D. 3:36).
In that context, I cannot but refer to my favourite term, MAGIS (Const.588)..! Pedro Arrupe - who is here in heaven with me - had put it quite strongly: “Our least Society is never content with the tried and the tested. New challenges have to be faced. New opportunities have to be welcomed. Ours is a holy boldness, a certain apostolic aggressivity, typical of our way of proceeding”.
Here I have to make a provocative observation : Of late, mediocrity and complacency are creeping into our ministries. Dynamism is diminishing..! Enthusiasm is evaporating..! Am I correct..?
The world you live in favours the imaginative and the innovative, a world whose people grasp for what is creative and transformative. You live in a fabulous age of digitalized wonders and diversified works. Variety is the new beauty now. Correspondingly, you ought to be “men - ever - ready “ for pioneering programmes in productive praxis. They need not be, all the time, special and spectacular. Instead, certain definitive and progressive spontaneity in one’s own given ministries (Sp. Ex. 97). Sure, it has to be led by the following concerns, as you know well : What is the greater good, more fruitful, more universal, and more glory to God..?
Our Francis has dreams, in the same way, for the Church (Evangelii Gaudium, No. 27) and for the Creation (Laudato Si, No. 244). With this broadened horizon of God’s Mission, you are breathing in a privileged atmosphere of Grace. Live it out well, I strongly urge you : ALLOW YOUR JESUITNESS TO BE REVEALED IN ALL ITS BEAUTY POSSIBLE IN “ CREDIBILITY, CORDIALITY AND CREATIVITY.” !
Before winding up, I assure you all of my special whispers to the Lord of History as you’re getting ready for GC 36. Let that event stir you all up with further prophetic radicalism and set you all further on “ Fire for Mission “ (Lk 12: 49). All the very best! Bye, for now..!
-Fr Jerry Rosario, SJ