Pope Francis visits delegates at the Jesuit General Congregation 36.Image:CNS/Itua Egbor SJ
Fr John K Guiney SJ blogs about a very special visitor at the Jesuit General Congregation in Rome on 24th October.
His very presence was a grace
It was a special day on Monday when Pope Francis joined the international Jesuit General Assembly (GC36) in Rome in prayer. He then gave an input and received questions from the members for over two hours. His very presence was a grace and his input, published in many languages, was inspiring.
He encouraged the Jesuits to plumb and share the depths of Ignatian spirituality. It is a spirituality of joy and consolation and a force for discernment in seeking the greater good in all places and spaces.
He did not give prescriptive or descriptive plans to the Society of Jesus for the next number of years: he allowed the process of the Congregation to discern future plans and mission.
In relation to the identity and mission of the Jesuit, Pope Francis recalled the words of Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ when he said that Jesuits must be present where people hurt and be a voice and sign of prophetic audacity bringing consolation and compassion into the lives of people who are hurting in our world.
Fr John K Guiney SJ from Ireland meets Pope Francis at the Jesuit General Congregation 36.Image: CNS/Itua Egbor SJ
Consolation, compassion and discernment
Pope Francis’ statement can be summarised in three key words: consolation, compassion and discernment, writes Fr Brian Mc Coy SJ, another author at the GC36. He reminded the Jesuits of ‘the true work of the Society: to console the faithful people of God’. What he did “was return us to our Ignatian foundations, encouraging us to remember our tradition and now follow the paths of consolation, compassion and discernment.
Consolation: seeking joy with others.
Compassion: bringing mercy to those who suffer injustice and violence.
Discernment: seeking the grace of the Good Spirit in all we do.
‘Service of the good spirit and of discernment makes us men of the Church – not clericalists, but ecclesiastics – men “for others,” with nothing of our own which cuts us off from others, but rather everything that is ours placed in common and for service’. Three words now richer in meaning.
The Jesuit is called “to travel”
Pope Francis in his address to the GC36 reminded delegates that: “the Church needs you, counts on you, and continues to turn to you with confidence, particularly with a view to reaching the places, both in the geographical and spiritual sense, where others do not reach, or find it difficult to reach.
“On the road together – free and obedient – going to the peripheries where others do not reach, ‘under Jesus’ gaze and looking to the horizon which is the ever greater glory of God, who ceaselessly surprises us.
“The Jesuit is called, ‘to travel’—as Ignatius says—and make our life in whatever part of the world there is hope of greater service to God and of help of souls” [Const. 304]… ‘for the Society the whole world is our home.’ ”
Author: Compiled by Irish Jesuit Missions Communications, 27th October 2016