Purpose and Falling in Love
It is purpose that created us, purpose that connects us, purpose that pulls us, that guides us, that drives us, that binds us, it is purpose that defines us.
– Agent Smith (The Matrix Reloaded)
During the past two weeks, we have been studying the documents of the Jesuit General Congregations (GC’s) 31-35. For those unfamiliar with what a GC is, it’s the highest legislative body in the Society of Jesus. It assembles Jesuit representatives from all parts of the world. It’s usually summoned on the death or resignation of a Superior General, or at other times if circumstances dictate.
The GC’s respond to the needs of the world, Church and Society of Jesus at a particular period of time. In studying them, we get an idea and feel of how the Society renews and reorients itself to serve the people and needs of each generation. The most recent GC, GC 35 gives us a sense of mission, direction, purpose and an awareness of the real challenges and difficulties in carrying out our mission.
The apostolic dimension of the Society has stood out for me in the past few weeks, particularly a quote from a letter on Spiritual Formation in the novitiate by the previous Superior General (Peter-Hans Kolvenbach). It’s this:
“Right from the novitiate, the apostolic purpose of the Society should be regarded as the principle that regulates our entire formation”
Many of the GC’s stress that we are an apostolic society, “outward looking”. This makes it easier for me to describe who a Jesuit is and what he does. A Jesuit is a man who is sent; a man on a mission. This apostolic element is quite evident in the novitiate since almost half of each year is given over to apostolic work.
We do weekly apostolates on Sundays and Thursdays. Two of us help in the prison chaplaincy on Sunday mornings, while the rest assist in whatever way their talents allow in assigned local parishes. On Thursdays, one novice is at a home which cares for the elderly, and two facilitate language classes at a place called The Sanctuary, which provides multiple services for refugees. I’m assisting the lay chaplaincy team at St. Edmund Campion Catholic School.
No one joins the Jesuits to be part of an enclosed group of men. We are called to be “contemplatives in action”. We have all felt called by God to do some service in this world. This gives us purpose, and purpose for me is my driving force. St. Ignatius in his autobiography mentions wanting to help souls, and this is basically my driver although what exactly that means in always continually discerned. However, I know that I want to make a positive difference in this world and this drives me. It was a motivation in me joining the Jesuits. I wanted more out of life and had a desire to follow Christ and to work to make the world a better place. My purpose is to love- and this decides everything.
The prayer below sums up my sentiments. Have a great week!
Prayer attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe SJ (1907–1991)Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.