We said goodbye to Carlos who made his first vows in September and is now engaged in further studies as a Jesuit Scholastic. We are joined by 5 new novices Aurimas & Mantas (from Lithuania), Mark & Bastiaan (from The Netherlands) and Richard (from UK). In addition the community has grown with the addition of Fr Frans Chanterie SJ, Fr Kelechi Ahamefula SJ and Fr Kevin O’Rourke SJ who takes up the role of socius or assistant to the director of novices.
We are studying the decrees of the last 5 General Congregations of the Society of Jesus. This has helped to clarify ideas and inspire us as to what it means to be a Jesuit today. I am affirmed to learn that formation is continually ongoing even after final vows. It is encouraging to see how the Society has and continues to evolve to tackle the needs of our time.
Responding to the greatest needs of the world in our time or working at the frontiers is part of the Jesuit charism. Whilst nowadays this is not completely unique among apostolic orders it was at the time of St. Ignatius. Unique to our charism is the option for some members to make a 4th vow of obedience to the Pope in matters of mission. Ignatius recognised that the Pope was best placed to know where the needs were greatest in the Church. As such the 4th vow of obedience should be considered as making oneself available as required to go anywhere in the world and serve under the direction of the Pope. Ignatius was no stranger to criticism and sometimes working at the frontiers attracts criticism. With this in mind it was encouraging to read Pope Benedict’s words to the 35th General Congregation:
“I want to encourage you and your brothers to go on in the fulfilment of your mission, in full fidelity to your original charism, in the ecclesial and social context that characterizes the beginning of this millennium. As my predecessors have often told you, the Church needs you, counts on you, and continues to turn to you with confidence.”
Benedict XVI Allocution to the 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, 21 Feb 2008.
The decrees from the general congregations make clear that faith and justice go hand in hand. How this may come to fruition through our individual formation remains to be seen. To use a culinary analogy this time of early formation is like a cake mix. Many ingredients are added to the mix and at times we like to think we are in control of the recipe but it is God who is the master baker. With this in mind it helps to note that although the end result may not be clear at this stage it will result in a cake. Which is something tasteful, delightful and beautiful for God. Like the cake if it taken out of the oven too early it will fail to rise – so time is important. Perhaps this explains why Jesuit formation is so long.
We hope to get back into the pattern of more regular blog items especially having met a few people that have read them. We continue to keep you in prayers and ask that you pray for the growing community here at Manresa.
God bless Steve