1: Our Life is Mission, Mission is our Life (10th July 2017)
In his letter to the Society on reconciliation, Fr. Nicolás posed some questions which continue to inspire our discernment: Where is God suffering today in the world? How is God working in the hearts of all peoples to relieve the unbearable suffering of others? To which sources of Life can we turn so as to heal so much death and to restore the bonds between groups and persons who exclude and who are violently excluded?
Gathering together all the calls that have been received from each and every one of the Society’s apostolic units, and following the promptings of the Spirit to the Society assembled in General Congregation, our eyes are turned to Christ crucified in those who are crucified today. Our gaze, like that of the Trinity, becomes loving action that is embodied in service that seeks to free people from their crosses. Such service disposes us for an apostolic renewal founded on hope able to make a real impact on human lives, especially the lives of the poor, the defenceless, and the smallest.
Beholding the Jesus who heals, liberates, and dedicates his whole life to the announcement of the Good News, we dispose ourselves as his companions to discern in common the ways in which we can best participate in his work. We recognize, however, that to do this, we need to understand to the best of our ability the world in which we live, so as to ascertain our best possible contribution to the three inseparable dimensions of reconciliation proposed by General Congregations 35 and 36: reconciliation with God, reconciliation with human beings, and reconciliation with creation.
2: On Discernment in Common (27th Sept. 2017)
Prayer in common is another requirement for good discernment. The group that proposes to discern in common should find ways and spaces for personal and communal prayer, in accord with its particular characteristics. Personal prayer and communal prayer maintain a healthy tension between heaven and earth as we seek the magis that derives from our relationship with God and his Word. Such prayer helps us to keep in mind that as a body we are servants of the missio Dei. The Eucharist is the privileged mode of prayer in common. Thus it may have special significance and a central role in the processes of discernment in common. A community or a group that is able to celebrate the Eucharist as a source of life in the Spirit increases its ability to perceive the action of the Spirit in history and to experience how the Lord fulfills his promise to be with us all days until the end of history.
3: Discernment of Apostolic Preferences (3rd Oct. 2017)
The apostolic preferences have been above all the Society’s response to the needs of the Church, consistent with the charism of the Society and the resources available to it. They have expressed and should still express in concrete terms our readiness, as a universal apostolic body, to work beneath the banner of the cross, to serve the Lord alone and the Church, his spouse, under the Roman Pontiff. Thus, apostolic preferences create for us the tension of seeking the most universal good as the ultimate goal of the numerous apostolic activities the Society carries out.
Moreover, as we continually renew our interior freedom through the spiritual life we share with other Jesuits and with our companions in the mission, the universal apostolic preferences become a horizon for the discernment in common which helps to guide and orient the apostolic planning of the Society’s resources at all levels.
The universal apostolic preferences, therefore, have been and are precisely what their name signifies: points of reference for the whole Society, that inspire its discernment in common and its apostolic planning at all levels of our life-mission. At the same time they are a guide for restructuring the Society’s governance and for creating working networks, both among ourselves and with others, in this same ministry of reconciliation.
We are all too well aware of the disproportion between the needs of humanity which the Church seeks to meet and the resources we have at hand. The preferences provide us guidance about how to use those resources effectively, without dispersing them, so that they serve the greater glory of God, which has been the Society’s aim since its foundation. The preferences do not establish a hierarchy of the needs of humanity or of the Church, but they do indicate the best ways for the Society to make use of the resources it has available for the service of Christ’s reconciling mission in the world.
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