Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola 2020
Message of Fr. General Arturo Sosa
The opportunity of the Ignatian Year 2021-2022
Remembering St. Ignatius of Loyola and celebrating his feast gives us a chance to share
some reflections on the Ignatian year that begins next May. The Ignatian year,
which runs from May 2021-the end of July 2022, offers us a great opportunity
that, hopefully, we will take full advantage of. We should not let it pass in
vain. It is a call to allow the Lord to work on our conversion. We ask for the
grace to be renewed by the Lord. We wish to discover a new apostolic enthusiasm
inside ourselves, a new life, new ways to follow the Lord. That is why we have
chosen as our theme for the year: to see all things new in Christ.
The whole year will be guided by the Universal
Apostolic Preferences which, as you know, were announced in 2019 and
continue until 2029. We know that assimilating them means conversion for each
one of us, for our communities, our institutions and our apostolic works. We ask
for the grace of a real change in our day to day life-mission.
this moment, I am especially addressing our companions in the mission: the lay
people, religious and those who, from other beliefs or human convictions,
participate in the same struggle. We hope, during the Ignatian year, to share
more deeply with you the foundational experience by which the apostolic body of
the Society participates in the mission of reconciling all things in Christ.
Many of you feel a deep commitment to this inspiration, to the charism that
gives life to the Society of Jesus. I thank the Lord for that grace and I thank
each of you for your enthusiasm and closeness. We want to take advantage of the
Ignatian year to accompany more closely the work that the Holy Spirit is doing
in each one of you so that you can feel that call more deeply.
To young people I say: “We want to learn to accompany you. We want to learn from
you. Each one of you is unique, born with a special purpose. Ignatius struggled
to discover the meaning of his life. In him you can find inspiration as you
struggle to make your life meaningful and as you ask how you can contribute to
building a better world, where the dignity of people is respected and where you
live in a joy-filled harmony with nature. I express our desire to accompany you
through what we do and most especially through who we are – people willing to
share our time, our dreams and our hopes.”
To my Jesuit brothers of all generations scattered throughout the whole world I
say that the Ignatian year is a new call to draw inspiration from Ignatius, the
Pilgrim. His inner struggle and conversion led him to a very close familiarity
with God. This familiarity, this intense love, allowed him to find God in all
things and to inspire others to form together an apostolic body, full of
missionary zeal. We are heirs to that charism and responsible for its legitimacy
in the times we live in.
For Ignatius, a life of poverty was an expression of intimacy with Jesus, the Lord.
More than words, his poverty was a sign of his interior transformation, of his
growing vulnerability before the Lord, of his radical indifference to preparing
himself to follow God's will, of his sense that everything came down from above
as a gift.
How can we, the present members of the Society of Jesus, receive and live this
grace of evangelical poverty?
First of all, by approaching the way of life of Jesus as Ignatius and the first
companions did. Yes, an intimate relationship with the Lord is possible if we
desire it and ask for it with insistence as we have learned in the Spiritual
Exercises. It is an intimacy that is given to us not only to be enjoyed quietly
by each one. On the contrary, it is an intimacy that enables us to love and
follow more closely Jesus who continues to call us, especially through the
poorest and most marginalized, through the cry of the earth, through all that
is vulnerable. For the first companions,the life of poverty of each one and of the community was always linked to the
care of the poor. That is a substantive part of the charism we have inherited.
Guided by the discernment of the Universal Apostolic Preferences we have accepted the
challenge to listen to the cry of the poor, the excluded, those whose dignity
has been violated. We have accepted to walk with them and to promote together
the transformation of the unjust structures that have become so evident in the
current world crisis. And let me be clear: this crisis is not only health and
economic but, above all, social and political. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown
the serious deficiencies in social relations at all levels, the international
disorder and the causes of ecological imbalance. Only the love of Jesus brings
definitive healing. We can only be witnesses of that love if we are closely
united to Him, among ourselves and with those thrown aside by the world and
Living our vow of poverty in the current conditions of the world will require changes
in our organizational culture. The path
of the Spiritual Exercisescan be our
guide, starting with a profound renewal of our interior freedom. This leads us,
in turn, to Ignatian indifference and makes us available for "what is
best" or as we say in Spanish “lo que más conviene”.
need to recognize our deficiencies and even our sins, in this area, if we want
to arrive at a real identification of ourselves with the poor and humble Jesus
of the Gospels. As we have done so many times in our contemplation of the call
of the Eternal King (EE., n. 98), we can today ask for the grace to renew our
desire to imitate the Lord "in bearing all wrong and all abuse and all
poverty, actual as well as spiritual".
Jesuits, we must ask ourselves what it means in this day and age to introduce
changes in our life of religious poverty in order to make it more strict. In
the Ignatian text, the full expression is that ‘according to the demands of the
times’ we should see if it is necessary to introduce changes to make it more
strict. What we want to do is to understand what are the demands of these times as we look to the future.
The examination of our life in poverty can become the concrete way to inspire
conversion for a re-charismatization of our life-mission.
Jesuit brothers, dear companions in mission: we are entering into what can be a
transformative moment for the Society of Jesus. It can be a moment that
releases new energy, new freedom, new initiatives, new love for otheors and for
our most afflicted brothers and sisters. In remembering St. Ignatius of Loyola
and his conversion, we find encouragement. We realise that “Yes, change is
possible. Yes, our hearts can be softened. Yes, our world can find new ways
forward”. We place our hands in the hands of Jesus, our brother and friend, and
we go forth into an uncertain but hopeful future, confident that He is with us
and that His spirit is guiding us.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
May the Lord bless us as we follow Him along the
way, poor and humble, this minima compañia