“All is gift; all is grace.”

11 February: World Day of the Sick, proposed to the prayers of all by the Holy Father. In 2021, it is the 29th edition. And how much prayer for the sick - and those who care for and accompany them - makes sense in this period of the Covid-19 pandemic! Pope Francis, in connection with his recent teachings on universal fraternity, has chosen to draw our attention to this verse from the Gospel of Matthew: “You have but one teacher and you are all brothers” (Mt 23:8). This is a way to express the relationship of trust which is at the basis of the care of the sick.

In the infirmaries of the Society of Jesus, many Jesuits enjoy such a climate of trust with the staff and the other members of their community. Here in Rome, right next to the General Curia, at the Canisius Residence, we met Fr. Ernesto Santucci (Euro-Mediterranean Province) who was kind enough to testify to what he is experiencing now, while remembering what he has lived through during his many years in the Society.

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Reaching the milestone of 70 years in the Society of Jesus is not for everyone. I reached it last year, almost without realizing it.

Looking back, I can say that the Lord has been great to me. He took me from a rather “bourgeois” life to one that was almost always “in the street.” In the notorious alleyways of the “Quartieri Spagnoli” of Naples, I discovered a degraded humanity: young people without family support who lived to the rhythm of robbery, prostitution and prison. Gathered together in a housing community, I tried to give many of them affection, understanding, the support that I was capable of. I rediscovered within myself the paternal dimension, important for true love. And also the therapeutic community, one of the first in Italy, always in contact with people who have lost their dignity and their life.

But the Lord showed me still another path: the missionary dimension. Albania was opening up to freedom, after so many years of oppression by a ferocious and merciless dictatorship. From the age of 60 to 80, I worked to rebuild the fabric of faith in the country. And then, back in Italy, I spent time in the confessional in the ministry of reconciliation.

The Covid took this last apostolic activity away from me: and at first I found myself a little lost, but then I discovered that the Lord was giving me the gift of a last period of my life, no less important than the previous ones. The Lord Jesus said to me: “Until now you have been running your own boat. Now you have to stop rowing and you have to let yourself be led to where I want you to go...”

I discovered the meaning of my own limitations, weakness, illness. All is gift, all is grace. I live serenely, waiting for the day when I will be called. I perceive as never before the deep meaning of “Sume et suscipe”, “Take, Lord, receive” this very central prayer that our father Ignatius left us. I abandon myself in the arms of my Lord, trusting in his mercy.

I am surrounded by the affection of my companions to whom I try to transmit the meaning of the Ignatian “Magis”. I pray not only “for the Church and for the Society,” an expression used in the Society's catalogues for those who have reached this stage, but I pray for the whole world, for all the people who have accompanied me in this wonderful adventure that has been my life!

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles public relations.

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