Contemplation of Place: Loyola and CP71
Living in a world where the Internet bridges oceans, it can seem old fashioned to physically gather people from around the globe in one space. When every thought can be tweeted, every question slacked, every meeting zoomed and broadcast, and every whimsical desire for knowledge satisfied with a few seconds on Google, why go through the trouble and expense of travelling just to meet?
While business travelers usually explain that travel provides networking, face-to-face contact and personal interactions between meetings, the delegates of the 71st Congregation of Procurators have a much more meaningful reason to gather in Loyola, Spain:
Composition of Place.
Engaging one’s imagination to compose the place of a “contemplation” - a Jesuit prayer that uses the intellect, imagination and senses - is something that every Jesuit is taught at the start of its formation. It involves using what we know about a Scripture passage to place ourselves within the scene: to feel, hear, see and smell. These contemplations bring forth not just an understanding of Scripture, but of our own desires, biases, challenges and callings.
For the delegates of CP71, who have been tasked with bringing forward the Society of Jesus in a way that is faithful to St. Ignatius of Loyola, being in the Saint’s home is not just a nice place for a retreat, but rather it is the perfect space for them to contemplate and discern.
Consider the final contemplation of the Spiritual Exercises (S.E. 237) of St. Ignatius as paraphrased by David Fleming, SJ:
love shines down upon me like the light rays from the sun, or God’s love is
poured forth lavishly like a fountain spilling forth its waters into an
With CP71 being almost exactly 502 years to the day that Ignatius was wounded and confined to his family home, the delegates experienced the same grey skies, rain and cold winds that Ignatius would have seen out his window. Loyola is in a fertile valley with green hills rising up on either side, meaning that rain pools into streams that flow down the hills, giving life to the valley. The occasional ray of sunlight breaks through the clouds and shines off the water, giving Loyola an otherworldly appearance. Experiencing that had given the delegates profound insight into Ignatius, not possible with just a description or a photo.
The delegates have spent hours sitting in the same room in which Loyola experienced his conversion. They have walked the same corridors, feeling and hearing the same beams of wood under their feet that Loyola would have paced as a young man. They explored the grounds that Loyola would have run through as a child, seeing what he would have seen. They have smelled the same air, felt the wind and the rain and the sun just as did Ignatius all those centuries ago when he surrendered to God.
here has allowed them to compose the place of the contemplation that will bring
the Society into the future.
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The work of the 71st Congregation of Procurators came to a close at midday on Sunday 21 May. A majority of the Procurators voted “non cogenda”, i.e., not to convoke a General Congregation. In the afternoon, the members gathered in the Basilica of Loyola...
We pulled one representative from each of six Conferences and asked them for their thoughts about representing their brothers at CP71. Fr. J. Lourdu Xavier represents the Dumka-Raiganj Province (DUM). Fr. Thierry Anne represents the French Speaking European Province (EOF).
We pulled one representative from each of six Conferences and asked them for their thoughts about representing their brothers at CP71. Fr. Alejandro Patricio Cancino Franklin is the representative from the Mexican Province (MEX). Fr. Francis Xavier Nguyen Hai Tinh represents the Vietnam Province (VIE).