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Linking the Ignatian Year and the Apostolic Preferences

  • 21 July 2020

Last week the major superiors of Asia Pacific region met together. Though it was to be held in Dili, East Timor, the current pandemic made a virtual meeting necessary. Each and every one of the Provincials participate remotely, through their laptops in their offices. On Monday, 13 July, Father General addressed his companions from Rome. After expressing how he had wanted to meet them in person in Dili, and how sorry he was for not being able to visit the Province of Australia, he had delivered his talk under two themes, before entering into dialogue with the superiors of JCAP (Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific).

At first returning to the central topic of the way of governance, the Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs), in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, he had recalled the demise of his confreres who were unfortunately struck by the pandemic.The crisis provoked by this coronavirus had, more widely and fundamentally, made it possible to reveal to the world the unjust structures that are ingrained and cause men and women to suffer. The lack of care for people and the environment has led to significant socio-economic inequalities.

Faced with this distressing reality, Father Sosa emphasised that, even though we live under uncertainty, the Society of Jesus must not delay in seeking what specific contributions it can make to respond to certain emergencies, of course, but even more so to confront the causes of injustice and to imagine paths of structural transformation. Can we help to transform relationships between people, with nature and with God? Our response to this question, the General states, must be rooted in the framework proposed by the UAPs. The spirit of discernment that characterises them must help us to identify the signs of the times, the signs of the Spirit. The UAPs can strengthen our unity; the path they propose will allow the seeds sown on the ground by Father Nicolás to bear much fruit.

Father Sosa then focused at length on the meaning of the Ignatian Year 2021-2022: he sees it as an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the UAPs. The theme of conversion is central and, in the context of the pandemic, we can see the Ignatian Year as an opportunity to accelerate our movement on the path of reconciliation and justice for all humanity.

During this year, there will be activities for large audiences, other activities more relevant for our companions in mission, and occasions more specifically dedicated to Jesuits that will aim to strengthen our familiarity with God and to learn more and more to see God in all things, in Christ.

Father General had looked more specifically at this third type of experience that the Ignatian Year would offer. He is convinced that for the Jesuits, poverty is the door through which the true conversion proposed by the Preferences can be lived. The commitment to poverty will allow the Jesuits to be transformed by the image of the humble and poor Jesus; this will lead to a stronger apostolic commitment to live with and for the poorest.

Finally, to his companions in Asia Pacific, Fr. Sosa had expressed his hope that the spiritual experience proposed by the Ignatian Year would allow for a renewal of interior freedom and indifference. That it would be an opportunity for the recognition of our weaknesses, and that it would give us an incentive to identify more strongly with the Jesus of the Gospel in order to imitate him, thus responding to the Lord’s call.

Find out more about Ignatian spirituality here

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Image credit: The Society of Jesus