Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Questions for the General #2: Spirituality

Kerry Holland is an artist and a giver of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. She is at present co-chair of Companions in the Ministry of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, a national organisation set up to encourage conversation between and ongoing development of those whose ministry is giving the Ignatian retreats.

Kerry’s questions: Fr General, would you share with us something of your early experience of God that on reflection has caused transformation in your life. If you were to paint a picture of the feelings associated with that experience what colour or colours would you choose?

Well, we are looking at early experiences. I would say of myself that I could be painted as a quiet Spaniard. There is a book, The Quiet American. I could be the quiet Spaniard.

I was shy and slow as a child, and so I guess - and think I recall in my life God comes slowly and smoothly into my life, so I cannot boast of any mystical experiences that I could surprise you with.

I feel that if I have grown in my life, if I have grown at all, it's through crisis. That has brought to me a triple conviction. First, I have a very positive view of crisis, so when a young Jesuit speaks about a crisis I thank God, because that's a great opportunity to grow. A crisis puts us in an emergency situation so we can know ourselves better, and so we know better the word of God. So I have a very positive view of crisis.

Second, the crisis forces us to go deeper into our lives and to ask the tough questions, because the surface questions are not good any more. Either you go deeper or you lose your horizon.

Because of that my way, the third conviction, is not a flashy way. It is a quiet, smooth and simple way. The remedies that we develop out of these crisis experiences are worth taking time sharing within the Society of Jesus reasonably in depth. Because God is at work and we have to search quietly and deeply to find God, and to use creativity, because the world is changing and yet our mission continues to challenge us to find the language, the content, the responses that are going to help people, and particularly life in the spirit, because in the spirit we have the fire, the inspiration, the force to keep us going quietly or in a flashy way.

Colour? Personally I like red, yellow and green, with blue also. But when we come to the experience, how would I colour the experience, maybe I would colour it orange or lavender. In Spain violet is not a very positive colour, but in Japan I have learned that lavender and violet are very good colours, colours for feasts, for celebrations, and they are more subdued than red and yellow.

Fr General fielded questions from six people at his address on 25 January. In this edition of Province Express, we feature the first three questions. The other three questions will be featured in the next edition.