Saturday, September 1, 2012

Spirituality: Pedro Arrupe - A Man With and For Others

Pedro Arrupe was the Jesuit Provincial who first coined the term “man for others” as he referred to Jesuits. As the Jesuit order has changed over the years, the slogan has as well, “it has become “person for others” and most recently “persons with and for others.” We cannot be “for” others unless we are first “with” others.

The Jesuit Superior General, Fr. Adolpho Nicholas, urges Jesuits and their colleagues to focus on the first part – to be a person with others. We learn to be present to another person without trying to change the person we are serving.

When we understand another person’s life and perspective, we allow ourselves to grow in wisdom and compassion. This world needs more of those traits.

Now a little about Fr. Arrupe.

Jesuits really likes this man. He is our hero. At the end of the Second Vatican Council, Fr. Pedro Arrupe was elected superior general of the Society of Jesus, the first Basque (from Northern Spain) to occupy this position since Ignatius of Loyola. In his eighteen years as leader of the Jesuits, Arrupe oversaw a renewal of the Jesuits so profound that it changed the face of the church.

Arrupe initiated a renewed mission for the Jesuits in terms of “faith that does justice.” “Our faith in Jesus Christ and our mission to proclaim the Gospel demand of us a commitment to promote justice and enter into solidarity with the voiceless and the powerless.”

Arrupe believes that the gospel requires effective solidarity with a suffering world. Before entering the Jesuits in 1927 he had studied medicine, but his conversion set him on a different course. On August 6, 1945, Fr. Arrupe was serving just four miles from the center of Hiroshima, close enough to be nearly blinded by the flash of the first atomic bomb and to feel the blast that sent the walls of the seminary crashing around him. The memory of that day and the suffering survivors whom he tended was present to him in each Mass he celebrated for the rest of his life.

Arrupe’s compassion developed over time into a conviction that ministry to the oppressed and suffering peoples must not remain on the personal level alone. In other words, we cannot be spiritual, but not religious. It was necessary also to build structural changes in the world to alleviate the sources of oppression and violence. Thus, Arrupe was a pioneer in urging the combination of pastoral concern, biblical reflection, and social analysis.

We are encouraged to “seek God in all things” as Pedro Arrupe did. We must read the “signs of the times.” When we see structural injustice, whether it is in our school, our nation, or our families, we must put away our fears and learn to stand up to it. We are called to bring about a justice – a justice that arises from our love of God and love of neighbor. We must seek an end to all violence and war. This justice is rooted in our faithfulness to the Gospel and our dream that God’s mercy and peace will rule over all the earth. This is a vision we must help come true.

Loving God, teach us to seek you in all things, to learn from you, because when we seek you, we know we will find you by our side. Amen.