Thursday, September 18, 2014

From"A Fire that Kindles Other Fires" - Decree 2 of the Society of Jesus' General Congregation 35:

While at Manresa, Ignatius had an experience at the river Cardoner that opened his eyes so that "all things seemed new to him" because he began to see them with new eyes. Reality became transparent to him, enabling him to see God working in the depths of everything and inviting him to "help souls." This new view of reality led Ignatius to seek and find God in all things.

The understanding that Ignatius received taught him a contemplative way of standing in the world, of contemplating God at work in the depths of things, of tasting "the infinite sweetness and charm of the divinity, of the soul, of its virtues and of everything there." Starting from the contemplation of the incarnation it is clear that Ignatius does not sweeten or falsify painful realities. Rather he begins with them, exactly as they are - poverty, forced displacement, violence between people, abandonment, structural injustice, sin - but then he points to how God's Son was born into these realities; and it is here that sweetness is found.

Tasting and seeing God in reality is a process. Ignatius had to learn this himself through many painful experiences. At La Storta he received the grace to be placed with the Son bearing the Cross; and so he and his companions were drawn into the Son's pattern of life, with its joys and with its sufferings. Similarly today the Society, in carrying out its mission, experiences the companionship of the Lord and the challenge of the Cross. Commitment to "the service of faith and the promotion of justice," to dialogue with cultures and religions, takes Jesuits to limit-situations where they encounter energy and new life, but also anguish and death - where "the Divinity is hidden."

The experience of a hidden God cannot always be avoided, but even in the depths of darkness when God seems concealed, the transforming light of God is able to shine. God labors intensely in this hiddenness. Rising from the tombs of personal life and history, the Lord appears when we least expect, with his personal consolation as a friend and as the center of a fraternal and servant community.

From this experience of God laboring in the heart of life, our identity as "servants of Christ's mission" rises up ever anew.