FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON POPE FRANCIS
A HOLY RESTLESSNESS
January 4, 2014
Pope Francis spoke to the Jesuits, but I felt he was also speaking to us. Once again, his words are very challenging. His words resonate in much that we are doing, or trying to do, in CFC-FFL.
”Only if one is centered on God is it possible to go to the fringes of the world!” à Our very first Core Value is “Centered on Christ.” Our second Core Value is being “Evangelistic and Missionary.” This is our reason for being. This is our call and our charism. We exist to do worldwide evangelization. The two core values are very much intertwined.
“We, Jesuits, want to be conferred the name of Jesus, militate under the standard of his Cross” à We are Couples for Christ, honored with the name of Jesus Christ. We are evangelizers, thus soldiers in the army of God, and engage in spiritual warfare under the banner of the cross.
“…. this means: to have the same sentiments of Christ. It means to think like Him, love like Him, see like Him, walk like Him. It means to do what He did and with his same sentiments, with the sentiments of his Heart.” à We are to live Christ. We are called to holiness, discipleship and Christian perfection.
“Every one of us Jesuits who follow Jesus should be willing to empty himself. We are called to this abasement: to be of the ‘emptied.’ To be men that do not live centered on themselves because the center of the Society is Christ and his Church.” à We have our Core Values of “Servant Leadership” and “Being a Servant to the Church.” We exist to serve Christ and the Church.
“And this is the restlessness of our void, this holy and beautiful restlessness!” à We are to challenge ourselves, to see where we stand whenever we face the crossroads, to not stand on the status quo or on laurels, to proceed with faith and courage. We are never satisfied as long as there are people to be evangelized.
“…. a journey to undertake together with all the faithful people of God.” à Our LCSC is designed to reach all Catholics, to mainstream Catholic lay evangelization, to do rapid and massive evangelization in order to help renew and strengthen our Church.
“Authentic faith always implies a profound desire to change the world. Here is the question we should ask ourselves: do we also have great visions and dash? Are we also daring? Does our dream fly high? Does zeal devour us?” à Our evangelization is meant to be rapid, massive and worldwide. Only Jesus can change the world, by changing the hearts and minds of people. In our work with the poor, we dream of a world where there is no one in need. Zeal for the Lord and his work consumes us.
“…. he could go, in the spirit of obedience, often also on foot, everywhere in Europe to speak to all with gentleness, and to proclaim the Gospel.” à We exist to proclaim the gospel. We obey the Great Commission and go forth to proclaim the good news to every creature.
“…. ask the Lord, through the intercession of our brother Peter, that he fascinate us again: that fascination of the Lord that led Peter to all his apostolic ‘lunacies’.” à We do crazy thinks like embrace the cross, rejoice in suffering for the sake of the gospel, empty ourselves, offer our services to the Church without reference to self. We are fools for Christ.
“And we pray to Our Lady to be messengers with her Son.” à We are consecrated to Mama Mary. We look to the tandem, the dynamic duo, of Jesus and Mary engaged in spiritual warfare, as seen in Genesis and Revelation.
“Only this restlessness gives peace to the heart of a Jesuit, a restlessness that is also apostolic, which must not make us grow tired of proclaiming the Kerygma, of evangelizing with courage.” à Our theme for this year 2014 is Empowered to Witness, with theme verses of 2 Timothy 1:7-8. “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.”
Pope Francis’ Homily at Mass in the Church of the Gesu
“It is necessary to seek God to find Him, and to find him in order to seek Him again and forever.”
VATICAN CITY, January 03, 2014 (Zenit.org) – Here below is a translation of the Holy Father’s homily given today during Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus at the church del Gesu in Rome.
Concelebrating with the Pope were Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Vicar General of his Holiness for the diocese of Rome; the Bishops: H.E. Monsignor Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; H.E. Monsignor Yves Boivineau, Bishop of Annecy, and Vicar General, H.E. Alain Fournier-Bidoz; Minister General of the Jesuits, Father Adolfo Nicolas, S.J., with some General Counselors and seven young priests from different Conferences of the Society of Jesus and one from Italy.
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We heard Saint Paul tell us: “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:5-7). We, Jesuits, want to be conferred the name of Jesus, militate under the standard of his Cross, and this means: to have the same sentiments of Christ. It means to think like Him, love like Him, see like Him, walk like Him. It means to do what He did and with his same sentiments, with the sentiments of his Heart.
The heart of Christ is the heart of a God who, out of love, “emptied” himself. Every one of us Jesuits who follow Jesus should be willing to empty himself. We are called to this abasement: to be of the “emptied.” To be men that do not live centered on themselves because the center of the Society is Christ and his Church. And God is the Deus semper maior, the God who always surprises us. And if the God of surprises is not at the center, the Society becomes disoriented. Because of this, to be a Jesuit means to be a person of incomplete thought, of open thought: because one always thinks looking at the horizon which is the ever greater glory of God, who ceaselessly surprises us. And this is the restlessness of our void, this holy and beautiful restlessness!
However, because we are sinners, we can ask ourselves if our heart has kept the restlessness of the search or if, instead, it has atrophied; if our heart is always in tension: a heart that does not settle down, a heart that does not shut itself in on itself, but which beats the rhythm of a journey to undertake together with all the faithful people of God. It is necessary to seek God to find Him, and to find him in order to seek Him again and forever. Only this restlessness gives peace to the heart of a Jesuit, a restlessness that is also apostolic, which must not make us grow tired of proclaiming the Kerygma, of evangelizing with courage. It is the restlessness that prepares us to receive the gift of apostolic fruitfulness. Without restlessness we are sterile.
This is the restlessness that Peter Favre [Faber] had, man of great desires, another Daniel. Favre was a “modest, sensible man of profound interior life and gifted with the gift of close relations of friendship with persons of all sorts” (Benedict XVI, Address to Jesuits, April 22, 2006). However, he was also a restless, uncertain and never satisfied spirit. Under the guidance of Saint Ignatius he learned to unite his restless but also gentle — I would say exquisite –, sensibility with the capacity to take decisions. He was a man of great desires; he took charge of his desires, he acknowledged them. In fact for Favre, it was precisely when difficult things were proposed that his true spirit was manifested which moved him to action (cf. Memoriale, 301). Authentic faith always implies a profound desire to change the world. Here is the question we should ask ourselves: do we also have great visions and dash? Are we also daring? Does our dream fly high? Does zeal devour us (cf. Psalm 69:10)? Or are we mediocre and content with our laboratory apostolic programs? Let us remember always: the strength of the Church does not lie in herself and in her organizational capacity, but is hidden in the profound waters of God. And these waters agitate our desires and desires enlarge the heart. It is what Saint Augustine says: pray to desire and desire to enlarge the heart. In fact it was in his desires that Favre could discern God’s voice. Without desires one goes nowhere and it is because of this that we must offer our desires to the Lord. Stated in the Constitutions is that “one’s neighbor his helped with desires presented to God our Lord” (Constitutions, 638).
Favre had the real and profound desire to “be dilated in God”: he was completely centered on God, and because of this he could go, in the spirit of obedience, often also on foot, everywhere in Europe to speak to all with gentleness, and to proclaim the Gospel. The thought comes to me of the temptation, which perhaps we might have and that so many have, of connecting the proclamation of the Gospel with inquisitorial blows of condemnation. No, the Gospel is proclaimed with gentleness, with fraternity, with love. Favre’s familiarity with God led him to understand that interior experience and apostolic life always go together. In his Memoriale he wrote that the first movement of the heart must be that of “desiring what is essential and original, that is, that the first place be left to the perfect solicitude of finding God our Lord” (Memoriale, 63). Favre demonstrates the desire “to let Christ occupy the center of the heart” (Memoriale, 68). Only if one is centered on God is it possible to go to the fringes of the world! And Favre traveled ceaselessly also on the geographic frontiers, so much so that it was said of him: “It seems that he was born not to stay put in any place” (MI, Epistolae I, 362). Favre was devoured by the intense desire to communicate the Lord. If we do not have his same desire, then we need to pause in prayer and, with silent fervor, ask the Lord, through the intercession of our brother Peter, that he fascinate us again: that fascination of the Lord that led Peter to all his apostolic “lunacies.”
We are men in tension; we are also contradictory and inconsistent men, sinners, all. But men who want to walk under the gaze of Jesus. We are little, we are sinners, but we want to militate under the standard of the Cross of the Society conferred with the name of Jesus. We who are egoistic want, however, to live an agitated life of great desires. We renew now our oblation to the Eternal Lord of the universe so that with the help of his glorious Mother we may want, desire and live the sentiments of Christ who emptied himself. As Saint Peter Favre wrote, “We never seek in this life a name that is not connected with that of Jesus” (Memoriale, 205). And we pray to Our Lady to be messengers with her Son.
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]
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