With Christ on Mission
The congregation invites the entire Society to read and pray over this updating of our law and orientation of our mission for today. One way of doing this would be in the light of the Ignatian images of pilgrimage and labor. Like that of Ignatius, our way of proceeding is both a pilgrimage and a labor in Christ: in his compassion, in his ceaseless desire to bring men and women to the Father's reconciliation and the Spirit's love, and in his committed care for the poor, the marginalized, and the abandoned.
GC34, Decree One, 4
In authorizing the renewed Constitutions and their Complementary Norms the thirty-fourth General Congregation provided the entire Society of Jesus with an authoritative and contemporary interpretation of our Jesuit life.† All of us have received copies of the Constitutions and Norms and have been encouraged to incorporate them into our prayer and to make them part of our personal and corporate lives.
The following set of readings, With Christ On Mission, has been created with an eye to helping Jesuits reflect prayerfully on these treasures of our Institute.† Hopefully, this booklet captures vital thrusts and key themes from the Constitutions, Norms and our most recent General Congregation in a succinct and forceful manner.† It is organized in the form of forty-seven Lenten readings and, in the spirit of this season of conversion, it is designed to help us reexamine our lives together as Jesuits.† With God’s grace, these Lenten meditations will confirm us in our apostolic ministry and challenge us to become more authentic companions of Jesus and friends in the Lord.
With Christ On Mission can be used in many ways.† It is hoped that Jesuits will make use of it in personal and community prayer as well as for spiritual reading.† Slow, prayerful reading of each day’s selection (a form of lectio) can challenge us to deepen our insight into our own Jesuit vocation as well as lead us into loving conversation (oratio) or prayerful silence with the Lord.† As we find ourselves intrigued by a passage, we may be drawn to return to the full text of the Congregation’s documents, the Constitutions or the Norms in order to reach a fuller understanding of a particular theme.† Selections gathered and presented here can also serve as focal points for community discussions or faith-sharing groups.
This booklet is divided into eight sections and can easily be adapted for use in a Jesuit’s annual retreat.† In fact, the organization and selection of texts in With Christ On Mission relies heavily on Fr. J. Peter Schineller’s manuscript for an eight-day retreat manual based on our revised law.† I am deeply grateful to Fr. Schineller for permitting us to make liberal use of his work while revising it to suit our Lenten purposes.
In praying over the selections in this booklet, it might be helpful to recall that, although the Constitutions arose out of the prayerful discussions and comments of the early companions, they find their real origin in the prayers and tear-filled Masses of St. Ignatius.† May our own prayerful use of With Christ On Mission draw us closer to the spirit of our founder and to the Heart of Jesus Himself.
Kenneth J. Gavin, S.J.
January 1, 1996
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and
Titular Feast of the Society of Jesus