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.
Section II: Life Consecrated by Vows
Monday, First Week of Lent:
Lives Conformed to Christ
††††††††††† “I am the vine, you are the branches.† Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”† (Jn 15:5)
†††††††††††† General Examen
††† ††††††††††† 44.† It is likewise very important to bring to the attention of those who are being examined, emphasizing it and giving it great weight in the sight of our Creator and Lord, to how great a degree it helps and profits in the spiritual life to abhor in its totality and not in part whatever the world loves and embraces, and to accept and desire with all possible energy whatever Christ our Lord has loved and embraced.† Just as the men of the world who follow the world love and seek with such great diligence honors, fame, and esteem for a great name on earth, as the world teaches them, so those who proceed spiritually and truly follow Christ our Lord love and intensely desire everything opposite.† That is to say, they desire to clothe themselves with the same garb and uniform of their Lord because of the love and reverence owed to him, to such an extent that where there would be no offense to his Divine Majesty and no imputation of sin to the neighbor, they desire to suffer injuries, false accusations, and affronts, and to be held and esteemed as fools (but without their giving any occasion for this), because of their desire to resemble and imitate in some manner our Creator and Lord Jesus Christ, by putting on his garb and uniform, since it was for our spiritual profit that he clothed himself as he did.† For he gave us an example that in all things possible to us we might seek, with the aid of his grace, to imitate and follow him, since he is the way which leads men to life.† Therefore the candidate should be asked whether he finds himself with such desires, which are so salutary and fruitful for the perfection of his soul.
††††††††††† GC34, Decree 2, Servants of Christ’s Mission
34††††††† ††††††††††† 9.† Being “friends of the Lord,” then, means being “friends with the poor,” and we cannot turn aside when our friends are in need. We are a community in solidarity with them because of Christ’s preferential love for them. We understand more clearly that the sinfulness of the world, which Christ came to heal, reaches in our time a pitch of intensity through social structures which exclude the poor — the majority of the world’s population — from participation in the blessings of God’s creation. We see that oppressive poverty breeds a systemic violence against the dignity of men, women, children, and the unborn which cannot be tolerated in the Kingdom willed by God. These are the signs of the times which call us to realize that “God has always been the God of the poor because the poor are the visible proof of a failure in the work of creation.”
†††††††††††† Complementary Norms, Part VII
246††††††††††† Conditions for carrying out this mission [of the service of faith and the promotion of justice] are the following:
††††††††††† ††††††††††† 1††††††††††† A continuing personal conversion, finding Jesus Christ in the brokeness of our world, living in solidarity with the poor and outcast, so that we can take up their cause under the standard of the cross.† Our sensitivity to such a mission will be most affected by frequent direct contact with these “friends of the Lord,” from whom we can often learn much about faith.† Some insertion into the world of the poor should therefore be part of the life of each member, and our communities should be located among ordinary people wherever possible. …
††††††††††† GC34, Decree 26, Characteristics of Our Way of Proceeding
539 5.† Today we bring this countercultural gift of Christ t resolutely out of our “desire to resemble and imitate in some manner our Creator and Lord Jesus Christ . . . since he is the way which leads men to life.”† Today, as always, it is deep, personal devotion to Jesus, himself the Way, that principally characterizes the Jesuit way of proceeding.o a world beguiled by self-centered human fulfillment, extravagance, and soft living, a world that prizes prestige, power, and self-sufficiency. In such a world, to preach Christ poor and humble with fidelity and courage is to expect humiliation, persecution, and even death. We have seen this happen to our brothers in recent years. Yet we move forward
Tuesday, First Week of Lent:
Obedience in a Spirit of Love
††††††††††† “Who are my mother and my brothers?”† And looking at those who sat around him, Jesus said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!† Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”† (Mk 3:33b-35)
†††††††††††† Constitutions, Part VI
††† All should strongly dispose themselves to observe obedience and to distinguish themselves in it, not only in the matters of obligation but also in the others, even though nothing else be perceived except an indication of the superior’s will without an expressed command.† They should keep in view God our Creator and Lord, for whom such obedience is practiced, and endeavor to proceed in a spirit of love and not as men troubled by fear.† Hence all of us should be eager to miss no point of perfection which we can with God’s grace attain in the observance of all the Constitutions and of our manner of proceeding in our Lord, by applying all our energies with very special care to the virtue of obedience shown first to the sovereign pontiff and then to the superiors of the Society.
†††††††††††† Complementary Norms, Part VI
149††††††††††† Impelled by love of Christ, we embrace obedience as a distinctive charism conferred by God on the Society through its founder, whereby we may be united the more surely and constantly with God’s salvific will, and at the same time be made one in Christ among ourselves.† Thus, through the vow of obedience our Society becomes a more fit instrument of Christ in his Church, to assist souls for God’s greater glory.
150††††† ß 1.† Obedience is always an act of faith and freedom whereby the religious recognizes and embraces the will of God manifested to him by one who has authority to send him in the name of Christ.† But both the superior who sends and the companion who is sent gain assurance that the mission is really God’s will if it is preceded by special dialogue.
Wednesday, First Week of Lent:
Chastity: Love Freely Given in Service to All
††††††††††† To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.† (1 Cor 9:22-23)
††††††††††† GC34, Decree 8, Chastity in the Society of Jesus
236††††† ††††††††††† 9.† Accordingly, in our Society not only poverty and obedience but also chastity is essentially apostolic. It is not understood by Jesuits as directed exclusively to their personal sanctification, but as calling them to be one with Christ in labor for the salvation of the human race.† According to the whole intent of our Institute, we embrace apostolic chastity as a special source of spiritual fruitfulness in the world, as a means for a more prompt love and a more total apostolic availability towards all men and women.† That is why the chastity of Jesuits does not compete with marriage, but rather reinforces its value. Both point to a love and a fidelity which is deeper than sexual expression and of which Christian marriage and religious chastity are divergent and sacred realizations. Few are called to the life of a Jesuit, but for the man who is called, chastity only makes sense as a means to a greater love, to a more authentic apostolic charity.
243††††† ††††††††††† 16.† Throughout his life a Jesuit will give his time and his talents to others without thought of recompense. He does not build his own business or his own career, because he does not build his own home and family. His chastity has made it possible for him to grow in his poverty. At the end of his life, through his vow of chastity, he will have become poor in a way that his previous talents and education and energies made impossible. Now all of these belong to yesterday; they have been spent for others. He has finally become poor as did Christ, who, “although he was rich, made himself poor for our sakes” (2 Cor. 8:9).† He has become a man who possesses neither family nor property, has built up nothing for himself, and looks to God for the definition of his life. This poverty that flows from his chastity is not the destruction of his Jesuit life; in many ways it is its completion and fulfillment.† But he should not disguise the cost of such a life.
†††††††††††† Complementary Norms, Part VI
144††††† ß 1.† By the vow of chastity, we devote ourselves to the Lord and to his service in such a unique love that it excludes marriage and any other exclusive human relationship, as well as the genital expression and gratification of sexuality.† Thus the vow entails the obligation of complete continence in celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.† Following the evangelical counsel of chastity, we aspire to deepen our familiarity with God, our configuration to Christ, our companionship with our brother Jesuits, our service to our neighbors whoever they may be; and at the same time we aspire to grow in our personal maturity and capacity to love.
††††††††††† ß 2.† Hence in the Society chastity, which is before all else God’s gracious gift, is essentially apostolic and the source of radical availability and mobility for mission, and not at all to be understood as directed exclusively to our own personal sanctification.† Its precious apostolic fruitfulness, besides providing freedom for greater mobility in God’s service, in imitation of the angels, is a mature, simple, anxiety-free dealing with the men and women with whom and for whom we exercise our ministry for building up the body of Christ.
††††††††††† ß 3.† Especially in our times, when people tend to put whole classes of their fellow human beings beyond the margins of their concern, while at the same time identifying love with eroticism, the self-denying love that is warmly human, yet freely given in service to all, especially to the poor and the marginalized, can be a powerful sign leading people to Christ, who came to show us what love really is, namely, that God is love.
146††††† ß 1.† That the love once consecrated by chastity may grow unceasingly, all should before all else cultivate intimate familiarity with God and friendship with Christ through contemplation of his mysteries and through life-giving assimilation to him in the sacraments both of penance and of the Eucharist.
††††††††††† ß 2.† It is also very important, as the Society has learned from the experience of Ignatius himself, to renew incessantly the strong desire of persevering, by means of humble and simple devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who by her chaste assent obtained divine fecundity and became the mother of fair love.
††††††††††† ß 3.† Chastity is more safely preserved “when in common life true fraternal love thrives among its members,” by fostering charity and the ready union of souls, which disposes us to bear one another’s burdens; and when we feel a generous love for one and all and at the same time engage in a helpful and fruitful dialogue with all and are true brothers and friends in Christ, leading the community life proper to the Society, as described in Part VIII, nos. 311-30.
Thursday, First Week of Lent:
Poverty: Strong Wall of Religious Life
††††††††††† Jesus said, “There is still one thing lacking.† Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”† (Lk 18:22)
†††††††††††† Constitutions, Part VI
††† 1.† Poverty, as the strong wall of the religious institute should be loved and preserved in its integrity as far as this is possible with God’s grace.† The enemy of the human race generally tries to weaken this defense and rampart which God our Lord inspired religious institutes to raise against him and the other adversaries of their perfection.† Into what was well ordered by their first founders he induces alterations by means of Interpretations and innovations not in conformity with those founders’ first spirit.† Therefore, so that provision may be made in this matter as far as lies in our power, all those who make profession in this Society should promise not to take part in altering what pertains to poverty in the Constitutions, unless it be in some manner to make it more strict, according to the circumstances in the Lord.
†††††††††††† Complementary Norms, Part VI
157††††††††††† Voluntary religious poverty is the attempt of fallen human beings, in the radical following of the humble and poor Christ, to achieve that freedom from every inordinate attachment which is the condition for a great and ready love of God and neighbor.
158†††† The principle and foundation of our poverty is found in a love of the Word of God m, ade flesh and crucified.† Therefore in the Society that way of life is to be maintained which is as far as possible removed from all infection of avarice and as like as possible to evangelical poverty. Which our first fathers experienced as more gratifying, more undefiled, and more suitable for the edification of the neighbor.
††††††††††† GC34,† Decree 9,† Poverty
277††††† ††††††††††† 4.† Our poverty is apostolic because it witnesses to God as the one Lord of our lives and the only Absolute; it distances us from material goods and frees us from all attachment so that we can be fully available to serve the Gospel and dedicate ourselves to the most needy. In this way poverty is itself a mission and a proclamation of the Beatitudes of the Kingdom.
278 5.† Our poverty is also prophetic. In recent decades the cry of the poor has become more piercing. But the gap between rich and poor is being reinforced rather than diminishing. Unbridled capitalism produces disproportionate growth for some economic sectors, exclusion and marginalization for many others. Contemporary society is infected by consumerism, hedonism, and lack of responsibility. The values considered important today are personal fulfillment, competition, efficiency, and success at any cost. In view of this panorama of contrasts, our personal and community poverty becomes a sign and message of a different logic, that of evangelical solidarity
Friday, First Week of Lent:
Poverty: Solidarity with the Poor
††††††††††† But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.† He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them.† Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.† (Lk 10:33-34)
††††††††††† GC34, Decree 9, Poverty
287††††† ††††††††††† 14.†† 5.† In order to “feel” [sentir] the anxieties and aspirations of the dispossessed in an Ignatian way, we need direct personal experience.† Profound experience is what changes us. We can break out of our habitual way of living and thinking only through physical and emotional proximity to the way of living and thinking of the poor and marginalized.
289††††† ††††††††††† 16.††††††††††† b. Solidarity with the poor cannot be the concern only of some Jesuits; it has to typify our life and our ministry. So whatever the mission given us may be, we have to work within it for the benefit of the poor and for a more just and fraternal world. Moreover, the insertion of communities in areas of poverty and marginalization is a special witness to love for the poor and for the poverty of Christ.† Fortunately the number of these communities has grown; in them Jesuits serve selflessly, working with the poor and living as they do. Provincials must continue to promote such communities so that, while maintaining a strong sense of belonging to the body of the province, they are a visible application of our preferential option for the poor and contribute by means of fraternal exchange to increasing the social sensibility of the province.
Saturday, First Week of Lent:
Formula of First Vows
††††††††††† “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears a much fruit.† Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”†† (Jn 12:24-25)
†††††††††††† Constitutions, Part V
††† 4.† “Almighty and eternal God, I, N., though altogether most unworthy in your divine sight, yet relying on your infinite goodness and mercy and moved with a desire of serving you, in the presence of the most holy Virgin Mary and your whole heavenly court, vow to your Divine Majesty perpetual poverty, chastity, and obedience in the Society of Jesus; and I promise that I shall enter that same Society in order to lead my entire life in it, understanding all things according to its Constitutions.† Therefore I suppliantly beg your immense Goodness and Clemency, through the blood of Jesus Christ, to deign to receive this holocaust in an odor of sweetness; and that just as you gave me the grace to desire and offer this, so you will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.
††††††††††† “Rome, or elsewhere, in such a place, day, month, year, and so forth.”
††††††††††† After this he will likewise receive Holy Communion and all the rest will be done as is stated above .††