Jesuits Around the World
December 5, 2008 | Vol. 12, N. 13
• In the previous edition of the S.J. Electronic Information Service (November 21), we mentioned the participation of Fr. General as a Counselor in the Plenary Session of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The theme of the Plenary Session was Monastic Life and Its Meaning in Today's Church and World. During the two and a half day meeting several aspects of consecrated life as a whole and not simply monastic life were discussed. Fresh from the meeting, we asked Fr. Adolfo Nicolás to offer us some of his comments.
First of all what are your general impressions of the meeting:
Fr. General responded: "Personally, I found the plenary sessions very helpful. Not only did I come to understand better the realities of monastic life today, but, more importantly, I also see more clearly how deeply St. Ignatius, and with him, all Jesuits, are linked and indebted to the monastic tradition in the Church".
More specifically, what do you understand about this link between our Society and the monastic tradition of the Church?
Fr. Nicolás continued: "The years after the Second Vatican Council often saw us carefully studying the differences between monastic, conventual and apostolic forms of religious life. During the days of this Plenary Session, however, I came to a profound realization that, prior to and beyond these structural differences, there is, in fact, a very deep communion in values, in attachment to Christ, in concern for the life of the Church and of humanity among all forms of religious life.
The Plenary Session was certainly a time of listening and learning about monastic life. But it was also a time of finding deep spiritual and charismatic connections with our Jesuit way of life. The session reminded me that, a few years ago, an Orthodox Bishop showed his appreciation for Jesuit life and spirituality by defining Jesuits as "monks in the middle of the city." For him, it was as though Saint Ignatius had developed a "portable" way of living the monastic ideals in the midst of a busy apostolic life.
The experience of this plenary session has been, for me, an invitation and challenge to live more fully the call that the Lord has given so generously to all of us in this Society of his Son Jesus. At the core of monastic life is the call to live only for God, from God and in God. During the meeting, the famous saying of Teresa of Avila was often quoted: Solo Dios basta. In other words, we need only God; God is enough for us. Teresa's words have such close echoes in the prayer of self-offering of St. Ignatius: "Take and receive . . . Give me only your love and your grace".
With reference to the beatification of Japanese martyrs (information follows in this same bulletin), Fr. General said:
"These days we are also celebrating the beatification of 188 Japanese Martyrs. With a spirit of awe, humility and reverence, we recognize four of our Jesuit brothers among these martyrs. Our Japanese Jesuit brothers went courageously and trustingly to their deaths with the same heart as our monastic brothers and sisters: Solo Dios basta. This inspiring example challenges us Jesuits today to go forward in the way of total dedication to the Lord and his mission. There are interpretations of Christian history that spiritually link the monks of early Christianity to the martyrs of still earlier times. Whatever the historical connection might be, there is a deep line that unites all of us - monastic, conventual and apostolic congregations - to the life and cross of Jesus our Lord, whose Name we carry with an ever growing humility that recognizes that this privilege is ours completely without merit of our own".
• On November 26-27 Fr. General participated in the semi-annual assembly of the Union of Superiors General (USG). The major theme on the agenda was the recent Synod of Bishops on The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.
• With a letter dated November 28, Fr. General has appointed the following major superiors to be members of the Permanent Interprovincial Commission for the Interprovincial Houses and Works in Rome (CIP): Eugene Goussikindey, Provincial of West Africa (AOC); Anthony Da Silva, Provincial of Goa (GOA); Louis Gendron, Provincial of China (CHN); Carlos Palacio, Provincial of Central-East Brazil (BRC); Carlo Casalone, Provincial of Italy (ITA); Mark Rotsaert, President of the Conference of European Jesuits (EUR); Gernot Wisser, Provincial of Austria (ASR); Thomas Smolich, President of the U.S. Jesuit Conference (USA). In the same letter Fr. Adolfo Nicolás underlined that the purpose of the Commission is to assist the General and his Delegate in the governance of the International Houses and Works in Rome.
FROM THE PROVINCES
♦ The 20th World Aids Day was celebrated on December 1. On this occasion JESAM (Jesuits of Africa and Madagascar) Moderator Fr. Fratern Masawe, sent a message to African Jesuits in which he underlines the gravity and extent of the problem: "AIDS continues to be the leading cause of death in the continent, home to 22 million HIV-positive or two-thirds of the global total of 33 million." He remembered also that "Setting up AJAN (The African Jesuit Aids Network) in 2002 the Jesuit Superiors of Africa and Madagascar clearly made the pandemic an urgent priority for the Society of Jesus in Africa, in the firm belief that Jesuits have a unique contribution to bring to the struggle against HIV and AIDS". Other national and international organizations are engaged in this struggle. "We are called" - Fr. Masawe wrote in his message - "not to replicate, much less to compete, but rather to reach out with charity to the most vulnerable and forgotten; to improve the responses to HIV and AIDS in Africa in coverage, quality and depth; to educate in every way so that Africa is ever better equipped to overcome AIDS; to assure leadership of vision, innovation, action; to bring faith, life and hope".
♦ A meeting was held in Macerata, Fr. Matteo Ricci's hometown, at the end of November in preparation for the 400th anniversary of his death in 2010. It was a two-day study meeting organized by the local Diocese in collaboration with the University of Macerata. In addition to the presentation of Matteo Ricci in Jesuit Archives in Rome, the discussion focused on The beatification process of Servant of God Fr. Matteo Ricci, the Catholic Church in China from 1949 to 1966 and Catholicism in China: Problems and Perspectives. The presenter of this final subject was Professor Ren Yanli, of the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences in Peking.
♦ On November 24 the beatification of 188 17th century Japanese martyrs took place in Nagasaki. It was a solemn ceremony attended by over 30,000 people. The martyrs represented those Christians who, between 1603 and 1639, shed their blood for Christ and laid the foundations of a rooted Japanese Christian community. "They had a name - wrote Japanese Bishops - a family, house and work. Some of them were nobles and powerful. While many belonged to the respectful samurai class others were simple people or farmers. Several were still children or youth. People loved them". Among these martyrs were four Jesuits, Nicholas Keian Fukunaga (1569-1633), Julian Nakaura (1568-1633), Diogo Ryosetsu Yuki (1574-1636) and Pedro Kasui Kibe (1587-1639). A short profile of these Jesuits has been published on the 2009 Yearbook. Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki, noted that "the event could be the starting point, from which to begin again our evangelization and maybe renew our conscience as Christians. The martyrs sent us a strong message: faith, our attitude towards others, peace, religious freedom." Bishop Osamu Mizobe, President of the Japanese Bishops Commission for the beatification of the martyrs, said: "This beatification is the result of the work of three Jesuits who are no more alive: Fathers Diego Pacheco (who wanted to call himself Yuki like one of the martyrs), Hubert Cieslik and Taddeus Oblak". Then he added: "These martyrs send us a lesson: to live and to die with faith and character; therefore, they send a message both to modern Japanese society and to Catholic Church. This could be the occasion for a spiritual renewal of Japanese Church."
♦ November 26 and 27 have been traumatic for Mumbai, India. The area that suffered from a series of terrorist attacks is also home to our own St. Xavier's College. In a message sent to the General Curia on November 27, Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas wrote: "Dear friends, as you celebrate Thanksgiving Day today, we join you also in thanking God for His protection to all at St. Xavier's College in Mumbai. One of the terrorist targets was the Cama Hospital, which shares a wall with our campus. Through the night we heard loud explosions close by (hand grenades) and gunshots. We witnessed one person being shot motionless and bleeding by the police, right in front of our gate. All around the campus there was bloodshed, including a few police personnel losing their lives. But the campus remained untouched.
We are in deep sorrow for the death of our alumnus, distinguished Police Officer Ashok Kamte and that of the father of our recent Political Science graduate, Chief of the Anti-Terror Squad, Mr. Hemant Karkare, who lost their lives in the line of fire. They put themselves at risk to make us safe. Let us pray for peace in our world and in our hearts, and that the real causes of violence may be seriously addressed all over the world. May God bless us with his peace, justice and fellowship with all!"