There is a certain level of uneasiness in not knowing in advance the final outcome of a process. In general we are more comfortable with having a high degree and guarantee of success before making an investment. But not so in a spiritual process such as the murmuratio! This is a four day period of more intense and indepth search, one-to-one conversation, prayerful reflection and discernment by all the electors of GC36, before electing a new Superior General. This process of murmuratio—which is nothing short of a leap of faith—began this morning.
Immediately after the exhortation by the Vicar General, the momentum began. People started making appointments for a chat with one another. Generosity was evident, no one refused an appointment! I met separately with eight electors today; and will meet with ten others tomorrow. The mutual openness is amazing; with trust, simplicity and honesty, each one shared and responded to questions asked. I had a deep consolation to sense that everyone had only one goal in mind: the greater glory of God and the good governance of the universal Society of Jesus. Like the disciples sent out two-by-two by the Lord, all over the curia today—in the aula, on the hall ways, in the garden, on the terrace, in the parlours, on the balcony, in the coffee rooms, in the chapel—either seating, standing or walking, electors were seen two-by-two, conversing in search for the common will of the Spirit for our least Society.
Especially these days, we need more time for personal prayer and deepening. So, throughout the four days of murmuratio we will also gather at 5:30pm for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, before ending as usual with Mass at 6:30pm. Even after supper, some people like myself, continued the one-by-one conversations. Right now, only the Lord knows what the final outcome of this process will be. The rest of us will have to wait till Friday to find out!
To embark on such a Communal Discernment of Spirit—which is really what this is about—some predispositions are essential in each person: freedom, availability, indifference, confidentiality, self-abnegation, attentiveness, openness, letting go, generosity of heart, the common good and magis. Sometimes these are not easy to attain, and so we need to beg for these graces.
In April of 1541 when Ignatius was unanimously elected as the first Superior General, he initially declined. He needed a further confirmation. He took some days to pray and to consult with his spiritual director. Afterwards did Ignatius finally accept to serve his companions as their Fr. General. He would later state in the Constitutions that in future anyone elected General is NOT to refuse!
This morning, GC36 leapt and began a four day “blind” journey of faith—and of hope and of trust in Divine Providence. We are confident that Jesus who was propitious to Ignatius in Rome, will still be propitious to us, the sons of Inigo de Loyola, today.
Chuks Afiawari, S.J.