We are back, after the weekend off. We now have a new Superior General, and we now are faced with the task of choosing a team of Assistants and Consultors to Assist him in the task of governing the Society of Jesus. But before we got into the business of naming the men, we decided to take a look at the possible need of revamping some of our governance structures. Governance is not an end in itself. Governance structures are put in place to enhance the life and mission of the Society — What is our mission today? What are the apostolic preferences today for the Society? And what structures do we need to help us carry out this mission more efficaciously?
“Nothing is incidental, nothing is accidental, everything is providential” is the favourite phrase of a companion of mine; the liturgy today was just this. We commemorated the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr, who according to legend had the name of Jesus (IHS) engraved on his heart. (This was the inspiration behind St. Ignatius of Loyola’s dedication to the name of Jesus and the IHS on the insignia of the Society of Jesus). Then we remembered the 20th death anniversary of Ricci Fernando S.J., a young Filipino Jesuit who died, aged 26, rehabilitating the mine victims of Cambodia. Among the personal memories the Filipino provincial shared was one of Ricci’s catch phrases, “I am a Jesuit, I know where my heart is … with Jesus”, and Jesus for him was with the victims of war and the tragedies of the mine fields.
Our mission, as Jesuits, is to be where the Lord is. “What is our mission today?” is another way of asking, “Where is my/our heart?”
Then there was the Gospel passage of the man who needed to build new barns to store his grain from successive years of good harvests; he forgot about the poor. Are we Jesuits some thing like that — building up years and years of successful missions, secure institutions, and forgotten the poor?
Where is the Lord? Where is our heart? We have a time of serious soul searching ahead of us if we want to find our mission today. For it is only when I can say, “I am a Jesuit, I know where my heart is, I know what my mission today is” that we will be able to say, “Therefore, these are the structures we need, and these are the men who will be best able to help us”.