Slowly, but surely and confidently, the tortoise eventually arrives at its destination! In the dizzyingly fast pace of life, there is some wisdom in occasionally taking a pause, stepping back a little, taking stock, resetting one’s compass and refreshing oneself, before again putting one foot after the other. When a seed is planted, patience is needed to allow the needed time for the seed to grow.
The “business” phase of GC36 continues to take shape day-by-day, as we deliberate on a number of draft proposals for possible decrees and on matters of universal significance that we might recommend to Fr. General to deal with as an integral part of his ordinary governance of the Society of Jesus. Sometimes, it may seem like we are taking one step forward and two backwards! But not really—issues are thoroughly thought through and subjected to rigorous scrutiny. This necessarily takes time, courage and tons of patience. However, like the tortoise, we are surely and confidently moving along, one step at a time. Fr. Arturo Sosa has reminded us that what we are about is a “work in progress.” More broadly and profoundly, is it not the case that our entire life can indeed be seen as a “work in progress”?
Without any doubt, one major grace of this week is the unprecedented presence of the Jesuit Pope at a Jesuit General Congregation. It has taken almost five centuries for this auspicious event to take place. Who knows, it may take another five, or six, or more centuries for a repeat occurrence of such a movingly warm and fraternal encounter between a pope and his fellow Jesuit companions. In urging us “along these paths of consolation, of compassion and discernment”, Pope Francis—in his customary smiling and joyful face—three times repeated these words of encouragement, “we can always take a step forward….”
Today in the aula of the Congregation, as we began the process of evaluation of the new Formula of a General Congregation, one of the presenters said, “In a way, we’re looking ahead now to GC37.” We are certainly stepping forward, but not that quickly, please. I hope and pray GC37 does not take place anytime soon! For now, GC36 is taking on day at a time, and moving one step at a time!
Chuks Afiawari, SJ