In the preceding article, we have already explained this stage quite typical of a General Congregation of Jesuits come together for the election of a Father General, a stage that is called the murmuratio. Here we wish simply to call attention to a lighter aspect, an aspect connected to logistics, made necessary by the particular context of the stage.
The delegates of the General Congregation are housed, as you will recall, in the various residences of the Society of Jesus in Rome. It is in these residences that they pass the night, of course, but it is also in these residences that they take their meals, because it would simply not be possible for the kitchen of the curia to feed 200 persons in addition to the normal clientele. Thus the work of the Congregation is suspended from noon until around 3:00 p.m. Then a new session takes place and it lasts until the various language groups have Mass at 6:30 p.m. Then everyone returns to his residence for the evening meal—and for a follow-up on the day’s meetings or for a reading of the documents to be studied on the morrow.
During the murmuratio it is necessary to make sure that the electors have as much time as possible, when not getting informed among themselves about the strengths and weaknesses of those who could be presented as the future General, to go to the chapel to ask the light of the Holy Spirit in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. In place of hot food for lunch, in the Italian tradition the members of the Congregation are given a “lunch box”. This is a light meal that gives them a break without taking too much time away from their first priority. This modification in the organization of the Congregation’s daily schedule is thus a challenge not only for the kitchen but also for the logistics involved.