Under the banner of the Cross: news from GC36
The business of the 36th General Congregation (known as Ad Negotia) has now resumed, after the celebration of the Mass of Thanksgiving at the Church of the Gesù in Rome. Before the Eucharist began, the new Superior General of the Society of Jesus prayed silently upstairs in the chapel of the Rooms of St Ignatius. Fr Arturo Sosa SJ, who was elected as the Society’s 31st General last Friday, was then presented with two books: The Formula of the Institute and The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus. For the first time in the Jesuits’ 476 years history, there are now three men living who bear, or have borne, the title of Superior General - Arturo Sosa, Adolfo Nicolás and Peter-Hans Kolvenbach.
Fr General then led the Jesuits assembled in Rome for General Congregation 36 (GC36) in a simple but solemn Eucharistic celebration. In his homily, he reminded his fellow Jesuits of the example of St Ignatius and his first companions, and others who have fought and lived under the banner of the cross in the service of the Lord and his Church. “We also want to contribute to what seems impossible today,” he said, “a humanity reconciled in justice, living in peace in a common house well kept, where there is room for everyone because we recognise that we are siblings, son and daughters of the same and unique Father.”
Dedicated to the service of others
Fr General Sosa also stressed the need for collaboration to accomplish this task: “Not only that of collaborators in our works, but by making ourselves collaborators of people, inside and outside of the Church, who are involved in a mission that is not ours exclusively, a mission we share with many men and women dedicated to the service of others,” he said.
After the Mass of Thanksgiving, Fr General processed to the Altar of St Ignatius where the remains of the First General of the Society are venerated. There he lit an oil lamp and led the congregation in prayer to the Most Holy Trinity: “As sons of St Ignatius, while we realise the vocation which you have chosen and willed for us, we ask you for the ability to see all things with your eyes, to discern and test the spirits, and to read the signs of the times with our hearts set on the joys of heaven, so that we can be wise in communicating the faith.” Following this prayer, the painting of St Ignatius under the Banner of the Cross was slowly lowered, revealing the magnificent image of the founder of the Society of Jesus in glory.
Faith and Justice
Before returning to the sacristy at the end of the Mass of Thanksgiving, Fr General Sosa stopped to pray at a small chapel in the Gesù, which houses the remains of three great Jesuits: St Joseph Pignatelli (who helped restore the Society of Jesus after its Suppression between 1773 and 1814); Fr Jan Roothaan (the 21st Superior General who was mandated to strengthen and stabilise the fledgling 'new' Society after the Restoration in 1814); and Fr Pedro Arrupe (1907-91), the 28th Superior General who was elected at GC32, at which the Society of Jesus’ Mission was defined as ‘the Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice’. Fr Arrupe was also responsible for setting up the Jesuit Refugee Service.
A special website continues to provide news, blogs and photos from the 36th General Congregation taking place in Rome.