Prophecy, proximity and hope

POST BY JCrampsey

After the crowds have dispersed: St Peter's Basilica
After the crowds have dispersed: St Peter's Basilica
Fr Jim Crampsey SJ attended the events in the Vatican to mark the end of the Year of Consecrated Life.
 
There is a passage which appears in the Synoptic Gospels in the context of the first sending out of the disciples which begins 'take no bag'. It is also a key scriptural passage in the Formula of the Institute of the Society of Jesus. Nevertheless the first task in the days for the closing of the Year of Consecrated Life was to collect a bag full of goodies. Tickets for this came with a green baseball cap which I saw no-one wearing except for a Nigerian sister who perched it on top of her blue veil. There was also a small gizmo for translation purposes which did not work well, and when it did work the translator did not work well. It also says in that passage 'take no coins', so we were asked to leave our money behind when we took the bags. The bags were in fact very useful. Firstly, if you had no idea where you were going, you just followed the bags. Secondly, they were helpful going through the security which was quite severe round St Peter's, in the basilica and the audience hall.

Time to reflect

There were huge numbers; and since it was a celebration of the whole of consecrated life, there was a huge range of people. Contemplatives were present in large numbers for the first time at one of these meetings. There were also representatives of the Order of Virgins, the new movements, secular Institutes, male monastic life and of course, apostolic religious. Each group had two separate days reflecting on their own reality as well as two days all together. I met contemplatives I knew on the first day and then never again.
 
But each day I met people from various parts of my life including a surprising number from Scotland. There were not so many Jesuits. There was a an elderly Austrian Jesuit staying with me at our Curia which was very preoccupied with preparations for the forthcoming General Congregation (GC36). And Christophe Theobald (from the Centre Sevres - the Jesuit faculty in Paris) gave an input. The talks, and there were many, were varied. The best was a reflection on the woman with the perfume in Luke 7 by Nuria Calduch Benages. Time is needed to reflect on some stimulating points that we heard.

'Don't let the fire die'

Pope Francis came for the last formal session. According to my informant, Fr Bernard Hall SJ, he had been giving many interviews. He certainly seemed tired when he spoke to his enthusiastic audience. He emphasised three points, prophecy, proximity and hope. The next day he had recovered his energy and came out to speak to the many religious following the 2 February Mass on the big screen in the cold Piazza. "Don't let the fire in your eyes die", he told us.
 
I had severely underestimated the time it would take to get into the Mass, so as we moved at the speed of a glacier round the Bernini Colonnade, I found myself in the middle of a group of young French seminarians from a new configuration. They were a choir, neatly dressed in brownish jackets with ties, and they sang with great enthusiasm and joy with the odd football-like chant for Pope Francis. I wondered: "Was I like that 50 years ago and is this the future?"