Business and prayer continue at GC36

Br Stephen Power SJ (centre) and Fr Dermot Preston SJ (right) at morning prayer at GC36
Br Stephen Power SJ (centre) and Fr Dermot Preston SJ (right) at morning prayer at GC36

As the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus (GC36) continues in Rome, the 215 electors are now engaged in the business that is central to any gathering of this nature, including legislative and administrative matters.  But this is also an important opportunity for the Jesuits to renew their understanding of their Jesuit identity and mission, for today and for the years ahead.

Each morning, the tone of the day of work is set by prayer, coordinated by a German Jesuit, Fr Clemens Blattert SJ. In providing the music, he is supported on guitar by a Chilean Jesuit, Fr José Francisco Yuraszeck SJ, and by violinist, Fr Gabriel Côté SJ, from Montreal. From time to time, other musicians collaborate too, whether delegates at GC36 or scholastics from the Roman communities.

The times of prayer are appreciated by the members of the Congregation; but they also feel sustained by the prayers of thousands of people throughout the world.  A video recording of the daily morning prayer is available on the GC36 website, enabling Jesuits and their associates globally to feel part of the proceedings. Please continue to pray for the electors taking part in GC36, including the three from Britain: Fr Provincial Dermot Preston SJ, Fr Damian Howard SJ and Br Stephen Power SJ.

An on-going dialogue

Many expected Pope Francis to identify clear apostolic priorities for the Jesuits when he addressed them last week: a precise space in the Church and the world that he wanted the Society of Jesus to occupy. But instead of stipulating a specific mission, the Pope – according to Fr Wendell D’Cruz SJ of the Bombay Province – “opened the world” to the Society.

“[Pope Francis] used the word ‘process’ to emphasise the dynamic character of our vocation – an on-going dialogue between our Jesuit identity and mission that we hold together as companions,” Fr D’Cruz explains.  “Our Jesuit vocation flows from the joy of the gospel, looking on the world with the compassion of the croBritish delegate, Damian Howard SJ (right), at GC36ss, discerning where the good spirit leads.  In this ongoing dialogue, we discern each step forward, with the Cross before us, but not knowing where the path might lead, so with each step forward, we ‘create spaces’ where the seed of the gospel is sown.”

There is no end-date for the 36th General Congregation: it will end sometime in the next few weeks, probably with some decrees, that may be legally binding for the Society of Jesus or principally inspirational – in many cases, both.  “But we all know, that while the Congregation will end, the ‘process’ will go on,” says Fr D’Cruz, “for each of us individually, in our communities, provinces and as a universal Society; for, as the Holy Father reminded us, ‘We neither walk alone nor comfortably, but we walk with a heart that does not rest.’”  And on that walk – that ‘process’ – your prayerful support is greatly valued.