From June 7 to 11, the Expanded Council of Father General which meets thrice a year will meet yet again on-line, for the fourth successive time, given the ongoing pandemic.
Much material is usually taken up during these meetings - themes are discussed and reflected on that affect mission, some planning is done, ideas are shared in small groups and in plenary, and spiritual conversation takes place.
This June meeting is a little different, because there will not be much ‘matter’ or much planning. Instead, in the small groups and in the plenary, the members will be praying and sharing about that which lies at the heart of all mission and all discernment - their experiences of faith in the Lord Jesus.
The first day will be devoted to a remembering of each one’s personal faith journey. For the second day, the participants will recall those persons and circumstances that shaped their faith in a special way. The theme of the third day is “Faith in the Church”, from which and to which flow our lives as Christians and our mission as Jesuits. The fourth day looks at how our least Society of Jesus has been a source of consolation or desolation towards the strengthening of our faith. The fifth and final day hopes to gather the fruits of the previous days and consider where the Spirit is leading the group.
On the one hand, some experiences will be similar, as Jesuits share the same texts of Scripture, the same Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, very similar structures of formation and mission, and similar experiences of community life. On the other hand, differences will surface as well - coming out of the members’ unique family upbringings, the varied cultural and linguistic heritages, the Jesuit traditions and practices that are specific to one or another Jesuit Province. Sharing these differences is important as it confirms the conviction that our lives as religious is a witnessing to the possibility of unity in diversity, of that communion which makes a varied group of Jesuits true ‘friends in the Lord’.
Father General says it best: “The intention of this week is to create a space in which we can recognize this variety and understand how it is part of the gift that God makes to the Society, the Church, and humanity. We seek to experience in this group of companions how our union of minds and hearts is not homogeneity or uniformity but harmony and communion born from the heart of Christ...”
Father General has proposed this unique meeting of the Expanded Council as a fitting way to start this Ignatian Year. By sharing and listening to each other, the hope is that this group can grow as a discerning body at the service of the mission of the Society.
At the very end of the last day, there will also be a brief report about the work of the Commission for the revision of the “Statutes on Poverty” and the Instruction on the Administration of Goods.
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