Re-awakening our hearts

The following is the editorial by Renato Colizzi SJ, President of MAGIS, published in last June issue of our magazine GMI. Fr Renato wrote it in Bolivia, where he was to complete the Third Year, the final stage of the Jesuit formation process.

This issue of GMI is intended to help us get to know the new Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society, in a missionary and intercultural perspective that is proper to Magis. The long and participatory process that led to the choice of these preferences has led to the identification of four of them, which are thus enunciated in the letter of Father General of 19 February last:

  • To show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment.
  • To walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice.
  • To accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future.
  • To collaborate in the care of our Common Home.

The Universal Apostolic Preferences are all expressed through verbs in the infinitive form because they are conceived as dynamic means to help the Society to follow the motions of the Spirit and not so much to pursue fixed and static objectives. Preferences, therefore, are orientations, not priorities, for undertaking a journey that will lead us to 2029, a journey for a Society that is ever closer to Jesus and among and alongside the poor. A Society that is aware of its smallness and happy to be open to new collaborations; all of us are invited to renew our adherence to this mínima Compañia colaboradora.

Father General, Arturo Sosa, emphasizes that this renewal involves a change of attitude concerning more our way of being than our way of doing. A contemplative attitude towards reality and the world around us, this world loved and redeemed by God in order to inhabit it with its creatures. The Preferences therefore invite us to regain a living sense of the loving presence of God-communion in every little thing but also an acute awareness of the threat that weighs on this world because of the temptation to accumulate and discard.

We are at a crossroads: either the Amazon, the Congo basin, the Indian forests, the seas that unite the continents, will be the garden of our common destiny or they will be our landfill and our cemetery. If our hearts and senses do not convert from the deception of “having more”, “being more powerful”, “counting more”, we will end up letting ourselves be manipulated and making the Amazon a reservoir of hydroelectric sources and Africa an expanse of monocultures. Ancestral peoples, languages and cultures will disappear, the anonymous superpowers will remain, hungry for profit, obsessed with primacy, in a perpetual and destructive exile from the good Creation of the God of life.

Hell and paradise already begin in this life and at this crossroads, we will live where we have chosen to live and where we have become accustomed to live day after day: in the empty and desperate race for consumption or in the confident expectation of the poor and alongside the poor.

The Preferences are therefore a sweet and insistent invitation to awaken our hearts to “return home”, to cross, with humility and joy, the threshold of the garden of creation with the contemplative senses so open as to shelter us from the deception of a development without taste or face. When the Lord bestows this grace of awakening the senses, then we will find ourselves, as if by magic, wrapped in the gospel of Creation that hosts and nourishes us with so much care and affection. We will need sharp ears to hear the whisper of the trees and the slow flow of the rivers. To be enchanted by the charm of indigenous and distant languages, to be dazzled by the colour of a sparrow or by the majestic blossoming of a tropical flower.

At the village feast, the elderly played until dawn with flutes and drums. Their sounds intertwined amicably with the rustle of the immense and dark forest that surrounded us, while the crackling of the fire remained unnoticed in the hearts of the people staying awake. The sense of smell, the bravest sense, will open us up with respect and simplicity to the meeting with families who live on the banks of a river or on the slope of a cordillera. We will be enveloped in the intimacy of their homes, the fragrance of food cooked and consumed together, the real and strong smell from the bed of the sick old man.

For the contemplative, all things reveal a promise of God. One day we will be surprised to discover the great reserve of eternity that the Lord has placed in the smallest things and the unsuspected continuity that exists between creation on this side and paradise on that side. When we reach the goal, will we maybe find the same wild flowers that one day greeted the joyful pace of our journey?

All this not as a chimeric dream but as a commitment to loving patience: even fatigue will have a happy face in the days of Love.

Fr Renato Colizzi SJ
President of Fondazione MAGIS