This is the theme which was chosen for the 36th General Congregation of the Jesuits, presently meeting in Rome to elect the 30th successor of St. Ignatius. For the last several days, over 200 Jesuits from all over the world have been meeting, praying and getting to know one another, since most have never met each other. It’s hard to believe that, in the span of 476 years, there have been only twenty nine other Father Generals.
I really love this theme, since personally it reminds me of St. John Paul’s challenge to each of us to go out into the deep, that we can’t stay on the comfortable and safe dock, but rather take the risk and team up with others, go out to the deep and stormy waters, and expect a great catch. I read that Pope Francis, sometime back, was celebrating Mass with a group of Jesuits. In his homily, the asked them to row into the deep with him. Rowing takes effort, teamwork, strength and perseverance to get to the destination, to win the race. What a great challenge!
At this stage of the Congregation, the delegates are participating in what’s called the murmuratio, which translates into murmurings. As they say, “only in the Catholic Church!” When he was writing the Jesuit Constitutions, Ignatius insisted that the delegates meet on-on-one, rather than in larger groups. The two come together to discuss (murmur) who they think is capable of becoming the next Father General. Prayer, discernment, and the invoking of the Holy Spirit are vital components to what’s happening now in Rome.
We should lift up prayers for them, since the delegates have a daunting task. On Friday, the election will be held. When someone is chosen, Pope Francis will be the first person called. We’ll watch history be made when the first Jesuit Pope meets the new Fr. General. Let them row together, taking the Jesuits to unexpected places, renewing the Church and God’s people.
(the photo is of the Chapel in the Jesuit Curia in Rome, where I had the blessing to visit in 2015)