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We must ask for ‘the grace of shame’, Pope tells fellow Jesuits

By on Thursday, 1 August 2013

Pope Francis leaves the Church of the Gesù in Rome (CNS)

Pope Francis leaves the Church of the Gesù in Rome (CNS)

Pope Francis prayed yesterday that he and his fellow Jesuits would receive “the grace of shame” for their failures and the humility to recognise that whatever good they accomplish is really done by the Lord.

Jesus told his disciples never to be ashamed of following him, but Jesuits are taught to look upon the crucifix and “feel that very human and very noble sentiment which is shame for not measuring up”, the Pope said during his homily at Mass in Rome’s Church of the Gesù, on the feast of St Ignatius. The saint is buried in the church.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ said the Mass was “very beautiful and very familial”. In his spirituality and spiritual tradition, he said, the Pope sees himself as a “son of St Ignatius” and feels “very close to the Society of Jesus”. For the Jesuits, Fr Lombardi said, the Pope is a confrere, but “we know the Pope is the Pope.”

At the end of the Mass, the Pope prayed at the tomb of St Ignatius, before a relic of St Francis Xavier and at the tomb of Fr Pedro Arrupe, superior of the Jesuits from 1965 to 1983. He also visited the Chapel of Our Lady of the Way, patroness of the Jesuits and the title of a 15th-century Marian fresco that was dear to St Ignatius and his first companions.

In his homily Pope Francis prayed that Mary would “help us experience shame for our inadequacy before the treasure that has been entrusted to us, so that we would live with humility before God”.

He also prayed for “our brother in Syria”, a reference to Jesuit Fr Paolo Dall’Oglio, who was expelled from Syria in June 2012 after intensifying his public calls for democratic change in the country. He reportedly returned to Syria occasionally.

Jesuit officials and other Church figures and friends of Fr Dall’Oglio said they had been unable to reach him by phone, and Reuters news agency reported that militants with links to al-Qaeda kidnapped the priest on July 29 while he was walking in the northern Syrian city of al-Raqqah. As of July 31, the Vatican and the Italian foreign ministry said they could not confirm that he had been kidnapped.

The Pope’s homily was filled with references to the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, meditations and instructions for a 30-day retreat that form the basis of Ignatian spirituality.

The exercises, he said, are designed to remind Jesuits that Christ and the Church must be at the centre of all they do, that they must allow themselves to be conquered by Christ in order to serve, and that they must feel shame in order to be humble before God and other people.

Every Christian and every Jesuit, Pope Francis said, should ask himself regularly “Is Christ the centre of my life?” because “there is always the temptation to place ourselves at the centre”.

He said one cannot serve Christ without being in harmony with and serving the Church. “There are no parallel or isolated paths.”

“To serve Christ is to love this concrete Church and to serve it with generosity and obedience,” he said.

But most of the Pope’s homily focused on humility and recognising one’s limits, so as to be mindful always of greatness of God’s mercy.

“We look at the wisdom of Christ and our ignorance, at his omnipotence and our weakness, at his justice and our inequity and at his goodness and our badness,” the Pope said.

“We ask for the grace of shame, the shame that comes from a continuous conversation of mercy with him, the shame that makes us blush before Jesus Christ,” he said.

The sense of shame leads to the virtue of humility, he said, and a recognition that each Christian “carries a great treasure in fragile, inadequate, insufficient earthen vessels”.

The 76-year-old Pope said he thinks often of what the “twilight of the Jesuit” should be as he faces the end of his life. He described as “two icons of this twilight” St Francis Xavier, the great Jesuit missionary who died in 1552 awaiting a chance to get to mainland China, and Fr Arrupe, who in 1981 suffered a massive stroke, “which began his long and exemplary twilight” that lasted almost 10 years and included seeing Pope John Paul appoint an interim superior of the Jesuits, a move seen by many as a lack of trust in the ability of the Jesuits to govern themselves.

  • Ormond

    I wonder when the Pope prayed for “our brother in Syria” meaning Fr. Paolo dall’Oglio, If he was mindful of all the hurt, anguish and upset this Italian has caused for the indigenous Christian community in Syria! Frankly I am sure Fr. Paolo is happy and well, after all this Jihad supporting priest and friend of extremist rebels in Syria is with his brothers. Sadly the Pope forgot to pray for those who are the victims of Fr. Paolo’s friends, two kidnapped Bishops of Aleppo, the two kidnapped priests from Aleppo, the two dead priests from Hama and Damascus and all the victims of violence in Syria.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    What lovely sentiments you express.

  • Guest

    Those Syrian Catholics who have already forgotten the Pope’s prayers for the Bishops of Aleppo, who now forget Fr. Paolo’s work for peace, democracy, and good will between Muslims and Christians, and who are duped by such slanders will most still likely join the Pope in praying for ‘their enemy’ as Christ instructed them.

  • Guest

    The only slander is that from Paolo dall’Oglio who labelled
    the hierarchy in Syria as “collaborators” because they sought a
    peaceful settlement to the crises in their country and did not and would not
    support his call for NATO intervention among other things. So great was the
    distress he caused to the church particularly in regard to his activities for
    and support of the rebels in Qusayr, where the Christian community were
    expelled, he was ordered to leave Syria last year, not by the government
    as he likes to maintain but rather by the Syriac Catholic Bishop of Homs, Mons.
    Théophile Georges Kassab, likewise the Jesuits in Syria disassociated
    themselves from his position and actins.

    The following is an English translation of their statement,
    if you want a copy of the original Arabic text it can be sent to the paper.

    “The Society of Jesus in the Syrian Arab Republic

    The Superior General Damascus July 7 2012

    The Society of Jesus, in light of its evangelical and ecclesiastical principles
    and its spiritual experience, and because it has faith in its commitment in the
    service of every human as expressed in its published declaration on its website
    of 3/8/2011 under the title of “Meditations on the present events in Syria”,
    confirms once again its commitment to these principles and refuses any attempt to
    engage itself in political activity.

    Considering that Father Paolo dall’Oglio did not restrict
    himself to the instructions of the Society nor to his own promises of keeping
    silence, and also he previously has announced in his declaration, that his
    works and his positions are strictly personal, therefore we declare from our
    part and we confirm that he does not express the declared positions of our
    Congregation and his positions reflects

    upon no one but himself.

    We abide in the service of this nation and we are ready to
    put our hands in the hand of every person to build the Syria of tomorrow. And
    in closing we ask God that we might plant peace in the hearts of all the
    Syrians so that they would work, each from his own position, to re-establish peace
    and to put every effort in building a bright future for our nation, Syria.

    The Jesuit Fathers in Syria

  • Ormond

    The only slander is that from Paolo dall’Oglio who labelled the hierarchy in Syria as “collaborators” because they sought a peaceful settlement to the crises in their country and did not and would not support his call for NATO intervention among other things. So great was the distress he caused to the church particularly in regard to his activities for and support of the rebels in Qusayr, where the Christian community were expelled, he was ordered to leave Syria last year, not by the government
    as he likes to maintain but rather by the Syriac Catholic Bishop of Homs, Mons. Théophile Georges Kassab, likewise the Jesuits in Syria disassociated themselves from his position and actions.

    The following is an English translation of their statement,
    if you want a copy of the original Arabic text it can be sent to the paper.

    “The Society of Jesus in the Syrian Arab Republic

    The Superior General Damascus July 7 2012

    The Society of Jesus, in light of its evangelical and ecclesiastical principles and its spiritual experience, and because it has faith in its commitment in the service of every human as expressed in its published declaration on its website of 3/8/2011 under the title of “Meditations on the present events in Syria”, confirms once again its commitment to these principles and refuses any attempt to engage itself in political activity.

    Considering that Father Paolo dall’Oglio did not restrict himself to the instructions of the Society nor to his own promises of keeping silence, and also he previously has announced in his declaration, that his works and his positions are strictly personal, therefore we declare from our
    part and we confirm that he does not express the declared positions of our Congregation and his positions reflects upon no one but himself.

    We abide in the service of this nation and we are ready to put our hands in the hand of every person to build the Syria of tomorrow. And in closing we ask God that we might plant peace in the hearts of all the Syrians so that they would work, each from his own position, to re-establish peace
    and to put every effort in building a bright future for our nation, Syria.

    The Jesuit Fathers in Syria”

  • James M

    ““To serve Christ is to love this concrete Church and to serve it with generosity and obedience,” he said.”

    ## Maybe a slight paraphrase, such as “…love the Church as it actually is…” would convey the meaning more clearly. People might not know that the shift of stress on the syllables of the word “concrete” –

    con-crete (= specific);

    con-crete (= that asphalty (?) stuff)

    - marks a difference in meaning, even though the two English words come from the same Latin root. He’s not telling people to love buildings; not even modern buildings of con-crete. His idea of the Church is interesting – it does allow room for clericalism, which is a pity. OTOH, he is a Jesuit. OTOH…

  • NatOns

    ‘The 76-year-old Pope said he thinks often of what the “twilight of the Jesuit” should be as he faces the end of his life.’

    That of allowing other people to do things for him charitably; carry his bag, let him rest on their shoulder, feed him, clothe him, visit him – help him down stairs (all accepted graciously and in sincere thanks, even if it rankles with his still youthful sense of independence); a very humble witness .. aka martyrdom .. in Christ’s name.

    http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/prs/stign/prayers.html

    God Bless Our Pope!

  • jas

    beaware of the catholic church this is not biblical Christianity

  • Mark

    It was the authority of the Catholic Church that canonized the books found in the Bible 1,700 years ago from hundred of other books, so what are you talking about? Are you telling us then that because you read and interpret the Bible you considered it Biblical already? Well, the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses and thousands more have the same Bible like you have but they diametrically opposed to you!

  • anon

    “collaborators” : a word actually used to indicate co-operators; I am still slightly startled by it.

  • anon

    Quite a different twilight to Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols, his cult of the Ubermensch/Beyond Good and Evil led us to eugenics and euthanasia; John Paul 2nd’s gentle humility in his declining years was a public witness (and type of martyrdom) for Life,on our behalf.

  • Laurie12345

    Concrete is aggregate (gravel) + cement + water.