Rome (AsiaNews) - Just like the Society of Jesus, "even the boat of Peter can be tossed about today. The night and the powers of darkness are always near. It is tiring to row. The Jesuits must be "brave and expert rowers"(Pius VII, Sollecitudo omnium ecclesiarum): row then! Row, be strong, even with the headwind! We row in the service of the Church. We row together! But while we row - we all row, even the Pope rows in the boat of Peter - we must pray a lot, "Lord, save us! Lord save your people." The Lord, even if we are men of little faith, will save us. Let us hope in the Lord! Let us hope always in the Lord". These were the words of Pope Francis this evening in the church of the Gesu, during a liturgy of thanksgiving to mark the 200th anniversary of the reconstitution of the Society of Jesus, which took place in 1814.
During the solemn liturgy, which included the recitation of Vespers and Te Deum, after the proclamation of the Gospel and before the Jesuits renewed their solemn vows, Pope Francis recalled the "persecution" suffered by the Jesuits for the work of the "enemies of the Church" and said: ""In times of trial and tribulation, dust clouds of doubt and suffering are always raised and it is not easy to move forward, to continue the journey. Many temptations come, especially in difficult times and in crises: to stop to discuss ideas, to allow oneself to be carried away by the desolation, to focus on the fact of being persecuted, and not to see the other. Reading the letters of Fr Ricci (Superior General of the Jesuits at the time of their dissolution 1759-1774), one thing struck me: his ability to avoid being harnessed by these temptations and to propose to the Jesuits, in a time of trouble, a vision of the things that rooted them even more in the spirituality of the Society".
The "positive" attitude and the "will to rebuild" brought the Jesuits "to experience the death and resurrection of the Lord. Faced with the loss of everything, even of their public identity, they did not resist the will of God, they did not resist the conflict, trying to save themselves. The Society - and this is beautiful - lived the conflict to the end, without minimizing it. It lived humiliation along with the humiliated Christ; it obeyed. You never save yourself from conflict with cunning and with strategies of resistance. It is never apparent tranquility that satisfies our hearts, continued Pope Francis, "but true peace that is a gift from God. One should never seek the easy "compromise" nor practice facile "irenicism."
This because only discernment saves us from real uprooting, from true "suppression" of the heart, which is selfishness, worldliness, the loss of our horizon. Our hope, is Jesus; it is only Jesus". The ability to look at oneself and recognize oneself as a sinner continued the Pope "avoids being in a position of considering oneself a victim before an executioner. Recognizing oneself as a sinner, really recognizing oneself as a sinner, means putting oneself in the correct attitude to receive consolation".
After tracing this journey "of discernment and service"
by Jesuits, Francis recalled how the Society, even faced with its own demise, " remained true to the purpose for which it was
founded. To this, Ricci concludes with an exhortation to keep alive the spirit
of charity, unity, obedience, patience, evangelical simplicity, true friendship
with God. Everything else is worldliness. The flame of the greater glory of God
even today flows through us, burning every complacency and enveloping us in a
flame, which we have within, which focuses us and expands us, makes us grow and
makes us shrink".
Thanks to this experience, as taught by the prophet Tobit, " God is merciful, God crowns with mercy. God loves us and saves us. Sometimes the path that leads to life is narrow and cramped, but the tribulation, if lived in the light of mercy, purifies us like fire, it gives us much consolation and inflames our hearts, endearing prayer to it. Our brother Jesuits in the suppression were fervent in the spirit and in the service of the Lord, rejoicing in hope, constant in tribulation, perseverant in prayer (cf. Rom 12:13). And that gave honour to the Society, but certainly not the praise of its merits. It will always be this way".
The ship of the Society, said Francis, "has been tossed around by the waves and there is nothing surprising in this. Even the boat of Peter can be tossed about today. The night and the powers of darkness are always near. It is tiring to row. The Jesuits must be "brave and expert rowers"(Pius VII, Sollecitudo omnium ecclesiarum): row then! Row, be strong, even with the headwind! We row in the service of the Church. We row together! But while we row - we all row, even the Pope rows in the boat of Peter - we must pray a lot, "Lord, save us! Lord save your people." The Lord, even if we are men of little faith, will save us. Let us hope in the Lord! Let us hope always in the Lord!".
Before concluding his homily, Francis also spoke of the Jesuits today: " Today, the company also deals with the tragic problem of refugees and displaced persons with intelligence and industriousness; and it strives with discernment to integrate service to faith and the promotion of justice in conformity with the Gospel. I confirm today what Paul VI told us at our 32nd General Congregation and which I heard with my own ears: "Wherever in the Church, even in the most difficult and extreme situations, in the crossroads of ideologies, in the social trenches, where there has been and there is confrontation between the deepest desires of man and the perennial message of the Gospel, there you have been and there are Jesuits". '"These, the Pope concludes, "are the prophetic words of the future Blessed Pope Paul VI."