Holy Mass commemorating the start of “Ignatian Year”
Concerning the Message delivered during Holy Mass on May 20
Holy Mass was offered today in commemoration of the launching of the Ignatian year. It was also a memorial mass for the late Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, former Superior General of the Society of Jesus (originally a professor in the faculty and department of Theology of Sophia University). The message of Fr. Lee has been attached.
Father Arturo Sosa, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, has fixed the period extending from May 20, 2021 to July 31, 2022, as the “Ignatian Year.” Starting from today, Jesuits the world over will offer mass and pray that the year be spent in a meaningful manner, and we too, in view of the fact that we are linked to the educational apostolate of the Society of Jesus, are called upon to pray with them.
At the same time though, today is also a day for venerating Fr. Adolfo Nicolas. I did not realize this last year, but coincidentally Fr. Nicolas passed away on the day St. Ignatius was shot at the Battle of Pamplona, an event that led to his conversion. One feels deeply moved on pondering over the significance of this commemorative year.
As the theme of the “Ignatian Year,” Fr. Arturo Sosa has advocated “seeing everything anew in Christ.” The conversion of St. Ignatius was an event that can be known by reading his biography. While he was sick in bed he happened to read the “Life of Christ” and “Lives of the Saints,” upon which an array of thoughts flooded his mind. These thoughts evoked in him memories concerning knights he had read of in the past, but he realized also that this experience was different, and that was the starting point of his conversion. He realized that two dissimilar groups of thoughts arose within his mind, one engendering feelings of comfort, courage, and joy, while the other evoked emptiness and loneliness. This caused him to wonder why these variations existed, and where they came from.
On regaining his health he set forth from his hometown with the purpose of making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and on the way he stopped by at Manresa. His stay at Manresa proved longer than planned due to the effects of the plague, and during that time, despite being afflicted by doubts, a mystical experience was granted to him after a great deal of prayer and austerity. The ‘eye of reason’ was in a sense opened to him, and he began to ask himself as to “what is this wholly new way of life was that was about to begin.” Unlike the life he had led until then, it was as if he had come to see “everything anew in Christ.”
We cannot undergo the same experience as Ignatius, but I believe undergoing a similar experience is not something impossible for us. There are times when we feel an urge within us to do something. An encounter with something or someone could move our hearts, and direct us towards performing some action. Encounters with people or with books, encounters that arise while walking along a road or while watching or listening to the news, encounters that arise while enjoying movies or dramas, all these and similar encounters, can serve to move our hearts. These are
catalysts that will direct us towards taking some appropriate action, and they will enable us to view reality from a fresh perspective.
For those living the Christian faith, through knowing Christ and savoring His word they will grant them a fresh perspective with regard to all things, and on the basis of that perspective they will be guided towards the performance of certain actions, as well as to the renewal of past relationships.
The Society of Jesus has set its mission orientation by means of the Universal Apostolic Preferences. In order that we may move in line with those preferences, we seek to free ourselves of earlier perspectives, and through the experience of “seeing all things anew in Christ,” we aspire to fortify our stance in dealing with the mission, for therein lies the significance of the ‘Ignatian Year.’
With that in mind, I wish to recall the prayer of Fr. Nicolas, who passed away last year.
Lord Jesus, What weaknesses did you see in us that made you decide to call us, in spite of everything, to collaborate in your mission? We give you thanks for having called us, and we beg you not to forget your promise to be with us to the end of time. Frequently we are invaded by the feeling of having worked all night in vain, forgetting, perhaps, that you are with us. We ask that you make yourself present in our lives and in our work, today, tomorrow, and in the future yet to come. Fill with your love these lives of ours, which we put at your service. Take from our hearts the egoism of thinking about what is “ours,” what is “mine”, always excluding, lacking compassion and joy. Enlighten our minds and our hearts, and do not forget to make us smile when things do not go as we wished. At the end of the day, of each one of our days, make us feel more united with you and better able to perceive and discover around us greater joy and greater hope. We ask all this from our reality. We are weak and sinful men, but we are your friends. Amen
Despite knowing our weakness and incompetence, God himself has invited us to serve as laborers in his Kingdom. With feelings of gratitude and wonder let us pray together that this anniversary year be spent in a fruitful manner.