An Eight-Day Guided Retreat
For A Group Of
Jesuits, Colleagues And Associates

           For many years, the Upper Canada Province of the Society of Jesus has offered an eight-day retreat for their own members just before the Feast of St. Ignatius on July 31. It brings together members from across Canada. Although these retreats are always based on the dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises, their theme, content and methodology are adapted to changing needs. In 2005, this retreat was opened to Jesuit colleagues, collaborators and associates as well. The format was quite simple:
  • The atmosphere was one of silence;
  • Morning prayer at 9:00 am with a twenty-minute exploration of "points" for the day's prayer on the theme;
  • Liturgy at 4:30 pm with the homily based on both the readings of the day and the general theme for the day;
  • Spiritual Direction for those who desired it;
  • Evening sharing of the fruits of prayer in small groups for those who desired this faith sharing;
  • The presenters of the retreat were drawn from the people who were making this retreat.
The points outlined below were intended as a help for those who were making the presentations. They were suggestions for the way in which a particular theme could be developed with the realization that the presenters would develop the themes from their own perspectives. If you would like to understand the thematic context more clearly than its expressions in the first few themes, click here and read the "Cultural And Historical Perspectives" contained in Theme Eight.

         The format, oversight, preparation, development, and the eliciting of presenters, etc. was accomplished through a committee appointed by the Provincial under the direction of David Eley, sj. This communal way of making a retreat works extremely well because the symbol of a community in silent meditation, the sharing in faith, and the insights of different presenters manifest the presence of Jesus' Spirit in a special way.

          This exposition was adapted by John Veltri, sj, the webmaster, and Rev. Jean Mitchell, assistant of St. George's Anglican Church, Guelph.

Table of Contents

The Use of These Themes

First Day and Theme

Second Day and Theme

Third Day and Theme

Fourth Day and Theme

Fifth Day and Theme

Sixth Day and Theme

Seventh Day and Theme

Eighth Day and Theme

The Use of These Themes

          The themes for the following eight-day retreat pattern were based on the prayer, "A Vision for the Jesuits of our Province," in the document which was distributed to all the Jesuit members of the province of Upper Canada in 2004 -- Our Way Forward. The presenters were asked to give their presentations and homilies in harmony with the theme of the particular day of the retreat, but from their own perspective:

Theme 1
We are a small band of persons who have heard the call of Jesus, our eternal king, to be at his side.

Theme 2:
(We live) in a broken world (that needs a saviour).

Theme 3:
So much has been given to us as we labour with him: the toil of our predecessors in ministry, our benefactors and friends, the talents we were born with and the education we receive, our own years of experience and acquired wisdom.

Theme 4:
All of this we hold before our king and lord with open hands: what he gives to us he can leave in our hands, take away, give to others, transform, mold, shape, according to his purpose.

Theme 5: 
Our hearts are flexible and we, imbued with the energy he bestows on us in the Spirit, are ready to move forward wherever he desires.

Theme 6:
Knowing that whatever else he has in store for us, we have received the gift of the Spiritual Exercises to share with one another and those we serve.

Theme 7:
Indeed we are not alone as we journey. We have joined together with many friends and partners.

Theme 8: 
Knowing that his love and his grace are enough for us, together let us serve the Church with the best we can offer.

A Prayer Expresses All These Aspects -- Click here to open in separate window.

Theme One

We are a small band of persons
who have heard the call of Jesus, our eternal king, 
to be at his side.

Suggested Focus And Grace Being Sought --
            We pray for a deep-felt awareness of God's desire to communicate God's Self with us as members of one body. We also seek a deep-felt understanding of the implications of this theme -- that God desires to be in a mutual relationship with:

  • Each of us personally -- in a kind of mutual relationship which Ignatius describes in [231]. This implies that God desires also to be in a mutual relationship with us together ( ... where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst  ... love one another as I have loved you ... Abba make them one as we are one ); 
  • All the people with whom we work (our co-workers on every level); 
  • All of us together with all of creation ( ... which groans with us ... becomes a new heaven and new earth ... ).
This mutual interdependence could very well be our call in the coming years.

Spiritual Exercises --
          The Contemplation to Attain Love [231] summarizes our spirituality. It is a call to intimacy -- to be mutual with God and one another within our own communities and with all those with whom we work. This call to mutuality is found throughout the Exercises. It is present in the Kingdom Exercise [91] where we are called to join in the company of friends and present in the Note of the Contemplation to Attain Love [231] which describes the inner relationship with the Trinity, the fruit of that relationship with Jesus expressed in the call of the King.

Scripture --

Jn 17 The priestly prayer of Jesus reveals his desire for his apostles to be united intimately in the manner of the inner life of the Trinity. 
Through the power of the Spirit, we are a people Jesus claims as his own (1Pet 2:9). Built together as parts of a new building (Eph 2:19-22) and as members of one body (Rom 12:4-21), we are knit together in unity with a diversity of gifts (1Cor 12:4-7). Hence when we cooperate with each other as one body, Jesus is in our midst (Mt 18:19-20), and the cooperative decisions that we make with respectful care for each other are influenced by Jesus' Spirit (Jn 14:26). Thus we are more likely to bear much fruit (Jn 15:5).

Cultural And Historical Perspectives 
That Ought To Affect Our Prayer And Spirituality --

          What does it mean to be called into existence as part of the human family? We don't survive or exist or are saved without the help of others. We are co-creators with God and with each other. The very existence of our planet depends on the ability of men and women to transcend differences in culture and religion and to work with one another.

           The small band of Ignatius' companions was confronting a world in which a small band could really make a difference for the Church. Earlier in the history of our province, our small band could make a difference. But now that we are living in a different context, which calls for different kinds of interactions in the way we do ministry, our small band can no longer make a difference unless it operates in a manner different from the one to which we have been accustomed.

Shifts In Our Operative Images That We Are Being Called To Make --

A shift from an earlier more predictable worldview
in which we thought of ourselves as strong individuals acting individually in a manner of pioneers
a different, less predictable, and more developmental worldview
in which we recognize that we can not act as strong individuals but now need more integrated actions with others.

A shift in the image of my own personal intimacy with God
an image of my own personal intimacy with God which flows
from my interpersonal relationships with others in the way I act in the world.

Theme Two

 (We live) in a broken world (that needs a saviour).

Suggested Focus And Grace Being Sought --
           We pray for a deeper awareness of how we are caught and broken not only individually, but even more, institutionally and culturally, in the mystery of iniquity. Not only do we personally need a saviour, but the whole human race also needs a saviour if it is to survive. (Click here for an observation that shows how enmeshed we are in a system that goes beyond our "personal" sins.) 

Spiritual Exercises --
           The Second Point [51] of the First Exercise, First Week as well as the History [102] and First Point [106] of the Contemplation on the Incarnation capture this mystery of evil at work in us and in the human race.

Scripture --

Gen 11:1-9 Tower of Babel
Rom 8:21-23  All of creation groans
Gal 5:16-26 The fruits of the mystery of iniquity versus the fruit of the Holy Spirit
Eph 2:1-22 When we were dead, God brought us to life in God's Son ... so you are no longer aliens ... you are part of God's household
2Cor 5:17-21 It is all God's work ... for our sake God made the sinless one into sin so that ...
Gal 4:3-7 We were as good as slaves ... but God sent Jesus
Jn 9 Cure of the man born blind; evil causes spiritual blindness
Is 6:8-13 Hear and hear again but do not understand ...
Ez 11:16-21 I will remove their heart of stone and replace it heart of flesh
Mt 13:1-23  Parable of the sower and an explanation of why Jesus speaks in parables
1Jn 1:5-10 If we say that we have no sin in us, we are deceiving ourselves ...

Cultural And Historical Perspectives 
That Ought To Affect Our Prayer And Spirituality --

           We don't have to reflect very deeply on how the sins of greed and lust for power are very much alive throughout our world. Many "isms" that have emerged in our lifetime -- racism, materialism, nationalism, capitalism, communism, consumerism, sexism -- have been the ideologies that have entrenched these sins which have become the environment in which we live and breathe. These "isms" are part of the "culture of death." No doubt, each of us could add many things to the following short list:

  • Murder of millions of Jews in gas chambers during the 1940's;
  • Bombing of Vietnam with napalm;
  • Eight-month terror during which 850,00 people were slaughtered in Rwanda.
          The story of the Tower of Babel illustrates well the world in which we find ourselves. People cannot understand each other's language, culture, or personal philosophy. From your own experience, pick some stories of our own province that illustrate the theme of institutional and cultural brokenness and the theme of institutional and cultural healing. For example:
  • How does our split between the French-Canadian Jesuits and the English-Canadian Jesuits reflect our Canadian divide?
  • What decisions, which we have helped to make, furthered and continue to further, the mystery of iniquity in the world?
  • How is the story of the Tower of Babel relived in the communities and institutions to which we belong? 
Shifts In Our Operative Images That We Are Being Called To Make --

A shift from the individualized, hierarchical form of our Principle and Foundation
a more inclusive, global, social understanding of the Principle and Foundation [23].

A shift from a triumphalistic and individualistic pioneering image of the Church and the Society of Jesus
the "least society" of "companions of Jesus."

"George Orwell once wrote: 'It is not a matter of whether the war is not real, or if it is, victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won; it is mean to be continuous. A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance.' This new version is the past, and no different past can ever have existed. In principle, the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact." 
-- Michael Moore in the documentary Fahrenheit 9/11
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Theme Three

So much has been given to us as we labour with him:
the toil of our predecessors in ministry, 
our benefactors and friends,
the talents we were born with and the education we receive,
our own years of experience and acquired wisdom.

Suggested Focus And Grace Being Sought --
            We can prepare for our prayer by exploring the implications in the above statements in order to appreciate our own blessed history in the Society of Jesus. We can remember the stories of our Jesuit Province and ponder the events of our history which illustrate aspects of this theme.

           We pray that we, not only as individuals, but more importantly, as smaller groups of Jesuits in cooperative collaboration with each other, can follow Jesus more closely now. This grace includes the desire to return love for love that is expressed in the Contemplation to Attain Love -- but now with a growing desire and willingness to do this WITH others who desire to work together WITH Jesus. The implication here is somewhat different from the personal, more individualistic call expressed in the Kingdom Exercise.

Spiritual Exercises --
            Here the context is the Second Week of the Exercises and the Call of the Apostles.

Scripture --

Mt 3:13-17 Jesus' baptism in the Jordan recalls our own personal calls to follow Jesus in the Society.
Mt 5:1-11 The beatitudes are for all the followers of Jesus.
Acts 10:34-38 This is Peter's description of Jesus' experience in the Jordan River.
Jer 1:4-10 The experience at the Jordan may have been similar to the call of Jeremiah. It was an overwhelming consolation, not unlike the anointing described in Psalm 89. Through this consolation, Jesus was anointed, and perhaps, he came to understand himself and his story as the suffering servant. The servant texts (Is 42:1-9; Is 49:1-7) give an idea of the meaning of the consolation Jesus received in the Jordan.
Jn 1:35-51; Mt 4:18-22 Call of the Apostles 
Lk 5:1-11  Call of Peter
Mt 10:1-16; Mk 6:7-13 Sending the apostles on mission two by two
Acts 15: 7-29 Council of Jerusalem - The apostolic council described here has the following sections: Peter's speech (15:7-12), James's proposed solution (15:13-21) and the apostles' "unanimous" decision, which Judas called Barsabbas and Silas delivered in writing to the Gentile Christian churches (15:23-29).

Cultural And Historical Perspectives 
That Ought To Affect Our Prayer And Spirituality --

           We have had to work "together" before and we have had corporate apostolates before. In some sense, the corporate apostolates have been a form of deciding and working together -- but not in the sense that the word communal means now. We have been working together as strong individualists -- each doing his thing within common institutions that defined for him what he had to do. We could work together by working through the superior as teachers work through the principal. The hierarchical structures with the working policies and procedures were carried out by highly individualized teachers. And this was true in our mission fields, in our parishes ... each person did his thing working contiguously, side by side, but not necessarily interdependently. Group meetings were held to parcel out bits of the work and determine the external working order of things but hardly ever to work through our common approach in our teaching. The experience of our corporate enterprises was that of individuals working as individuals, side by side, but not communally. To be private, to be a highly trained individual, to be able to function and be trusted as an individual, was something that we were definitely about. The stories of Francis Xavier and Canisius and the early brothers and priests of our own province were all about that! We learned well what we were taught in the novitiate: "Don't interfere in the office of another." Southern Ontario was dotted with little churches built by individual Jesuits arriving by horseback to preach missions and to establish Catholic centres of worship.

Shifts In Our Operative Images That We Are Being Called To Make --

A shift from understanding how we used to work as strong, self-sufficient individuals
a deeper understanding of the present need for more cooperative and interactive approaches in our ministries.

Theme Four

All of this we hold before our king and lord with open hands:
what he gives to us he can leave in our hands,
take away, give to others, transform, mold, shape,
according to his purpose.

Suggested Focus And Grace Being Sought --
            This theme is intended to lead us into an appreciation of the freedom we need individually and communally at this time in our province's history. Again, it may be helpful to reflect upon some stories from our Jesuit province's history which illustrate one or other of the above statements. We pray for a deep-felt awareness of the freedom we need, as a province of Jesuits, to be able to work together and to accept our lives and capabilities with humble realism.

Spiritual Exercises --
           We continue the Second Week praying to follow Jesus more closely in cooperative collaboration with each other as groups of Jesuits and colleagues. For this, we require the grace to stand communally in harmony under the sign of Jesus. Spiritual Freedom has at least three aspects to it:

  • Freedom "from"
  • Freedom "for"
  • Freedom "with"
This Fourth Theme stresses the freedom "from". It is particularly the context of the Two Standards Exercise [136]. In Ignatius' culture, such freedom was expressed as freedom from riches, honors, pride. For us, it means that we need to become free "from" a culture that tends to undermine us. One analysis of the undermining aspects of our Jesuit culture suggests that as a group we are:
  • Workaholics who are extremely generous but who equate our value with apostolic work;
  • Desirous to operate in the most efficient ways which include means of communication, travel, and use of technology;
  • Individualists who, though obedient to our superiors in major assignments, are allowed free reign to determine individualistically our own priorities. 
  • True believers in our hierarchical system because, at this time in our history, it unwittingly fosters our individualism.
According to this particular analysis, these aspects are kept alive by two phenomena:
  • First, we believe that we possess the "royal jelly" -- the Jesuit mystique which influences the way we see each other, the way we program the rest of the church to see us, the way we work.
  • Second, we trivialize each other. The reason for this is that we have such an exalted idea of the "more" of our vocation that we measure each other by it. We literally make it harder for each other to live up to the expectations of our order.
Scripture --
Mt 4:1-11 Temptations in the desert
Lk 4:14-22 Jesus declares his mission in the synagogue - God has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives. Later he explains his mission and work (Lk 7:18-23).
Mt 20:20-28 Argument among disciples - Can you drink the cup I am to drink? James and John desire to sit at Jesus' right hand.
Mk 6:7-9 These were Jesus' instructions: "Take nothing for the journey."

Cultural And Historical Perspectives 
That Ought To Affect Our Prayer And Spirituality --

           After the overwhelming experience of Jesus' encounter with the Father at his baptism, Jesus had to go through the desert experience to come to a freedom whereby he became free enough to follow the path of his humanity and move toward embracing his role as suffering servant. We, individually, and we, together, must somehow experience this same freedom to accept where we are in our own personal histories and be willing to embrace where we are as a province in order to serve according to the spiritual freedom of the Principle And Foundation [23] even in weakness, ordinariness and institutional diminution.

           Every institution goes through periods of large expansion and contraction. Many of us who are over 55 knew our Jesuit province in the days of expansion, but during the past twenty years we have come face-to-face with diminishment. At this point, it might be helpful to reflect upon the stories of those people in our province which show examples of persons acting together interdependently in times of expansion and in times of diminishment.

Shifts In Our Operative Images That We Are Being Called To Make --

A shift from understanding that, in following Jesus, we will not necessarily be successful or fulfilled
understanding and accepting that we might be asked to move in directions that will end in failure.

(While dying on the cross, did Jesus really know, in his human knowledge, that he would rise from the dead?
From the vantage point of his dying, did he have a sense that he was successful?)

Theme Five

Our hearts are flexible and we,
 imbued with the energy he bestows on us in the Spirit,
are ready to move forward
wherever he desires, 

Suggested Focus And Grace Being Sought --
      We pray for the grace of enlightenment and appropriate enthusiasm for the tasks that await us. This theme deals with the freedom "for". This freedom "for" is captured very well in the reflections of the late Bill McElcheran, the sculptor of Ignatius The Pilgrim, located both in the Aula of the Jesuit Curia in Rome, and on the grounds of Loyola House in Guelph, Ontario (see below). His reflections describe Ignatius in a very different world from ours. This freedom "for", for which we are seeking disposition and energy, is for kinds of actions that are different from those envisaged in Ignatius' world, and even more different from those in our world before 1970.

Spiritual Exercises --
           We are in the Second Week, particularly the freedom "for" of the Third Point of the meditation on Three Classes of Men. This Third Point articulates the ready eagerness of Ignatius' concept of indifference:

[155] These want to rid themselves of the attachment, but they wish to do so in such a way that they desire neither to retain nor to relinquish the sum acquired. They seek only to will and not will as God our Lord inspires them, and as seems better for the service and praise of the Divine Majesty. Meanwhile, they will strive to conduct themselves as if every attachment to it had been broken. They will make efforts neither to want that, nor anything else, unless the service of God our Lord alone move them to do so. As a result, the desire to be better able to serve God our Lord will be the cause of their accepting anything or relinquishing it.
Scripture --
1Cor 9:19-23 I made myself all things to all people.
Phil 1:21-26 Paul's dilemma: to die now or to keep on working.
Phil 3:7-11 I have come to consider all the advantages I had as disadvantages; I look upon everything as rubbish.
Phil 4:10-13 I know how to be poor or rich and now I am ready for anything with the help of God.
Mk 12:35-44 Examples of Jesus' teaching in the temple: David calls Christ Lord against the scribes; the widow's mite.

Cultural And Historical Perspectives 
That Ought To Affect Our Prayer And Spirituality --

           Generally speaking, Jesuits -- like Mateo Ricci in the early days or like our more recent Jesuits in Darjeeling, Bhutan, and throughout other parts of India.-- have always been recognized as adaptable in a variety of situations. Bill Ryan, sj, a former provincial, called us "spiritual entrepreneurs" -- a phrase that captures this ability to adapt.

           Many of us can remember a time in our formative years, when we were exposed only to Jesuits for studies and retreats. We were talking only to ourselves. We were there to resource others; others were not there to resource us! In spite of this, we had a reputation for being adaptable. Perhaps this was due to the fact that we were institutional and exercised our ministry in terms of effective procedures in cultures supporting and accepting these procedures. But have we lost this ability of being adaptable now that we are becoming de-institutionalized? Yet our present historical situation requires us to be adaptable in ways different from the ways we needed to be adaptable during the past seventy-five years. Bill McElcheran, the sculptor of Ignatius The Pilgrim, writes:

"I have approached St. Ignatius as both a symbol and a person. The symbolic aspect of the saint has to do with the response of the Church to a changing world. Ignatius is probably the prototype of the modern Christian; going forth into the world carrying the cloister about his heart -- a very large cloister that has room for the whole of creation. This "going forth" is symbolized in the statue by the driving stance of the figure, leaning into the wind. The winds of change are not merely the force of evil, but nevertheless, the hand that clutches at the cloak is opposing the destructive power that accompanies them. But Ignatius is not merely pulling together the rent garment of the faith. The winds blow from the ends of the earth. They still blow from yet undiscovered reaches of creation. The challenge of the world is not just a menace; it is a living manifestation of God's power and the wonder of the Incarnation. Ignatius, the adventurer, responds. Just as St. Francis Xavier, Brebeuf and his brethren, and all the great Jesuit missionaries answered the call of the unknown knowing that Christ was to be found wherever they sought him, so too, the modern Jesuit can go down the many paths of the world knowing that Christ is always there and bringing his image printed upon his soul. The need for communication was important then as it is important now. We must speak to each other and find each other in Christ. The letter in the saint's hand symbolizes this communication. It is not merely symbolic, but comments upon the actual manner in which Ignatius conducted his apostolate. ... Ignatius was also very much a realist. His whole external life as head of a very active order must have appeared to be physically inactive. The great conquests that he was making through his interior life and his influence on the members of the order he founded, cannot be adequately expressed by dramatic gestures. He was more director than star performer and I feel that this must have been the greatest penance of his life. ..."

Shifts In Our Operative Images That We Are Being Called To Make --

A shift from a worldview that believes that truth is given in an absolute way and needs only to be dispensed
a developmental worldview which sees that most expressions of truth require 
adaptation, change, or development
with sources coming from all sorts of other people and cultures.

A shift in the ways in which we thought of ourselves as adaptable in the past
the ways we are now being called to be adaptable in the present for an unknown future.

Theme Six

Knowing that whatever else he has in store for us,
we have received the gift of the Spiritual Exercises
to share with one another and those we serve.

Suggested Focus And Grace Being Sought --
     We pray for the grace of compassion with whomever we work and with whomever we meet.  Our hope is that we continue to grow in the following:

  • Acceptance of life as it is and, in that acceptance, living out one's part in the paschal mystery;
  • Appreciation of how our sufferings, strivings, thwarted energies are vehicles of God's grace for others;
  • Appreciation of the Spiritual Exercises as a gift to share with one another and with those we serve.
We pray for freedom "with" -- freedom in compassion with Jesus' struggle in those with whom we share our ministry. We make up for their limitations; they make up for our limitations. We don't have it all; we need each other. In our complex world, we need each other even more than we did in the past. Together we exercise compassion for Jesus' body -- humanity -- "Jesus in agony till the end of time."

Spiritual Exercises --
          This theme harmonizes with the Third Week

Scripture --

1Cor 1:17-31 Wisdom and folly of the cross ... let those who boast, boast in the Lord
2Cor 4:5-18 Our treasure is in earthen vessels to show the power of God ... we are afflicted but not crushed ... in our bodies we carry the dying of Christ ... our inner being is renewed each day
Phil 3:7-11 I wish to know Christ and the power flowing from his resurrection; likewise to know how to share in his sufferings by being formed into the pattern of his death
2Cor 1:3-7 God comforts us in all our sorrows so that we can offer to others the consolation that we ourselves have received.
Lk 22:31-34 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.

Cultural And Historical Perspectives 
That Ought To Affect Our Prayer And Spirituality --

           From our history we ought to remember that the Exercises were given to Ignatius as a layman and, as a layman, he directed others in the Exercises. Our own province has been instrumental in rediscovering the Exercises and has trained many non-Jesuits to use this instrument in their own ministry. Many people have discovered that elements of the Exercises can be very useful and practical in a variety of ministries. The Exercises are important today in the present history of spirituality for two reasons:

  • Vatican II encouraged all religious orders to become more cognizant of their originating charism;
  • In Western culture we have become psychologically literate and the Exercises have specific methods and tools to pay attention, from a spiritual perspective, to our personal interiority.
Shifts In Our Operative Images That We Are Being Called To Make --

A shift from my grief over what I thought life should be by this time in my personal history
a deeper appreciation of God's grief for the world in which God sees repeated, over and over again,
the unjust, hateful, shameful crucifixion: "Jesus in agony till the end of time,"
a willingness to embrace failure as Jesus did.

          The following passage was originally intended to be read after the distribution of communion during the liturgy in the place of the communion antiphon or meditation. Here it summarizes our theme. As he faced his death, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and gave thanks in a way he had never quite done before. He broke the bread and, staring into his disciples' eyes, offered it to them, as if to say:
This is my body;
this is my life;
this is everything I have taught you;
my vision of the kingdom;
my love for my Father;
my love for each of you. 

This is my very body.
Will you continue to be my disciples? My friends?
Will you follow me through everything?
Will you eat this with me?
Will you remember me, this moment, forever -- by repeating this?

When supper ended, he repeated his invitation -- even more clearly.
He took a single cup and gave thanks once again.
He looked at his friends, as if to say,
"This is my blood, my very spirit;
this is all I have ever desired, all I have ever loved.
This is the cup of my life which I am freely giving up in trust of my Father;
and I offer it to you, my friends.
This will be our covenant, the new covenant of discipleship.

Will you share my life?
Will you continue to follow me?
Will you always call yourselves my friends?
Will you drink this cup with me?
Will you unite yourselves to me forever?"

Though the leader did not normally pass the cup around at a Passover meal,
Jesus passed the cup; and each disciple in turn drank from the same cup.

-- by The Rev. Dr. Joseph Cassidy
This version was done before 1993.

Theme Seven

 Indeed we are not alone as we journey. 
We have joined together with many friends and partners.

Suggested Focus And Grace Being Sought --
            We pray that we may learn to experience the energy from the Risen Lord as it is expressed in his body of believers. This theme is intended to help us grow in the awareness of the following:

  • We work and live in the power of Jesus the Risen Lord;
  • Jesus is with us where two or three are gathered in his name;
  • We have many non-Jesuit associates and friends who share our ministries with us.
We need to grow in the art of collaboration and cooperation rather than expect that we should always take the lead.

Spiritual Exercises --
            This theme harmonizes with the Fourth Week.

Scripture --

Jn 14:15-20;
I shall ask my Abba who will give you another advocate ... the Spirit will teach you everything.
Lk 24:13-35 Jesus appears to the disciples on the way to Emmaus.
Mt 28:16-20 Ascension ... I am with you all days till the end of time.
Eph 3:14-21 May Christ Jesus strengthen you inwardly through the power of the Spirit.
Eph 4:17-32 You must no longer live as pagans do ... you must acquire a fresh spiritual way of thinking ... do nothing to sadden the Holy Spirit with which you were sealed.

Cultural And Historical Perspectives
That Ought To Affect Our Prayer And Spirituality --

           Life never turns out the way we imagine it when we first commit ourselves to some significant project or endeavor. So it was for the disciples on the way to Emmaus. They were disappointed, and many of us become disappointed with the institutional church and with the Society of Jesus. As well, life doesn't change very much as a result of our ministry. Nor do we change very much after years and years of praying and striving to be faithful. And yet, in the whatever we are called to, we have to embrace what is, in order to allow Jesus to reveal to us the inner meaning much as he did at Emmaus. Thus, something more important happens. We see, in a new way, what we have embraced -- our eyes are opened. He is with us in a different way. So even now, we can notice the wonderful things that are happening:

  • We are being invited to work in partnered collaboration with many non-Jesuits.
  • Circumstances are inviting us to collaborate with people of other faiths and cultures.
  • We are being invited to join the human race in developing one, huge, global co-operative.
  • We are being encouraged to let go of our institutional pretensions to follow the simple Jesus that we fell in love with in an earlier day.
  • We are being invited to de-mythologize and re-mythologize, to de-institutionalize and re-institutionalize, etc., etc., etc.
Shifts In Our Operative Images That We Are Being Called To Make --

A shift from "my" call, "my" ministry,
"our" ministry, with the "our" including many non-Jesuit men and women.

Theme Eight

Knowing that his love and his grace are enough for us,
together let us serve the Church with the best we can offer.

Suggested Focus And Grace Being Sought --
           We pray that we may learn to experience the energy from the Risen Lord as it is expressed and carried out through the multiplicity of gifts within his body of believers. This is a furthering of the last theme. This eighth theme is meant to lead us toward a deeper appreciation of this fact: our dependence on each other and our cooperation with each other are the MORE of our Jesuit service in our way forward at this time in our history.

Spiritual Exercises --
             This theme also harmonizes with the Fourth Week which leads us to the mystery of the Ascension -- a mystery that implies the coming of the Spirit, the gathering of believers to work together in the name of Jesus with the energy of his Spirit.

Scripture --

Rom 12:3-21 Many members, one body ... do not think more highly of yourself than you ought
Jn 21:15-23 Feed my lambs, my sheep ... suppose I want John to stay until I come ... how does that concern you?
1Cor 12 & 13 Variety and unity of gifts; analogy of the body; love is patient, is kind ....
Eph 4:1-16  There is one body, one spirit, one God and Parent over all ... diversity of functions
2Cor 1:3-7 God comforts us in all our sorrows so that we can comfort others with the consolation we have received
1Cor 1:27 -- 2:5 Weak to confound the strong: take yourselves ... how many of your were wise in the ordinary sense of the word
Acts 4:5-22 Peter and John speak, in the name of Jesus and with the power of the Spirit, before the Sanhedrin
Rom 8:1-27 Living according to the Spirit ... you received a Spirit, not of fear but of adoption ... Abba ... we are heirs and have hope with all groaning creation ... Spirit prays in our weakness

Cultural And Historical Perspectives
That Ought To Affect Our Prayer And Spirituality --

           When our Jesuit province was first founded, much of our work was involved in helping new immigrants to establish themselves within the mainstream of Canadian society. We helped to develop a Roman Catholic school system and to ensure that Roman Catholics were able to get good jobs. In this ministry we helped them to keep their identity and to preserve their faith. It was a pioneering work, and our image of what we had to do was clear because it was a pattern that we had followed for years.

           Now, we are moving quickly into a totally different situation. This is the moment to apply an image that Marshall McLuhan gave us over thirty years ago. We can no longer move forward looking through the rearview mirror! rearview mirror cartoon[Image by André Jolicoeur - click here for his websiteThe future of our planet depends on whether we have the courage to put our individualism aside and act in new ways together with a kind of interdependence that few of us have known -- to put aside our private agendas and deal with more pressing communal agendas. Our environmental, social, and underlying spiritual problems can no longer be dealt with significantly by individuals working individualistically. The individual, mutli-gifted pioneer is no longer what our world requires. The speed of our computerized mass communication, the knowledge and media explosion, the depleting forests and ozone layers, the chemicals in our ground waters, and the overdependence of the western world on oil reserves, have made individualism obsolete. Individuals can no longer prevent the ten-dollar chicken in a Jamaican store from becoming a twenty-five dollar chicken. 

          In former days, decision-making was always made with some idea of what the future context would look like; now we have no idea of the future context with one exception -- if we want to act significantly, responsibly, and with relevance, we are called to make decisions and to take apostolic actions with a new kind of interdependence.

           We are being called to witness a new way of interacting in our world. That part of our institutional church which is so heavily invested in the rearview-mirror approach needs the witness of our communal visions and actions. Not only must we make decisions and work together communally with a newer kind of interdependence and collaboration, but NOW the people who make the decisions must also be the SAME PEOPLE who implement the decisions. There are several reasons for this:

  • We can no longer predict the number, quality, or educational background of those who will be called to implement the decisions and carry out the work.
  • We are no longer impelled or motivated by a common worldview with the hierarchical and institutional belief that God's will is identified with the superior's will unless there has been a communal process of decision-making. There may still be external obedience of execution but no longer internal obedience of understanding and conviction.
  • Most of those who might be asked to follow the institutional, hierarchical decision-makers may have more skills, education, and creativity to respond to the apostolic needs in a manner different from what the decision-makers envisioned.
  • We, as Jesuits, have a penchant for philosophizing, theorizing, and talking about and around things and issues without committing ourselves to them unless we ourselves have made and participated both in the decision-making and in the implementing of those decisions. (Return to introductory comments.)
Shifts In Our Operative Images That We Are Being Called To Make --

A shift from imaging our work as a service to the world for the institutional church
an image of working in cooperation 
with each other and, in mutual collaboration or "partnership", with non-Jesuits
to service the people of God -- a new image of collaboration.


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