by Arturo Sosa, SJ
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism
The prologue of this book is written by a Claretian nun who is the President of the International Union of Superior Generals, Sister Jolanta Kafka, RMI. She states that “this book is a conversation, but behind the two main characters are dialogue and contribution from many others, both living and dead. While the subject of discernment is always the individual, at the same time it is the community which flourishes if this dynamics at work in the background. We need to discern. We need community.”
Now we turn to the Father General of the Society of Jesus, Arturo Sosa, SJ, he states: “this book has meant a leap into an adventure. Start to read it wherever you like. Pause whenever you find good fruit, sense the presence of the Lord, and become aware of his voice.” For the reader, this book could prove the start of a journey towards a new way of finding God or hearing his voice. This book is an invitation to”realise and relish things interiorly”(Spiritual Ex.2) The book aims to help the reader grow, starting in the exact place you find yourself in, guided by the Lord and advancing step by step.
The book is replete with reflections about the world of today, the Church and the Society of Jesus, with a strong emphasis on the Universal Church alongside a few suggestions for reflection and prayer. The reader is called to walk the path of Christian adventure in our chaotic world. Walking with Ignatius calls us to explore the path Christ followed, so that we too may become pilgrims and set off, allowing ourselves to be guided by the Spirit. The text calls us to be open to the grace that will purify our gaze, so that we can see ourselves, other people, and nature with the eyes of the Lord. God sees with eyes of love, mercy and hope and his gaze renews the world.
The battle that took place in Pamplona left Ignatius with the catalyst for his process of conversion. There shines a new light that led him to understand afresh himself and his mission in this world. This can happen to the reader. Perhaps life is pushing us readers, gently or painfully to abandon the little dreams we once had for our lives, so that we may enter the energy of magis .This dynamic leads us to accept God’s invitation to invite ourselves to his dream of human fraternity. The Lord invites us to share his dream for the world, promising to sustain us on this shared adventure.
This book is the fruit of a series of well-prepared interviews and never would have happened without the generous help of Dario Menor. For two and a half months, Arturo and Dario met up week after week for the interviews. Dario has stimulating questions, patient listening and professionalism as he grasped the meaning of Arturo’s thoughts and committed then to paper to ensure the project would be successful. This book is a small token of gratitude for all the Jesuits in the world and also for those, both male and female, who are our companions of the mission.
In a section of the book on education, Dario asks: ”Should education teach people how to deal with problems or how to try to be happy” ”Arturo replies: “My basic premise is that happiness is what human life means at its deepest level. God created us to be happy. Everything we try to do is directed towards finding the thing we call happiness and being in harmony with nature. Of course, it’s impossible to attain happiness without learning to face and resolve problems. Happiness as Jesus shows us in the Gospels, is not something abstract and fiction free but is found through a process full of tension and conflict. You cannot be happy if you are unable to acknowledge conflicts and live with the tension they generate. If you associate happiness with an absence of problems, you will never be happy. Neither will you be happy of your focus is only on problem solving. Another question Dario asks: What are the risks and opportunities of shared mission work? Arturo states “The greatest risk is loss of identity. This can happen to the point that the word Jesuit in the title is the only thing that remains Jesuit in a given ministry but it no longer has any apostolic impact in the sense intended by the Society. There is a tremendous responsibility of creating the means and ways for this identity to be shared so that institutions have processes in place to maintain this identity. It is a big challenge”. This book is filled with a call to discernment and grace so that the entire world can realize the importance of a shared mission and thus bring the world to a happier place. Buy this book for yourself and for a friend and then spend time talking to others about it!