Spirituality, justice and leadership of a Pilgrim

Peter Rožič SJ

Dear Friends,

Happy Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola.

St. Ignatius called himself a Pilgrim. After conversion, Ignatius’ life and mission consisted of a never-ending pilgrimage towards the Love of God. It was this Love that called St Ignatius to praise and serve the Lord through helping souls. In fact, he and his early Companions often described their mission as “helping souls.” Reformulating this statement 400 years later, the Jesuit leader and a candidate to sainthood, Pedro Arrupe, called those formed in Ignatian spirituality “men for others.”

This vocation follows not only a Christian duty but also and simply Jesus’ call to blessedness or happiness through sharing with, and pouring out, our own being to others: “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving” (Ac 20:35). As we share in Ignatian spirituality and the Jesuit mission of pilgrims, we ask the Lord for an ever deeper commitment to justice and a giving of ourselves to others. 

The opportunities for our happiness and commitment to justice are as numerous as are the ways to achieve “the end for which we were created” (SpEx 23).

Summer time, for instance, is a great opportunity for us to work on our material, emotional and mental subsistence for the year ahead. During his studies in Paris, St Ignatius often walked to the region, in which I currently live and work, in order to beg for money. While living a poor life he needed minimal annual subsistence so that he could focus on studies. He may have gotten some rest too as he marched in the cool summer climate of Flanders and beyond. 

The shoes of St. Ignatius, on display in his apartment in Rome.

In Brussels, we have just witnessed a record-breaking heatwave. The scorching heat weighed heavy on people, animals, plants – all creation in fact. As our JESC team had decided for team building and group rest, the day we went out bowling we had to sweat through the 50 degrees Celsius asphalt and cobble-stones Brussels streets. While we enjoyed ourselves in non-air-conditioned facilities, we were strongly reminded of the cries of our Common Home, planet Earth.

We continue to serve the poorest in Brussels distributing breakfasts. They remind us of the cries of the excluded and vulnerable in our midst. 

Concerns for our Common Home as well as the call to environmental justice and to serving the poor are not the only ones we would like to share with you during this summer. The unclear and often compromised political prospects of this summer have not been conducive to the common good on our continent. Take a look at the non-fully transparent deals of naming the new leaders of E.U. institutions. Or the political instability in Spain, Belgium and beyond. Not to mention the now completely irrational or maybe delusional decisions (or the lack thereof) behind the Brexit saga. Moreover, in this issue of Just Talk we report beyond Brussels too: on China and Venezuela.

Group Photo from La Pairelle 2018 – © JESC

I conclude with an invitation to another summer opportunity. Last year, the group Passion for Europe and JESC organised a weekend of spiritual and theological training. Participants came from 17 European countries. This September we offer it again. Join us at a two-day session to share the Christian vision of Europe’s current situation and the long-term global challenges. The debates will be led by experts, including members of the EU institutions and religious organisations, and fostered by participants’ intervention. Beyond Brussels, I ask your prayers for the Congress the Jesuits are organising in Rome in November during which we hope to established clear 10-year goals for our social apostolate. May the celebration of the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat’s 50th jubilee help us in these intentions.

The JESC team hopes this summer edition of Just Talk finds you well and wishes you blessings as we celebrate God’s gifts to the creation through remembering St. Ignatius of Loyola. May we deepen our pilgrim commitment to Happiness and Service. This will help us to became more virtuous in spirituality, justice and leadership.

Peter Rožič SJ
JESC Director and
Social apostolate Coordinator for Europe and the Near East