October 2, 2016 — The Society of Jesus’ General Congregation 36 began today as the 215 delegates celebrated Mass at the Church of the Gesù in Rome. The main presider was Father Bruno Cadoré, the Master of the Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominican Order.
Father Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, and all the other electors were present, as were a number of Jesuits who live and work in Rome.
Fr. Cadoré delivered a homily inspired by the Scripture readings of the day, the 27th Sunday of Ordinary time: excerpts from the prophet Habakkuk, from the second letter of St. Paul to Timothy and from the 17th chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel.
Father Adolfo Nicolás, SJ (left) and Father Bruno Cadoré
Fr. Cadoré began by drawing attention to the apostles’ request to Jesus: “Lord, increase our faith!” Fr. Cadoré explained: “This faith is necessary — even if it remains as modest in appearance as a mustard seed — because it is about daring to aim for the improbable: ‘you can say to this mulberry tree, be uprooted and planted in the sea, and it will obey you.’ It is even more necessary, because it is to understand that, even if we aim for the incredible, it is about daring to say: ‘we are unworthy servants: we have only done our duty’! An assembly such as yours … will without doubt move between the duty of constantly calling the Society to dare the audacity of the ‘improbable’ and the evangelical willingness to do it with the humility of those who know that, in this service where the human engages all his energy, ‘everything depends on God’.”
Fr. Cadoré posed the question: “But is it possible for us to have this audacity of the improbable, this audacity of the Gospel, the audacity of your founder Ignatius who founded his Society, small as a mustard seed, in a time of crisis, of a need for brotherhood and faced with immense challenges?
“Far from being naive, this audacity is realistic,” he said. “It is probably the main task of a Congregation such as the one that opens for you today: to draw on the audacity of the improbable in fidelity to the work of the Spirit. To find the strength and creativity of fidelity in the breath in which the Spirit holds us as he leads us to encounter and to listen to the other, who creates a well of compassion in the heart of the person, who consolidates the unbreakable alliance with those who are entrusted to us.”
Finally, Fr. Cadoré insisted on the fact that if the faith the apostles need has to be characterized by audacity, it has to be, at the same time, the faith of the humble servant, the faith of a life truly given for others. “Of what, precisely, are you the servant? Of a table, a table of sinners, a table of welcome for all to which are invited the blind and the lame, Pharisees and publicans, adulterers and good people. Your founder, Ignatius, prayed like this: ‘Lord Jesus, teach us to be generous, teach us to serve You as You deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and to ask for no reward save that of knowing we are doing Your will’. Is this not an invitation, once more today, to place ourselves, all of us, at the service of this table?”
On Monday, Oct. 3, the 215 electors will gather in the Aula of the Jesuit Curia to begin the first session of the plenary session of General Congregation 36. Fr. Nicolás is expected to present his resignation on the first day of the Congregation.