Guiding principles

 · Each day will start and end with a plenary session.

· The starting plenary will develop the Ignatian framework to guide our reflections in the various workshops.

· The ending plenary will provide a moment to share the work done in the specific Workshops, and discern our way ahead.

In our desire to be present in solidarity and compassion as one Ignatian family to the achievements and opportunities in Africa we may consider three Ignatian principles that may illuminate our daily reflections and our discussion in the Workshops.

(1) Discerning and reading the signs of the times. For Ignatius, every apostolic decision was preceded by discernment and prayer. He reminds us repeatedly in the Spiritual Exercises of the need to examine our life and see where the Lord is calling us. He writes, for example that “he who is giving the Exercises ought not to influence him who is receiving them” (15th Annotation). To be able to make a good election each one has “to come to the contrary of what he is wrongly drawn to” (16th Annotation). Discernment is not only an individual but a communitarian exercise.

Apostolic efficacy depends also in being capable of reading and interpreting the signs of the time (Meditation of the Incarnation). Our spiritual transformation may start by asking some questions: to what extent are our apostolic choices the result of serious analysis, and prayerful communitarian discernment? Given the challenges of our times, what commitment is the Lord calling us to? To what an extent are we aware of the ‘spiritual’ dimension of our service, of the source and inspiration of what we do?

(2) The Ignatian way of proceeding. GC 34 (D 13) attempted to describe the Ignatian way of proceeding, that is, a set of Ignatian values that should guide our apostolic commitment. We need to reflect to what an extent they form part of our life, and of the apostolic strategies we follow. We need to examine the extent to which we have shared them with our partners in our social institutions or centres. We need also to reflect on the way in which they have been integrated into our plans and projects. This clearly involves a reflection on the Ignatian pedagogy to be followed in social transformation and carried out in dialogue with other religions and cultures. In particular, the call of the ‘magis’ during the Spiritual Exercises calls us to make offerings of great generosity. Sometimes we are overwhelmed by the situations that confront us, but the Lord calls us to perseverance and persistence in faith. While we need to be open to hear the voice and follow the path of God, we are also called to be generous in committing ourselves to effecting social change. We may ask ourselves: Individually and as an apostolic body, are we ready to move and go where nobody else goes? Are we a credible Body?

(3) One universal Body: While rooted in local conditions, the Society of Jesus is one “universal body” at the service of Christ. While fostering communities ad dispersionem, the Society must be capable of working apostolically in an integrated manner. More specifically, as an Ignatian family we need to profit from collaboration and synergies particularly given that “to prepare our complex and divided world for the coming of the Kingdom requires a plurality of gifts, perspectives, and experiences, both international and multicultural.” (D 26, n.16) We may ask ourselves: what have we achieved in working as a body, as an Ignatian family in Africa? What opportunities for partnership have we missed in effecting social change? How do we live the tension between the ‘local’ and the ‘universal’? What are the steps we need to take? What would we expect from the rest of the Society outside Africa?

 


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