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From here we depart

In the Pilgrimage-Exercises experience in the Holy Land, the highlight was the Eucharistic celebration at the wayside shrine of the Holy Sepulchre. The tomb was empty. As empty were the Cenacle and the place of the Ascension.

In those places one word returned to the heart: “From here we depart”. As if the places of the Holy Land were not the destination, but a point of departure. As for Jesus and the Apostles (cf. Acts 1:6-11). As for Saint Ignatius who would have loved to stay and instead had to go back (cf. Autobiography, 47). Or rather: going to the ends of the earth. Not in the first person, but accompanying from afar the companions of Jesus, especially St Francis Xavier, in the Spirit and with the heart.

This is the starting point. It is to find the risen Jesus in every place, at every moment, with every person: “Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (Jn 20:17). We are called to experience the mystical (real, collective) body of Jesus as the founding horizon of our life in all its dimensions, even of our decision-making: “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).

“While the consideration which comes first and has more weight in the order of our intention regards the body of the Society as a whole, whose unity, good government, and preservation in wellbeing for the greater divine glory are primarily in view” (Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, 135);

“Having the greater service of God and the more universal good before one’s eyes as the guiding norm… the more universal the good is, the more is it divine”. (Constitutions, 622).

Within this horizon it becomes possible to make choices in an ordered manner (cf. ES 1; 169), because the other person, brother-sister, becomes a participant in my personal discernment process. Even though I do not know him/her and will never meet him/her. Knowing that there is another person, one or billions it matters little, who is here on this one earth with me, and also considering the consequences my decision may have on him/her, means choosing as a human person.

This is where we start from. Perhaps every now and then we also need to remind ourselves that on this earth we are passing through and from this earth we will one day have to leave. Let us train ourselves to live each moment as if it were a starting point, stepping out of our love want and interest (cf. ES 189), looking ahead and hoping for the future that is approaching, empty of ourselves/as empty as the places in the Holy Land are. We will be free, peaceful, humble people.

We can revive in us this broad, great, immense, dare I say infinite horizon with the words of Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ on the new phase of the Universal Apostolic Preferences that come to us as a gift:

Let us ask for the grace to find the strength, courage and a renewed desire for life to counter the winds of war that are becoming more and more threatening and to glimpse a ray of sunshine in a sky that seems to grow darker and darker every day.

Happy Easter of Resurrection!

Fr. Paolo Monaco sj