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					                    Preparation for the 35th General Congregation – 5

                        WHAT TYPE OF COMMUNITY LIFE
                   IS THE LORD ASKING OF ME, OF US TODAY?


Community life is one of the essential elements in our religious life. Since GC 31 the Society
has witnessed important changes in our religious life and in our community life. Moreover,
the present social, ecclesial, and cultural contexts in which our communities exist have
undergone significant changes during this time that have influenced the way we live together
in community. All of this has created a desire around the world that, despite the recent
documents on community life, the issue be addressed in depth in GC 35.

In what follows we have made use of the report of the Commission on Community Life and
the “Relationes Praeviae”. It is presented in a way to lead to prayer and personal and
community discernment.


Composition of Place: Reflect back over the history of my life in community, from the
novitiate up to the present. Types of community. Friendships. Helps or hindrances for the
mission. Problems encountered, and so forth.


Prayer: To ask for what we desire. That Our Lord, in my concrete situation and that of the
Society today, enlighten us on what sort of Jesuit community is pleasing to him, and that his
Spirit convert us and bring about such communities in accord with his will (Mt 7,21).


First Point: To recognize before the Lord, with gratitude, the progress realized in our
common life in the last few decades.

      First and foremost is the renewal of Ignatian spirituality in the life of Jesuits and in
       community life as “friends in the Lord” and companions on mission (cfr GC 32, d. 11;
       letter of Fr. Kolvenbach on community life in 1998). “Individual direction of the
       Spiritual Exercises…, spiritual direction through formation and afterward, studies on
       the spirituality of the Society.” “Spiritual intimacy and candor between the Superior
       and subject, as well as between the Superior and community…. Intergenerational
       dialogue has become a source of communal and apostolic renewal. Many feel the
       significance of the shared processes of decision-making, whether made at the
       community level or at the level of the Province and its works.”
      “There emerged the desire to live our charism more simply, frequently in smaller
       communities, often inserted among the poor. Communities have become more
       hospitable internally and externally. Because of improved means of communications,
       Jesuits at a very local level can feel themselves deeply linked to communities on other
       continents, thus helping to develop a sense of the universal mission of the Society.”
      “There has emerged a list of characteristic means that aid communities in finding the
       fruit that nurtures the mission, the person, and the witness of the community…. No
       community has achieved the above transformations without regular and well planned
       community meetings, whether weekly or monthly…. Hence, methods of communal
       apostolic discernment draw us together not only as companions on mission but also in
       a life given to Christ at intimate, even mystical levels. The yearly shared planning of
       priorities for spiritual and fraternal life make of our communities themselves a
       communal apostolic project.”

From your personal experience of community:
    Do you recognize yourself and your community in these positive elements?
    How do you experience and give expression to your gratitude to the Lord, both
      personally and in community, for the vitality of community life in the Society?


Second Point: To recognize before the Lord, with humility, the setbacks and failures in the
communities of the Society (Jn 21,15-17): (The Commission report raises six common defects
in the Society.)

      “Individualism, often named as one of modernity’s pervasive sins, has a strong hold
       on many Jesuits…. For their own part, Jesuits themselves must take responsibility for
       treating the community at times as a hotel or gas station.”
      “While there are good examples of Superiorship, there is often a lack of effective
       leadership within the Society.”
      “Certain imbalances plague Jesuit thinking and living. The tensions between work
       and community, prayer and mission, community requirements and personal schedule
       lead Jesuits to choose improperly between false poles of life.”
      “Many communities and works have simply not attempted any form of discernment,
       communal shared prayer, or honest evaluation” of the work or of the community.
      “There is a general lack of competence in dealing with some issues that arise in
       community” – health concerns, old age, poor communication, and personal
       dysfunction.
      “Too many communities fail to see their prophetic responsibility to witness the
       presence of Christ in their manner of living and in the relation among their
       members…. Fewer communities live among the poor.”

From your personal experience of community:
    Do you recognize yourself and your community in these defects?
    How do you experience and give expression to your sorrow before the Lord for the
      sinful situations that exist in community life in the Society?


Third Point: The Coetus Praevius mentions some challenges facing us in the area of
community life (Mk 9,23-29).

      “Jesuit community life is, and must remain, unambiguously for mission….
       Expectations of community life have never been higher…. The significance of
       community life in itself as mission has been emphasized.” It is considered a prophetic
       witness in a fragmented world. Communities should become forums for apostolic
       discernment in common.
      While in the years since GC 31 the Society has experienced renewal at the personal
       and apostolic levels, we have not given the same degree of attention to the dynamics
       proper to community life. “Younger men entering the Society may have expectations
       of affectivity and intimacy in community life that are not always shared by other
       Jesuits.”


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      We need to develop a rich liturgical dimension that nourishes and promotes
       community life and mission.
      Our simplicity of life should reflect our ecological concerns. In fact, ecology should
       become a key consideration in our life together (Relationes Praeviae, pp. 49-51).

From your personal experience of community:
    Do you recognize yourself and your community in these challenges?
    How do you experience and give expression to the Lord, personally and in
      community, of your desire to address these challenges for the improvement of
      community life in the Society?




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