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The four C-s of Jesuit Spirituality

Posted on: 1 Dec, 2014

Modified on: 1 Dec, 2014

By Sebastian Painadath SJ

The four C-s of Jesuit Spirituality: Contemplation- Compassion-Creativity.

Contemplation
1. Jesuits are called to be contemplatives: seeing God in all. The Spirituality of the Exercises enables us to perceive the Divine at the heart of the secular. Sensitivity to the unfolding of the Kingdom of God in all realms of life is the dynamics of Jesuit spirituality. This means a spiritual alertness to the grace and demands of the Spirit of God, a discernment that makes us listen to what the Spirit is telling us in the concrete life situation.
2. In the Indian context Jesuit contemplation calls for a twofold focus: vertical and horizontal. We need to look deep into ourselves and experience the mystical oneness with Christ in us. And with this in-sight (jnana) we need to look into the world and perceive the signs of the working of the Spirit around us. In the socio-economic struggles of the people, in the cultural and religious diversity of the country, in the environmental issues and secular movements we need to discern the call and demands of the divine Spirit. Without a contemplative depth religious life in India lacks credibility and persuasiveness.
3. This alertness is possible only if there is spiritual discipline in our daily life. It has been the noble heritage of the Society that each Jesuit spends an hour in silent meditation every day. In the last few decades this practice has been diluted and relativised to the needs of the person and demands of the work. The tragic consequence is that there is a wide-spread spiritual crisis in the Society. Should we not reinstate a better discipline in daily meditation in our life?

Compassion
1. The hallmark of a genuinely religious person is compassion. Indian sages and Christian masters bear witness to this. Compassion based on our faith in the crucified God makes us see the suffering of God in the suffering people. The third week of the Exercises makes us realise that the Cross of Christ is not merely a historical fact, much more a present reality. God meets us through the suffering persons and marginalised communities here and now. Jesuit response to this demands that we become sensitive to the suffering our people.
2. Promotion of justice has been an optio fundamentalis in our mission today. This however has to be conjoined with a compassionate attitude (bhakti) to people with whom and for whom we work. Otherwise there is the danger that our commitment gets easily manipulated by political interests and ego clashes. The question then arises: who will liberate the liberator!
3. A basic concern of Jesuit apostolate has been cura personalis. We need to give attention to every human person entrusted to our care by God. Institutionalised works and organised projects tend to make us Jesuits efficient administrators, but we tend to bypass individuals in their utter helplessness and acute suffering and struggle. Does our institutionalised approach set on efficiency make us callous to concrete human persons?
Creativity
1. The basis of Jesuit creativity is the principle of magis. Rather than getting settled in the status quo we should constantly ask ourselves: what more can I do for Christ? An irresistible restlessness evolving from our commitment to Christ the Lord is the characteristic of Jesuit commitment (karma). Openness to the ever widening horizons of the activity of the divine Spirit makes us explore new ways of responding to the demands of the Kingdom of God.
2. Creativity evolving from a deep Christic experience enables us to transcend boundaries: to go beyond the borderlines of countries and continents, cultures and religions. Globalisation on the spiritual landscape of humanity is the challenge that we have to respond to. Our creative endeavours could then make people realise that the one divine Spirit is bringing the one human race into a unity in divine life.
3 Jesuit creativity has to be related in a special way to the secular culture of India. Participating in peoplesí movements, writing in secular journals, dialoguing with secular thinkers, working in government projects, responding to national issues etc. could be a major concern of Jesuits in India. We need to invest a lot of our time and energy to preserving the sound secular fabric of the nation. Does not our involvement tend to get confined to Church structures and issues?