Tag Archives: Pedro Arrupe

Faith that does justice

On February 5, 1991, Jesuit father Pedro Arrupe died. A Basque like St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, he first studied medicine before joining the Jesuits. Sent to Japan, he witnessed the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and he and other Jesuits attended to the victims of that atrocity in their seminary, four miles from ground zero.

In 1965 he became Father General of the Society of Jesus and led the congregation until he resigned in 1983 after suffering a disabling stroke in 1981. During his last two years as Father General the pope had appointed an acting father general, overlooking Father Arrupe’s choice. He accepted this with a great equanimity.

Beside this, perhaps his greatest legacy was the Thirty-Second Congregation of the Society, December 1974 to March 1975. The fourth decree set the direction of the society to a “faith that does justice.”

As the decree stated:

“Our faith in Jesus Christ and our mission to proclaim the Gospel demand of us a commitment to promote justice and enter into solidarity with the voiceless and the powerless.”

This is not something new – but it brought the society into a more profound encounter with the world of the poor. The Jesuits were often considered to be the elite order of the church and to concentrate their efforts on the education of the elite. But now they felt called to be with the poor.

The Gospel calls us to accompany the poor, to listen to the voiceless and powerless. It can, at times, call us to become poor or to be in solidarity with the poor in such as way that we find ourselves also marginalized.

But it comes from an encounter with Jesus, the poor man of Nazareth, the God who emptied himself to become flesh like us – and from an encounter with the poor.

Today, in memory of Father Pedro Arrupe, is a good day to remember this and renew our commitment to God and to the poor.

Meeting Christ

Last week we had an assembly of catechists in the rural parish where I am helping. Many of these have very limited formal education and several cannot read, but they devote themselves to passing on the faith to children and young people.

One of the challenges they face is the pedantic nature of education here in Honduras. They are ingrained with the idea that education means memorizing, knowing things. Imagination is often at a premium.

This means that people here are often taught about Christ – but not formed in how we might encounter Christ. There are lots of prayers – but do they lead to Christ?

To offer an alternative way of praying, we offered an adaptation of Ignatian contemplation.

After some breathing exercise to center ourselves, we invited them to picture themselves at one of their daily tasks. Suddenly Jesus is present where they are. What do they want to tell him? What does he say to them?

The experience was moving. In near complete silence –interrupted only by infants walking around – the catechists took time to open themselves to encountering Christ for themselves.

I’m planning on trying this in a slightly different form in other meetings with catechists – especially helping them to pray Gospel stories imaginatively.

This comes from the Ignatian tradition – found especially in the Spiritual Exercises.

This morning I came across this prayer of Father Pedro Arrupe, S.J., the Father General of the Jesuits who died on February 5, 1991. It provides an example of how one might begin to pray in this fashion.

Teach me your way of looking at people:
as you glanced at Peter after his denial,
as you penetrated the heart of the rich young man
and the hearts of your disciples.

I would like to meet you as you really are,
since your image changes those with whom you come in contact.


The prayer is taken from Hearts on Fire: Praying with  Jesuits, a collection of  prayers published by Loyola Press which I find very helpful.