Thursday 29 March 2018

The Journey Unexpected

Lent, like Term I, is about a journey we take together and this part of the journey is coming to a close this weekend at Easter. Easter wasn’t what Jesus’ closest followers were expecting either. They were thinking about a powerful king who, through the use of military force, would liberate their occupied homeland and start something big. They were only right about the last part. This week I attended a breakfast hosted by the Old Ignatians’ Union and was asked to speak about the future of Jesuit education at Saint Ignatius’. It was a gathering of people who started a journey at the College together – not all in the same moment in history, but they started it at a place that calls forth a community that will support one another through difficult moments. We live in a moment of history where there aren’t as many Jesuits as we might like, and it’s a very real possibility, even a likelihood, that there will come a day (not in the immediate future) when there is only one Jesuit at the College. While it isn’t a future we might choose, it also shouldn’t be one that we fear or dread. The number of lay people, staff, students, parents, and Old Boys who have worked hard to appropriate Ignatian Spirituality for themselves and are happy to share it with our community means that in some ways, the College is more explicitly Ignatian today than it was when there were Jesuits everywhere in the College. Back then, Jesuit spirituality was transmitted by osmosis; today, it’s an intentional craft we hand on. Ignatius himself didn’t see his Spiritual Exercises as being meant only for Jesuits, or even Catholics. He said that it was meant for “all Christians.” So like those first disciples, we may face a future that we didn’t expect, but we will face it as they did, trusting that God will be found in the outcome, even if we don’t recognise it immediately. And life always finds a way to defeat death.

This week’s reflection:

The Basilica Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. Antoni Gaudi, the architect of Sagrada Familia, wanted to bring indoors the Garden of Eden, which he saw and experienced in nature. He wanted to transform a huge concrete vault into a lush, light-filled garden. I shot this image a couple of years ago while on pilgrimage with Dr Hine in the late afternoon when the Spanish sun was flooding it with so much colour that no Instagram filter could come close to matching it. What’s the life that is filling up your world right now? Can you be grateful for it?

Fr Jack McLain SJ