Thank you, Holy Father, for being with us. We all live in Myanmar and you understand the situation in our country. We share the same spirituality, that of the
Spiritual Exercises. Our spirituality contemplates the Incarnation which pushes us forward; it moves us to mission. We are here, and therefore we are on a mission. Contemplating the actual situation in Myanmar, what do you expect from us?
I believe we cannot think of a mission – I say this not only as a Jesuit but as a Christian – without the mystery of the Incarnation. The mystery of the Incarnation illuminates our approach to reality and the world completely, all our closeness to people, to culture. Christian closeness is always incarnated. It is a closeness like that of the Word, who comes to be with us. I remind you of the synkatabasis
, the being with … The Jesuit is one who must always get closer, as the Word made flesh came close. To look, to listen without prejudices, but mystically. To look without fear and look mystically: this is fundamental for the way we look at reality.
Inculturation begins with this way of looking. Inculturation is not a fashion, no. It is the very essence of the Word which became flesh, took our culture, our language, our flesh, our life, and died. Inculturation is to take on board the culture of the people I am sent to.
And for this reason the Jesuit prayer – I mean mainly in relation to inculturation – is the prayer of intercession. It is necessary to pray to the Lord precisely for those realities in which I am immersed.
There have been many failures in the Society’s life of prayer. At first some Jesuits gave St. Ignatius a headache because they wanted the Jesuits to remain closed away and to dedicate two or three hours to prayer … And St. Ignatius said: “No, contemplate in action!” And in 1974 it was my turn to experience this. There was – as you know – a movement of the so-called “Discalced Jesuits,” who wanted a rigid, almost cloistered observance of the rules. A contrary reform, against the spirit of St. Ignatius. True prayer and true Jesuit observance do not follow that route. It is not a restorationist observance. Our observance is always to look forward with the inspiration of the past, but always looking forward. The challenges are not behind, they lie ahead.
For this, Blessed Pope Paul VI helped the Society greatly, and on December 3, 1974, he addressed us with a speech that remains entirely relevant. I recommend you read it. He says, for example, a phrase: Wherever, at the crossroads of history, there are Jesuits.
Paul VI said it! He did not say, “Be locked up in a convent,” but he tells the Jesuits, “Go to the crossroads!” And to go to the crossroads of history, my dear friends, we must pray! We must be men of prayer alive in the crossroads of history!https://laciviltacattolica.com/church-life/at-the-crossroads-of-history-pope-francis-conversations-with-the-jesuits-in-myanmar-and-bangladesh/