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Pope Francis meeting the  community of the International College of the Gesù of Rome. Pope Francis meeting the community of the International College of the Gesù of Rome.  (Vatican Media)

Pope urges Jesuit students to found themselves, grow and mature in Jesus

Pope Francis on Dec. 3 met the students and staff of the Jesuit International College of the Gesù of Rome, on the occasion of their 50th anniversary this year.

By Robin Gomes

Pope Francis on Monday received some 60 students and staff of the Jesuit International College of the Gesù of Rome, exhorting them to be founded on Jesus and to grow and mature in Him for the greater glory of God.

A hostel for Jesuit students from around the world, the College of the Gesù was founded 50 years ago in 1968 at the initiative of late Jesuit Superior General Fr. Pedro Arrupe.

Founded on Jesus

The Argentine Pope, himself a Jesuit, told the group that the celebration of their golden jubilee means going back to what is original and essential, to be founded again on Jesus, in His life, reaffirming a “clear "no" to the temptation to live for ourselves, to serve and not to be served.”  

To be formed, the Pope said, means first of all to be founded or rooted in Jesus, to be of service like Him, to empty and annihilate like Him, obedient until death like Him, ready to face even slander, persecution and humiliation.

"I beg you, in all your things, to found yourselves totally on God " the Pope told the group recalling the words Francis Xavier, the saint whose feast falls on December 3.

Reminding the College of the Gesù  community that it was there that the Jesuit founder St. Ignatius of Loyola lived, wrote the Constitutions and sent his first companions on a mission to the world, the Pope said, “You are a nursery that brings the world to Rome and Rome into the world.”

Growing

During their years at the Collegio of the Gesù, the Pope said, the Jesuit students are called to grow and sink their roots.  To have roots means to have a heart well grafted in God, which is capable of expanding and responding to Him with limpid and gushing enthusiasm, with the fire that burns inside, with that positive tension, that says "no" to every compromise.

“If the heart does not expand,” the Pope warned, “it will atrophy.” “Never forget, if you do not grow, you wither.”

The Holy Father exhorted the Jesuits not to fear crisis , saying without them there is no growth, no fruits without pruning and no victory without struggle.  To strike roots and grow means to fight relentlessly against all spiritual worldliness, the worst evil that leads to clericalism, he said. 

If worldliness affects the roots, it means goodbye to fruits and to the plant. Growth, he said, is a constant act against one’s ego.

Pope Francis pointed out that freedom and obedience are two signs of growth.  He urged the students to be free by being united in diversity and combatting their ego.  In this task, he said, they must never neglect prayer.

Just as for Jesus, obedience to the do the will of the Father should be our food of life, he said. 

Maturing

After founding oneself and growing in Christ, the Pope said, comes maturing, whose sign is producing fruits which fertilize the land with new seeds.  This is where mission comes into play, he said, in which a Jesuit comes to face the situations of today, to take care of the world that God loves. A Jesuit is called to be at the most intricate intersections, in the borderlands and deserts of humanity.  He is a lamb among wolves so that the Shepherd will join him there. 

The zeal for mission, the Pope said, is aided by passion and discipline in studies, which will benefit from the ministry of the Word and the ministry of consolation. In mission ,  they can touch the flesh that the Word has assumed, by caressing the suffering members of Christ and bringing them to before the Crucified One.  In this way, patience and hope also mature. 

In conclusion, the Pope wished that the international community of the College of Gesù continue to be an active gym in the art of living, including the other. carrying one another's burdens, frailty, histories, cultures and memories of peoples.

03 December 2018, 14:35