[Blueboard] Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., by Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J.

Romeo A. Dalandan, Jr. rdalandan at ateneo.edu
Mon Nov 19 09:16:33 PHT 2007


Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.
by Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J.
Phil Daily Inquirer, 19 November 2007
Last updated 00:47am (Mla time) 11/19/2007

MANILA, Philippines - Excuse me if I devote my column today to a man 
whom I and so many Philippine Jesuits greatly admire and revere--Fr. 
Pedro Arrupe, S.J. This month we celebrate the centenary of his birth.

It is not easy to measure the impact he has had on the lives not only of 
Jesuits but also of many others both lay and religious, men and women, 
Catholics and Protestant Christians and many others. Many simply sum up 
their affection for him by calling him Don Pedro.

I first experienced the Arrupe magic in 1976 when he summoned me to Rome 
to give me my marching orders as Provincial Superior of the Philippine 
Jesuits. I had never met him nor ever communicated with him, and so I 
guess he just wanted to size me up. It turned out to be not such a big 
deal after all because he was the easiest person to get close to.

But first, his background. He was Basque, and he grew to manhood in 
Spain. He cut short his medical studies to join the Jesuits. At that 
time the Society of Jesus in Spain was experiencing turbulence. Thus it 
was that Arrupe with many other Jesuits were expelled from Spain by the 
Republican government. Arrupe had to pursue his philosophical and 
theological studies in Belgium and the Netherlands.

After his ordination to the priesthood he was sent to the United States 
to pursue doctoral studies. But before he could complete his studies he 
was sent as a missionary to Japan in 1939. Father Arrupe was Master of 
Novices living in the urban outskirts of Hiroshima when the atomic bomb 
was dropped.

Hiroshima was a turning point in modern world history. The war itself 
was also a turning point in the life of Arrupe.

Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Arrupe was arrested on 
charges of espionage. He was kept in solitary confinement for 33 days. 
He later wrote that this "was the month in which I learned the most in 
all my life. Alone as I was, I learned the knowledge of silence, of 
loneliness, of harsh and severe poverty, the interior conversation with 
'the guest of the soul' who had never shown himself to be more 'sweet' 
than then."

Another turning point was to take place in 1965 when Father Arrupe was 
elected 28th Superior General of the Society of Jesus. The choice marked 
the beginning of the post-modern history of the Society of Jesus. The 
direction would become clearer after Father Arrupe convened and led the 
32nd General Congregation of the Society.

The General Congregation is the highest legislative body of the Society. 
It is summoned only in critical moments. In the Society's more than 400 
years, there have been only 34 General Congregations. (A 35th General 
Congregation has been summoned to convene in January next year.)

The 32nd General Congregation formalized the direction the modern 
Society was mandated to take in all its varied works--missionary 
ministry, general pastoral work, education, intellectual apostolate, 
media, the arts and everything under the sun.

Two key paragraphs from the decrees of the General Congregation sum up 
Father Arrupe's own vision for the Society of Jesus.

First is his vision for the Society as an institution: "The mission of 
the Society of Jesus today is the service of faith, of which the 
promotion of justice is an absolute requirement. For reconciliation with 
God demands the reconciliation of people with one another."

Second is his vision of what a Jesuit should be: "What is it to be a 
companion of Jesus today? It is to engage, under the standard of the 
cross, in the crucial struggle of our time: the struggle for faith and 
that struggle for justice which it includes."
In the corner of the Jesuit world in which I live and work, an 
oft-quoted paragraph is one which Father Arrupe delivered to Jesuit 
alumni in Valencia, Spain. His audience included many who came from 
prestigious and wealthy families. What he expressed was his sub-vision 
of what Jesuit education should be.

He started by asking his audience if their Jesuit mentors had educated 
them for justice. He himself gave the answer: "You and I know what many 
of your Jesuit teachers will answer to that question. They will answer, 
in all sincerity and humility: 'No, we have not.'"

He then went on to explain what was expected of Jesuit education. "Today 
our prime educational objective must be to form 
men-and-women-for-others; men and women who will live not for themselves 
but for God and his Christ--for the God-human who lived and died for all 
the world; men and women who cannot even conceive of love of God which 
does not include love for the least of their neighbors; men and women 
completely convinced that love of God which does not issue in justice 
for others is a farce."

Formation of men-and-women-for-others-- this is a continuing mission 
that is never finished.

What was Arrupe's secret? He summed it up in one paragraph: "Nothing is 
more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a 
quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your 
imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you 
out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you 
will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your 
heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in 
love and it will decide everything."

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