Pedro Aruppe, The Charismatic Leader – Midhun J Francis, SJ

The Society of Jesus is indeed happy to forward the cause of the beatification for Father Pedro Arrupe, the former charismatic Superior General of the same order. In a letter to the Jesuits, the current Superior General Father Artuso Sosa announced that the session that will formally open the cause of the “Servant of God” will take place on February 5, 2019 in the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano. Father Arrupe was born on 14 November 1907 in Bilbao, and died on 5 February 1991 in Rome. He was a medical student before being ordained priest in 1936. He was a missionary in Japan for twenty years, ever since the time of the Hiroshima atomic bomb drop. He was elected as the Superior General of the Jesuit Order on 22 May 1965, a few months after the conclusion of Vatican Council II, as the 28th general prelate of the order founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

Founder and General
The Vatican II says about renewal of religious life, “Fidelity to the original charism and sensitivity to present circumstances.” More in general, it could be said that the secret of Fr. Arrupe’s popularity is his loyalty to all that is fundamental and his relevance to all that is modern. Once Father Arrupe said, “Ignatius was both Founder and the General of the Society. As General he had to apply his ideas, as founder to the circumstances of his own age. I must imitate the founder but not necessarily the General. I have to apply Ignatius’s inspiration as Founder, to the Jesuits and circumstances of present day.” Fr. Arrupe drew a conclusion that Christianity claim to be a universal religious is indeed valid if its spokesmen avoid temptation to make it a vehicle for cultural, political or economic domination, and learn to harmonize its essential beliefs with indigenous culture. He had a great trust in his men (Jesuits). He believed that the Jesuits must be given their heads, ‘do their own thing.’ otherwise they are prophets who show which way to go.’ He himself revealed a streak of this adventurousness when he was head of the order in Japan, and assigned young Jesuits – unusual for those days and in face of considerable criticism – to such fields of study as Psychology of Mysticism and Physical Anthropology. Under his guidance Sophia University added to its schools of Arts and Economics, Colleges of Theology, Law, Foreign Languages, Foreign Affairs and Technology, soon becoming one of the leading private universities in Japan.

Spiritual Renewal
Renewal cannot be considered in isolation from problems that emerge on every level – of a person, of the community and of the society as a whole. When we consider the spiritual renewal; it is certain that it affects the apostolic dimension of the Society of Jesus. Re – focusing apostolic need is very much seen in renewal of spirituality. Having the charism ‘Do Everything for the Greater Glory of God’, Society of Jesus cannot separate both apostolic and spiritual dimension separately. It always acts in contemplation.

Fr. Aruppe gives four principle themes in relation with our both apostolic and spiritual renewal, they are:

Experience of God in Christ– The question a Jesuit must ask is: what point have we reached in our experience of God? He says society always accepts the process of secularisation of the world. It adapts the style of life of secular world with the spirit of three vows and forms its apostolate and it is ready to continue to do so. If we really want to do so we may have personal encounter with God in Christ must give to our lives the stamp of totality, of radical exigence, of unconditional response. This meeting with Christ will take varying forms according to the variety of graces and temperaments.

Apostolic Dynamism – The whole vocation of the Jesuit is dominated by the “sending” or the apostolic mission. The kingdom mediation, two standards mediation focus on this dimension very clearly. 31st General congregation says, “A life simultaneously and indivisibly apostolic and religious”. Fr. Arruppe says “The society, at all levels, must be capable of perceiving the ‘signs of the times’ and of creating new models for the apostolate, without allowing herself to become imprisoned in ancients’ modes or even more recent ones which have already seen their day.” He also says that we must insist on the universality and the mobility of the society – especially today. We are “corpus universal”, “companions of Jesus”, “Civic mundi” who rejects all narrow provincialism and nationalism. This universal vision with its sense of belonging to a world-wide body greatly helps us to avoid that turning in upon ourselves who narrows our horizons, while aggravating and multiplying our problems.

Habitual Union with God – A life of consecration to God and apostolic dynamism cannot thrust forward or even stand still, unless God acts in us and we, on our part, continuously open ourselves to that action. St Ignatius speaks of being with Christ: “to be placed with the son”. Jesuit mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God’s way, in the goodness and holiness of the truth. Community life – He says we must exchange our views within community. We must always welcome younger members into the communities of the older. Youngsters have the spirit of creativity and imagination, because they are straight from the world.

Contemplation in Action- We must be with Jesus. Being with him necessarily leads us to working like him, realizing the here and now of our existence his fundamental attitude of living to do the will of god, a will of God, a will that has to be taught be the Holy Spirit each day. We must listen to and heed the spirit operating in here and now of human history, making himself God’s gift and salvation through this history; because it is in the flux of this history that our mission, our dialogue with the world according to the spirit, has to be carried out.

A Jesuit always must ask, “How, in the present situation, here and now, shall I remain with God and with Jesus Christ in this new life and new situation of life?”. A Jesuit must be ready to take any risk both as individual and collectively. I believe that only a Jesuit can take risk in any field not any other priests or religious in the Catholic Church because our motto is Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam and which enable us to do everything for the greater glory of God. This is one of the reasons where, Fr. Jorge Mario Bogolio failed (In certain fields) as the provincial of Argentina and being successful as Pope Francis; because he was quite late to realize this idea. Let us not to be late to realize this idea of our founder Ignatius followed by Fr. Aruppe, now by Holy father Francis.

Midhun J Francis is a Jesuit priest belongs to Kerala Province of the Society of Jesus. He is currently doing Licentiate in Systematic Theology at JDV Pune. He is also working in Christian-Muslim relationship and inter religious dialogue among Christians and Muslims.

3 thoughts on “Pedro Aruppe, The Charismatic Leader – Midhun J Francis, SJ

  • February 4, 2019 at 4:20 am

    Well crafted!!!

  • February 4, 2019 at 7:29 am

    Dear fr. Midhun. Thanks for the short & brief life history of one of my inspirations in the society. Great work. Congrats

  • February 4, 2019 at 8:41 am

    L’Osservatore Romano Weekly Edition in English 24 April 1969, page 1 gives the address of Paul VI at the general audience on Wednesday, 16th April, dealing with the meaning of “signs of the times” and with the method to detect their presence and scope with certainty. Guadium et spes, n. 4 speaks not about blindly following the sociological trends but abt the interpretation of the “times”, that is of the empirical and historical reality that surrounds us and makes impressions on us. The Council fathers reminds us that the interpretation must be done “in the light of the Gospel”. The discovery of the “signs of the times” is a fact of Christian conscience, not of sociological scientific reductionism. It results from a comparison of faith with life; not to superimpose, artificially and superficially.

    According to Pope Paul 6, “signs of the times” might expose us to some dangers. The first danger is that of a charismatic prophetism. A modernistic individualistic eagerness to discover easily “the signs of the times” may make us forget the ambiguity, in many cases, of evaluation of observed facts, all the more so if we are, to attribute to the “People of God”, that is, to every believer, a possible capacity to decipher “signs of God’s presence and purpose” (Gaudium et spes, n. 11). The “sensus fidei” may confer this gift of wise insight, but the assistance of the hierarchical magisterium will always be provident ad decisive, when the ambiguity of the interpretation deserves to be solved either in the certainty of truth or to the benefit of the common good.

    The second danger lies in the purely phenomenal observation of the facts from which it is desired to obtain indications of the “signs of the time”. This may happen when these facts are surveyed and classified in purely technical and sociological schemata. We willingly adult that sociology is a science of great merit in itself and for the purpose that interests us, that is, the search for a higher and indicative meaning of the facts themselves. But sociology cannot be an independent moral criterion, nor can it replace theology. This new scientific humanism might militate against the authenticity and the originality of our Christianity and of its supernatural values.
    May Christian watchfulness be our art in discerning the “signs of the times”. Pope Francis in many issues have cautioned the need for discerning the signs of these times and when he made wrong judgments was humble enough to accept mistakes, rectify and initiate fresh and new initiatives to discern the signs better. This humility of the present Pontiff can be a great inspiration to all who have been misled by the superficial imitation of the latest sociological trends to reorient in a more comprehensive discerning way. Over romanticisation of charismatic leaders and latest trends may not be helpful in this process. Let us not be colonized by the nostalgia of the 1970’s but must be energized by the Church’s sacred history helping us to walk in the present towards the future by improvising on the LESSONS learned from the mistakes and distortions of our past…


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