Eastern Africa: Our way of proceeding
14 December 2010

Ignatian principles can provide guidance for JRS workers today. (Angelika Mendes/JRS)
We are never content with the status quo, the known, the tried, the already existing. We are constantly driven to rediscover, redefine, and reach out for the magis (more). For us, frontiers and boundaries are not obstacles or ends, but new challenges to be faced, new opportunities that help us grow.
Lobone, 14 December 2010 – The Jesuits, gathered in the 34th General Congregation (1995) and reflecting on their mission, formulated eight characteristics of the Jesuit way of proceeding (Decree 26). JRS as a work of the Society of Jesus is widely influenced by the Jesuit world-view and the manners of doing their work. Therefore, these principles can also be a helpful guideline and inspiration for JRS workers. 

Below, the eight principles are listed together with an extract from the explanation given in the decree, slightly adapted for the situation of JRS. The points for reflection are added to the original text. One question in each reflection is more for individual reflection, the other one more for JRS teams.

1. Deep personal love for Jesus Christ

What does it mean to work in Christ’s mission today? Is it an awareness of our sinful nature while still being called to Jesus as Ignatius was? The mission of a reconciled sinner is the mission of reconciliation: the work of faith doing justice. S/he freely gives what s/he freely has received: the gift of Christ’s redeeming love.

• Do I allow times for living and deepening that love: e.g. to encounter God in prayer, but also to be together with other people?
• How do we in JRS facilitate processes of reconciliation?

2. Contemplative in action

The God of Ignatius is the God who is at work in all things. God invites us to join with him in his labours. The Jesuit way of proceeding is the Ignatian method of prayerful discernment, which can be described as a constant interplay between experience, reflection, decision, and action.

• Do we take enough time for reflection before making decisions?
• Have I tried talking with God about matters of my work?

3. An apostolic body in the church

In our service of the Lord and his spouse, the Church, the people of God, we are especially united under the Roman Pontiff in order to be sent on the missions he may entrust to us. As men and women of the Church, we cannot but think with the Church, guided by the spirit of the risen Lord.

• “Apostolic” means “sent on a mission”. How would I formulate my mission?
• How do I perceive the religious profile of JRS as a Church-based organisation and how do I translate it into practice?

4. In solidarity with those most in need

We enter into solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, and the voiceless, in order to enable their participation in the processes that shape the society in which we all live and work. They in turn show us the way to inculturate gospel values in situations where God is forgotten.

• What does “being with” instead of only “working for” mean to me – in concrete terms?
• Who determines the way we plan and carry out our work most – the beneficiaries, funding partners, our own ideas...?

5. Partnership with others

Partnership and cooperation of Jesuits and other men and women is rooted in the idea that we need a plurality of gifts, perspectives, and experiences, both international and multicultural to prepare our complex and divided world for the coming of the Kingdom of God.

• Do I have experience in working directly with Jesuits?
• Do we benefit from the plurality of gifts and perspectives in our work?

6. Called to learned ministry

Ignatius knew that we need to always learn new things when we serve God and his people. It is characteristic of the Jesuit way to embody in creative tension the use of all human means, science, art, learning, natural virtue, with a total reliance on divine grace.

• Do I try to understand why I'm doing something, or do I mostly just carry out my tasks?
• Do our efforts encompass the use of all human dimensions?

7. Always available for new missions

It is characteristic that we live with an operative freedom: open, adaptable, even eager for any mission that may be given to us, free to serve all men and women.

• Where do I experience interior or exterior obstacles to being free and open?
• How do we make use of our freedom as an international NGO?

8. Ever searching for the "magis"

We are never content with the status quo, the known, the tried, the already existing. We are constantly driven to rediscover, redefine, and reach out for the magis (more). For us, frontiers and boundaries are not obstacles or ends, but new challenges to be faced, new opportunities that help us grow.

• How do I pursue excellence in my particular field of work?
• Which are the “frontiers and boundaries” in our area and situation?


The document closes with a prayer written by Father Pedro Arrupe SJ:

Lord, meditating on ‘our way of proceeding’, 
I have discovered that the ideal way of our way of acting 
is your way of acting.
Give me that sensus Christi
that I may feel with your feelings, 
with the sentiments of your heart, 
which basically are love for your Father 
and love for all men and women.
Teach me how to be compassionate 
to the suffering, to the poor, 
the blind, the lame and the lepers.
Teach us your way 
so that it becomes our way today, 
so that we may come closer 
to the great ideal of Saint Ignatius: 
to be companions of Jesus, 
collaborators in the work of redemption.