France

Paris
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Réunion

Rose Hill
100 Young People made Spiritual Exercises at Maison Magis.  From May 8 to June 7, the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life were organised at Maison Magis in Paris and online across French-speaking Western European Province. Let’s take a look back at this edition that has crossed borders.   With the Magis Network, 40 participants gathered remotely using telecommunications, including three young people in Mauritius and two in Luxembourg.  68 young people attended the SEEL at Maison Magis in Paris. I was one of the 34 guides and it was a real pleasure for me to be responsible for leading one of the sharing groups, made up of three boys and three girls.   Each meeting was very rich. Participants felt confident and at ease. They shared their experiences of the Spiritual Exercises, their joys, their views, their challenges and struggles. Over the weeks, I saw an evolution in their prayer, as they asked for the graces offered in the exercises (for example, “Lord, help me recognize myself as a sinner and let you raise me up”). It was a real privilege to see God at work in their lives.   One of the things I have noticed about young adults is their need to take a step back from the busyness of life, and to find some peace and quiet. Many experience a life too full of movement, noise and distraction. They rarely had the impression of hearing God’s voice. Finding time to pray proved difficult for them, but when they answered that call, they began to feel consolation. Witnessing it was a consolation experience for me too. I am grateful to have participated in the SEEL this year, and I look forward to accompanying more young adults next year, walking alongside them towards a hope-filled future.  Brook Stacey SJ 
The Manrèse Jesuit spiritual centre is located close to Paris, near a forest. Several young Jesuits have recently met to remove its compost heap and move it to two Jesuit communities, where it would be more useful. On the grass of a spiritual centre near Paris, this is the story of a heap, but not just any heap. A heap of humus, leaves, bark, branches, all sorts of plant scraps stored a dozen years ago by a far-sighted companion. On the grass of a spiritual centre near Paris, this is the story of the microfauna of a small part of soil which slowly reduces this whole heap into a fertile coffee-brown powder. On the grass of a spiritual centre near Paris, this is the story of a Superior seeking to develop the spaces entrusted to him by getting rid of this heap which is becoming cumbersome. On the grass of a spiritual centre near Paris, this is the story of a companion who knows how to listen but also lets his ears drag and who hears about a heap of bargain. On the grass of a spiritual centre near Paris, this is the story of four other companions who gather to take advantage of a favourable opportunity. This is how on March 26, under Xavier de Bénazé’s drive, in the final push before his priestly ordination, four scholastics came (Pierre de Vial, Samuel Piffeteau, Hieu Pham, from the Province of Vietnam, and myseld) to create, under the encouragement of Paul Legavre (Head of the spiritual centre), a quarry in the garden of the Manrèse Centre. Thanks to shovels and wheelbarrows, they extracted the precious humus stored there by the wise Pierre Clermidy and moved it by truck to the gardens of their communities of Blomet and Vanves. In the end, what’s the moral of the story? A moral in figures – legions of shovelfuls, caravans of wheelbarrows, fleet of dumpsters to be unloaded, amused, curious and definitely edified retreatants, amazed eco-friendly bourgeois… Above all, a handful of satisfied Jesuit companions! Well satisfied and rewarded for their pains by this simple fraternal moment, spent in action under a bright sun and with their feet firmly on the ground. Matthieu Bigné sj
Almost one year ago, the Belgian-Turkish association Fedactio and members of the liberal Synagogue Beth Hillel agreed to work with Centre Avec to create the “Recipes to live together”, a short guide that provokes reflection based on 12 religious events of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in a friendly atmosphere with 12 corresponding recipes. On April 22, 2022, the three associations animated together the breaking of Ramadan fast (“Iftar”). Over fifty people were there, from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., respecting a strict schedule (8:53 p.m.) when, when the sun sets, the fast ends and the meal can begin. A delicious meal which allowed friendly discussions, sometimes very deep, about common spiritual points which bring life. For my part, I have sensed the amar y servir motto, so important to us. The evening began with a general presentation of the short guide and with details on the meaning of certain religious holidays – Easter, which follows Lent for Christians, Passover and Shabbat for Jews, Ramadan for Muslims. This helped us better understand and appreciate what unites us beyond the differences. A group of intercultural musicians also delighted the entire audience, to the sound of three very special instruments – the oud (a kind of lute very common in Arab countries, Turkey, Greece and Armenia), the ney (Persian or Turkish flute) and the bendir (Berber drum). In short, an intercultural evening of encounters, joy and dialogue, thanks to the fact that Easter, Passover and Ramadan occurred almost at the same time this year! Guy Cossée SJ
The Youth Vocation Festival took place in Paris, from April 29 to May 1. It brought together 150 young people on the theme “Your life is mission: discover it!   In total, six Jesuits took part in the event – launch at the Saint-Ignace church by Fr. Nicolas Rousselot SJ, moment of prayer with the poor and various workshops – the interiority of Ignatius (by three scholastics, Étienne de Forges, Samuel Piffeteau and Eddy Bollard), religious life and work (by Fr. Dominique Degoul SJ) and the pitfalls of freedom and discernment (by myself).   Other workshops focused, for example, on attention to freedom and inner desire. All were greatly appreciated. Yes, the treasure of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius does mean a lot and must continue to be widely offered.   Marie, sister of the Cenacle, talks of the weekend: “I keep in my heart the words of two young people. Both of them, full of desires, passion and projects said that they needed elders in the faith to help them on their way to Christ. Not for advice but to hear our testimonies of life, to compare our ideas, etc.  At the end of this weekend with and for young people, I am full of joy to have shared the mission as Ignatian family, and I am eager to continue to walk with young people, because they have so much to bring us and because we have so much to give them!”  “What a joy to feel that I belong to such a diversified Church, to contemplate its different faces representing all types of vocations and to discover the initiatives of young people. I was touched by the thirst of some of them who did all they could to make initiatives for young people widely known. And at the same time, they sought to grow in contact with their brothers and sisters in Christ, including consecrated lay persons. Lastly, as Fr. Adrien Candiard op said, Jesus Christ has already saved us all, so let us choose our own vocation freely, without pressure.” Gaetane, sister of the Sacred Heart of Jesus  Grégoire Le Bel SJ (in charge of vocations in French-speaking Western European Province) 
After the Ignatian gathering in Marseille on All Saints' Day 2021, the Jesuits organized an event on March 12, 2022, at the heart of the Ignatian year. On the anniversary date of the canonization of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier, Jesuits under 50 years old and all those working in the apostolic service to young people met in Paris for the event “Together, let’s hope more”. To accompany young people “In this somewhat gloomy time for the world and for the Church, we wanted to live fully the third Universal Apostolic Preference which guides the mission of the Society of Jesus: To accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future. To help the youth, we wanted to begin by cultivating this hope among ourselves, young Jesuits”, explained Fr. Manuel Grandin S.J., delegate of the Provincial for the Young Adult Ministry. Coming from France, Belgium and Luxembourg, they were invited during this day to find the roots of their vocation and to nourish hope. They talked about their missions and their vocation through various workshops. They also met Fr. François Boëdec S.J., Provincial. Back to Montmartre In the evening, they went to the Butte Montmartre, a historic place for the Society of Jesus, as on August 15, 1534, Ignatius and his first companions pronounced their first vows in a small chapel on that hill. Then, the Jesuits as well as friends and “partners in the mission” gathered for an evening of Ignatian praise, which included testimony, songs and walks in the Montmartre district. “We wanted to thank Ignatius and Francis Xavier for inspiring our dreams and actions. The testimony of their lives can help us reflect on what kind of holiness we are called to today.”
On April 5, at the Sorbonne, the Contemporary Disputation association showed and explained what disputations were through an artistic performance and a public controversy on the weaknesses of our democratic systems. The Contemporary Disputation association, launched by the journal Études, aims to stage philosophical debates inspired by medieval disputatio. "In a context where it is increasingly difficult to debate, where tweets and other fake news make and break opinion, where words give way to violent behaviours, it seemed vital to bring back the art of conversation, quality arguments, depth and respect”, said Fr. Guilhem Causse S.J., professor at Centre Sèvres (Jesuit University in Paris). To do this, disputation is key. Already practiced in several Jesuit schools and at the Centre Sèvres, a disputatio is a subject debated over by several people, some being “in favour” and others “against”. It is an oral and collective exercise. It is a very good tool for training and exercising judgment, since one may have to argue ideas that are not theirs at the start. The goal is to debate in an atmosphere of intellectual emulation, to base oneself on the adversary’s arguments and to go beyond them. A group of students and members of civil society from diverse cultural and social backgrounds met for a few weeks to build arguments and practice. On April 5, on the eve of the French presidential elections, the disputatio took place in the Sorbonne’s amphitheatre with philosopher Jean-Claude Milner and several participants – an unprecedented experience at the crossroads of philosophy, politics and art. The audience attended controversies, an inaugural conference by Jean-Claude Milner on democracy and its weaknesses, and debate workshops. “The challenge is not to shine, but to work together for a better understanding of the world. Participants experience that a relationship that is expressed in regulated discussion bears truth. Although they do not reach a consensus, as they each keep their own opinions, they may reach a regulated dissensus, as Paul Ricoeur would say, upon which our democracies rely", explained Guilhem Causse S.J.