Documents of General Congregation 36 of the Society of Jesus
Reception of GC36 in The Netherlands and Flanders.
Fr Jan Stuyt (NER), socius of the provincial of Flanders and The Netherlands has just prepared the Dutch edition of the Documents of GC 36. He shares some reflections.
1. Regarding the first Decree on Mission (D 1.4.): I was struck by the feeling of : "Now What?"
We (the delegates to GC36) feel like we are stuck like the first companions in Venice: we had these great plans, and now what. I recognize the need to review the road travelled so far, and to think of the next step.
2. There is a strong continuity with the previous congregation and the decision to continue to see our mission in the light of reconciliation with God, with each other and with creation. (D.1.21) We have not yet let our spirituality and our works be coloured and restructured by this need for reconciliation. It is a work in progress.
3. As a Jesuit in Western Europe I recognize the picture of the contexts where we work (D.1.24). It speaks of secularization, of interreligious dialogue and of people who seek spirituality outside the Church. I wonder if the picture is equally valid for all continents?
There is a fascinating expression at the end of this paragraph where it speaks of: "accompanying people from the depth of their spiritual traditions". Now that is a great challenge - I remember once giving the Exercises to a Japanese buddhist. I like the way that this was formulated: concise and challenging.
4. In Decree 2 about Governance the word "discernment" is used very often (f.i. in D. 4-5). Where the delegates afraid of using the words "we need to make choices"? Father Kesicki, ex-provincial of Chicago-Detroit, mentions in the last issue of the Studies in the Spirituality of the Jesuits (48/4) what he said in a Province Congregation in 2011: "I perceive the Society as a company of men and not a network of institutions". He acknowledges that it was a provocative if not polemical wording, and it certainly provoked a lively exchange.
5. The accompanying letter from the Flemish and Dutch Fr Provincial to the Dutch translation of the Decrees starts with the words: "Dear Brethren and Co-workers". In previous edition there was a usually a notice on the first page : "Only for Jesuits".
This choice to address those who work with us together with the Jesuits is in line with the appreciation expressed by CG 36 (D.2.6) for the contribution made by our partners who are not Jesuits but co-workers and friends.
Read also: The Documents of GC 36