Last July, “Pilgrims Together, a joyful gathering with Ignatius of Loyola,” took place in Midland. We have already published a general overview of the event, but in this series, some members of the province will explore more deeply the fruits of this meeting and share them with all of us.
For Fr. Lissaint Antoine, SJ, provincial secretary of the Jesuits of Canada, one of the fruits of this gathering was to meet in person with the Jesuits and colleagues with whom he is in contact, but also to reflect on the process of healing for the Church and for the people who have been hurt by the Church.
What brought the greatest consolation during the Midland meeting?
So, how do we begin at this point not only to heal the wounds of the Church but also to participate in the healing of people who have been wounded because of the attitudes of Church members?
It was the overall experience, especially after the conference “A Missionary Church: The ‘Francis Effect’ on the Catholic Church,” by Susan Wood, SCL, and the personal testimonies of people. There was an awareness that the Church is being called to go beyond itself. There was also the expression “a humiliated Church,” a Church that has been wounded because of the behaviour of some of its members. This lack of credibility affects the entire body, even if it is not the Church itself, but rather some members of the Church, as the Pope pointed out, and among them some Jesuits, who have failed in their primary vocation to be witnesses of kindness and compassion. So, how do we begin at this point not only to heal the wounds of the Church but also to participate in the healing of people who have been wounded because of the attitudes of Church members? It was a very joyful gathering, but these feelings were always present in the background.
Another moment that touched me a lot was the prayer of Marie-Gabrielle Vallet (CLC president). She presented the image of the Pope alone in St. Peter’s Square because of the COVID pandemic. This image reflects the world in desolation and reveals for me the fragility of the world, the fragility of the human being, the fragility of the Church. We must be aware that we are fragile and that as people of faith, this fragility gives us the opportunity, I would say, to be more open, to trust more, to deepen our faith.
Did any possible options emerge that would lead towards the process of healing that was discussed during the meeting?
Yes. First of all we must recognize and experience ourselves (as St. Ignatius says in the Exercises) as forgiven sinners, and through this grace of God’s mercy, to stand firm in faith and continue to participate in the process of healing and reconciliation. We hold a treasure in fragile vessels. How do we care for this treasure, which is the very essence of faith, the very essence of forgiveness, of mercy? By recognizing that we need each other, that we need to forgive each other and seek healing together. And this healing can be found by living the Gospel.
We hold a treasure in fragile vessels. How do we care for this treasure, which is the very essence of faith, the very essence of forgiveness, of mercy?