Less than three months after writing a letter to the entire Society of Jesus to explain his actions, Superior General Pedro Arrupe delivered the following homily at a Mass to renew the Jesuits’ devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1972. Appearing after selections of Arrupe’s address below is the text of the Act of Consecration, which the superior general read on behalf of the Society at the Church of the Gesù in Rome. The Society’s devotion to the Sacred Heart formally began in 1872, when Superior General of the Society of Jesus Pieter Jan Beckx stood in the same Church of the Gesù and read a similar Act of Consecration. Arrupe’s brief homily aligns devotion to the Sacred Heart with the spiritual grace received by Ignatius of Loyola at La Storta in 1537. Such devotion “makes us know more intimately the person of Christ, makes us steep ourselves into the import of our mission, and finally it makes us more Ignatian and better and more authentic ‘socii Jesu.’” Further tying the ceremony to Jesuit history, Arrupe’s act declares: “We renew today the consecration of the Society to the Heart of Jesus, we promise you all our fidelity and we ask for your grace to continue to serve you and to serve your Son with the same spirit and the same intensity as Ignatius and his companions.”
For more sources from Arrupe, please visit The Arrupe Collection.
My dear Brothers,
… At La Storta, a little chapel, solitary and abandoned, on the extreme outskirts of Rome, a poor pilgrim stops to pray with two other companions. There the Most Holy Trinity communicates to Ignatius, in the inmost depths of his soul, a grace of the highest magnitude which will be like a synthesis of all his past mystic life and will become one of the most decisive graces in the foundation of the Society of Jesus.
The Consecration of the Society to the Sacred Heart took place here, three centuries later, in this Church of the Gesù at the initiative of Father Beckx. Father General acted in the name of thousands of Jesuits, and the echo of his Consecration was repeated in all the houses of the Society spread throughout the world.
But if we examine these two happenings in their interior reality, we shall discover an intimate relation between the grace of La Storta and the ceremony in the Gesù. There is no better key than the spiritual significance, the depth and the richness of the grace of La Storta, in order to interpret in an Ignatian way the meaning and the scope of our Consecration to the Heart of Christ….
The grace of La Storta, a true compendium of the mystical experience of Ignatius, marks and illumines the spiritual trajectory of the Society. It also helps us to understand the meaning of our vocation: in every historical perspective, our life must be a ceaseless service of the Trinity with Christ poor.
And what other meaning can be given to the “munus suavissimum” entrusted to the Society, to live and spread the devotion to the Sacred Heart, if not that of a total and unconditional commitment to the service of Christ and of the Trinity?
La Storta helps us to penetrate more profoundly into the true Ignatian meaning of our consecration: it is meant to be a public confirmation that our life will be an unflagging service of God and of our brothers. Our Consecration to the Heart of Christ, in its turn, helps us to penetrate more deeply into the message of La Storta; it makes us know more intimately the person of Christ, makes us steep ourselves into the import of our mission, and finally it makes us more Ignatian and better and more authentic “socii Jesu.”
The “Suscipe,” the synthesis and climax of the Exercises, is meant to signify the personal element of our commitment, the concrete realization of a holocaust, which, united with that of Christ on the altar, we shall offer in the presence of the Consecrated Host, as on the day of our vows “in odorem suavitatis.”
The spirit of our consecration is thus identical with that of the Exercises and of the Constitutions. And the most adequate testimony of our Consecration will be that which will the better achieve the ideal of the true son of Ignatius and authentic “Companion of Jesus.”
As Ignatius prayed in the small chapel of La Storta, you willed by a singular grace to grant the petition which he had been begging of you for a long time through the intercession of Our Lady: to be placed with your Son. In your words to him you assured him of your support: “I shall be with you.” You asked Jesus carrying his cross to take him as your servant, and this he did in turning to Ignatius with those unforgettable words: “It is my will that you serve us.”
As the followers of the handful of men who were the first “companions of Jesus,” we in our turn address to you the same prayer, asking to be placed with your Son and to serve “under the banner of the Cross” where Jesus is nailed out of obedience, with his side pierced and his heart opened as a sign of his love for you and for all men.
We renew today the consecration of the Society to the Heart of Jesus, we promise you all our fidelity and we ask for your grace to continue to serve you and to serve your Son with the same spirit and the same intensity as Ignatius and his companions.
Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary who received the prayer of Ignatius, and before the Cross where Jesus Christ gives to us the treasures of his open heart, through Him and in Him, we say from the very depths of our being: “Take, O Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. Whatever I have or hold, you have given me; I restore it all to you and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will. Give me only your love and your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.”
On the Feast of the Sacred Heart
Church of the Gesù, Rome
June 9, 1972
Other Apostolates Today: Selected Letters and Addresses—III, ed. Jerome Aixala. St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1981, “Devotion to the Heart of Christ,” pg. 337–340.