Address of Pope Paul VI to General Congregation 32 (1974)

Pope Paul VI addressed the delegates to the 32nd General Congregation on December 3, 1974, noting similar “joy and trepidation” to when the last congregation began nearly a decade before. Looking to the assembled Jesuits, the pontiff declares, “there is in you and there is in us the sense of a moment of destiny for your Society.” Indeed, “in this hour of anxious expectation and of intense attention ‘to what the Spirit is saying’ to you and to us,” Paul VI asks the delegates to answer: “Where do you come from?” “Who are you?” “Where are you going?”

For more from the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, please consult this page.



Esteemed and beloved Fathers of the Society of Jesus,


As we receive you today, there is renewed for us the joy and trepidation of May 7, 1965, when the Thirty-first General Congregation of your Society began, and that of November 15 of the following year, at its conclusion. We have great joy because of the outpouring of sincere paternal love which every meeting between the Pope and the sons of St. Ignatius cannot but stir up. This is especially true because we see the witness of Christian apostolate and of fidelity which you give us and in which we rejoice. But there is also trepidation for the reasons of which we shall presently speak to you. The inauguration of the 32nd General Congregation is a special event, and it is usual for us to have such a meeting on an occasion like this; but this meeting has a far wider and more historic significance. It is the whole Ignatian Society that has gathered at Rome before the Pope after a journey of more than four hundred years, and is reflecting, perhaps, on the prophetic words that were heard in the vision of La Storta: “I will be favorable to you in Rome.”

There is in you and there is in us the sense of a moment of destiny for your Society, which in our hearts concentrates memories, sentiments, and the presages of your role in the life of the Church. Seeing you here as representatives of all your provinces throughout the world, our glance embraces the whole Ignatian family, some thirty thousand men, working on behalf of the Kingdom of God and making a contribution of great value to the apostolic and missionary works of the Church—religious men who are dedicated to the care of souls, often passing their whole lives in hiddenness and obscurity. Certainly each one of your confreres sends forth from his heart towards this Congregation profound desires, many of which are expressed in the postulata, and which therefore require from you, the delegates, a careful understanding and a great respect. But more than the number, it seems to us that there must be taken into account the quality of such wishes, whether they be expressed or silent, which certainly embrace conformity to the vocation and charism proper to Jesuits—transmitted by an uninterrupted tradition—conformity to the will of God, humbly sought in prayer, and conformity to the will of the Church in the tradition of the great spiritual impulse that has sustained the Society in the past, sustains it now, and will always sustain it in the future.

We realize the special seriousness of the present moment. It demands of you more than a routine performance of your function: it demands an examination of the present state of your Society, one that will be a careful synthesis, free and complete, to see how it stands with regard to the difficulties and problems that beset it today. It is an act that must be accomplished with extreme lucidity and with a supernatural spirit-to compare your identity with what is happening in the world and in the Society itself—listening exclusively, under the guidance and illumination of the magisterium, to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and consequently with a disposition of humility, of courage, and of resoluteness to decide on the course of action to be adopted, lest there be prolonged a state of uncertainty that would become dangerous. All this with great confidence.

And we give you the confirmation of our confidence: we love you sincerely, and we judge that you are able to effect that renewal and new balance which we all desire.

This is the meaning of today’s meeting, and we want you to reflect on it. We already made known our thought in this regard through the letters that the Cardinal Secretary of State sent in our name on March 26, 1970, and on February 15, 1973, and with that letter of September 13, 1973, In Paschae Sollemnitate, which we sent to the General and through him to all the members of the Society.

Continuing along the line of thought of the last-mentioned document, which we hope has been meditated and reflected upon by you, as was our wish, we speak to you today with special affection and a particular urgency. We speak to you in the name of Christ and—as you like to consider us—as the highest Superior of the Society, by reason of the special bond which from the time of its foundation links the Society itself to the Roman Pontiff. The Popes have always placed special hope in the Society of Jesus.

On the occasion of the previous Congregation, we entrusted to you, as a modern expression of your vow of obedience to the Pope, the task of confronting atheism. And today we are turning to you, at the beginning of your work to which the entire Church is looking, to strengthen and stimulate your reflections. We observe you in your totality as a great religious family, which has paused for an instant and is deliberating about the road to be followed.

And it seems to us, as we listen in this hour of anxious expectation and of intense attention “to what the Spirit is saying” to you and to us, that there arise in our heart three questions which we feel bound to answer: “Where do you come from?” “Who are you?” “Where are you going?” So we stand here before you, like a milestone, to measure in one sweeping glance, the journey you have already made.

I.         Hence, where do you come from? Our thought goes back to that complex sixteenth century, when the foundations of modern civilization and culture were being laid, and the Church, threatened by schism, began a new era of religious and social renewal founded on prayer and on the love of God and the brethren, that is, on the search for genuine holiness. It was a moment bound up with a new concept of man of the world, which often—although this was not the most genuine humanism—attempted to relegate God to a place outside the course of life and history. It was a world which took on new dimensions from recent geographical discoveries, and hence in very many of its aspects—upheavals, rethinking, analyses, reconstructions, impulses, aspirations, etc. —was not unlike our own.

Placed against this stormy and splendid background is the figure of St. Ignatius. Yes, where do you come from? And we seem to hear a united cry—a “voice like the sound of the ocean”—resounding from the depths of the centuries from all your confreres: We come from Ignatius Loyola, our Founder—we come from him who has made an indelible imprint not only on the Order but also on the spirituality and the apostolate of the Church.

With him, we come from Manresa, from the mystical cave which witnessed the successive ascents of his great spirit: from the serene peace of the beginner to the purifications of the dark night of the soul, and finally to the great mystical graces of the visions of the Trinity.

There began at that time the first outlines of the Spiritual Exercises, that work which over the centuries has formed souls, orienting them to God, and which, among other things, teaches the lesson of treating “the Creator and Lord with great openheartedness and generosity, offering him all one’s will and liberty, so that his divine Majesty may avail himself in accordance with his most holy will, of the person and of all that he has.”

With St. Ignatius—you answer us again—we come from Montmartre, where our Founder on August 15, 1534, after the Mass celebrated by Peter Faber, pronounced with him, with Francis Xavier, whose feast we celebrate today, with Salmeron and Lainez and Rodrigues and Bobadilla, the vows which were to mark as it were the springtime bud from which in Rome the Society would flower.

And with St. Ignatius—you continue—we are in Rome, whence we departed fortified by the blessing of the Successor of Peter, from the time when Paul III, responding to the ardent appeal of Cardinal Gaspare Contarini in September, 1539, gave the first verbal approval—the prelude to that Bull Regimini Ecclesiae Militantis of September 27, 1540, which sanctioned with the supreme authority of the Church the existence of the new Society of Priests. It seems to us that its originality consisted in having grasped that the times required people who were completely available, capable of detaching themselves from everything and of following any mission that might be indicated by the Pope and called for, in his judgment, by the good of the Church, putting always in first place the glory of God: ad maiorem Dei gloriam. But St. Ignatius also looked beyond those times, as he wrote at the end of the Quinque Capitula or First Sketch of the Institute of the Society of Jesus: “These are the matters which we were able to explain about our profession in a kind of sketch. We now complete this explanation in order to give brief information both to those who ask us about our plan of life and also to those who will later follow us if, God willing, we shall ever have imitators along this path.”

This is what your predecessors wanted of you, this is how you came to be: it can be said that these facts give the definition of the Society. This definition is extracted from the origins of the Society; it indicates the Society’s constitutional lines and imprints upon it the dynamism which has supported it throughout the centuries.

II.        We know then who you are. As we summarized in our Letter, In Paschae Sollemnitate, you are members of an Order that is religious, apostolic, priestly, and united with the Roman Pontiff by a special bond of love and service, in the manner described in the Formula Instituti.

You are religious, and therefore men of prayer, of the evangelical imitation of Christ, and endowed with a supernatural spirit, guaranteed and protected by the religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. These vows are not an obstacle to the freedom of the person, as though they were a relic of periods that have sociologically been superseded, but rather a witness to the clear desire for freedom in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount. By means of these commitments, the one who is called as Vatican II has emphasized—“in order to derive more abundant fruit from the grace of Baptism … intends to be freed from the obstacles which might draw him away from the fervor of charity and the perfection of divine worship and consecrates himself to the service of God.” As religious you are men given to austerity of life in order to imitate the Son of God, who “emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave” and who “was rich but became poor for your sake, to make you rich out of his poverty.” As religious you must flee—as we wrote in the above-mentioned Letter—”from those facile compromises with a desacralized mentality, which is evidenced in so many aspects of modern behavior,” and you must likewise recognize and live—courageously and in an exemplary way—“the ascetical and formative value of the common life,” guarding it intact against the tendencies of individualism and singularity.

You are, moreover, apostles, that is, preachers of the Gospel, sent in every direction in accordance with the most authentic and genuine character of the Society. You are men whom Christ himself sends into the whole world to spread his holy doctrine among the people of every state and condition. This is a fundamental and irreplaceable characteristic of the true Jesuit, who indeed finds in the Exercises, as in the Constitutions, continuous inducements to practice the virtues proper to him, those virtues indicated by St. Ignatius, and this practice even more strongly, with greater striving, in a continual search for the better, for the “magis,” for the greater. The very diversity of ministries to which the Society dedicates itself takes from these sources its most profound motive of that apostolic life which must be lived pleno sensu.

You are likewise priests: this, too, is an essential character of the Society, without forgetting the ancient and established tradition of enlisting the help of Brothers who are not in Sacred Orders and who have always had an honored and effective role in the Society. Priesthood was formally required by the Founder for all professed religious, and this with good reason, because the priesthood is necessary for the Order he instituted with the special purpose of the sanctification of men through the Word and the sacraments. Effectively, the sacerdotal character is required by your dedication to the active life—we repeat—pleno sensu. It is from the charism of the Order of priesthood, which conforms a man to Christ sent by the Father, that there principally springs the apostolic character of the mission to which, as Jesuits, you are deputed. You are therefore priests, trained for that familiaritas cum Deo on which St. Ignatius wished to base the Society; priests who teach, endowed with the sermonis gratia; oriented to see “that the Lord’s message may spread quickly and be received with honor.” You are priests who serve or minister the grace of God through the sacraments; priests who receive the power and have the duty to share organically in the apostolic work of sustaining and uniting the Christian community, especially with the celebration of the Eucharist; priests who are therefore aware, as we mentioned in one of our talks in 1963, of “the antecedent and consequent relationship [of the priesthood] with the Eucharist, through which the priest is the minister of so great a sacrament and then its first adorer, wise teacher, and tireless distributor.”

And finally you are united with the Pope by a special vow: since this union with the Successor of Peter, which is the principal bond of the members of the Society, has always given the assurance—indeed it is the visible sign—of your communion with Christ, the first and supreme head of the Society which by its very name is his—the Society of Jesus. And it is union with the Pope that has always rendered the members of the Society truly free, that is, placed under the direction of the Spirit, fit for all missions—even the most arduous and most distant ones—not hemmed in by the narrow conditions of time and place, and endowed with truly Catholic and universal energy.

In the combination of this fourfold note we see displayed all the wonderful richness and adaptability which has characterized the Society during the centuries as the Society of those “sent” by the Church. Hence there have come theological research and teaching, hence the apostolate of preaching, of spiritual assistance, of publications and writings, of the direction of groups, and of formation by means of the Word of God and the Sacrament of Reconciliation in accordance with the special and characteristic duty committed to you by your holy Founder. Hence there have come the social apostolate and intellectual and cultural activity which extends from schools for the solid and complete education of youth all the way to all the levels of advanced university studies and scholarly research. Hence the puerorum ac rudium in christianismo institutio, which St. Ignatius gives to his sons, from the very first moment of his Quinque Capitula, or First Sketch, as one of their specific aims. Hence the missions, a concrete and moving testimony of the “mission” of the Society. Hence the solicitude for the poor, for the sick, for those on the margins of society. Wherever in the Church, even in the most difficult and extreme fields, in the crossroads of ideologies, in the front line of social conflict, there has been and there is confrontation between the deepest desires of man and the perennial message of the Gospel, there also there have been, and there are, Jesuits. Your Society is in accord with and blends with the society of the Church in the multiple works which you direct, also taking account of the necessity that all should be unified by a single aim, that of God’s glory and the sanctification of men, without dissipating its energies in the pursuit of lesser goals.

And why then do you doubt? You have a spirituality strongly traced out, an unequivocal identity and a centuries-old confirmation which was based on the validity of methods, which, having passed through the crucible of history, still bear the imprint of the strong spirit of St. Ignatius. Hence there is absolutely no need to place in doubt the fact that a more profound commitment to the way up till now followed—to the special charism—will be the source of spiritual and apostolic fruitfulness. It is true that there is today widespread in the Church the temptation characteristic of our time: systematic doubt, uncertainty about one’s identity, desire for change, independence, and individualism. The difficulties that you have noticed are those that today seize Christians in general in the face of the profound cultural change which strikes at one’s very sense of God. Yours are the difficulties of all today’s apostles, those who experience the longing to proclaim the Gospel and the difficulty of translating it into a language accessible to modern man; they are the difficulties of other religious orders. We understand the doubts and the true and serious difficulties that some of you are undergoing. You are at the head of that interior renewal which the Church is facing in this secularized world, especially after the Second Vatican Council. Your Society is, we say, the test of the vitality of the Church throughout the centuries; it is perhaps one of the most meaningful crucibles in which are encountered the difficulties, the temptations, the efforts, the perpetuity and the successes of the whole Church.

Certainly it is a crisis of suffering, and perhaps of growth, as has been said many times. But we, in our capacity as Vicar of Christ, who must confirm the brethren in faith, and likewise you, who have the heavy responsibility of consciously representing the aspirations of your confreres—all of us must be vigilant so that the necessary adaptation will not be accomplished to the detriment of the fundamental identity or essential character of the role of the Jesuit as is described in the Formula Instituti, as the history and particular spirituality of the Order propose it, and as the authentic interpretation of the very needs of the times seem still today to require it. This image must not be altered; it must not be distorted.

One must not call apostolic necessity what would not be other than spiritual decadence. Just as St. Ignatius is said to have clearly advised, any confrere sent on mission must by all means take care not to forget his own salvation in order to attend to that of others. Not only was it wrong to commit even the slightest sin for the greatest possible spiritual gain; it was not even right to put himself in danger of sinning. If your Society puts itself at risk, if it enters onto paths full of danger which are not its own, there suffer also thereby all those who, in one way or another, owe to the Jesuits so very much of their Christian formation.

You are as well aware as we are that today there appears within certain sectors of your ranks a strong state of uncertainty, indeed a certain fundamental questioning of your very identity. The figure of the Jesuit, as we have traced it out in its principal aspects, is essentially that of a spiritual leader, an educator of his contemporaries in Catholic life, within, as we have said, his proper role, as a priest and as an apostle. But we are asking, and you are asking yourselves, as a conscientious verification and as a reassuring confirmation, what is the present state of the life of prayer, of contemplation, of simplicity of life, of poverty, of the use of supernatural means? What is the state of acceptance and loyal witness in regard to the fundamental points of Catholic faith and moral teaching as set forth by the ecclesiastical magisterium? The will to collaborate with full trust in the work of the Pope? Have not the “clouds on the horizon” which we saw in 1966, although “in a great measure dispersed” by the Thirty-first General Congregation, unfortunately continued to cast a certain shadow on the Society? Certain regrettable actions, which would make one doubt whether the man were still a member of the Society, have happened much too frequently and are pointed out to us from many sides, especially from bishops of dioceses; and they exercise a sad influence on the clergy, on other religious, and on the Catholic laity. These facts require from us and from you an expression of sorrow, certainly not for the sake of dwelling on them, but for seeking together the remedies, so that the Society will remain, or return to being, what is needed, what it must be in order to respond to the intention of the Founder and to the expectations of the Church today. There is needed an intelligent study of what the Society is, an experience of situations and of people. But there is also needed—and it is as well to insist on this—a spiritual sense, a judgment of faith on the things we must do and on the way that lies ahead of us, taking into account God’s will, which demands an unconditioned availability.

III.       Therefore, where are you going? The question cannot remain unanswered. You have, in fact been asking it for some time, asking it with lucidity, perhaps with risk.

The goal to which you are tending, and of which this General Congregation is the opportune sign of the times, is and must be without doubt the pursuit of a healthy, balanced, and suitable aggiornamento to the right desires of our day in essential fidelity to the specific character of the Society and in respect for the charism of your Founder. This was the desire of the Second Vatican Council, with the Decree Perjectae Caritatis which hoped for “the continued return to the sources of every Christian life and to the original spirit of institutes, and the adaptation of the institutes themselves to the changed conditions of the times.” We would like to inspire you with full confidence and encourage you to keep pace with the attitudes of the world of today, recalling to you, nevertheless, as we did in a general way in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelica Testificatio, that such necessary renewal would not be effective if it departed from the particular identity of your religious family which is so clearly described in your fundamental rule or Formula Instituti. As we said: “For a living being, adaptation to its surroundings does not consist in abandoning its true identity, but rather in asserting itself in the vitality that is its own. Deep understanding of present tendencies and of the needs of the modern world should cause your own sources of energy to spring up with renewed vigor and freshness. It is a sublime task in the measure that it is a difficult one.”

Hence we encourage you with all our heart to pursue the aggiornamento willed so clearly and authoritatively by the Church. But at the same time, we are all aware of both its importance and its innate risk. The world in which we live places in crisis our religious outlook and sometimes even our option of faith: we live in a dazzling perspective of worldly humanism, bound up with a rationalistic and irreligious attitude with which man wants to complete his personal and social perfection exclusively by his own efforts. On the other hand for us, who are men of God, it is a question of the divinization of man in Christ, through the choice of the Cross and of the struggle against evil and sin. Do you remember the “sub crucis vexillo Deo militare et soli Domino atque Romano Pontifici …servire?”

The century of Ignatius underwent a humanistic transformation equally powerful even though not as turbulent as that of the succeeding centuries which have seen in action the teachers of systematic doubt, of radical negation, of the idealistic Utopia of an exclusively temporal kingdom on earth, closed to every possibility of true transcendence. But “where is the master of worldly argument? Has not God turned the wisdom of this world into folly? Since in God’s wisdom the world did not come to know him through ‘wisdom,’ it pleased God to save those who believe through the absurdity of the preaching of the Gospel.” We are the heralds of this paradoxical wisdom, this proclamation. But as we recalled to our brethren in the Episcopate at the end of the Synod, so we also repeat to you, that, notwithstanding the difficulties: “Christ is with us, he is in us, he speaks in us and by means of us and will not let us lack the necessary help” in order that we may pass on the Christian message and wisdom to our contemporaries.

A realistic glance at this world makes us alert to another danger: the phenomenon of novelty for its own sake—novelty which questions everything. Novelty is the stimulus for human and spiritual progress. This is true only when it is willing to be anchored to fidelity to him who makes all things new, in the ever self-renewing mystery of his death and resurrection, to which he assimilates us in the sacraments of his Church. This is not true when novelty becomes a relativism that destroys today what it built up yesterday. It is not difficult to see what you should use to combat these temptations, and these same means will keep you moving forward yourselves—they are faith and love.

Hence, in the road that opens before you in this remaining part of the century, marked by the Holy Year as a hopeful presage for a radical conversion to God, we propose to you the double charism of the apostle—the charism which must guarantee your identity and constantly illumine your teaching, your centers of study, your periodical publications. On the one hand, fidelity—not sterile and static, but living and fruitful—to the faith and to the institution of your Founder, in order that you may remain the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Guard what has been entrusted to you. “Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. Our battle is not against human forces but against the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of darkness…. You must put on the armor of God if you are to resist on the evil day; do all that your duty requires, and hold your ground.”

On the other hand, there is the charism of love, that is of generous service to all men, our brethren traveling with us towards the future. It is that anxiety of Paul which every true apostle feels burning within him: “I made myself all things to all men in order to save some at any cost …. I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved.”

Perfection lies in the simultaneous presence of two charisms—fidelity and service—without letting one have the advantage over the other. This is something that is certainly difficult, but it is possible. Today the attraction of the second charism is very strong: the precedence of action over being, of activity over contemplation, of concrete existence over theoretical speculation, which has led from a deductive theology to an inductive one; and all this could cause one to think that the two aspects of fidelity and love are mutually opposed. But such is not the case, as you know. Both proceed from the Holy Spirit, who is love. People are never loved too much, provided they are loved only in the love and with the love of Christ. “The Church endeavors to show in every argument that revealed doctrine, to the extent that it is Catholic—embraces and completes all the right thoughts of men, which in themselves always have something of the fragmentary and paltry.” But if this is not the case, readiness to serve can degenerate into relativism, into conversion to the world and its immanentist mentality, into assimilation with the world that one wanted to save, into secularism and into fusion with the profane. We exhort you not to be seized by the spiritus vertiginis.

For this purpose, we wish to indicate to you some further orientations which you can develop in your reflections:

A.         Discernment, for which Ignatian spirituality especially trains you, must always sustain you in the difficult quest for the synthesis of the two charisms, the two poles of your life. You will have to be able always to distinguish with absolutely lucid clarity between the demands of the world and those of the Gospel, of its paradox of death and life, of Cross and Resurrection, of folly and wisdom. Take your direction from the judgment of St. Paul: “But because of Christ, I have come to consider all these advantages that I had as disadvantages. Not only that, but I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death. That is the way I can hope to take my place in the resurrection of the dead.” We recall always that a supreme criterion is the one given by Our Lord: “You will be able to tell them by their fruits;” and the effort which must guide your discernment will be that of being docile to the voice of the Spirit in order to produce the fruit of the Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

B.         It will also be opportune to remember the need to make a proper basic choice among the many appeals that come to you from the apostolate in the modern world. Today—it is a fact—one notes the difficulty of making properly thought-out and decisive choices; perhaps there is a fear that full self-realization will not be achieved. Hence there is the desire to be everything, the desire to do everything and to follow indiscriminately all the human and Christian vocations—those of the priest and the lay person, those of the Religious Institutes and of the Secular Institutes—applying oneself to spheres that are not one’s own. Hence then arise lack of satisfaction, improvisation, and discouragement. But you have a precise vocation, that which we have just recalled, and an unmistakably specific character in your spirituality and in your apostolic vocation. And this is what you must profoundly study in its main guidelines.

C.         Finally, we once more remind you of availability of obedience. This, we would say, is the characteristic feature of the Society: “In other Orders,” St. Ignatius wrote in his famous letter of March 26, 1553, “one can find advantages in fastings, vigils, and other austerities…but I greatly desire, beloved brothers, that those who serve our Lord God in this Society may be marked by the purity and perfection of obedience, with true renunciation of our wills and the abnegation of our judgments.”

In obedience there is the very essence of the imitation of Christ, “who redeemed by obedience the world lost by its lack, foetus obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis.” In obedience lies the secret of apostolic fruitfulness. The more you do the works of pioneers, the more you need to be closely united with him who sends you: “All apostolic boldness is possible, when the apostles’ obedience is certain.” We are certainly aware that if obedience demands much from those who obey, it demands even more of those who exercise authority. The latter are required to listen without partiality to the voices of all of their sons, to surround themselves with prudent counsellors in order to evaluate situations sincerely, to choose before God what best corresponds to his will and to intervene with firmness whenever there is departure from that will. In fact, every son of the Church is well aware that obedience is the proof and foundation of his fidelity: “the Catholic knows that the Church only commands because of the fact that she first obeys God. He wants to be a ‘free man,’ but recoils from being among those ‘who make use of freedom as a pretext for evil.’ Obedience is for him the price of freedom, just as it is the condition for unity.”

Beloved sons!

At the end of this encounter we believe that we have given you some indications concerning the path which you must take in today’s world; and we have also wanted to indicate to you the path which you must take in the world of the future. Know it, approach it, serve it, love it—this world; and in Christ it will be yours. Look at it with the same eyes as St. Ignatius did; note the same spiritual requirements; use the same weapons: prayer, a choice for the side of God, of his glory, the practice of asceticism, absolute availability. We think that we are not asking you too much when we express the desire that the Congregation should profoundly study and restate the essential elements (essentialia) of the Jesuit vocation in such a way that all your confreres will be able to recognize themselves, to strengthen their commitment, to rediscover their identity, to experience again their particular vocation, and to recast their proper community union. The moment requires it, the Society expects a decisive voice. Do not let that voice be lacking!

We are following with the most lively interest this work of yours, work which ought to have a great influence upon your holiness, your apostolate, and your fidelity to your charism and to the Church. We accompany your work especially with our prayer that the light of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, may illumine you, strengthen you, guide you, rouse you, and give you the incentive to follow ever more closely Christ crucified. So let us now together turn to Jesus in prayer, in the very words of St. Ignatius:

“Receive, Lord, my entire liberty. Take my memory, my intellect, and my whole will. Whatever I have or possess you gave to me. I give it all back to you, Lord. Dispose of it according to your will. All that I ask and desire is your holy will; give me your love and your grace. That is enough for me, and I ask for nothing: more.”

This is the way, this is the way, brothers and sons. Forward, in Nomine Domini. Let us walk together, free, obedient, united to each other in the love of Christ, for the greater glory of God. Amen.


December 3, 1974




Original Source (English translation):

Jesuit Life & Mission Today: The Decrees & Accompanying Documents of the 31st35th General Congregations of the Society of Jesus, ed. John W. Padberg. St. Louis, Mo.: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2009, “Address of Pope Paul VI to the Members of the 32nd General Congregation,” pg. 379–390.

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