At a Mass at La Storta, these remarks were read on behalf of Pedro Arrupe. General Congregation 33 marked 18 years that Arrupe had served as superior general, and the Mass was “a farewell and a conclusion” for Arrupe, who had suffered a debilitating stroke in August 1981.
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September 4, 1983
It is in many ways fitting that at the conclusion of my ministry as Superior General of the Society of Jesus, I should come here to La Storta to sing my “Nunc Dimittis”—even though it be in the silence imposed by my present condition.
The veteran Simeon, at the close of a long life of service, and in the magnificent splendor of the Temple of Jerusalem, attained his ardent desire when he received the child Jesus in his arms and drew him to his heart. In the very modest chapel of La Storta, Ignatius of Loyola, when about to begin a new life of service as Founder and first General of our Society, felt himself drawn to the Heart of Christ: “God the Father placed him with Christ his Son,” according to his own earnest prayer to the Virgin Mary.
I would not dare compare myself to these two outstanding servants of the Lord. But I can affirm that I have always had a great devotion to the experience of Ignatius at La Storta, and that I am immensely consoled at finding myself in this hallowed place to give thanks to God on arriving at journey’s end. “For my eyes have seen your salvation.” How often in these eighteen years I have had proof of God’s faithfulness to his promise: “I will be favorable to you in Rome.”
A profound experience of the loving protection of divine providence has been my strength in bearing the burden of my responsibilities and facing the challenges of our day. True, I have had my difficulties, both big and small; but never has God failed to stand by me. And now more than ever I find myself in the hands of this God who has taken hold of me.
The liturgy of this Sunday seems just made to express my sentiments on this occasion. Like St. Paul I can say that I am “an old man, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus.” I had planned things differently; but it is God who disposes, and his designs are a mystery: “Who can divine the will of the Lord?” But we do know the will of the Father, that we become true images of the Son; and the Son tells us clearly in the Gospel: “Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.””
Father Lainez, from whom we have the words of the promise: “I will be favorable,” proceeds to explain that Ignatius never understood them to mean that he and his companions would be free of suffering. On the contrary, he was convinced that they were called to serve Christ carrying his cross: “He felt he saw Christ, with the cross on his back, and the eternal Father by his side, saying to him: ‘I want that you take this man as your servant.’ And so Jesus took him, saying: ‘I want that you serve us.’ Because of this, conceiving great devotion to this most holy Name, he wished to call our fellowship: the Society of Jesus.”
This name had already been chosen by the companions before they came to Rome to offer their services to the Pope. But it received a very special confirmation from the experience at La Storta. One can notice a close relationship between the phrases employed by Lainez and those of the Formula of the Institute approved by Julius III: “Whoever wishes to enlist under the standard of the Cross as a soldier of God in our Society, which we desire to be distinguished by the name of Jesus, and to serve the Lord alone and the Church his Spouse, under the Roman Pontiff, the vicar of Christ on earth.”
What was for Ignatius the culmination and summing up of so many special graces received since his conversion, was for the Society a pledge that it would share in the graces of the Founder in the measure in which it remained faithful to the inspiration that gave it birth. I pray that this celebration, that is for me a farewell and a conclusion, be for you and for the whole Society represented here, the beginning of a new period of service, with fresh enthusiasm.
May the collaboration of the whole Society in the renovation of the chapel of La Storta be an abiding symbol and an unfailing inspiration for a united effort at spiritual renewal, trusting in the graces whose memory is enshrined in La Storta. I shall remain at your side with my prayers.
Like St. Ignatius, I implore the Virgin Mary that we may all be placed with her Son; and that as Queen and Mother of the Society she be with you in all the labors of the General Congregation, and especially in the election of the new General.
Original Source (English translation):
Jesuit Life & Mission Today: The Decrees & Accompanying Documents of the 31st–35th General Congregations of the Society of Jesus, ed. John W. Padberg. St. Louis, Mo.: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2009, “Homily of Fr. Pedro Arrupe at La Storta,” pg. 479–480.