The newly-elected Father General’s of the Society of Jesus prayed in the rooms of St Ignatius, on Saturday 15 October, the day after he was chosen by Jesuit delegates from around the to be their leader. Just before morning Mass a short ceremony took place at Gesù, in the chapel of the rooms of St. Ignatius. They performed the ceremony with books dating back to 1558. Irish Jesuit Brian MacCuarta, Director of the Jesuit Archives in Rome, was there along with Fr. Joaquín Barrero and two electors, Father Bienvenido Nebres (the oldest of the electors), and Brother James Edema (the youngest elector).
After a moment of silent prayer, an excerpt from the Gospel of Saint Matthew was read where Jesus reminds his disciples that they have only one ‘Master’ and that the greatest among them must be their servant.
In the same spirit, Father Bienvenido Nebres reminded the new General of the qualities he must possess, according to what St. Ignatius described in the second chapter of Part IX of the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus. Particular attention was drawn to the following words:
Do not seek esteem or honour from men, but rather seek to be pleasing to the Lord alone.
Love the Society, not as your own possession, but as that which has been committed to you.
Remember that you have been given to us as a guide so that we all may persevere and grow in this way to heaven that is the Society.
At the end of this reading, Brother James Edema, presented the Formula of the Institute and the book of the Constitutions to Fr Sosa, saying,
“Receive the Formula of our Institute and the Book of the Constitutions of which today you have become the custodian: Be attentive to the universal welfare of the Society so that with the grace of God and of your good governance, this apostolic body entrusted to your care may persist and grow in charity and at the service of Christ and of the Church his spouse.”
According to Brian, “The text of the Society’s Constitutions used in this simple ceremony is the oldest printed version. It was published in Rome in 1558, just shortly after the Constitutions were approved by the General Congregation of that year.”
And he added; “The Formula of the Institute is in the text whereby Pope Paul III officially recognized the Society (Regimini militantis ecclesiae). The edition given to Father General was published at the Roman College in 1568.”
At the end of the Mass, Father Sosa prayed in front of the tomb of St Ignatius. A young Jesuit student deacon also present, presented him with the text of the Spiritual Exercises. According to Brian, “This was the first printed version of the Exercises, which is in Latin, and was published in Rome in 1548. All these books are conserved in the Society’s Archives, in the Curia at Rome.”
The simple but historic ceremony was a moving one for Brian. “It was a deep privilege to be present at these events, in the rooms in which St Ignatius lived and worked, using books which link us today with the vision and prayer experience of Saint Ignatius and the first companions.”