This year, 2023, as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Fr. Pedro Arrupe’s famous exhortation “Men and Women for Others” we are delighted to share article #3 of the series Beloved Don Pedro “Man For Others”.
This series of articles written by Fr. Hedwig Lewis SJ, a great Jesuit writer of Gujarat Province in India, covers anecdotes from Fr. Arrupe’s life, his writings, lived experiences, and spiritual thoughts.
All educators in our global community are invited to learn and reflect on who Fr. Pedro Arrupe was and his legacy to Jesuit education!
We will be sharing one article per month. You are all welcome to share your reflections and comments in the comment section located at the bottom of each article.
We wish you an enjoyable journey getting to know Fr. Pedro Arrupe and the roots of his famous exhortation “Men and Women for Others”.
Here is article #3 “CALL AND COMMITMENT”.
CALL AND COMMITMENT
In August 1926, some weeks after his father’s death, Pedro Arrupe and his sisters decided to spend the summer vacation in the quiet, peaceful, and spiritual surroundings at Lourdes. One day Pedro accompanied his sisters to the esplanade, where the sick assemble, a little before the procession of the Blessed Sacrament. A middle-aged woman pushing a wheelchair passed in front of them, and one of his sisters exclaimed: “Look at that poor boy in the wheelchair.” She was referring to a young man of around twenty, all twisted and contorted by polio. His mother was reciting the rosary in a loud voice and from time to time sighing: “Maria Santissima help us.” It was a moving sight for Pedro.
The woman took her place in the row which the bishop was to pass carrying the Blessed Sacrament. As the Bishop stopped to bless the polio patient with the monstrance, the young man looked at the Host with such great faith that he instantly experienced the healing power of Christ. He leaped from his chair – completely cured. The crowd cried out joyously: “Miracle! Miracle!” Pedro was dumbstruck! In the course of his stay at Lourdes he witnessed two other miracles. Thanks to the special permission he had, Pedro was later able to assist at the medical examination of the miracle case. When his family asked him about the investigations, he said emotionally: “The Lord has truly cured him.”
Years later, as Superior General, Fr Arrupe recalled the incident at Lourdes: “There is no need to tell you of what I felt and my state of mind at that moment. I had come from the Faculty of Medicine in Madrid, where I had had so many professors (some truly renowned) and so many companions who had no faith and who always ridiculed miracles. But I had been an eyewitness of a true miracle worked by Jesus Christ in the Eucharist… I seemed to be standing by the side of Jesus; and as I sensed His almighty power, the world that stood around me began to appear extremely small.”
“I returned to Madrid; the books kept falling from my hands. My fellow students asked me, ‘What’s happening to you? You seem dazed!’ Yes, I was dazed by the memory which upset me more each day; only the image of the Sacred Host raised in blessing and the paralyzed boy jumping up from his chair remained fixed in my heart.”
Closeness to God
“I felt God so close in His miracles, that I was powerfully torn out of myself. And I saw Him so close to those who suffer, those who cry out to Him, those who are shipwrecked in the sea of life, that there began to burn in me a blazing desire to imitate Him in this nearness to those who are rejected by this world, those whom society treats with contempt.”
Three months later Pedro gave up Medicine and entered the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Loyola, to a life of distinguished service as a Jesuit
“I liked my medical studies very much,” Pedro confided. “After my family, the greatest sacrifice I made on entering the Society was giving up medicine.”
In a talk Fr Pedro Arrupe gave to relatives and friends of Jesuits at the Piccadilly Hotel in London, in January 1970, he said:
“To appreciate a gift you must know the value of the thing given and the sacrifice that is involved. If one asks the mother of a Jesuit, “Well, when you were thinking of giving your son to the Society, how did you feel?” If she is sincere she will reply, “Father, I felt I was offering the best thing I had in my home – my treasure.”
“Fine, and was it easy for you?” Then one will see a beautiful smile and hear her say, “Father, it was a terrible wrench.”
“Well, mother, are you happy now?”
“Oh, so happy – when I saw my son at the altar as a priest, or saw my son as a brother taking his vows, that was a wonderful joy, just like being in heaven.”
My dears, we need many more holy Jesuits. … There are few vocations today; we need more. I am sure that you understand that a vocation is the gift of God but it is produced in some way by the hands of a mother and by the family.
To a young man who wishes to be a Jesuit,
I would say:
“Stay at home if this idea makes you
unsettled or nervous.
Do not come to us if you love the Church
like a stepmother, rather than a mother;
Do not come if you think that in so doing
you will be doing the Society of Jesus a favour.
Come if serving Christ
is at the very centre of your life.
Come if you have broad
and sufficiently strong shoulders,
Come if you have an open spirit, a reasonably open mind and a heart larger than the world.
Come if you know how to tell a joke
and can laugh with others and …
on occasions you can laugh at yourself.”
During Christmas 1976 Fr Arrupe sent in a written interview. to Dr Renzo Giacomelli of Vatican State Radio.
Q. What contribution can men and women who have embraced religious life make to evangelization and the development of man?
A. Through his consecration, the religious, besides being set aside from the world and accepting God accepts a type of life which most closely approaches the ideal of the evangelizer:
By his poverty he divests himself of all personal property and remains altogether free from every personal gain and interest.
By the vow of chastity, he enlarges his capacity to love all human beings for Christ, without thereby losing anything of the generosity that exists in every human heart, free to surrender himself to the service of others without the preference and limitations based on the personal and somewhat exclusive gift of oneself to s particular family. The family of the one consecrated to God by celibacy for the Kingdom is the entire human family.
Finally, through obedience the religious surrenders the freedom or rather raises it to a higher level when he commits himself to the following of God’s will, expressed by his superiors, a will which in his desire of the salvation of all men directs and renders efficacious the work of the world’s evangelization, whose only purpose is that ‘all men may come to the knowledge of the truth’.
Fr Arrupe’s fidelity might be called his ecstasy and his agony. This was the tension which prevented him from giving any quarter to what we might call his personal life of relaxation or enjoyment. Every moment of life he wanted to give to the Society of Jesus for whose ‘edification’ he had been elected. I knew his passion for music and I suggested once or twice that I was ready to accompany him to a concert or opera; he would laugh away the suggestion.
Once during his visit to Bombay for a meeting of the Provincials, I had to arrange for his meeting them individually. When he had seen everyone he had some free time and he asked me, “Is there no work, no one else to see?’ His time belonged to the Society and he had no right to use it for anything else. Abp G. Casmir SJ
MARY, OUR MOTHER
Mary played her part in the conversion and training of St Ignatius [Auto 10]. She had also a role in the composition of the Exercises and the Constitutions [Auto 100]. The young Society saw Mary as the Virgin Mother of God who has undertaken the patronage of the entire Society.
It can be said of every Jesuit that he is most tenderly attached to Our Blessed Lady, regarding her as his mother, but, like Ignatius, without being excessively emotional about it. There is not a Saint or a Blessed of the Society of whom it cannot be said that he cultivated Mary’s love with the affection of a son. I shall never be at peace till I have achieved a tender love for our most sweet mother Mary!
One pre-eminent feature of the Society’s devotion to Mary is a remarkable trust, as of a son for his mother, a mother who showed complete submission [SE 108] in order to give a mother’s service to her son, becoming ‘the handmaid of the Lord’, which for Ignatius was always the expression of man’s ultimate end [SE 23]. The Jesuit continues to look for help and protection from Mary as mother, just as Ignatius himself hoped and desire. P. Arrupe SJ