It takes a lot of courage to do this. Most of us run away from silence and stillness. We run away from looking into our hearts, afraid of what we might find and lose ourselves in busyness, consumerism and materialism. These are the ills of our modern society which we're told result in unhappiness and even ill health. To combat this it's possible to do courses in meditation and mindfulness, now recognised as therapies which originated in religion but have become independent of it. All this is good of course if meditation and mindfulness lead to well-being but sometimes I wonder. A friend recently sent me an article telling of two young men who have devised a mindfulness app which is now a multi-million business. It is advertised as leading to success and contentment. Is this religion aligning itself with commercialism, selling its soul to consumerism, offering a quick fix or simply using a skilful means to communicate a spiritual practice to people who would not otherwise encounter it? I just don't know.
For Pedro Arrupe prayer and meditation were part of his life. He was the first Basque, after St Ignatius the founder of the Jesuits, to be General. He was working in Japan when the atomic bomb was dropped in August 1945 and organised for the care of many of the victims in Hiroshima. In response to the Vietnamese boat people he set up the Jesuit Refugee Service, now at work today in more than 50 countries worldwide. He believed that religious faith had to be vigorous in promoting justice and in opposing injustice, oppression and social evils such as poverty, hunger and all forms of racial discrimination. This was a man who was not closed to the cries of our world, who discovered a real well within him which he expressed in loving and compassionate service. All this I think you can sense from the photograph and is a lesson which goes beyond words.
But let me finish with a prayer of his.
Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.
Is this not worth reflecting on? What a world we would have if love got us out of bed in the morning.