In today’s second reading, from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, he writes:
“For many…conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their ‘shame.’ Their minds are occupied with earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
What prevents us from becoming more and more like Christ? What “earthly things” do we cling on to? How do we let go?
Words of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ:
In “Simplicity of Life,” Fr. Arrupe writes that we are becoming “slaves in many different ways: slaves of propaganda, of that high-pressure salesmanship which is the distinguishing mark of a consumer society; slaves of acquisitiveness, the drive to accumulate possessions which begin as luxuries and end up as necessities.”
In “Men and Women for Others,” Fr. Arrupe challenges us to cultivate “a firm determination to live much more simply — as individuals, as families, as social groups — and in this way to stop short, or at least to slow down, the expanding spiral of luxurious living and social competition. Let us have men and women who will resolutely set themselves against the tide of our consumer society. Men and women who, instead of feeling compelled to acquire everything that their friends have, will do away with many of the luxuries which in their social set have become necessities, but which the majority of humankind must do without.”
An Ecological Examen
The Ignatian practice of the examination of conscience, or “examen,” is a prayer that invites us to review our experiences, to find God within the course of our daily life, and to let go of the things that prevent us from growing into relationship with God. This “ecological examen” uses the framework of the prayer form to invite us into reflection on how we might let go of what Arrupe calls “the drive to accumulate possessions” in order to both conserve natural resources and commit to a Christ-centered “simplicity of life.”
Holy men and women like Pedro Arrupe are essential guides for us disciples, pointing the way to Jesus and encouraging us to come along. This Lenten season, as the Jesuit community continues to pray for the canonization of Pedro Arrupe, we invite you to spend some prayerful time with the words and prayers of this revered Servant of God.