Long Roman Days

It´s late here in Rome...about 9:30 PM. Given our schedule, this is actually the earliest that I've been able to write. Our meetings of the advisory council of the Apostleship of Prayer begin at 8:30 AM and continue into the evening. Tonight was the first time that we were actually free after supper, which is usually late--around 8 PM.

Fr. Fidelis Jaybalan from India was not able to get a visa to enter Italy for this meeting, but he saw God's hand in this because he is being given a different assignment and will no longer work as the coordinator of the Apostleship of Prayer in India. So we are a small group of five: I, who speak English and understand and speak some Spanish; Fr. Frederic Fornos from France who understands English and speaks both French and perfect Spanish because he lived in Bolivia for two years; Fr. Juan Antonio Medina from Uruguay who speaks Spanish; Fr. Rigobert Kyungo from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who speaks French, English, and Italian; and our international delegate for the Apostleship of Prayer, Fr. Claudio Barriga, who speaks English, French, Spanish, and Italian. I must admit it is not easy having a meeting or even communicating at meals with such a diverse language group. Yet we have many things in common, including a love of the Apostleship of Prayer and a desire to see its renewal and spread. Naturally how this will happen will be different in various parts of the world.

On Tuesday morning we shared our vision of the Apostleship with one another and three members of the Jesuit Curia. It was very consoling to see how inspired these advisors to the General of the Jesuits were as we shared with them the important role we see the Apostleship playing in the world. In the afternoon we talked more among ourselves about how we see that role.

On Wednesday morning we met with Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, the General of the Jesuits and the Director General of the Apostleship of Prayer. His words resonated with us, especially with regard to his desire that the Apostleship be renewed for our times, his encouragement that we help people understand what it means to have a well-grounded Eucharistic spirituality, and his challenge that we develop links with many different groups and people. In the afternoon we met again by ourselves to talk about the essential qualities of the Apostleship of Prayer--that it is Eucharistic, Ecclesial, and for Mission. In other words, the Eucharist and our daily offering of ourselves in which we join ourselves to Jesus' perfect offering of himself on the cross and in the Mass insert us fully into the Church from which we are sent forth to bring God's love into the world. We also discussed how the daily offering prayer is not simply a prayer to be recited but one that has to be lived; in order for that to happen there is need for growth in prayer and the spiritual life. We all need, in the words of Pope John Paul II who loved to quote Jesus' words to Peter (see Luke 5), to go deeper.

Today we continued our discussions about how we would describe the program of the Apostleship of Prayer to people of today and then we moved on to some more concrete and practical matters. We heard a report about the Eucharistic Youth Movement whose mission is to introduce children and young people from 7 to 25 to the way of the Apostleship. We talked about a meeting of the Movement that will happen in Argentina in 2012 and about World Youth Day 2011. Then, in the afternoon, we discussed the 1968 Statutes of the Apostleship and addressed the question of whether they needed revision ("yes") and we asked the question for whom the Apostleship of Prayer was meant and if there were groups on which we should in a special way focus our attention. Obviously, the way of the daily offering is for everyone, but in our times it may be especially important for young people searching for meaning, for sick and elderly people who may see no meaning in their sufferings, for busy people who have little time for long formal prayer, and for seminarians who would find this method helpful for the people they will one day serve.

Tomorrow, I will moderate the discussion and act as secretary, writing the minutes of our day up in the evening, when we return from enjoying a Roman pizza. In the afternoon we meet again with Father General Nicolas. It will be a long and full day.