In 1958 Fr. Arrupe was elected 28th Father General of the Society of Jesus, being the only other Basque to have held this position since the founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola. He was Father General until 1981 when he suffered a debilitating stroke, forcing him to resign. His years in office were during a time of great change in both the church and in the world. His focus was on social justice and working with the poor and so his time as Father General was often controversial because of the political implications of bringing justice to some areas of the world. After the stroke he lived another 10 years, virtually mute, until his death on February 5, 1991.
Love was clearly the motive for Fr. Arrupe throughout his life of service. In “Fall in Love” Fr. Arrupe reveals the sanctity with which he lived, the humility with which he approached God, and the love with which he served those to whom he ministered, including his brother Jesuits. At the end of the piece he says that we should “fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” Indeed this is what is at the heart of the season of Lent and at the heart of our Christian faith. The season of Lent is a time in which we remember all that the Father has done out of His amazing love for us, culminating in the sacrifice of His own Son. We immerse ourselves in the Gospels in order to participate more fully in their message, desiring to be disciples, reflecting upon the values of mercy and love given by Jesus in his self-emptying which included such intense suffering. If the entire season does not echo with love resounding sometimes gently and at other times deafeningly, then we are missing the gift of the season entirely. Our lives as Christians are about only one thing: love. Lent is a time when we are invited to fall more deeply in love with the God who is madly, deeply in love with us.
In order to see Jesus’ love poured out throughout His ministry a suggestion is that we meditate on the Gospels. In our prayer we can go with Jesus to the outcast lepers, the frightening possessed, the fallen prostitutes, the cheating tax gatherers, the arrogant Pharisees, the alien pagans, the ‘invisible’ women, the lowly poor, and the comfortable rich. We can hear Him teach His disciples, instruct the apostles in forgiving "seventy seven times seven times," reflect upon the Beatitudes and the Golden Rule. It is important for us to observe Jesus as He ‘fell deeply in love’ with all of His people. If we let His love work at transforming us then perhaps we can fall in love and stay in love. Indeed, loving is something that will decide everything in guiding our choices and responses throughout our lives.
During this season of Love which is called Lent, let us enter into the penance, the prayer, and the almsgiving expecting to meet Jesus in the midst of it all. Let us open ourselves to Him in the guise of the poor and the hurting. Let us invite Him into our paltry gift of self. As we attempt our Lenten sacrifices and additions let us offer gratitude for whatever growth in holiness we find, and if we have struggled somewhat unsuccessfully, let us offer our intentions to have done better as the gift that it is and know Jesus will receive it with joy. If we beg God to help us to fall in love with Him and with His people, this love will transform us and move toward healing that which is painful, broken, terrifying, or evil in this world. Fall in love, stay in love: it will decide everything.
©Michele L. Catanese
* I found this quote on an Ignatian website, but it comes from a book called Pedro Arrupe: Essential Writings, by Kevin Burke (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books 2004, p. 136-137). The website I used is as follows:
- The text of Fall in Love is in the third image in this entry. If you want to see it closer up, you can click on the image. Or you can view the text at https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/316647.Pedro_Arrupe
Photos and images: The first photo is one I took while on vacation in Oregon. It was in a public rose garden in Portland.
The second photo is a famous photo of Fr. Pedro Arrupe and is of unknown origin. I found it on just about every website in which he was mentioned. Here is the one I used for much of the information I cited on Fr. Arrupe:
The third image is of Fall in Love as mentioned above. I found it at http://www-hollymonroe-com.myshopify.com/products/falling-in-love-1
Next is an icon, Jesus Christ Holy Forgiveness by Fr. William Hart McNichols. It can be found at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/jesus-christ-holy-forgiveness-040-william-hart-mcnichols.html
The last two are photos which I took. The first is the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a work in stained glass which is at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston, TX. The last photo was taken in Jacksonville, Florida of the sunrise on a cloudy morning over the Atlantic Ocean.