An example of one who took this concept of friendship and discipleship to heart is the Jesuit, Fr. Matteo Ricci, (1552-1610) who was missioned to China after his ordination. He was a gifted linguist, and like the great Jesuit missionary who preceded him, St. Francis Xavier, he adapted the dress, language, and culture of the people so that he could evangelize them respectfully. He approached the Chinese people as friends to whom he came in peace and fellowship. He even wrote a book of maxims (on friendship) which he based on Chinese culture, adding a Christian approach to them.** Thus, he took to heart what he learned from the Scriptures he prayed with often, perhaps learning to do so when he made The Spiritual Exercises as a young Jesuit.
©Michele L. Catanese
Notes: Next entry, September 23.
*In The Spiritual Exercises this is experienced in the exercise, The Call of the King, (paragraphs 91-94) at the end of the First Week, and then also in the Second week as discipleship is explored.
**The book is called On Friendship: One Hundred Maxims for a Chinese Prince by Matteo Ricci, SJ, introduction by Timothy Billings. Ricci based his writing on the Chinese understanding of the essence of friendship as taught by the Ming debating societies. Billings discusses this in his lengthy introduction of the book.
If you would like to read more on friendship in an Ignatian context, go to the Archives listed on the right side of this page and click on March 2014; then scroll down to my entry for March 9, titled Friendship and Lent. You can also click on this link: https://www.catanesesd.com/micheles-blog/friendship-and-lent
The entry is about Servant of God Fr. Egide Van Broeckhoven, SJ. He valued friendship so greatly that he devoted his ministry to working in factories in order to minister as a friend to his co-workers. He was a remarkable man who died at the age of 34 as the result of an industrial accident. Most notable is that he considered friendship to be his vocation.
1. Photo taken by Hubble Telescope: I chose this photo of the stars and galaxies because it seemed appropriate to the start of this entry.
2. My photo, taken while hiking: I chose this rather bleak photo as a symbol of our brokenness, but there is also a hint of life amidst the dead leaves. You can see the mossy growth intertwined with the branches on the left if you look closely.
3. The Galilean Jesus, by Fr. William Hart McNichols: This is the way I envision Jesus meeting with disciples and saying, "I call you friends." He is the ultimate friend. You can find this image at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-galilean-jesus-266-william-hart-mcnichols.html
4. Painting of Matteo Ricci, SJ: I liked the bright colors in this painting, to be honest, so that is why I chose it. However, I also liked it because behind him is an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, holding the child Jesus. Thus, the painting depicts the Chinese culture, but also that Ricci was evangelizing, bringing Christianity to the people with whom he lived. For more on Matteo Ricci go to https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-voices/16th-and-17th-century-ignatian-voices/matteo-ricci-sj/
5. My photo taken at a festival in Natchidoches, TX: This seemed to capture friendship in the sense that there were people having a good time at a street festival. Friends enjoy shared fun as well as the more serious parts of life.
6. Icon, Santo Toribio Romo Y Gonzalez, by Fr. William Hart McNichols: St. Toribio (1900-1928) was not a Jesuit, to be clear, but I chose this icon of him because he gave his life as a martyr for his faith during the Cristero Wars in Mexico. He acted as a friend to many, trying to help them escape the government death squads who were trying to wipe out Christianity at the time. He is a patron saint of immigrants. You can find this icon at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/-santo-toribio-romo-y-gonzalez-patron-of-immigrants-277-william-hart-mcnichols.html
7. Starry Night, painted by Vincent van Gogh: Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists, so I knew that if I was using the idea of visitors from the stars as an example, I had to include this painting.
8. Jesuit Triptych, (Saint Peter Faber, St. Ignatius Loyola, and St. Francis Xavier), by Fr. William Hart McNichols: Each of the panels can stand alone. They are: Saint Peter Faber Inspired by the Holy Spirit, St. Ignatius Amidst the Stars and St. Francis Xavier Adoring Jesus the Mother Pelican. I chose this triptych as an example of friendship. These were the first Jesuits, friends who under the leadership of St. Ignatius, formed the nucleus of the religious order known today as the Society of Jesus. If you are interested in this triptych of icons or any other work by Fr. Bill McNichols, go to at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/jesuit-triptych-st-peter-faber-st-ignatius-st-francis-xavier-william-hart-mcnichols.html
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