March 27, 2012

MISSION MATTERS: Something More Than a Traveler

Lenten Cross

By Fr. Paul Stark, S.J.
Vice President for Mission and Ministry

Two years ago, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus, warned against what he called the "globalization of superficiality." He told representatives assembled from Jesuit institutions around the world that globalization offers us more possibilities to be connected, to be informed, to have choices. It also brings, though, the temptation to remain on the perimeter of life and to be superficial in our "thought, vision, dreams, relationships, convictions."

During Lent and this Atlas Week, we pray we can be challenged and that we can accept the challenge, to go well beyond the superficial that we might become something more than merely a traveler or sightseer in life. Lent and Atlas Week invite us to become involved in the messiness and the real issues of life in ways that change and challenge us to engage with each other with real meaning.

Lent always asks us to examine the way we live so we might determine if we are reuniting with God and others. Atlas Week offers us numerous opportunities to experience and to discover how others experience globalization and how this has changed their perspective of education, generally and life, purposefully and meaningfully.

Being part of a Jesuit educational endeavor calls and challenges us all to go well beyond the surface of issues, thoughts, concepts and people, and invites us to wrestle with the complexities of life that lie just beneath the easy crust, the superficial. This means we must be involved to a point far beyond just "passing through" life and lives; this means we are, part and parcel, a real and substantial part of that which we experience and examine. This substantial involvement is, of course, full of risks of self-change and being wrong, at times. So is Lent, full of risks.  

This substantial involvement is also, of course, and risks notwithstanding, filled to overflowing with rich opportunities for growth and change and seeing and experiencing ourselves differently. So are Lent and Atlas Week, filled with these opportunities. 

As we approach the end of Lent, and, in particular, Palm Sunday, let's grab the opportunity this week offers to become something more than just surface-skimming travelers in life. Let's take this time not just to participate in the rituals of this week and this Sunday superficially, but to enter this week of Lent, this Atlas Week with substance beyond and deeper than the surface of ourselves and others. Let's allow these rituals and educational opportunities to lead us to a clearer understanding of ourselves, of God and of others.

St. Ignatius called himself a pilgrim, but his travels took him into the depths of souls…his and others'. With just a small measure of his intensity and interest, we can travel with him. 

God bless you. Continue to be blessed in Lent.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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