Thursday 24 May 2012

What Makes a Jesuit Heart Beat? The Little Happiness: Principle and Foundation

By Fr. Peter Bisson, S.J.

Fr. Bisson, the Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in English Canada, gave this speech on Saturday, May 12th, 2012, for the closing ceremony of the 400th Anniversary of the Jesuits in Canada. This text and the song were translated from the French originals by Santiago Rodriguez, S.J. 

The vision of God and of the world that inspires the Society of Jesus, and those who share this vision, is expressed in part by these lines from Félix Leclerc:

It's a little joy
That I had gathered
It was all in tears
On the edge of a ditch
When it saw me passing by
It began to shout out
"Sir, pick me up
And bring me to your place

My brothers have forgotten me, I’m fallen, I'm sick
If you don't pick me up I'll die; what a shame!
I'll make myself small, tender and obedient, I promise
Sir, I'm begging you, free me of my torture
Sur, I'm begging you, free me of my torture.”

I picked up little joy, I put it under my rags
I said, “it should not die, come away to my house”
Then the little joy made her recovery
On the edge of my heart, I had a song
My days, my nights, my pain, my grief, my trouble all was forgotten
My idle life I had a distaste to repeat
When it was raining outside or my friends began to grieve
I took my little joy and I told it: “You are my queen.”

The little joys call us out because God who is Love lets himself be found through them. But to seek and to find God in any little joy, anywhere, anytime, in anyone, requires a certain disposition of the soul: a generosity of spirit, magnanimity, a heart without borders.

It is because of this vision of God, of the world, of others and of themselves that the early Jesuits learned the native languages. This is why they learned to appreciate the traditions and values of the natives as places where Christ labours. It is because of this vision that Jesuits today have recognized that the struggle for justice, the effort to build a better world, is a constitutive aspect of faith and the service of faith.

It is also this same vision of a God present and active in everything that encourages us Jesuits in French and English Canada to collaborate beyond language and cultural differences to better incarnate the dreams of a God of little joys. In celebrating 400 years in Canada, we prepare for the next four hundred! May these 400 years we've lived together launch us together into the future!

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