“In order to live out this mission in our broken world, we need fraternal, joyful communities where we nurture and express with great intensity the only passion that is capable of uniting our differences and of bringing our creativity to life. This passion grows with every new experience of the Lord; and His dreams and love for our world are boundless.” [GC 35, 44]
“Community life itself is a manifold testimony for our contemporaries, especially since it fosters brotherly love and unity by which all will know that we are disciples of Christ” [CN 316, 2]. We are sent to the communities and we do not choose the members of the community to live with. We are called to form communion with those who otherwise not destined to live together. Humanly speaking such communion seems difficult. Such communion is possible only in Jesus. A new commandment of love is not just a showpiece to be kept in showcase but needs to be practiced in our community life by us who are His companions. Community life is an integral part of the mission and not just gathering of servants of Christ’s mission. Community life goes beyond gathering or sharing the same food, roof and resources.
Jesuit life, is certainly much less marked by the existence of community than, for example, monastic life. Surely it is so, if we identify community as a place where we gather and are called to live the remainder of our days with those who have chosen the same house to share daily prayer and commitment, having made a vow of stability. Nevertheless, this is not exactly the way Jesuits inscribe personal lives in a community. The first community Jesuits belong to is not in fact their local community, but the whole Society spread throughout the world and then their Province, which brings together a certain number of local communities within a determined area where travel and contact are more frequent. Yet, the primary belonging to a community encompassing the whole body of the Society, cannot be a living concrete reality if it is not built on the insertion of each individual Jesuit in a local community. Here, he shares prayer, work, interests and efforts, as well as apostolic commitments, even though these may be of different types. Frequently it is here that genuine exchange concerning common work and interests could be experienced, where the necessary support for perseverance and growth are first proffered and where each individual commitment to the service of Christ takes concrete form.
This re-echoed an earlier declaration by General Congregation 35 in 2008:
Our mission is not limited to our works. Our personal and community relationship with the Lord, our relationship to one another as friends in the Lord, our solidarity with the poor and marginalised, and a life style responsible to creation are all important aspects of our lives as Jesuits. They authenticate what we proclaim and what we do in fulfilling our mission. The privileged place of this collective witness is our life in community, Thus, Jesuit community is not just for mission: it is itself mission. (GC35, D.3, No.41).