Pope Francis' Jesuit formation is a blessing for the whole Church, says one Society of Jesus priest who recently concelebrated mass with the pontiff.
“I'd like to thank him for his closeness that he expresses not just by visiting us, by celebrating with us, but also by showing that (the) Ignatian heritage that he has can enrich the entire Church. We are grateful for this,” Fr. Janez Poljanek, S.J., told CNA on Jan. 13.
Fr. Janez is rector of the “Collegio Internazionale del Gesù,” a house of studies for young Jesuits preparing for the priesthood in Rome, which is attached to the Church where Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Jan. 3. The rector was one of the concelebrants.
The Mass was one of thanksgiving for the canonization of Peter Faber as well as the feast of the name of Jesus, which the Jesuits celebrate every year.
“Pope Francis desired to be with us, to celebrate this mass of thanksgiving for this canonization, for the new saint and to be with Jesuits on this feast,” said Fr. Janez. “It's always a joy for us to have him with us, and we Jesuits, we also see that he’s like one of us.”
The Pope “uses a lot of expressions that we use, like 'discernment,' 'having deep desires,' and so on,” the rector pointed out.
The Jan. 3 mass was not Pope Francis' first visit to the Jesuits in Rome. He celebrated mass with them on July 31st for the feast of St. Ignatius, as well as having visited the Jesuit Refugee Service which is also housed at the college.
As an archbishop in Argentina, “he encountered a lot of (the) reality of poverty. We Jesuits use this expression, 'preferential option for the poor' so I think this is part of his formation, his growing-up as a Jesuit,” noted Fr. Janez.
The Jesuit “preferential option for the poor” is not intended as an indictment of the wealthy. Rather, “it’s only an invitation for rich people to share their goods with poor people,” explained the Jesuit.
“John Paul II spoke a lot about solidarity, sharing the goods with others – that's (the) evangelical way: it's not (an) exclusion of one or another group, but it's solidarity.”
Fr. Janez also expressed his admiration for the Pope's spirituality. “I was very inspired by his prayers and by his way of prayer: he's very recollected.”
In the spirit of their society's founder, Pope Francis' pastoral action arises out of his relationship with God, said Fr. Janez.
“Even though Pope Francis is a very popular personality, in prayer, he's an example of how one has to be recollected, and I think that his pastoral care and pastoral activity as a Pope comes from that deep prayer that he lives.”