Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Reaching Out to Our City

In Landmarking: City, Church, and Jesuit Urban Strategy, Father Lucas's description of the Jesuit's mission calls for direct interaction with the city. It requires a connection with the city that involves service above all else. The city is of utmost importance for the Jesuits, which can be seen in the opening pages of Landmarking. Father Lucas notes that just as Romulus was claiming the city of Rome as a sacred space, the Society of Jesus also marched around the heart of Rome. He says, "Leaving the church where the newly-sainted bones of Father Ignatius rested under a splendidly decorated altar, their {The Jesuits'} procession staked their claim to the power base that they had been creating for more than seventy- five years in Rome" (Lucas 2).
He then goes on to say that, " The history of the Christian tradition is inextricably tied to the history of urban society" (Lucas 2). This illustrates the clearly dilenated purpose of the Jesuits, which is interaction with society, namely, the city.

The history of the Jesuits is filled with determination and expansion, which includes more than just the city itself. Father Francisco Javier's voyage, which resulted in an unexpected four month stop in Mozambique, " marked the beginning of Jesuit outreach to the non-European world, a movement that would eventually develop into an international network of churches, schools, and pastoral centers on every continent..." (Lucas 4). The Jesuits boldly seek to expand their horizons and shed light on the darker parts of the world. Even as land for building churches was constantly denied, the Jesuits found ways to erect ornate houses of worship, which exemplifies their dedication to their mission.

The Jesuit mission, among all of its other worldly goals, includes the promotion of education. Schools such as Our Lady of Loreto and Nativity Middle School are prime examples of the Jesuits' intimate connections with the city. At the Nativity Middle School, " Lay faculty, other religious, and Jesuits live in the dangerous neighborhoods where they work, excercising a ministry of presence as well as education" (Lucas 21). Schools such as these give kids a chance to avoid a life full of drugs and violence. This kind of interaction with the city was what Saint Ignatius advocated so strongly. Lucas says, "In Ignatius Loyola, the Church in the city found a champion and a conceptual genius, a man who was fully attuned to his urban culture, a man able to adapt and even abandon parts of the Catholic tradition in order to shape an instrument uniquely suited for the existential needs of his time and place" (Lucas 22). Thus, Loyola was a bold role model for his time in his call to participate in the workings of the community, which should be admired greatly. The Jesuit community never fails to be a beacon for the City of God, which can be seen in the opening of the Loreto school. The people attending the opening mass, " made their solemn entrance into the new basilica, which a month before had been a drinking saloon' (Lucas 19). The city makes the Jesuit community what it is, while the Jesuit community also shapes the city in which it is located. It is truly an reciprocated relationship full of enrichment.

In my opinion, we are similar to the Jesuits in what we called to do here in Baltimore. We are not inner- city citizens who are deprived of the necessities of life, rather, we are mostly priviledged middle to upper class citizens of a rich moral background. Loyola is the result of a successful method of education as insituted by Saint Ignatius, which leaves us with the duty to promote his ideas and better our surroundings in the city through service and promotion of justice. It is our duty, then, to aid the Jesuits here in alleviating the problems of the city, by reaching out to the city and serving it as well. Our place in the city should be very similar to that of Saint Ignatius, who saw the city as a place of opportunity.