This is the time of year when others ask, “What have you given up for Lent?” We all did the math as Ash Wednesday approached: What can I give up that will hurt enough to be a penitential practice, but not hurt too much?
As some worry about the quality of their practice, another way to look at this might be to ask, “What more might we take on as our Lenten penance? What more can we do for Christ? What is the magis?”
A living example of the magis (“the more”) is clear to me each time I leave the province office. The work I do requires extensive travel, and while I am away, I trust the work of the province to the devoted Jesuits and laypeople responsible for growing and maintaining the ministries that came to life thanks to our generous friends and benefactors. Dedicated colleagues toil together behind the scenes to ensure that the work of the Society of Jesus continues uninterrupted.
It is the lay and Jesuit partnership that is the focus of this issue of our magazine; the “invisible infrastructure” makes our work possible not only in the Midwest, but around the world. An example of the magis: Our office recently celebrated the retirement of longtime employee Kay Smolinski, whose 60-plus years of service spanned 10 provincials. It is worth noting that Kay’s devotion is not unique; the former Chicago, Detroit, and Wisconsin provinces had similarly devoted longtime employees. And, because they never really retire, many Jesuits have served as long, or longer, in their assignments. We are grateful and blessed.
Speaking of partnership, Fr. Samir Talati, a Jesuit of the Kohima Province, reflects on 50 years of the mission in the Kohima Region of northeast India. As I write this letter, a team of Jesuits and laypeople are visiting our works in Kohima, at the same time Fr. General Arturo Sosa, SJ, is there. We pray for their safe travels and fruitful meetings.
The unique passions of Jesuits and our lay partners are evidenced in the diversity of work that they take on:
Whatever you have chosen to give up (or take on) this Lenten season, please know of my prayers for you and for all who accompany us in the magis.
|Yours in Christ,
Brian G. Paulson, SJ
Provincial, USA Midwest Province
|Fr. Paulson and longtime employee Kay Smolinski.|