The following reflection was used as an introduction to one of our Paris prayer sessions:
So well did Roman Gaul take to Christianity, that France has been referred to in recent years by one of the Popes , as “First Daughter of the Church”.
On Monday, some of us discovered the church in Montmatre where the first Jesuits, on fire with a love of Jesus and a passion for living the Gospel with greater integrity, gathered and talked and nourished their faith with each other. And this was in the 16th century, at the height of the Protestant reform, which as Catholics, they realized had not arisen out of nowhere. Something had gone very wrong in the Church they loved.
And so it was, that Ignatius led his small band, among them St Francis Xavier, one of our Australian patrons, up the steep hill to a site where some of France’s earliest Christians had been martyred, and pledged themselves to living out their dream for a reformed and purer and better Church.
So as we reflect on our Church today, especially in terms of the current media attention, and as we move around on the streets of Paris, perhaps the times and challenges the early Jesuits faced are not all that different from our own, as we stand before young people in our own Australian schools and classrooms, and offer them a vision of life faithful to the radical call of the Gospel of Jesus, in the spirit of Mary.