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  Vol 47 no 3

'Go, Set the World on Fire!'

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Tom Rochford

The recently elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr Adolfo Nicolás, talks about his life and experiences, and especially about his work in Japan and the Philippines. He reflects on his plans for the future as General.

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Hans Gustafson

The English Benedictine Bede Griffiths spent his life in India, and his Christian theology and spirituality were deeply influenced by Indian thought, and in particular by his dialogue with Hinduism. His work retains an enduring spiritual significance for Christians today.

John N. Sheveland

In the West the practice of yoga is sometimes mistakenly treated as no more than a physical discipline, or identified with New Age spirituality. But in fact it has much to offer to Christians and Christian spirituality.

Rudolf Pöhl

Bibliodrama enables people from diverse cultures and backgrounds to explore biblical texts and stories in a powerful and immediate way. A series of programmes and missions across Asia illustrates the value of this approach.

Juan Miguel Marin

The Jesuit missionaries to Peru and their indigenous converts in the sixteenth century espoused a mystical theology which strengthened them in their ministry in a hard and challenging environment, according to the charism of contemplation in action. This article examines the lives of two Peruvian Jesuits and how they lived out this charism.

Antonio Ruiz de Montoya

Ruiz de Montoya, a sixteenth-century Jesuit born in Peru, argues that mystical prayer is not just for the initiated, but for everyone.

Pascale Dalcq

The genocide in Rwanda in 1994 was a source of horror and despair. But even after witnessing such events, hope and life and faith are still possible.

Book Reviews

on a study of Luke's Gospel
on on Michael Ivens’ posthumous papers
on issues in moral theology
on christology and science
on a study of the Book of Revelation
on Ignatius and Eastern spirituality
on introductions to the Gospels
on on spirituality at work
on spirituality for providers of health and social care
on practical theology
on spirituality and sociology
on on the secrets of the Kingdom of God
on on Star Wars

From the Foreword

‘Go, set the world on fire!’ These are the words with which, in 1540, Ignatius of Loyola is said to have launched the epic missionary journey of his friend Francis Xavier. Over the following decade Francis would travel to India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan, before his death looking over the Chinese mainland. It was a time when new worlds were opening up, not just for merchants and conquistadors, but for the Church, as it strove to bring the word of God to these previously unknown peoples and nations. The excitement of that striving is palpable in Ignatius’ words. Yet the influence was not all to be one way. As these early missionaries laboured to make Christian teaching and practice comprehensible to people with wholly different cultures and outlooks, many of them were led to reconsider their understanding of their own beliefs.

Nearly five centuries after Xavier blazed a path, the experience of Christians in Asia, Africa and South America continues to challenge European assumptions about how discipleship is to be lived out. For four decades now, since its inception in Latin America, liberation theology has invited those in Europe who bemoan the loss of faith on their continent to consider that the situation of the poor, and of work done alongside them, are privileged places to encounter God. Those who have become expert in the religious practices of the East have greatly influenced Western spirituality, for instance by introducing techniques of centring prayer and bodily awareness. And the ever-rising number of priestly vocations in Africa has resulted in ‘reverse mission’, as the work of African ministers brings life back to failing European parishes.

This issue of The Way gathers a number of articles that consider how experiences of Christian faith in the countries of the South can and do enrich the faith of those who live in the North. This enrichment can be brought about in different ways. The new Jesuit General, Fr Adolfo Nicolás, was born and grew up in Spain, but he has spent most of his adult life working in East Asia. He reflects here on the ways in which this has shaped his own outlook, and how it may now affect his global ministry. The Benedictine monk Bede Griffiths was another who immersed himself in an Eastern culture, and yet by doing so greatly influenced many Western Christians. Pascal Dalcq witnessed the genocide carried out in Rwanda in the 1990s, and so can speak with authority on how hope can still be found even amid such suffering. Two articles consider the first response made by Christian missionaries to one of these ‘new worlds’, that of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century South America, and what it might have to tell us about mystical prayer, in particular. Finally there are illustrations of how practical techniques which develop in one setting can be fruitfully applied in another: yoga moves westward to deepen prayer in Europe and North America, while bibliodrama, a Western practice of acting out scripture stories, is now being profitably employed in Asian retreats.

Paul Nicholson SJ



Please click here to subscribe to The Way,
here to order this issue alone,
and here to order a free sample copy.