How to take up a challenge launched 500 years ago
It’s never unreasonable to ask yourself why you should want to write something with the intention of sharing it. This is all the more true when you decide to launch a website such as this one.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, was convinced that it’s possible to seek and find God in all things, especially in daily life. Knowing that God manifests himself in our experience, he would recommend to all Jesuits that they practice a particular exercise twice a day: calling to mind all that had happened during that day to become more deeply aware of the way in which God was making himself present in their lives. This practice, called the examination of conscience, or daily examen, is still a very central point of a Jesuit’s day.
We are convinced that God is at work in the world today, in the news we hear as well as in the culture, in politics as in the complexity of modern, post-modern, post-human, or whatever-other-name-you-feel-fits society.
This website is born from the desire to share: we want to propose, as Christians and Jesuits, a point of view on the world, on faith, on life. In this way we hope to create a space for encounter, for confrontation and for dialogue, to walk together with whosoever desires to be a companion on our journey. Many times Pope Francis has underlined the greater opportunities of solidarity and encounter afforded by the web, defining it as a gift of God. We would like to try and accept his invitation not to be afraid of becoming citizens of the digital environment. But how to do this?
Writing in Italian and English might help us reach a greater number of people. Yet how, though, do we choose a name that is easily understood in both languages and which manages to convey our intentions well?
In the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius – a method of prayer thought out to help us discover God’s action in our lives – paragraph 22 holds both an invitation and a challenge:
“let it be presupposed that every good Christian is to be more ready to save his neighbour’s proposition than to condemn it. If he cannot save it, let him inquire how he means it; and if he means it badly, let him correct him with charity. If that is not enough, let him seek all the suitable means to bring him to mean it well, and save himself.”
In Jesuit speak this paragraph is known as the praesupponendum, a presupposition to be applied not only during the period of the Spiritual Exercises, but also in daily life. It’s an invitation to free ourselves of the prejudices which lead to quick conclusions and thoughtless condemnations, enabling us to see our neighbor and reality with eyes capable of penetrating through the surface, over and above appearances. This isn’t a way of being that is easily improvised, but is the fruit of a journey made up both of successes and inevitable failures. Not bad so far for our project’s manifesto, an online project where fake news, hate speech, cyberbullying and more seem to be the order of the day. Yet we are convinced that the challenge given to us by Saint Ignatius, however difficult it may appear to be at first glance, is a challenge worth taking up.
This is why the name “Project 22” describes well the way in which our proposal is to be translated into our lives. Not as a finished product, as something complete, but as a project which is, in and of itself, incomplete. A project which needs to confront itself with reality and, sometimes, allow itself to be refashioned when a confrontation with the facts show it to be inadequate. That said, planning means hoping. And hope has the power to transform lives.