The beginning of a brand new 12 months is inevitably a second of transition.
And transitions will be difficult. Pleasure for the brand new collides with nostalgia for what’s already gone. Risk and potential meet with remorse and missed alternative. A way of what was good previously appears all however unimaginable to rediscover and reclaim within the current. We stand at a threshold, greedy in each instructions, attempting to cling to previous glory and attain for brand new success.
That’s why I believe we may do with a saint to look to for steerage, inspiration, and intercession.
I’ve lengthy discovered the Jesuit priest Joseph Pignatelli a compelling determine. He lived at a very troublesome second within the historical past of the Jesuits—a time of transition, to say the least.
Born in 1737, Pignatelli was of each Italian and Spanish noble descent. He spent many adolescence in his household’s palace in Saragossa, Spain. However he left all of that behind when he grew to become a Jesuit. He entered the Society at age 15 and was ordained in 1762. He served as a trainer and because the chaplain to an area jail.
However a seismic occasion was upon the worldwide Society of Jesus. In 1767—simply 5 years after Pignatelli’s ordination—King Charles III of Spain expelled the Jesuits from his kingdom. As a substitute of falling again upon his noble claims, Pignatelli accompanied his brother Jesuits—a lot of them sick and aged—and left Spain.
Not solely did Fr. Pignatelli discover himself exiled, he additionally discovered himself answerable for 600 Jesuits, because the provincial and the native rector delegated their energy to him. After a protracted, arduous journey, the Jesuits discovered security within the Papal States. However Pope Clement XIV, succumbing to the strain of European monarchs like Charles and different enemies of the Jesuits, issued the 1773 temporary Dominus ac Redemptor, which successfully suppressed the Jesuits worldwide.
Joseph Pignatelli, like some 23,000 of his brothers, was nonetheless a priest however now not a Jesuit.
The remainder of Pignatelli’s life can be spent attempting to carry collectively the disparate parts of the Society of Jesus. He hoped ardently for a day when the Jesuits can be restored and was cautiously optimistic by the actions of subsequent popes. He saved in shut communication with the Jesuit provincial of what’s now Belarus, the place, as a result of Catherine the Nice had refused to enact the papal order, the Jesuits remained in ministry. It was the superior there that named Fr. Pignatelli the provincial of Italy in 1803.
Pignatelli embraced the indicators of his time. He labored to see the complete restoration of the Society of Jesus, all of the whereas by no means wavering from his dedication to serve these in want and to reply to the individuals of God and the wants of the Church.
Although he died three years earlier than Pope Pius VII restored the Society of Jesus globally in 1814, Joseph Pignatelli by no means misplaced hope for the way forward for the Jesuits or overlooked the necessity to reside the Gospel in his day by day life.
In 2011, to mark the bicentenary of the demise of Joseph Pignatelli, then-Superior Common of the Society of Jesus, Adolfo Nicolás, wrote:
Within the midst of many actions and quite a few relationships with individuals of social and financial energy, he by no means uncared for these in want. Joseph Pignatelli searched out the poor and helped them with beneficiant alms. He additionally visited these in prisons and hospitals to the purpose of turning into often called the “father of the poor.” No doubt, the lifetime of Joseph Pignatelli was an instance of affection acquired and of affection given. (Letter of November 15, 2011)
Why flip to St. Joseph Pignatelli as we start a brand new 12 months? Fr. Pignatelli’s life was lived at a second of transition. The continuity of the Society of Jesus in some ways rested on his skill to carry on to the previous whereas additionally trying boldly at present and unfolding future. He stayed near his group whereas persevering with to chart new relationships with potential associates.
Most significantly, he stayed near Christ current in probably the most susceptible. Time and again, Fr. Pignatelli refused the trimmings of consolation. He as an alternative inserted himself into the actual wants of actual individuals, following the instance of Christ. And he did so day after day.
I’m impressed by his legacy. Joseph Pignatelli was capable of advance a worldwide trigger by staying current to the intimate actuality of the individuals round him. He was the bridge between the previous and the brand new.
Allow us to flip to him as we endeavor to attach our previous methods of 2023 with our new hopes for 2024.
St. Joseph Pignatelli, pray for us.
Biographical data from sources together with Jesuit Saints and Blesseds: Spiritual Profiles, edited by Jacques Fédry, SJ, and Marc Lindeijer, SJ.
Image through Grentidez, public area, through Wikimedia Commons.