Note: Some years ago, during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, Father General Adolfo Nicolás sketched points for a possible letter to the Society. Although he never wrote the letter, he did share these points with a few friends. The following text, while still rough and informal, expresses clearly the direction of his thinking. With the permission of Father Nicolás, we share it now.
For some time we religious have wondered about our life in the Church and the power and attraction of our witness. One does not need extraordinary insight or deep analysis to realize that what we call “religious life” has lost something of its impact in the Church and outside its walls. Of course, this is not universal. Some groups of religious have maintained and even increased their credibility by the authenticity of their life, their service of the poor, or the depth of their prayer. However, the questions persist. What have we lost? Where have we gone wrong? Have we misunderstood our call for renewal? Are we aimless?
I have been reading again some of the classics of religious life: Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila. I have found them most refreshing for the heart. It is like coming home again to the origins, to the first love, to when I first thought that there was something worth giving my whole life for. I kept asking myself: what is it that was so present in them and that we seem to have lost? I think it is their total centering.