A Faith That Does Justice (AFTDJ) seeks to live faith in action on behalf of all God’s people, and especially the most vulnerable among us, in solidarity with people of all religious traditions. It claims its own Christian and Jesuit identity by engaging the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola1 (Exercises) in order to discern God’s will and commit to authentic discipleship with Jesus in this world. AFTDJ believes that when appropriately adapted, the Exercises can be utilized by all people of good will to serve as a faith-based supplement to the see, judge, act model utilized by many people and organizations to put issues of social justice into action.
The Exercises have four parts, or weeks, each building upon the next. The First Week explores human sinfulness in the context of God’s infinite love. It is the experience of God’s love, despite our complicity with personal and structural sin, that ought to lead us to a profound sense of gratitude and a deep desire to return to God and neighbor the love we have so gratuitously received.
The Second Week offers an opportunity to realize our desire to love more deeply through a growing identification with Jesus of the gospel stories, his fidelity to God’s will, and his work on behalf of the coming kingdom of God. As we come to know Jesus, we will come to love him. And in coming to love him we will commit to following him in his mission on behalf of a world ruled by God’s love, compassion and justice for all.
The Third Week invites us to accompany Jesus in his passion and death. There, we will realize the cost of discipleship. Jesus suffered and died for witnessing to the values of the kingdom of God. Authentic discipleship with him necessitates a willingness to carry our own cross as we accompany the crucified people of history who continue to die unjustly and before their appointed time, all the while trusting that the God who raised Jesus from the dead will raise us for walking in solidarity with him and the suffering people of this world.
The Fourth Week is a time for rejoicing with the risen Jesus and all those who live as resurrection people in joyful witness to the triumph of God’s love over human sinfulness and death.
We then leave the Exercises with the Contemplation to Attain Love, an exercise that helps us experience God’s ongoing presence and infinite love in all of creation and our call to participate in it.
Future installments in this series will explore the Exercises, and its accompanying components, in greater detail to offer its utility to those who seek deepening relationship with God and a faith experience that moves beyond the confines of the synagogue, church and mosque and into a world of human suffering in order to help all people, regardless of their race, religion, or country of origin, realize their God-given human dignity and participate in a fair share of the goods of God’s creation.
Peter W. Gyves, SJ, MD, is a member of the Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He is founder and director of A Faith That Does Justice, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts.
1L.J. Puhl, Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1951