European Tertianship: Our Vision
The programme is based on our understanding of Tertianship as above all a school of the heart. It is divided into four modules, which sometimes may overlap, both because the long experiment is linked to the date of Easter in that particular year, as well as because of the availability of the invited speakers.
Module one is mostly concerned with having a good look at the tertian’s life, in the light of the Ignatian experience, and in the context of the life of the contemporary Church and Society. The Autobiography of St Ignatius is presented at the very beginning, after which tertians are invited to ‘share from the heart’ an episode in their lives and receive feedback from their companions. Tertians then write their own autobiography according to a common template, discuss it with their spiritual director and share what they choose to with their companions.
This is accompanied by a study on the first seven parts of the Constitutions (except for Part 6, which we study in module 3), as well as a presentation of the post-Conciliar Church and Society and its last General Congregations.
We believe this module is an excellent preparation for the Spiritual Exercises, a kind of personal Principle and Foundation.
Module two consists of the experience of the individually guided Spiritual Exercises, which are concluded just before Christmas. After a short Christmas break, tertians reflect in a systematic way on the different parts of the Spiritual Exercises and its internal dynamics.
Module three deals with Jesuit identity and mission. The bulk of this module is a ten-week pastoral experiment, doing something different from the tertian’s previous work, and mostly in a different culture. Most experiments bring tertians in close contact with the poor, the homeless, refugees. This time enables the tertian to reflect on the value of his experience during the Spiritual Exercises, and to discover that we always have much to learn from the poor. It also brings them into close contact with the diverse mission of the Society in Europe.
This is also the time of a reflection on our vows, on priesthood and brotherhood, in the light of the Part 6 of the Constitutions and the documents of the last General Congregations. Spiritual discernment, on the personal and community level, is presented as the Jesuit’s preferred tool for his mission.
Module four, the last, is focussed on integration, both on the personal level and in preparation for the definitive incorporation into the Society through final vows. This last period includes a reflection on the last three parts of the Constitutions, as well as a two day concluding seminar on the present self-understanding of the Society as the minima Compañía colaboradora. The tertianship comes to an end with a 6 day individually guided retreat, and a formal evaluation of each one’s experience and of the whole programme.