The 2023 Conference of the CIS network, held in Rome between 3 and 5 March, was attended by different types of people, 130 guides of the Spiritual Exercise and Ignatian workers, lay people, men and women religious, priests and Jesuits from different regions of Italy and Malta.
The chosen theme, “Consolation in the Beauty of Today, ways of recognizing concrete signs of hope,” was explained in detail with the help of Umberto Bovani, Lucia Cereda and Giacomo Lopez, guides from the CIS network, and Cecilia Franchini and Adonella Monaco, a pianist and actress respectively, who have already collaborated in programs of the Spiritual Exercises and Ignatian spirituality.
The conference was introduced by a reflection by Paolo Monaco SJ, director of CIS, on consolation in the Spiritual Exercises and in the experience of St. Ignatius of Loyola. In the Ignatian writings, in light of the “work of consolation that Christ our Lord performs, comparing it to the way in which friends are wont to console others” (EESS 224) consolation emerges as a gift of the Risen Lord who invites us to establish relationships of consolation, following the example of Jesus and Mary. In the evening some time was spent listening to Ignatian texts, read by Adonella and sung by Fr. Paolo.
On the second day, the speakers brought Ignatian spirituality and the Spiritual Exercises into dialogue with their talents, skills and professionalism. Through poetry, music and film, in an increasingly profound and engaging journey, participants immersed themselves in the beauty that gives consolation and opens the way to hope.
The personal and shared experience of consolation was then extended to the search for signs of hope that help one to move forward into the future, through some key words: gentleness, humility, relationships, challenging creativity, caring, listening, contemplative gaze, diversity and/is richness, holding together the small and the great.
In light of the movements of consolation and signs of hope that emerged through the immersion in artistic languages, the Conference concluded with a contemplative look not so much at what the CIS network does, but at its being: a network of people who together desire to hear, taste, listen to and follow the Spirit to find and give hope in the places and realities where each lives and works.