Evangelising over the radio waves

Fr Victor Degabriele SJ talks to us about his mission on radio, translating aspects of the Spiritual Exercises into practical radio programmes

For the past two years I had a series of programs on Radio Maria which every week were  broadcast live and repeated two days later. For the benefit of the readers of this newsletter I wish to share my experience.  This program was not some sort of weekly pious sermon, but rather I approached it with a sense of mission, an expression of my mission as a Jesuit. The aim was to help the hearers to be more actively aware of the real situation of themselves and of Maltese society as regards the relationship with God and neighbour.  

The program involves work and reflection on my part.  I used what I experienced in the Spiritual Exercises because they are as relevant as ever to our society and culture.  They help me and my hearers to look deeper, below the surface of things, beneath the superficialities with which they are daily bombarded by the mass media..  (The books of retreats by the late Cardinal Carlo M. Martini were a great help to me).

Only in the first program, which went on for three months, did I deal explicitly with the Spiritual Exercises.  In the other programs, also during three months each, I have always dealt with the subject at hand (Joy, Holy Spirit, Holiness, Heart, Light), through the values, priorities, convictions, understanding, that I find in the Spiritual Exercises and that have shaped me as a Jesuit. These values, convictions and  priorities I try to share with my hearers.

To a people whose Christian religion has become mostly conventional (doing something to keep God pleased), I propose a dedicated relationship with the Lord who takes us to his and our Father as we find in the Spiritual Exercises. I emphasize the “what I want” of the Preludes and the “Three Classes of Men”.

To a society that is unsympathetic towards sinners, but indulgent with itself, I propose the second Exercise of the First Week.  To a people that considers sin mostly as a phenomenon, I propose the third Exercise of the First Week.

Our nation is giving supreme value to riches, honours and power. The “Principle and Foundation” and the “Two Standards”, help people to begin to sense that there are ‘better’ values.

Our people need to believe in a ‘robust’ Christ who does have a will (Sp. Ex 95), and not a sentimental Christ; a Christ who goes willingly to his Passion and Resurrection. Our people need a Christ who is not just divine (somewhere up there and irrelevant), but also human, down here, living with us, and we need to come to terms with this Christ.  We Jesuits are used to contemplating these two Natures of Jesus in the Second, Third and Fourth Weeks of the Spiritual Exercises. 

Many fondly imagine that they can decide whether the Evil One exists or not, whether he is irrelevant in their lives or not. The Rules for Discernment help people to keep grounded in reality. And the Holy Spirit too, whether acknowledged or not, abides in each person

The Spiritual Exercises teach us to love as Jesus loves. Our people are forgetting the meaning of Christ’s love, and that is why egoism and selfishness have taken centre stage in the lives of so many. They need to discover the Lord Jesus as loving them (Sp.Ex. 224)

To conclude I wish to refer to the address of Jesus to the whole world in number 95 of the Spiritual Exercises. It is the intention of Jesus to conquer all that opposes him, not by crushing the opposition, but by drawing all to himself. (John 12:32; Sp.Ex 146)   This gives me the strength to continue sharing the Gospel “in season and out of season.” (2 Tim 4:2).

Victor Degabriele SJ 

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