Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

As a special treat, I bring you a rant.

As loyal readers to this blog, you know I'm not about the rants. Sweetness and light is my motto here. Sometimes there will be a certain something which will have me all exercised and, upon further reflection, I'll leave it in the "draft pile" never to see light of day.

That was my original intention with what you're about to read. The genesis for this screed is an email exchange I had with the lovely and gracious Karen. There was something that was sticking in my craw and which I felt was not suitable for public consumption, but which I needed to vent and I thought Karen would be the ideal person to lend a sympathetic screen thereto.

Her first words of response to the rant were-and-I-quote: "You need to write that rant." Then she followed up with the clincher I know she knew I'd be unable to resist..."We owe it to St. Iggy, who is somewhere in beautifully graceful Iberic slow boil, I am convinced." So, because Karen is slowly becoming the big sister I never had, I nodded assent.

Here is the rant, edited (slightly) to accomodate the change from personal email to blog entry.


I hope you have time for a rant. All you have to do is read and nod and smile benevolently.

OK. I'm reading one of the more popular Catholic blogs and, as is the case with some frequency when things are slow, an anti-Jesuit post appears. The usual stuff, heterodoxy gone mad, Important Jesuit Magazine advocating sacrifices to Baal, neo-enuretic "peace 'n' justice" imbecilities*, Important Jesuit University President saying the mandatum is "a load of dingoes' kidneys"...yaddayaddayadda. Y'know...the normal stuff.

So far, nothing to which I am not inured. The comments to the post are similar in tone. "Supress the Jesuits!" and the like. We've all seen it before and my eyes roll like a busted slot machine. But THEN some Jesuit guy (one of the solid, orthodox, good ones, too) responds. And it's the SAME rote response. That is to say: "Problem? What problem?" and he goes to (rightly) make mention of all that is good, holy, decent and admirable about the current state of the Company to bolster the notion that all is both hunky and dory in Jesuitville. But it isn't. This isn't a spreadsheet where Fr. X's lunacies are canceled out by Fr. Y's holiness. On this blog and Karen's group blog, I make an effort to exalt the positive aspects of the Jesuits such as I see them. But that doesn't mean there aren't problems, and gravely serious problems at that, in the Society of Jesus.

This drives me UP THE [insert bad word]ING WALL. Yes, there are good, solid, orthodox Jesuits. Maybe even TONS of them. But they are being done a grave disservice by the attitude that, because there are solid/orthodox Jesuits, everything is just peachy-fine. Boston College is not Barely Catholic, Fr. Drinan is an exemplary servant of Christ, that whole "gays in the seminary" thing doesn't really mean anything nudge-nudge-wink-wink, legalized abortion is "lamentable" but military action in Lower Elbonia is an abomination, and Jesus certainly would have favored a confiscatory tax rate and socialized medicine.

What frustrates the Hell out of me is that this is the sort of thing that scares off a lot (thank you God, not all) of the guys who are ideal "real" Jesuits. Think of someone CLEARLY called to join the Society...but it is an idealized Society to which he is called. What does a man like that do when the reality falls so far short, so damned (literally) often, of what it is called to be?

I often detect--even from many orthodox, solid Jesuits--a faint whiff of the "we're Jesuits first, Catholic second" attitude. Perhaps the orthodox ones (the ones who do not enjoy the "immunity" of Fr. Fessio or Cardinal Dulles) are just trying to not be assigned the post of Second Assistant Latrine Supervisor at Our Lady of Internal Exile in Walrus Teat, Alaska.

I would (pending being presented evidence to the contrary) assign responsibility for this state on Fr. Arrupe and the day the Company decided that "peace 'n' justice" (or, as it is known in my house, "appeasement and redistribution") was the most important--albeit previously unnoticed by anyone--part of Ignacio's charism. Feed the hungry? YES. But catechize between courses. Clothe the naked? OF COURSE. But baptize them in the fitting room if you have to. Quench the thristy? UNDOUBTEDLY. But pray with them. Liberate the oppressed? CERTAINLY. Especially those oppressed by sin, independent of their desire to admit it. We need Jesuits who have their eyes on the prize, which is saving souls...not righting wrongs, however important that may be.

Wrongs, even the most appalling, egregious, heinous wrongs are only transitory. Salvation (or damnation) are forever. Do the math.

You may now imagine why 75% of the stuff I write here winds up saved as a draft, never to see the light of day.

Thus endeth my rant.



* Please, please, PLEASE do not assume I am against peace and against justice--I am frequently called upon by God to ensure same in my household--although I take serious exception to the solutions posited by the adherents of P&J; firmly believing they will bring to pass neither.


  • At 12:44 PM, June 27, 2006 , Blogger Karen said...

    Good for you, you turned on the comments box! A brave soul. Sr. Anne has a very, very old movie about St. Ignatius, with extremely corny dialogue, in which he proclaims, "Let cowards stay behind!" Amen.

    And by the way, I outed you on Pedro Arrupe, so you didn't get out of the bashing you're gonna get on that one.

  • At 2:26 PM, June 27, 2006 , Blogger Joe said...

    I have to manually turn on comments for each blasted post. Normally I'd leave 'em open full time.

    And my thoughts on Fr. Arrupe are as I expressed them to you this morning.

    The fact that after this, I have gotten nothing but a string of EXCELLENT news at the office is proof enough for me that I am doing the Lord's Work.

  • At 2:32 PM, June 27, 2006 , Blogger Karen said...

    You should read the comments over at Some Have Hats. We are not alone.

  • At 3:34 PM, June 27, 2006 , Blogger Joe said...

    In a sense we're alone because it seems like a lot of folks agree the patient is not doing well and thank us for pointing this out.

    Those who disagree would say the patient is doing fine, and that profuse bleeding and green leg are nothing to worry about.

    What we are trying to do is make the case the patient not only has problems, but is also worth saving, not euthanizing.


    Fr. Justin is looking down at me and LAUGHING, I just know it.



  • At 7:54 PM, June 28, 2006 , Blogger Matthew Fish said...

    Joe, I sympathize with much of what you said. I would be one to try to point out the positives in the face of criticism; in fact I have: see my comments at my blog,

    But if someone asks me straight up, I say, yeah, the bad stuff out there in the Society is indeed bad and does harm. The same can be said for other orders. But the reason I take it everyone gets so mad at the Jesuits is because of a, "they could be so great..." sort of intuition. To me that says a lot--it says the Order isn't corrupt, but just needs to be renewed. But I think the blame placed at Arrupe's feet is not entirely fair. Partially, yes. But in the end, I think the reforms that were attempted under Arrupe will finally be realized, and for the better. I do not think a return to the 50s would be good for the Society. And I think understood properly (e.g. Dorothy Day), justice and peace can be emphasized very much as a part of the Gospel.

  • At 8:19 PM, June 28, 2006 , Blogger Joe said...


    I'm grateful for your comments. My point was not to say there aren't positives, but to express my frustration with people who are axle-deep in denial, pretending there are no problems and everything is just swell.

    Having said that, I love the Jesuits. I stand up for them when I'm the only one, I pray for them fervently and I show encouragement when someone expresses a possible calling to the Company.

    As I explained subsequently, it was not my intention to blame Fr. Arrupe, rather, I meant to point out that his tenure coincided with many of the chages I view as deleterious.



  • At 5:39 PM, July 11, 2006 , Blogger Mister Know It All said...

    I agree with a lot of what you say, except for the part about "Elbonia." We're expressly ordered not to engage in unjust wars, and abortion and fighting in "Elbonia" are like (bad) apples and (moldy) oranges, i.e., both wrong.

    I suppose it makes sense to decry the state of the S.J. in a blog called AMDG, because the S.J. needs work, and lots of it. But to me, the whole Church has run amok with the P.eanut butter and J.elly. And because anyone who becomes a Jesuit starts as a Catholic, unless you fix the Church, you won't be able to fix the Society.

    Just my two cents, of course.

  • At 9:48 PM, July 11, 2006 , Blogger Joe said...

    Mr. KIA,

    The point was to underscore the difference in scale of reaction to abortion vs. military action.

    Thing X that kills one million innocent lives in the USA alone is given lip service, but Thing Y which kills a hundredth of that is decried as evil on the most harrowing scale.

    The idea was not to say that military action is a good thing, but rather that the enormity of evil is subjective depending on someone's ideological ax to grind.



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