Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Uh oh.

To my non-Catholic pals, please forgive the detour of the last few days. Enjoy a refreshing and soothing beverage, and check back with me tomorrow. I promise good stuff.

I can almost see the lovely and gracious Karen, doing her Oliver Hardy impression, saying unto me "This is another fine mess you've gotten us into."

This is the situation as I see it:

Imagine there is a big car wreck. Several people recognize the car, and stop. Someone emerges from the car, barely recognizable in places. Blood everywhere, busted lip, broken arm, a bad limp. Someone in the crowd yells: "Poor SOB. Shoot him! He'll bleed all over us." Someone else says "Poor SOB, he still has one good arm and one good leg...but there's no point in doctors trying to patch him up."

And then the guy who emerged from the car looks around at the crowd and says "What? WHAT? I'm fine! See? I can move my head. There's nothing wrong."

This is what I believe I am staring at daily.

It bears reiteration: I LOVE the Jesuits. I have a deep, abiding, permanent, searing love for the Society of Jesus, jointly and severally. All I am and all I have become in my awkward walk towards God, I owe to the Jesuits. I even love the ones who are way off the reservation. (About them I feel like Dennis Miller did about Michael Jackson: "C'mon, babe, come back to us.") I particularly love the ones who think I am wrong. And the more wrong they think I am, the more I am going to love and pray for them.

People who demand anyone with an SJ appended to their name be handed to bulimic cannibals are making it very, very hard on whomever my confessor will be this Saturday.

Plain English: Them's fighting words.

But it's also like watching someone with, say, a gambling problem or addicted to Twinkies. Yes, Virginia, it is possible to have an utter, inexpressible love for the Jesuits and not gloss over the problems that exist. Problems, mind you, that will never be fixed until someone stands up and says "Yep. Pushing for the ordination of wolverines was wrong. Removing all the crucifixes from the classroom was wrong. Trying to parse [insert encyclical here] was wrong. Suggesting that Mao would have made a swell Pope was wrong. Making paper airplanes with the Mandatum was way wrong." And so forth.

This, you will kindly note, is markedly different from trying to explain away the problem. "We really didn't make paper airplanes with the Mandatum...we to send it to Christ directly, eliminating the middleman and saving money."

So here I am, all bent out of shape at two groups (the group that sees the problem but wants the patient executed, and the group that thinks the patient is in perfect health and wonders about people who see problems which obviously don't exist) for whom I have the greatest affection. To top it off, I have to deal with those who say I am "bashing" the accusation which rips my heart. Envy me, why don't ya?

To my Jesuit friends: I love you. I pray for you harder than you will ever know. You may not think I do, you may not think I understand...but you're wrong. Just because I may have different solutions to war, famine, violence, poverty, exploitation* etc. does not mean we're blind to it, callous to the suffering of our brothers in Christ. It is because I believe--to the inner core of my marrow--the only true and permanent solutions to these ills come through evangelization and catechesis, that I pray for you. Because only the Jesuits can really perform this facet of the Lord's work, which is the only way these solutions will come about. No matter how glorious the cart, no matter how brilliant the driver, it will never work when placed before the horse. If you want peace? Evangelize. You want justice? Catechize.

You can simultanously desire both the salvation of souls and the righting of all societal wrongs, but until it sinks in the latter can only descend from the former, you will never achieve either. Never, ever, ever.

To my orthodox friends: We (few, we happy few) have fought the same fights, we have suffered--patiently--through the grievances of enuretic liturgies, of nonexistent catechesis, interpretations of received truths. Your kinsmen are my kinsmen, and your people are my people. The Society of Jesus doesn't need your anger and your derision. They need your prayers. And they need them now. Not "after they straighten out," not after America Magazine becomes the sword and shield of the Magisterium, not after all Jesuits get a crewcut and go teach Latin. N-o-w. Right now. Shut your eyes and pray. If you ever harbored anger at the Jesuits pray for forgiveness like you should pray for the Jesuit in question's forgiveness.

That's all being asked of you. Pray for the Society of Jesus. Pray the steadfast ones may walk and not be weary, pray the called answer God, pray the weak ones be strengthened, pray the wayward ones will awaken one day and return to the house of the Father where a ring and a fatted calf awaits them. Whenever you are moved to anger by something Fr. XYZ, SJ at Big Jesuit University has done/said, lash out with kindness, with charity and with prayer. Your mission (and mine) is to pray up the good, that they may help the wayward...not to dissuade those who've been called by God. Don't make me come over there.

Pray now. I'll wait.

On the matter of Fr. Arrupe and The Change. All the things I have ever read from Fr. Arrupe** were beautiful and lovely. I mean, that's nice. But there is an aphorism in Spanish that says "Between the word and the deed is a chasm." I believe the changes undergone by the Company have been harmful all around. In fact, I can't see a single objective positive thing to be said for them. The nucleus of this is the issue of "adaption."

Adaption has a purpose, to facilitate the work to be done...not to alter the work to be done. The work to be done is very simple: To save souls. That's it. St. Ignatius was pretty clear (In Latin, Spanish and English) on that and I, personally, regard it as revisionism to dilute this message. When you think about it, what else could souls possibly need but salvation? Therefore, I am taking it upon myself to pray up those vocations, and consequences be hanged. The reason the lawn care guy goes to The John Deere (or Snapper, I'm not issuing free plugs) store is to trade in the old and get a new lawn mower to mow better these newfangled lawns...not to trade in the lawn mower for a roto-tiller.

The estimable Mark, I think, suggests a change was needed. (Karen, not surprisingly, disagrees using characteristically frank and vigorous language.) To which I reply..."why?" I don't believe change was needed, and that's not just because I am hidebound and reactionary. To me, change is necessitated when one surveys a situation and says "Hmm. This is SO not working." Even under circumstances where change is warranted, the change ought exist exclusively in the realm of the "how" and not of the "what." Because monkeying with the "what" no matter how subtle and delicate you may be in doing so irredeemably alters your "who."

Which brings us to 2006.

I will not comment at all on "liberation theology" because I am trying--Lord knows I'm trying--REAL-L-L-LY hard to be kind and charitable ovah heah. But if you believe anything even remotely positive about it, you may rest easy in the knowledge you're in my most fervent prayers.

You KNOW I'm right.***



P.S. No, I'm not going to stop. I'm going to stay on this hobbyhorse until I get old, or Fr. Schall (or Fr. Carola...I'm not fussy) becomes Pope.

* I spent much of my childhood in South America, where the shanty towns and ghettoes make Southie and Appalachia and Compton look like Club @#$%ing Med. I have seen children die from starvation within 3 yards of me. I have known people whose husbands and fathers and sons and brothers received a knock at the door at 3am and never returned.

** To be prefectly honest, I neither know (nor care) to what degree Fr. Arrupe was responsible for what. I don't believe I ascribed blame to him. Rather, I pointed out his tenure as a chronological frame of reference.

*** The fact this flew out of my fingers and on to the screen in INSTANTS is proof enough. I feel like the prehensile version of Balaam's donkey.


  • At 9:24 PM, June 28, 2006 , Blogger Matthew Fish said...

    Joe: I feel you, bro. Trust me. If you saw the comments I posted on my blog (, you know that I love the Jesuits. I did see a bit of the "post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy in the Arrupe points. I just think the issue is complicated like a lot of historical questions, and avoids easy links of causality.

    I can tell you love the Society, and have a good understanding of what makes the charism of Ignatius singular and unique.

    But I do think that you short-change liberation theology a bit. It was a very diverse and complex and not at all homogeneous movement. Fr. Gutierrez, for instance, is worlds apart from Leo Boff.

    Communio has had a number of articles on this, and David Schindler has written much on what an authentic theology of liberation looks like. His reader, "Wealth, Poverty, and Human Destiny", is superlative in this regard, with the neo-conservatives writing against the neo-liberationists. A quick judgment against liberation theology simply will not do. This is why the CDF published two whole documents in response to it, the second outlining the importance of a theology of liberation.

    The answer, if you want peace is, work for peace. Understood correctly, this means catechesis--but it doesn't means social justice is accidental or subsidiary. It is essential and constitutive. A culture that is permeated with structures of sin and is violent and unjust is one that has not heard the Gospel, in my opinion. Again I point to the example of someone like Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, who realized that preaching the Gospel means more than just words.

    But you're right: prayer is what we need most of all. And not just prayer, but action, the right kind of action, by the responsible parties, who can call the Society to account. And you would probably agree with me that those responsible parties are not the peanut gallery.

  • At 9:42 PM, June 28, 2006 , Blogger Joe said...


    I am mea culpa-ing all over the place as re. my choice of words on Fr. Arrupe. Mind you, I'm still not crazy about his tenure Head Jesuit Boss, but my choice of words was unwise.

    As yet, I have yet to see anything related to liberation theology which has led me to regard it in anything even remotely resembling a positive way. But, because I am open to correction, I shall dig further as per your suggestion.

    My views on P&J hold fast. I agree it is not subsidiary/accidental. But, it my unwavering opinion they are the result of a society constituted by people who have been properly evangelized and catechized.

    To work for peace qua peace within an environment in which the will of God is negotiable is equivalent to plowing the sea, because there is no underlying moral structure to support the just and peaceful societal structures.




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