Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

"THAT. That's what we're talking about." Pt.14 (with bonus)

This is the sort of entry which is likely upset some of my Jesuit friends, to say nothing of drawing the ire of our Jesuit non-friends. Commenters like "Anonymous" (if that's really her name) will probably go apoplectic with displeasure.


Before anyone begins to throb at the temples, or starts developing a disconcerting facial tic, consider what this entry actually says and does:

1- Pointing out an instance where a Jesuit is not doing that whole sentire cum Ecclesia thing to the extent one might wish, and the danger this poses to the faithful.

2- Pointing out this instance as being emblematic of the problems about which the laity has been very concerned for the last X years and which the Holy See has mentioned in its communications with the Society.

3- Pointing out this is precisely the sort of thing the Pope would like to see Fr. Nicolás address effectively.

Deconstructed thus, it's hardly incendiary stuff. Definitely not unwarranted, unreasonable or, most importantly, uncharitable. So I don't want to hear anything along these lines.

What am I talking about? A certain Jesuit who has either an inability or an unwillingness to comprehend what the following settled doctrine means:

I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful. --Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994)

This means, bluntly, Case Closed. To use CWN's words in their discussion on the matter "In the canonically decisive sense, the Universal Church already has decided, and her judgment was repeated, and given definitive and binding force[.]" Sounds like "Case Closed" to me.

Therefore if it IS a closed and settled matter, why bring up the matter of "a vote" on this issue? One aspect that is conveniently left on the ground is the matter of the Church safeguarding Revealed Truth. Revealed Truth (or any truth, for that matter) is not a function of popular sentiment. It is what it is. Father is in error (and may lead others likewise) when he asserts this is "a rule." The speed limit is a rule. Gravity, and God's ordained will, are not.

When he mentions the matter of women ordaining each other to the priesthood (incidentally, am I the only one cynical enough to not be able to envision these misguided and spiritually imperiled women sitting for hours in a Confessional?) and how this unfortunate state of affairs could be avoided by having women's ordination, it's pretty much like my saying the best way to avoid people being arrested for drunk-driving is to eliminate all drunk-driving laws. When Father asserts that women ordaining themselves to the priesthood without so much as a by-your-leave is not good for the Church, he seems to be lamenting this on procedural ("Who presides? What bishop, needed for validity, administers* the sacrament?") grounds.

When Father asserts "The Biblical Commission declared over 30 years ago that Scripture raised no obstacles to women's ordination." he ignores that the fullness of Divine Revelation is found in Sacred Scripture AND Sacred Tradition. In doing so, he treads very closely to a Sola Scriptura worldview.

It's one thing to have a discussion on a settled matter (so as to, for example, lead others who disagree with it to understand it better and, one hopes, embrace it) and quite another, as Father's suggestion surely implies, to have a discussion on the reversal of the settled matter under scrutiny. Which, to paraphrase CWN, is a highly illogical thing to say: that a definitively settled matter is open to revision and, by extension, perpetually up for grabs.

Regardless how Father couches his argument, it appears pellucidly clear to me that he is at the very least, tacitly condoning dissent on a matter of Catholic doctrine and at worst, openly dissenting himself. Of course, if I'm misreading Father's position, please correct me. Why a Jesuit would do such a thing I privately speculate, but cannot arrive at a satifactory answer. (I figure Karen will bubble up in picoseconds to explain what this all has to do with Rule 13.)

However, for a clearer understanding of Church teaching on the matter, you'd be well advised to read two other Jesuits who seem to have a far better grasp on this subject, Fr. Jean Galot, SJ and Fr. Vincent P. Miceli, SJ.

Of course, Father keeps on. Go. Read. I'll go make an espresso while you do that.

OK...back? Good.

When you read through all the above, it might have escaped your notice that of all the accolades a certain Jesuit places on Barack Obama, these all seem to be in areas of, er, prudential judgment. (That's why we're here, to help.)

Quiz! Of all the great moral imperatives of our time, which one is curiously absent from Father's litany? (Yes, you're right. Sadly.)

In the time it will take you to read this blog entry, 5-7 unborn children will have (quite painfully, most likely, not that it ultimately matters) been killed by chemical burns, dismemberment and/or suction and their earthly remains dealt with in a manner similar to the detritus of a heavy shift in a restaurant, if that; all while a population conveniently adrift from its Judeo-Christian values looks uncomfortably away and tries to decide whether this is right. In light of this, it's...curious...that Sen. Obama's 100% NARAL rating -- on a non-negotiable issue for a Catholic, thinking or otherwise -- seems to not trouble Father in the least. At least not enough for him to address it, even obliquely, in the column wherein he piles olive wreaths and hosannas on a man celebrating his one year anniversary as a U.S. Senator.

Now. I hear some of you baying...howling, even. So, to ameliorate and assuage, I ask you to ponder this:

How is a Jesuit proclaiming his allegiance to a manifestly ardent supporter of (ahem) "abortion rights"

  1. Not a case of something which "disorients the faithful and leads to relativism without limits"?

  2. Not another occasion of providing "air cover" for a politician to support (cough, cough) "abortion rights"?
  3. Not an example of falling short of "sentire cum Ecclesia"?

and, most importantly (and preemptively) how could mentioning this lamentable situation, of yet another example of a grievance we wish to see redressed, POSSIBLY be considered an instance of "an attack" or "an unfair generalization"?

Stop and let that sink in.



(Bilocatin' at SWC here and here.)

P.S. InsightScoop also has an excellent take on Father's first article.

* Color me reactionary, but the claim by one such Womanpriest that her ordination is valid because the document establishing her place in the line of apostolic succession is notarized made me laugh hysterically. "The Brooklyn Bridge is MINE! I have the papers and they're even notarized!"

Pulse check.

If reading this doesn't make you leap to prayer, you better call Dr. Jarvik, because you need a heart.


Monday, January 28, 2008

UPDATE! The new Father General is right...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Which got me thinking...

As someone whose opinion of the liturgical English to which we are subjected at Mass is, er, not sanguine, I am often at a loss to understand what those arguments in favor of the current translation. To illustrate my point, I have decided to "Trautmanize" assorted bits of Shakespeare. Here are what Shakespeare might sound like, as word-processed by the more robustly modernist voices who resided in the ICEL:

Hamlet (A. III, s. 1), from this:
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
To this:

The question is whether to continue to exist or not. Is it nobler to suffer the pain of an unbearable situation, or to fight to the troubles that afflict me? If I oppose them, I could end them. That means to die, though. Which is kind of like being asleep and if we sleep we can end the miseries human beings have to endure. Which is something we can all hope for: to die and, in a way, sleep. If we sleep, though, we might dream. And that's a problem, because with that kind of sleep what sorts of dreams will we have?

Now, that's a thought, especially if you live a long time. Think about it, who would put up with the abuse you accumulate over time; mean people's being offensive to us; being subjected to the snobbery of snobby persons; persons who don't love you back; the persons who are your boss insulting you; how bad persons take advantage of good persons, when you could just slash your wrists? Who could deal with such a drag, all sweaty and noisy and gross from carrying a burden that makes your life tiring, if it weren't for the fact you're worried about life after death -- because nobody knows what that's like because nobody who's gone there has ever come back to tell us?

That's confusing, and it makes us put up with the unfairness we know instead of going towards something we don't know a thing about. So, if you just think about it, you're already a coward. Because you want to kill yourself, and then you think about it and then you don't. And that happens all the time. You have a great idea, and then you think about it, and then you don't do anything.



A non-loaded question. Really.


Two separate Jesuits, Fr. Martin over at America Magazine and the very estimable Mark Mossa's have in the course of writing on one issue or another made reference to the Holy Spirit as "She."

I'm asking the following question in all sincerity and honesty and with an utter lack of malice*: Why?

Just curious,


* No, really, I am. Don't go there. (You know who you are...even if nobody else does.)

The book meme

The lovely and gracious Karen hath issued, again, much taggage unto me.

This is what I remember of the meme of which she speaks:

Get the closest book, go to page 123, copy the 5th-8th sentences and paste them her and then tag some other innocent people.

So, page 123 of Much Obliged, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse:
I won't say she was the last person I wanted to see, Spode of course heading the list of starters with L. P. Runkle in close attendance, but I would willingly have dispensed with her company. However, I rose courteously, and I don't think there was anything in my manner to suggest that I would have liked to hit her with a brick, for I am pretty inscrutable at all times. Nevertheless, behind my calm front there lurked the uneasiness which always grips me when we meet. Holding the mistaken view that I am hopelessly in love with her and more or less pining away into a decline, this Bassett never fails to look at me, when our paths cross, with a sort of tender pity, and she was letting me have it now.
I tag Veritas, DIH, Penni, Mark & Ryan.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Yes, yes, yes...another prayer request.

[Apologies to those of you who have gotten this via email]

It turns out that today we're "trying out something else" for Davy and his autism (details to ensue). So far everything we have attempted for him, such as the AIT treatment in Chicago last summer, has proven to be pretty successful in a little-by-little way, and for which we are
infinitely thankful to God. Maybe God wants it that way, maybe God wants us to keep trying -- like the paralyzed guy who had to crash through the roof in the Gospel -- until we find the one thing He has in store for Davy.

Anyway, please keep Davy in your prayers and if you can do that +/- 6:30pm EST, even better. We pray, in Jesus' name, that God's healing may be made manifest in Davy, that those who know Davy, know of Davy or learn of Davy may come to know, love and serve God, and that in all things He be praised and thanked.

Feel free to pass it along to the Usual Suspects, too. (We might make a Jesuit out of Davy yet!)



P.S. Fr. Davy Garcia, SJ...think about it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

This new thing I'm trying out.

Karen invited me to join her in another Jesuit-flavored blog. This one is a bit more, er, pointed than ALB which remains more serene and "lighter."

See ya there.


A little Gospel meditation.

Over the weekend, we had our pre-Confirmation retreat. The last thing we did before Mass was Adoration. (I, uh, adore Adoration. More on that later.) The first thing we did as we began the Adoration was to read a passage from Scripture.

It was this passage (which I offer from the D-R, because my views on the NAB are not...sanguine):

And again he entered into Capharnaum after some days. And it was heard that he was in the house, and many came together, so that there was no room; no, not even at the door; and he spoke to them the word. And they came to him, bringing one sick of the palsy, who was carried by four. And when they could not offer him unto him for the multitude, they uncovered the roof where he was; and opening it, they let down the bed wherein the man sick of the palsy lay. And when Jesus had seen their faith, he saith to the sick of the palsy: Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.

And there were some of the scribes sitting there, and thinking in their hearts: Why doth this man speak thus? he blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins, but God only?

Which Jesus presently knowing in his spirit, that they so thought within themselves, saith to them: Why think you these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the sick of the palsy: Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say: Arise, take up thy bed, and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say to thee: Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. And immediately he arose; and taking up his bed, went his way in the sight of all; so that all wondered and glorified God, saying: We never saw the like.

And the two thoughts that popped into my head were:

1- Sometimes we have to carry others in prayer maybe even if they don't want to be carried.
2- Sometimes we have to find ways to break through to where God awaits us.

In slightly different ways, both of these thoughts hinge on the concept of perseverance. "Constancy." One the one hand, carrying someone to God who might really, really not want to go takes a special kind of determination, as does not quitting when all avenues are seemingly closed.

This is apt because today I was musing on some slights suffered as I attempt to carry certain people in prayer. This is yet another case of God granting me consolation, of His telling me "You can always do My will, just keep at it."

Which we -- me chief among them -- really needed to remember more often.



Monday, January 21, 2008

Jesuitness on display.

This is courtesy of American Papist and it features Fr. Kevin T. FitzGerald, SJ (& PhD! He's also Research Associate Professor, and the David Lauler Chair for Catholic Healthcare Ethics at Georgetown University) at a talk he gave at the 2008 Cardinal O'Connor Conference on Life on the issue of stem cell research.

It seems appropriate in light of the March For Life.



P.S. Other speakers included His Excellency Abp. Raymond "Gills" [an inside joke, but trust me, it is WILDLY complimentary] Burke and Fr. Stephen M. Fields, SJ, PhD, Associate Professor of Theology at Georgetown University.

This post is tri-locatin' over at ALB and SWC.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Translatin' Blues.

Over at La Cigüeña de la Torre [Which means "The Tower Stork" in Spanish. No, me either.] an article was posted in reaction to the election of Fr. Nicolás as Superior General of the SoJ. Since I live to serve humanity, here's my "dynamic equivalence" translation with the [literal translation in brackets] my emphasis in bold, and comments in italics.

This Is Getting Very Ugly

The enemies of the Church are exultant. The ones on the outside as well as the ones on the inside. The election of Fr. Nicolás is a posthumous victory -- vengeance -- of Arrupe over John Paul II and a "take that" [literally "swallow this"] to Benedict XVI. While I can't say this is what happened, I'm pained to say if this was the case it would not surprise me. From what my Jesuit spies friends told me at the time, I remember too keenly that many Jesuits were dismayed over the election of B16.

I have said, and continue thinking, it is still too early to judge the new Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Of course, I do not much like his antecedents. But I know the Jesuits too well. I was born to a family deeply jesuitical, was educated by them, have had numerous [literally, "a hugely numerous amount of"] friends in the Order, have written not a little about them...

Therefore I am sure Father Nicolás will not clash with the hierarchical Church. I almost dare to guarantee he, knowing better than anyone else what his pedigree is, will spare no efforts in making gestures of solicitude and obedience to the Holy Father. The important word? You guessed it: "Gestures." He already has on his back the inmense weight of being the successor of St. Ignatius. And that is capable of annulling all of the past.

One thing is one's tastes and inclinations and another one's duties. The very discussed [Literally, "discussed backwards and forwards"] Fr. Arrupe never confronted the Pope. He acknowledged, very possibly with inner disgust but formal obedience, I believe that "formal obedience" is always seen in terms of "what is the minimum required to fulfill my contractual obligation?" what came from the Holy See. Any other attitude is impossible. There is no room for confrontation between the "Black Pope" and the "White Pope." That's like Luxembourg declaring war against France. I'm not so sure this analogy works well...

I understand the dreams of the enemies, external and internal, of the Church. But dreams are just that. They have nothing to do with reality.

I believe we are not looking at a good election. It is my supposition, and hope I am wrong, that Fr. Nicolás will continue to preside over the decline, ever more notable [literally, "notorious"], of the Society. He won't be the restorer it so badly needs. What's that adage of about "When the student is ready..."? The impression is also given the Jesuit electors, fruit of the current climate [literally "airs"] in the Order, had wanted to make quite clear and open their desire for the status quo and not for amending [the Society, presumably]. A thing that is certainly worrisome. To many of us it seemed the electors were bristling at the Holy See's calls for fidelity to doctrine and affection and obedience to the Holy Father.
It is what it is. [Literally, "that's what's there."]

It is said the least intelligent Jesuit is a master watchmaker. While I have known the odd one who can barely pass muster, it is certain they have considerable intellect in their leadership. There will not be any external confrontation. Maybe, to quell dissidencies, he will call on other voices. I'm not really clear on what this writer means. Time will out.

I am not the least worried about a Nicolás-Ratzinger fight, because it will never happen. It would be the death of the Society of Jesus. What I do believe is that with the new Father General the slow suicide of a glorious Order will continue. Oy. Maybe we can get 7-8 friends and relatives and, when the SoJ comes home one Friday, we can have an intervention. May God wish me to be wrong.

Possibly Fr. Nicolás was not the candidate Benedict XVI would have wanted. But no more than that. Neither is he the one I would have wanted. But I still believe we have to wait. There has never been a victory of the Jesuits over the Church. It is impossible. That could never happen. If it was even attempted, it is clearly evident who would be defeated.

The Usual Suspects [literally, "the same ones as always"] can rest assured that impossible dreams are no use [literally, "will not serve."] They always turn against the dreamers. With inmense disappointments.

Therefore I do not wish to dream Fr. Nicolás will become the Pignatelli of the 21st Century. But [or "yet"] I am sure he will not clash with the Pope on any matter. As to what he may believe in the bottom of his heart is none of my business.

I conclude with something deeply personal. Which, therefore, falls under no category. Mere anecdote. A very dear companion at Renfe, already quite aged but I think still living, an engineer of immense knowledge of the way, brother to two Jesuits and a religious sister of the Sacred Heart, told me one day: "I feel quite old."

Which he was not being barely older than sixty, so I asked him: "Why do you say that?"

"Because the Pope is younger than I."

I remain younger than the Pope and the new Superior General of the Society of Jesus. When the latter turns seventy two, I will be sixty seven. That's for those who want to retire me. I do not plan to heed them.



Thinking it clearly.

A casual traipse through the Catholic blogosphere* reveals the election of Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, SJ as new Superior General of the Society of Jesus has been met with, er, a very modest (charitable enough?) level of enthusiasm. Given the paucity of Father's writings and pronouncements immediately available online, those which have been found have, in the minds of most Catholic bloggers, not of comfort and joy.

I have made no secret of my initial concern, based on these writings/interviews.

However, in most of these quarters, they Usual Suspects have taken the opportunity of the election of Fr. Nicolás to engage in a giddy, freewheeling spree of Jebbie-bashing. You know the usual howls and imprecations; sing along! "Suppress them!" or "Suppression isn't enough, we need the Inquisition!" or "Someone has slipped hallucinogens into the Pope's beverages."

The usual -- forgive my lack of charity, Lord -- cretinous, troglodyte drivel. To these unfortunates, hurling vile abuse at the Jesuit order is merely the base-minimum requirements of being an Obvious Real Catholic. They ignore not only the history of service the SoJ has given the Church; not only the service of thousands of current Jesuits who labor in steadfast adherence to the Magisterium (enduring, all too often, persecution at the hands of their brethren AND these benighted Orthodoxer Than Thou Catholics); but also all the prayers of people in whose hearts God has planted an admiration and affection for the once and future Jesuits.

To those people for who see the current state of SoJ with alarm and despair: intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee, for whither thou goest, I go; and where thou lodgest, I lodge; thy people are my people, and thy God my God. I know you cannot imagine any solution to all that ails the SoJ that doesn't involve brimstone, but give the Holy Spirit a chance. I know you are not enjoying this Babylonian captivity, but we have to adjust ourselves to God's calendar. The SoJ, and particular its saints, blesseds and martyrs, deserve the help and aid of your prayers...not your derision and scorn.

To those of us who are getting flak from all sides, we must also look within ourselves and wonder what responsibility we bear. Have we been intemperate in dealing with a Jesuit with whom we disagree? Have we let our frustrations overrun our ability to express ourselves charitably? Have we written off any Jesuit(s) as a "hopeless case"? We need to reflect and offer something to God in reparation. We have our fingerprints in this mess as well.

To those among you who are "our" Jesuits: You are not alone. You are held in prayer, more fervently and more closely than you will know or I can express. Do not despair. Do not be troubled when your brethren misguidedly stifle you. 1) Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in Heaven, 2) Forgive them, for they REALLY do not know what they do.

To those among you who are emphatically NOT "our" Jesuits -- and whom I assume are reading this more as a function of intelligence-gathering than anything else -- know that you'll be on the receiving end of an onslaught of prayers: that you be forgiven, that you may experience a conversion of love, obedience, charity and humility. Your hearts have been hardened, but they cannot withstand the avalanche of prayers. As surely as the greatest darkness must yield to the light of a tiny candle, may your be illuminated.

To those Jesuits reading this who are "in between" know you are being also prayed for, that you may grow in affection for the Holy Father, adherence to the Magisterium, zeal to bring Christ sacramentally to those who dwell in darkness and receive the wisdom to recognize when your brethren are in error and have the strength to correct them with kindness and love.

To the SoJ which I love so dearly and to which I owe so much: You are prayed over that you may address your problems, beginning with the greatest problem you have: the blindness to problems. You have the blessing of the resources needed to solve them...may you also receive the blessing to see them.

In short, I'M not stopping my praying. Not even if I start with the hemohidrosis.



* Which, admittedly skews to the orthodox/traditional quadrant of the graph

Saturday, January 19, 2008

...and the winner is...

Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, SJ is the new Superior General of the Society of Jesus.

The lovely and gracious Karen has weighed in in her own, um, way which she calls "cautiously pessimistic." Karen considers herself an "impatient idealist." I don't. I consider myself an "optimistic cynic" and thus my immediate, reflexive reaction differs somewhat from hers.

Anyhoo, here's mine:

What I have read by Fr. Nicolás is a bit more...uh...touchy-feely than I'd prefer, the views attributed to him* on orthodoxy give me pause and, to be perfectly blunt, this glowing review (from a publication with which I find myself in frequent and sharp disagreement) has prematurely added several hundred grey hairs to my scalp. As a sort of barometric thing, Jesuits who, as Wodehouse phrased it, "give me acute dyspepsia" are ecstatic. This worries me further.

My guess was -- and ask Karen, I'm on record on this -- that given the level and type of, er, direction which the Vatican has offered GC35, the delegates would have chosen someone they considered Kolvenbach-ish. Someone whom they believe can keep the peace with the Holy See, while not compromising direction of the Society. The thinking seems to have been (and feel free to disabuse me) "How can we keep going the way we have been going without getting this Pope in our face? Who can we get to keep the Vatican off our [backside] so we can do what we want?"

Since this is what I expected, and therefore I'm not particularly disappointed or elated. It seems the SoJ got someone along the lines of what I expected them to get. While my own hopes were for someone in a more Fr. Ledochowski sort of vein, I have learned from the Jesuits that basing an expectation on a hope is not a viable course of action.

I believed, and shall continue to believe until a preponderance of evidence overwhelms me otherwise, the problems which beset the SoJ and which I have enumerated here will never be addressed until the SoJ as a corporative body acknowledges it has problems. While the SoJ thinks its declining numbers means the challenge is to figure out how to introduce greater lay participation and not fostering vocations they cannot possibly be ready to admit what bedevils them. Therefore we, as neoclassical fans of the SoJ, shouldn't expect a marked change in direction.



* I'm aware this is not Father's express views on the matter.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

In case someone missed the LARGE print.

This post will be updated soonish with pithy comment and much wisdom on my part but as yet, God has not yet infused said wisdom into my brain (perhaps He is waiting for me to give said brain lashings of espresso?) and I haven't the time for much comment, let alone anything pithy.


Just now (well, now-ish, even though the letter is a week old) Creighton's excellent GC35 site has posted a *.pdf file with the Holy Father's letter -- at least the English* translation thereto -- to Fr. Gen. Kolvenbach. The gist of the letter is to a) say nice things about Fr. Kolvenbach (which I believe are not insincere or fulsome and which strikes me as customary for "this sort of thing."), b) say nice things about the SoJ (ditto) and c) let the more, ahem, "creatively independent" Jesuits know they are not operating behind the fog to which many of them have grown unusually accustomed and or fond. With a particularly paternal tone, B16 has said, in essence, "recess is over." This is not, in my experience, something that generally happens at "this sort of thing."

Money Quote #1:
The Apostle [St. Paul] writes to the faithful of Thessalonica of having announced to them the gospel of God, "encouraging you and imploring you" — Paul specifies — "to comport yourselves in a manner worthy of God who calls you to His kingdom and to His glory" (1 Th. 2:12)"

That was in the I'm-being-diplomatic-but-I-know-you-know-what-I mean way.

In case someone wasn't paying particularly close attention, or may have been inclined to yawn assuming this is standard Vaticanese twaddle "to be expected at this sort of event" B16 clears his Papal throat and floats this gem:
As then, so even today evangelization demands a total and faithful adhesion to the word of God: adhesion first of all to Christ and to attentive listening to his Spirit which guides the Church; humble obedience to the Pastors whom God has placed to guide his people
That's so good I can't even find a bit to bold or italicize.

Here is Money Quote #3, and it's so good it makes me tingle, albeit in a manly and rugged way.
I too gladly wish to take this opportunity of a General Congregation to bring such a contribution to light and, at the same time, to offer for your common reflection some considerations which might be of encouragement for you and a stimulus to implement ever better the ideal of the Society, in full fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church, such as described in the following formula which is well familiar to you: "To serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the Cross and to serve the Lord alone and the Church, his spouse, under the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth" (Apostolic Letter "Exposcit debitum," 21 July 1550).
But, for sheer between-the-eyes power though, MQ#4 cannot be beat:
John Paul II reminded participants of the 34th General Congregation — that the life of the members of the Society of Jesus, as also their doctrinal research, be always animated by a true spirit of faith and communion in “humble fidelity to the teachings of the Magisterium” (Insegnamenti, vol. I, pp. 25-32). I heartily hope that the present Congregation affirms with clarity the authentic charism of the Founder so as to encourage all Jesuits to promote true and healthy Catholic doctrine. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I had the opportunity to appreciate the valid collaboration of Jesuit Consultors and experts, who, in full fidelity to their charism, contributed in a considerable way to the faithful promotion and reception of the Magisterium.
If you want to have fun, count the number of times the word "Magisterium" appears in this letter. By my cursory inventory it seems that B16 has used it to a greater density than even the benighted Phil Pullman. I'm prayerfully curious to see if GC35 and the SoJ at large will "govern themselves accordingly."

And so, to prayer.


* I have a hunch the Spanish, etc. translations might be even more, er, declarative. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another view of GC35

Over at this blog they have "reprinted" an article from El Diario Montanés de España and which I take the liberty of translating here (as usual comments and emphasis will be mine) and I'll put in [brackets] the literal translation if I have to do the "dynamic equivalence" two-step.

General Congregation 35: In The News

A crucial week for the Jesuits

The "conclave" of the Company enters its fourth day of "murmurations," the internal debate that will decide on Saturday It ain't necessarily so a new Superior and path for the order.

The Jesuits are facing a historic moment, and they know it. Gosh, I hope so. In a situation of clear numerical decline, after traversing the desert during the pontificate Interesting way to phrase it, yes? of John Paul II, during which they were marginalized (!!), and facing the challenges of knowing how to intuit the path of these new times and staying at the forefront of the Church, they are to elect their superior.

The current superior, the Dutchman Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, resigned officially yesterday, as he had announced a year ago, and the 35th General Congregation of the Society, opening this past week, enters enters today four days of "murmuratio."

This is the phase prior to voting and consists, without the pejorative connotation the verb "murmuring" currently has, in talking about possible candidates.

It is in these four days the election coalesces, in hallways and groups meeting throughout the day, without outside contact.

They gather in the Curia of the order, next door to the Vaticano, and they have decided to fast, limiting themselves to fruit, the odd snack and water. This sounds like a detox thing...and I hope it's an omen. There is no pomp, no incense, they dress in street clothes or clerics and they sit in a meeting space.

They are 226 Jesuits, 217 with right to vote Has anyone seen a more detailed explanation as re. who is there that cannot vote and how that was decided?, representing the 20,000 scattered throughout the world. Then, a vote, this time electronically.

The most probable thing is that Saturday morning there will be a new general. The candidates most often heard, although campaigns are prohibited, are the same we have heard for months.

Among them, the Australian provincial Mark Raper, ex-director of refugee services; Mark Rostaert, president of the European Conference of Provincials, and Federico Lombardi, current Vatican spokesman. There is also some talk of Spaniards, such as superior Elías Royón, or Adolfo de Nicolás, stationed in Japan and who participaded in the preparatory comission, or the Basque Ignacio Echarte, elected subsecretary of this "conclave." But a total unknown may also emerge. So all we know is that we don't know.

Cardinal Spidlik, one of the ten cardinals in the order, has suggested [the general ought to be] "someone who knows well Asia and the Mideast, but who also knows Rome." That is, there may be a new general who is Indian or Vietnamese.

Charisma and governance

At the bottom of it all, what the Jesuits want after the long transition of 24 years of Kolvenbach is a new Arrupe, Oy his predecessor, who imprinted in the seventies a revolutionary spin what did I tell you? to the order towards social commitments and commitment to the poor. A figure that has the capacity for governance as well as overwhelming charisma [literally, a "steamrolling charisma".]

Up to what point, that is The Debate. The great question in the subtext remains, 40 years on, the application of Vatican II. What? Still? Among the Jesuits, it is known, there are sectors that are very militant [literally, "cudgel-wielding"], the progressive vanguard of the Church, for whom the Council is still a thing in development.

As St. Ignatius said, "get to the bottom of things." In Jesuit circles, this is the point of view of someone who, for example, thinks of Lombardi as something of a "sellout" and who wants a general "with guts." [Literally, "with gills." No, I don't know either.]

Others lean towards someone distinguished by the virtue of prudence. Hope and fear mingle. Then there's the Vatican. Oh yeah, them. The intranquility love that word over whether the Company will once again wander away [literally "walk out on its mother"] is clear, as Benedict XVI is going precisely in the opposite direction, This says much, dunnit? putting the brakes on the Council: This is going WAY over the top, and fuels the of fears of those who think B16 is "returning the Church back to the Middle Ages." on Sunday he celebrated his first Mass with his back to the people, in keeping with the preconciliar rite recently restored. There is SO MUCH WRONG with this sentence it beggars belief and strains my capacity for charitable explanation. 1) The Holy Father was facing the same direction as the people, towards the Lord, towards the liturgical (and probably geographical) East, 2) the preconciliar -- now "extraordinary" -- form of the Mass was never how can it be restored? 3) It's the same rite (different form). ARGH.

The voice of the Pope was heard from last week through a cardinal, Marc Rodé, Prefect of the Institutes of Consecrated Life, in his homily at the inaugural Mass of the "conclave" in the Church of the Gesú: "I see with sadness and disquiet the noticeable decay in the 'sentire cum Ecclesia' of which your founder spoke so frequently." [This MY translation from the original Spanish of H.E.'s homily]

Among the Jesuits this did not sit very well. This means they were paying closer attention than cycnics thought. Four of the last seven theologians admonished by the Vatican are Jesuits: Roger Haight, Jacques Dupuis, Anthony De Mello and Jon Sobrino. The dilemma between the call to obedience and dialogue "with the street" is something the Company ought solve in these crucial days.

"THAT. That's what we're talking about." Pt.13

Read all about Georgetown University's AIDS study and how that relates to Catholic doctrine. Keep in mind Cdl. Rodé's reminder to the SoJ about its responsibility to the students under its care...




Sunday, January 13, 2008

"THAT. That's what we're talking about." Pt. 12

Our old pal, Fr. John Dear, SJ has been at it again, granting us yet another opportunity to exercise charity and to pray for those with whom we disagree.

Father writes much to give pause (including a lamentable characterization of an article featuring a brother Jesuit serving as an Army chaplain), but here is the part which ought remind any attentive reader of The Homily:
NCR asked me to reflect on this Jesuit gathering, but I have such mixed feelings about the Jesuits (not to mention the church), that I can only beg prayers for my order.
[emphasis mine]

This is, I boldly state, precisely what Cdl. Rode' meant when he called for Jesuits to sentire cum Ecclesia. Father, in this piece, does not actually state why, specifically, he bothers belonging (in a ministerial capacity) to a Church about which he has, expressly, so many misgivings.

Pray for Father, and the rest of the Society.


Obedience & Reactions & GC35

A curious thing has dawned upon me as I read the various reactions to GC35 (in general and The Homily in particular) by "public-eye Jesuits." They all seem to say, in a slightly different way something along these lines: This is the sort of thing that happens at these sorts of occasions. This is commonplace, this is boilerplate, this is the standard thing to be said. Those of you who have some knowledge of judo will know exactly what I mean.

This is exemplified by phrases such as:
"Not surprisingly, and as Vatican officials usually choose to do on these occasions, the cardinal spoke of..."
"[Cardinal Rodé] clearly wanted to impress upon us the seriousness of our congregation and the necessity of maintaining fidelity to the Holy See and the magisterium."
"The Cardinal expressed sorrow and anxiety because in his estimation the sentire cum ecclesia is diminishing among some members of religious families."
Cynical people -- not me, y'understand, but cynical people -- might be reminded of Kevin Bacon's last lines in Animal House, which he delivers with ever-increasing levels of distress: "Remain calm. All is well."

Part of what is at play here ties in with the concept of obedience and sentire cum Ecclesia. This latter phrases is often translated as "thinking with the Church" but that's not quite it. It really means much more than that, something like "to feel what the Church feels." In this case, Church means the hierarchical Church and not that nebulous, warm 'n' fuzzy "People* of God" concept. Which is a very extraordinary thing to ask, come to think of it. It's like having to ask your spouse or child to love you unconditionally. Unconditional love, empathy can be faked, but -- and watch this, now -- can't be produced. You either have it or you don't.

Which is what is at the center of the nucleus of the atom at the core of the problem.

You cannot expect anyone to walk up to Fr. Heretic Q. Heterodox, SJ, tell him "Hey! You! Think with the Church!" and then have Father say to himself "Oh. Right. Sorry about that. I'll get right on it."

I'd venture to say the overwhelming majority of the issues we are seeing with Jesuits (note that I didn't say "the Jesuits") these days stem from an intriguingly subtle and near-undetectable sort of pride. This I define as placing something of the self at the very center where discipleship to Christ and His Church ought to be. In most cases, this is manifested by having some sort of socio-political agenda; perhaps enrobed in Church-speak, perhaps not. A quickie litmus test is this: When you hear a given person (Jesuit or otherwise) saying "I want to do X because Christ said..." your antenna should be twitching like mad at the giveaway phrase "I want to do X."

Another obstacle many Jesuits face in feeling what the Church feels is, let's call it what it is, arrogance. Sometimes it's manifested brazenly, but more frequently we see it as a gloss, a shine, a shading on dicta and pronouncements and opinions. It can be a masterful thing, in its own way, to see how a wayward Jesuit -- feel free to think "Jedi" at this point -- manages to shut the door on any possible admission of refuting evidence. Sometimes this is done so well you never realize there was a door to shut in the first place.

So, we're back where we started. Praying for a change of heart. Which means the Holy Spirit must get involved.

And so, to prayer.


* After all, Karen and I are People of God, and yet the Usual Suspects who bandy about such a phrase don't seem to include those of us who think along these lines among the People of God. I was about to posit a suggestion as to what they might possibly mean, but then I reminded myself of how imperative it is to be charitable.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

...and after that, I achieve world peace

...I've got a sensational, spectacular, super-colossal post on GC35 and the reactions thereto by assorted "public" Jesuits, but my DSL has been on the blink for a couple of days.

Management regrets the inconvenience and please stay tuned.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?"

Please, let me know where we can get another slew of cardinals like this guy.


P.S. Ironically, the Socialists have demanded an apology...odd, since they have never apologized for the twelvety frillion priests, sisters & brothers the (ahem) Socialists executed during the Spanish Civil War.

GC35 and me.

Why should any of you "listen" to me?

Who am I to discuss anything related to GC35, or the Society of Jesus?

By what authority do I write what I write?

As Gag Halfrunt said of Zaphod Beeblebrox, I'm "just this guy, y'know?"

I claim no special inside knowledge of the Society of Jesus, no particularly spectacular revelation directly zapped into my brain by the Holy Spirit. I'm as sinful as anyone else -- probably more so -- and I'm as flawed as anyone else.

What I do here, especially as relates to Jesuits and the Society of Jesus is share anything I have found of interest, and comment on it. Sometimes I laud what I see, sometimes I share my sorrow and despair. What I think and say and do here is always informed with an abiding gratitude for the Society and to St. Ignatius, and with unwavering adherence to the doctrines of Holy Mother Church.

Sometimes I ask what may seem to be pointed or impertinent questions, sometimes I highlight things which might've otherwise be papered over. But the intention is always loving (even when it's corrective) and never malicious and always striving to be as charitable as my meager capacity for goodness will allow.

You'll see no rejoicing in foibles, no delight in failings, no mirth in errors. The goal here, as I have said since Day One, is not hectoring but persuading.

I love the Society, and I am inexpressively grateful for all the Jesuits I can count as friends (or friends-in-formation) even when disagreements divide us* on a given topic. What I do is borne of love and caring, even if sometimes it pains me to do.

And so, to prayer,


*To them I say: I'm not giving up on you. ;-)

"We're gonna make you a STAR!"

America Magazine's blog has an entry by Fr. James Martin, S.J. mentioning the opening of GC35. In said post, Father briefly mentions some of the comments made by Cardinal Rodé in his homily at the opening Mass of GC35. So, basically, nothing really exciting or unusual one way or another in the blog entry itself. Fine.

But then -- AHA! -- we get to the comments section, which affords us pretty exciting stuff.

In the spirit of generosity, I'll share some selected tidbits and offer some brief comments. Ready?

It seems [Cdl. Rodé's] stress was on church defined as Curia and Pope rather than Church as defined as People of God.
Actually, a careful (rather than cursory) reading of H.E.'s homily would indicate his stress was on the Magisterium and Pope, calling to mind St. Ignatius' explicit admonitions to adherence to the Vicar of Christ and the hierarchical Church. This commenter's take appears to me to be skewed in favor of a given mindset, and not representative of what Cdl. Rodé said or what he meant by what he said. Maybe I have ultramontane-on-the-brain, but to adhere to the Magisterium and have fidelity to (and affection for) the Holy Father IS to the benefit of the People of God.

I would be interested to know the opinions of America's (the magazine) Jesuits on the blog and opinions of Karen Hall. She seems to be the blogger with the most popular voice on Jesuit issues, for reasons I don't quite understand[.]
That last little fillip is what gives this comment its piquancy. I have read lots of people who have had very negative opinions on blogs such as Karen's (why, I have received some comments along those lines my own self) but I have never seen, heard or otherwise been made aware of anyone expressing a confusion as to why blogs such as Karen's opine the way they do nor why they have the audience they seem to have. I would make so bold as to claim that, by saying "for reasons I don't quite understand" a sentiment is expressed which proves PERFECTLY emblematic of the issues raised by those concerned with Jesuit issues. Speaking strictly for myself -- Karen is a big girl and can express herself -- if you "don't quite understand" then you are part of that which we are trying to rectify.

The last comment, and it's a lengthy and well-written (although it strikes me a curiously oblique) comment by Fr. Jim Keane, SJ., deals with "Jesuit-focused" blogs in general. It will appear as if I am fisking Father's comments, but I am not. His comment is thought-provoking and has much to comment upon. So don't go there. (I'll use the tried-and-true emphasis and comments format.)

I think one of the great opportunities the internet offers is that of equal access; at first glance, a website with eleven readers can seem to share authority with one with a readership many thousands times larger. I don't recall of any blog which made even an implicit claim of authority Oftentimes this is to the benefit of the reader, because the normal hierarchies of knowledge are overturned in favor of a more populist interesting choice of words, individual take on matters. Who's to say that a huge news organization, or a prestigious religious organization, has a monopoly on information? In such cases, the more the merrier, as far as I'm concerned. Real transparency requires being open to all opinions, all people, all experiences, and through that transparency any group (including the Jesuits) gains knowledge that can help them better serve their apostolates. Amen.

However, it can also be easy to claim authority and familiarity with an organization (because where's the proof?) on a blog, Again, I don't recall seeing any such blog where opinions can be distorted and alternative views filtered through the lens of the blog owner. In the case of many blogs claiming particular authority or inside information on the Society of Jesus, No, seriously, I've never seen any such blogs here's my standard of judgment: who's talking? If the posts (and the comments) are all from the same four or five people, or consistently represent an identical point of view, I ask myself why the 3,000-plus Jesuits in the United States and the 50,000-plus people who work in their apostolates are never represented. I have no idea why, either. It's not like blog comboxes are somehow proscribed them. They are certainly represented among the blogs extant; perhaps Father is not as aware of all of them as he might wish.

Another criterion: "by their fruits you shall know them." Is the point of the website detraction and calumny? There have been a few of those, yes...but (as near as makes no difference) none of the main "Jesuit-focus" blogs have that as their template; furthermore, whenever an individual blog entry is acknowledged to have stepped over a boundary of accuracy or propriety, the blog owner invariably apologizes and retracts Or is there a realistic attempt to portray issues in anything near a balanced approach? I'd venture to say that's not the purpose of the blog; it certainly isn't the purpose of this blog. Rather, the purpose is to point something out, and shed light on why that "something" raises concerns for the blog owner. If the former is the case, you can adduce from that the real intent of the writers. Which is, unfortunately, often the opposite of the their stated intent. It is a dangerous thing to speculate on whether someone is masking or misstating his/her intent. "Detraction and calumny" can be relatively malleable things, and therefore one's adduction may be skewed by the biases one brings into play.

For the most part, the format of this sort of blog is simple:

1- X happened
2- This is what I think X means
3- This is why it [what I think X means] makes me happy/sad/worried/giddy

In the blogs I read and recommend, there is very little of the "insiders say" drivel we get from the MSM, for which we ought be infinitely grateful. But the dangerous part is to get caught up in discussions over format, intent, template, tone, etc. In doing so, we do not afford a given group (including the Jesuits) gaining "knowledge that can help them better serve their apostolates."

Just one man's opinion,


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"...and so I send you."

Just got an email from my West Coast pals, the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. Here is the important bit of the email:
Now Joe...we don't need to enlarge our novitate house here...but we would like to fill it. :) Let us be united in prayer for good, holy young women who seek to be total in following the Lord in Carmel.
Therefore, if I'm going to pray for their vocations, you dear reader, have been likewise deputized. You know they're A-OK and they need our prayers.

Get right on that, will ya?


Too late for Christmas, but...

...just in time for GC35.



Can you spot it?

Here is the (presumably official SoJ) reaction to the homily by Cdl. Rode', as included by the SoJ Press Office in its latest press release, in its entirety:
In his homily the Cardinal dedicated a “heartfelt gratitude” to Father Kolvenbach for his fidelity, his wisdom, his righteousness and his example of humility and poverty. In the rest of the homily, the Cardinal, using the Constitutions and the Spiritual Exercises, highlighted the core elements of Ignatian spirituality: its apostolic charism, obedience to the Holy Father and the sentire cum ecclesia. The Cardinal expressed sorrow and anxiety because in his estimation the sentire cum ecclesia is diminishing among some members of religious families.
This, to my eyes, carries a very, VERY subtle element of spin which I believe significantly minimizes His Eminence's message.

Homework: Point out this subtle, tiny, yet crucial, element of spin.



It feels weird to be heard, for a change.

Take a gander at THIS.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The same thing, seen another way.

Two things about the ongoing GC35:

Among the more cynical and dejected and pessimistic Jesuit watchers, there is a widespread feeling Cdl. Rodé's homily was a colossal waste of time and energy. This view is derived from these Jesuit watchers being cynical, dejected and pessimistic -- not that such cynicism, dejection and pessimism are altogether inexcusable, mark you -- but I believe they are not looking at the thing through the proper lens.

It may well be the case that for Jesuits such as Jon Sobrino, SJ such a homily might as well have sounded like one of the adults on the Charlie Brown cartoons (Mwahwahwahmwahmwha...) but I doubt that was the point.

Instead, the purpose of the homily might be to:

1- Let the more, er, wayward members of the SoJ know they are not operating as covertly as they thought nor as immunely as they had hoped.
2- Let those whose, uh, digression from Church doctrine might take more tacit (or merely complicit in silence borne of disinterest or fear) forms know what the standards are, and that these are to be met with adherence and compliance.
3- Let those Jesuits who have labored with unswerving adherence to the Holy Father and the Magisterium know they are not forgotten. Also to embolden those who, while loyal and faithful to all tenets of the Faith, might not have felt the courage necessary to express such.
4- Let those among the faithful who sweat out the future of the Society, and who are pained by the actions of some Jesuits and further pained by the apparent impunity with which these actions are met, that they are being heard.
5- Be on record as to saying "There is something wrong here" so, should further corrective measures be needed in the future, it can be pointed out that due warning was given.

I , myself, am not in a gloating mode, gleefully wading in the schadenfreude of the (likely Papal) smackdown which -- let's be honest -- this "straighten-up-and-fly-right" homily was. Instead, I am somewhat sad it had to come to this.

I am treading carefully here because I have many Jesuit friends and I am placing myself at great pains to not be doing the bloggy equivalent of running through a crowd with a chainsaw. Many of them have not acknowledged, or not acknowledged to the extent the situation truly merits, the gravity of the problems faced by the Society, and how deeply rooted these might have become.

Those of us who voice concerns are, for the moment, feeling a measure of validation after years, decades of being told that everything was fine, or that we were starry-eyed dreamers who longed for a SoJ that never existed, or that we were exploiters of the proletariat and exploiters of the people's resources. I mean, sure, that's nice, but I'm not praying for validation. I'm praying for solutions. I have a glimmer of hope, because for years I have been offering up all the direct and oblique references to my/our "triumphalism" or "ultra-montanism" or similar supposed* pejoratives.

When we read that Jesuits consider it their prime objective** "promotion of Justice as well as the Catholic Faith." it sounds quite clearly to me another way of saying "What we think of as Justice first and then, time permitting, the Catholic Faith such as we see it." whereby the Faith is given a secondary position.

The second aspect I'll address is the matter of politics. I have been told, time and again, the leadership of the Society has no political's merely pursuing what's right regardless of the consequences.

But the [wait, let me compose myself, lest I say something uncharitable] er...inexplicable emphasis on "climate change" is an absolute, dead giveaway. Let's set aside the matter of "climate change" affecting the poor*** most. Let's further set aside the bewildering situation whereby only ONE request for discussing vocation promotion was forwarded, but an avalanche of requests came in on the matter of climate change.

The problem is that this presupposes the catastrophically flawed assumption "the science is settled" when it comes to climate change, when it is most emphatically NOT settled. (If it had been settled, we wouldn't be getting stories such as this, this or this.) The only people who presuppose and assume the "science is settled" in terms of "climate change" are those nestled, firmly and comfortably on the left side of the political spectrum. Not, you will carefully note, that I'm ascribing anything to those who believe one thing or another, rather I am pointing out the obvious, yet oft-denied political biases among those whose views will brook no dissent (!) on the matter.

So the emphasis on climate change, regardless of who it affects most, clearly belies a patently ideological agenda. Which is why I am, as of now, not particularly sanguine on GC35.

Which leads us to prayer, figuratively and literally. Those of us who believe the leadership of the SoJ (along with too many individual Jesuits in positions of influence and prominence) have, er, lost their way, are now left with NO CHOICE but to pray. I don't see even the merest chemical trace of non-supernatural hope left for a significant, institutional change at GC35. Not when "climate change" proves an infinitely greater concern than vocational freefall.

So we have to recognize that, if the SoJ is to be put along a path of unswerving adherence to the magisterium, and affection to the Holy Father it's only going to come from the Holy Spirit rolling up His sleeves and doing something really impressive. Those of us who hope for a SoJ that mirrors those things His Eminence mentioned in his homily are now utterly dependent on God and His Providence, and that alone. We have nowhere else to go.

And so, to prayer.


P.S. I like the phrase "Storm Heaven for the Jesuits"

* Me, I think these are compliments, but then again, I would.
** This is not a quote, so calm down.
*** EVERYTHING affects the poor most, which is why poverty is deplorable and we are called, individually, to help those who are poor. DUH.

Here's an idea. UPDATED 1/8/08!

All this GC35 stuff has gripped us all in what can only be called GC-mania. Our "on-the-ground" Jesuit pals have enjoined us to pray for GC35 and their sense of urgency on the matter is very telling.

In meditating on this, I thought nothing could possibly be more appropriate for us (and our faithful myrmidons) than praying a novena, and I nominate The Sacred Heart.

Here it is:

Hail, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, living and animating source of eternal life, infinite treasure of the Divinity, burning furnace of divine love. Our amiable Savior, consume our hearts with that burning love with which Yours is ever inflamed. Pour down on our souls those graces which flow from Your love, and let our hearts be so united with Yours, that our will may be one, and in all things conformed to Yours. May Yours be the standard and rule of our desires and of our actions.

V. O sweetest Heart of Jesus, we implore,

R. that we may ever love You more and more.

Bi-locating over at ALB,


UPDATE! Since I posted this on Sunday the 6th, I have also found Fr. Hardon's meditations on the Sacred Heart. (Talk about having an epiphany...)

Monday, January 07, 2008


In light of Cdl. Rodé's homily, I am mindful of something I read in the Creighton GC35 website:

The Holy Father, Benedict XVI, asked that the Congregation to help the Society deepen its devotion and fidelity to "the Vicar of Christ on earth"
While I shan't comment, I'd like to append the following question:

Why would the Holy Father consider this important enough to merit his asking* GC35 to give this matter its consideration?



* Which, I believe, is akin to the Government asking you to pay your taxes.

"I didn't put him up to it, honest."

Franc Cardinal Rodé, C.M., whose day job is being Pro-Prefect of Congregation for Institutes of the Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, was the homilist and principal celebrant at the opening Mass of GC35.

His Eminence, in his homily, said something* which left even MY mouth agape.
[There] is the need to present to the faithful and to the world the authentic truth revealed in Scripture and Tradition. The doctrinal diversity of those who at all levels, by vocation and mission are called to announce the Kingdom of truth and love, disorients the faithful and leads to a relativism without limits. There is one truth [emphasis mine], even though it can always be more deeply known.
I don't know how His Eminence could have been more clear without pointing at guys. ("You, in the third row, with the plaid shirt. No, not YOU, I mean the guy with the green yellow plaid shirt. You're a dissenting heretic, cut it out or B16 will thwack you with his crozier until you see sense.")



* Actually he said lots of things that were so forthright and frank that my mouth hasn't shut in hours.

Is refero ipsum*

Two tidbits from Creighton University's website on GC35 juxtaposed, without commentary.
A new awareness of the link between ecology and justice prompted a large number of postulates (requests for discussion) on the ecology - more response than any other topic and coming from around the world.


The declining numbers of men choosing to enter the Society of Jesus makes the vocation discussion an urgent one. So it is remarkable that only a single postulate (request for discussion) was submitted on the topic of vocation promotion.



* OK, so it's been, um, a long time since I held a Latin textbook...sue me.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Let's see how this works.

In doing my bit to bring myself up to speed on the Jesuits' 35th General Congregation (GC35) I have read insider-ish writings as well as the more public musings of the fossil media. Time magazine has an interesting article on GC35 with some quotes which, if I'm reading them correctly, simply stagger me.

#1: "Yes, we are in the vanguard of the Church," says Jose de Vera, head spokesman for the order. "It is not our job to just repeat the catechism, but to do research. Sometimes looking for real truth, you can step over the line."

Did you catch that verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry subtle li'l something? It all sounds very dull and standard and boilerplate-y until you zero in on that word: "repeat." This is the teensy little thread which, if pulled as I'm about to do, can unravel a carefully knit seamless garment. The implication then, is that the Society is above such mundane tasks as mere repetition of the Catechism and, in implying such, gently and lovingly devaluing the worth of the Catechism. It's not all that much different than saying "Oh, we have WAY bigger fish to fry than that." By saying such a thing, the "that" in question is belittled, and continues to conveniently shrink in one's eyes without any additional effort required.

But let's look at this a bit mo' fully, m'kay? What is it that is being prioritized downward when the importance of the Catechism is minimized? To my, admittedly skewed, eyes, it sounds a lot like the hot-button issues are given short shrift and their crucial importance is to be diminished. Above all, this is (to me; feel free to holler in disagreement) a mindset emblematic of not really being all that crazy about steadfast and unwavering adherence to the Magisterium of the Church. Frankly, it sounds a lot like one of my kids when I tell them to go clean his room.

I'd suggest to Fr. (Fr.?) de la Vera that the one thing the Society has to do that is infinitely more important than just to repeat the Catechism is to broadcast it, embrace it and defend it.

#2: New Jersey-born, Rome-based Jesuit, Father Keith Pecklers, says the ideal successor "will be a combination of the two" most recent superior generals. "We need someone with Arrupe's prophetic vision and courage but also it's absolutely key the leader will be someone with the diplomatic skills Kolvenbach has to maintain close ties with Holy See."

This strikes me as being a honeyed way of saying: "We need more of that progressive 1960s stuff, but we need a guy who can spin it so this troglodyte Pope won't notice." Maybe I'm overreading this -- I doubt it, but you're welcome to show me how -- but it's jarring to see that it takes diplomatic skills to maintain close ties with the Holy See. Stop for a moment and let that sink in. It takes diplomatic skills to maintain close ties with the Holy See. This is like saying it takes great diplomatic skills for an infant to maintain close ties with his mother. Shouldn't close ties be an automatic, a given, the default setting? And if there are not close ties why would that be? If Holy Mother Church and one of its organizations are, ahem, separated by some distance on a given issue...who is likely to have been the one to have wandered away?

My fear is that, if these quotes are indicative of the frame of mind of the delegates to GC35, I may have to revert to my "ARGH! They STILL don't get it." attitude towards the upper echelons of the Society. Should these sentiments prove to have wide currency among the GC35ers (and I'm not asserting that they do) then the problem of institutionalized, myopically arrogant intransigence is spectacularly entrenched.

Among my prayers for the Society and GC35, I pray that I am wrong on this account.



Saturday, January 05, 2008

"Measure twice, cut once."

...yes, dear Internet, I could quote Scripture* all day.

As you are doubtlessly aware from the incessant ESPN coverage, the Society of Jesus has begun its 35th General Congregation. This should interest you, and definitely does me, because God has a special mission -- in a "should you choose to accept it" sort of way -- for the SoJ. Being the product of magnificently Ignatian pedagogy, I have begun to delve into what is likely to be said and done and debated at the GC35 (which sounds like a new convertible from Infiniti, I know).

The hard part has been to not rush to the keyboard, indices flying, to rattle off some knee-jerk reaction. Part of that added Ignatianness for which my parents ponied up good tuition money requires that I look carefully at things and try to explain them in the most charitable manner possible.

It is, quite specifically, in THAT vein that I am observing a measured silence. There is much in what I have read so far about/from/regarding GC35 that , er, concerns me. (Charitable enough?) Being quite fortunate to have plenty of Jesuit pals and lurkers here -- but not quite yet fortunate enough to have gotten all of them to see things my way in all matters at all times -- I choose to tread carefully and not let the lesser angels of my nature go mental. The goal here, natch, is to emit light and not heat. Although sometimes heat is a necessary result, it's never the intended thing.

So, until then, please pray the delegates at GC35 focus on bringing Christ, sacramentally, to as much of this benighted world.


* That was a joke, people. Lighten up.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Probably not a colleague of Ryan Duns, SJ.

This is "an ancient Irish ballad, which was written a few years ago" by Tom Lehrer. He goes on to explain that:
This type of song also has, what is known technically in music as, a "modal tune," which means -- for the benefit of any layman who may have wandered in this evening -- that I play a wrong note every now and then..
Furthermore, Lehrer asserted it wasn't really a genuine folk ballad because
This song though does differ strikingly from the genuine folk ballad in that in this song the words which are supposed to rhyme - actually do.

Furthermore, it:

[...]is replete with all the accoutrements of this art form. In particular, it
has a sort of idiotic refrain, in this case "ricketty-ticketty-tin" which you'll notice cropping up from time to time, running through, I might add, interminable verses. The large number of verses being a feature expressly designed to please the true devotees.

Happy 2008!