Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
The Day Has Come
Thursday, April 17, 2008
As some of you have expressed concern, my plan for now is to keep the blog where it is, in case we get nostalgic.
And, if you're up for it, come on down!:
With gratitude to God, the New Orleans
Province of the Society of Jesus announces the ordination to the presbyterate of
Jose Emilio Fetzer, S.J.
Mark Steven Mossa, S.J.
To be conferred by Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza, D.D.
Archbishop-Emeritus of Galveston-Houston
on Saturday, the fourteenth of June, Two Thousand and Eight at eleven o’clock in the morning
Immaculate Conception Church
130 Baronne Street
New Orleans, LA
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
I began blogging after finding myself victim to a certain amount of slander (see “When Jesuits Attack”) for writing a not wholly complimentary review of a book by George Weigel. In my subsequent dialogue with the author of the post—who publicly apologized for making uncharitable presumptions about me merely based on that review—I thought I saw an opportunity, an opportunity to bridge a gap between people of different perspectives in the Church. So, I threw my hat into the fray and it was fun, for a while. It even appeared that I might make some progress in this endeavor and perhaps even accomplish some goals that I had set for myself in becoming aware of the various dimensions of the Catholic blogosphere—trying to encourage some positive discourse, and hoping to offer a counterweight to the negative and unfair caricature of the Society of Jesus which obtains in many a corner of that blogosphere. And, at first, there seemed to be some hope of success at this, and there are still a coterie of bloggers (you know who you are) that give me hope in this regard. Yet, I’ve grown tired of swimming against the tide. The most negative of Catholic blogs still continue to be the most popular and, like myself, the more positive bloggers seem to be posting with far less frequency. The recent General Congregation has only provide more fodder for negative speculation among those who hate the Society of Jesus, and indeed some who claim to love it. And, finally coming full circle, in a sense, I recently again found myself the victim of slander, falsely accused of being uncharitably slanderous myself, and not by a stranger like in the first case, but this time by a friend, by someone who should have known better. That almost no one, it seems, found this hard to believe, just demonstrates what we have come to expect in the Catholic blogosphere. Charity, it seems, is not among those things. It has become—and perhaps always has been—a poisonous atmosphere which I no longer desire to be a part of.
Nonetheless I have made some good friends as a result of my time here, and for this I am most grateful. Some of those friends were able to be with me at my diaconate ordination, and some will also be guests at my ordination to the priesthood in June. It is this result of my time blogging which I can most celebrate. I may not have succeeded in convincing anybody of anything, the Catholic blogosphere may be nastier than ever, but I can celebrate a community of good friends with whom I have had the privilege of journeying in these years, and whose friendship I hope to maintain. But it will be in other ways.
Recent months have been difficult for me, and the episode I describe above was just the tip of the iceberg. But the blessing and grace has been that it has forced me to examine what is most important in my life right now. In a little over two months I will be ordained a priest, and there are few things more important than that right now. It is a fulfillment of God’s will toward which I have been working for nearly 11 years. It promises new challenges and new opportunities. What a privilege it will be to invite both strangers and friends to worship, and to be able to offer them reconciliation with God! To focus on these most important things, some other things, I realize, must go by the wayside. At this point, continuing this blog is more a temptation than a real contribution. And I hope it has been a contribution, at least to some.
In my prayer these months as I prepare for ordination, I will also pray for you, my friends, who have in various ways been Christ to me these three and a half years. Please also pray for me.
As I “silence” this blog, I do so in the hope of enjoying the silence which Alfred Delp invokes when describing ordination:
In that great moment of our life when we go to be ordained, we kneel before the bishop and he silently lays his hands upon us. He is silent. You feel the blessed and creative burden of this hand through your entire being. And the congregation is silent. And this silence will surround the priest. This keeping silent, the still hands of the silent bishop, calls forth the priest from his former homeland. It calls him forth from his previous refuges, and sequesters him and encompasses him with this silence, this stillness in which he will be consecrated, so that it will accompany him all his life. This silence must surround us. We guard people's secrets in silence. We call our heart to be silent, so that it does not love where it should not love. Our will for power must be silent, because we are sent forth to be the hands of the Lord in blessing. Silent, too, must be our will for all the other things that, otherwise, could shelter and anchor and secure a life in this world. The silence accompanies us, because it is always the sign that the Lord God has come especially near.
This silence does not and must not belong only to the priest. It is shared with all. May you also know the nearness of God in such silence. Thanks.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Insight From Another Imprisoned Jesuit
Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J. was executed by the Nazis. Since the charges against him were hard to substantiate, in the end it became clear that he was basically killed for being a Jesuit and a priest. I've been reading and reflecting on his writings from prison. Here's an observation which seemed especially prescient:
The Church faces the same tasks that nations and states and the western world in general have to face--the problem of human beings, how they are to be housed and fed and how they can be employed in order to support themselves. In other words we need social and economic regeneration. And then humans also must be made aware of their true nature--in other words we need intellectual and religious regeneration. These are problems for the world, for individual states and nations, and they are also problems for the Church--far more so, for instance, than the question of liturgical forms. If these problems are solved without us, or to our disadvantage, then the whole of Europe will be lost to the Church, even if every altar faces the people and Gregorian chant is the rule in every parish . . .
Alfred Delp is not well enough known. You can find out more about him here.
Friday, April 04, 2008
Return from Russia
Even before becoming a Jesuit, one of the Jesuits I had come to admire most was Walter Ciszek, an American Jesuit who spent 24 years imprisoned in Russia and who was thought to be dead before his surprising return to the United States, in exchange for two Soviet agents.
As part of its centennial, America is reprinting some of its classic articles. This week's is Walter Ciszek's reflections upon his return from Russia. Here's an excerpt:
The more I see here in America, the stranger it seems in a way. For the contrast between that hidden faith [In Russia], fluttering as if it were always about to go out and yet somehow remaining alight, and the open, free and almost proud profession of faith in this country is simply staggering.
Yet when I walked through St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, do you know what impressed me most? The few people, out of all the crowds streaming by, who came in through those open doors to make a visit. I understand that my impression was not fair, that at noontime on a working day the church is jammed with office workers who take time out from their lunch hour to go to Mass and to Communion. At first glance religion here seems almost a formality, an obligation that can be dispensed with if you have been out late the night before.
In Siberia, when I said Mass, people risked arrest to come; here, they risk nothing, neither do they always come. In Krasnoyarsk and Norilsk, when people learned a priest was in town or was saying Mass at such and such a place, they came for miles, bringing their children to be baptized, going to confession before Mass and then Communion during Mass, asking to have their marriages blessed after Mass, begging me to come and bless their homes or sing the panikida (a requiem service) for members of the family who had died. They came to huts, to barracks rooms, to private homes, and they risked their jobs, their union membership, their chance for an apartment or an education for their children. Having ministered to such faith, therefore, it was incredible to me to think that people here could look on Sunday Mass as an obligation, or the supporting of their parish and their school as a burden.
I should repeat again that these were my first reactions, my impressions, and are not meant in any way as criticisms. I am only reporting what struck me when I first looked at America again. As a priest who had worked very hard to help people who were so eager just to be able to go to Mass, I could not help being struck, thunderstruck, at this initial impression of indifference to religion in a country where there was nothing to restrain its open practice.
You can read the rest here.