Friday, June 30, 2006

Yeah, Lighten Up!

Steve and Karen have proclaimed it lighten up Friday. Sounds good to me! Karen even created a meme in its honor.

5 light things about me:

1) I like to sit in the dark.

2) My friend Jim has a suspicion that Joss Whedon has a thing for women who kick ass (he's the creator of Buffy, and his next project is Wonder Woman). Buffy fan that I am, I think I may be guilty of that too. This week I watched "Tank Girl" and "Aeon Flux" and really enjoyed them both! (No psychoanalysis please!)

3) I love comedies from the 70s. The other day I caught the end of one of my favorites--What's Up, Doc? It has the classic closing line, especially since it comes out of the mouth of Ryan O'Neal, who starred in "Love Story." Barbara Streisand says to him, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." To which O'Neal replies: "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard."

4) I never injure myself in "normal" ways: I got my fingers jammed in a folding chair once, lost a couple of fingernails; I tripped over a cinder block and dislocated my elbow; I've needed stitches a couple of times: once when I cut my hand open with a pair of scissors, once when I slammed myself in the face with my own racquetball racket; and I almost needed stitches when I sliced my leg open on the steps inside the tank of a dunking booth.

5) I like to just show up and surprise people without notice (however, they don't always appreciate this).

And since we're talking about lightening up, I recommend this article by Dolores Curran. It's about ten years old now, but still poignant. Here's a glimpse:

Humor has been called a recess for the spirit and laughter a little like changing a baby’s diaper. You know it won’t change anything permanently but it will make everything O.K. for a while. Humor offers multiple gifts. It gives us a sense of perspective. For example, how could I feel self-important after a woman told me she was reading my column for Lent?

We can get so overly concerned about trivialities in our daily lives that only later do we recognize the absurd importance we granted them at the time. We shake our heads and wonder why we didn’t laugh at them instead of allowing them to disturb our serenity. Humor invites us to examine life in an unconventional, offbeat and delightful way, as children do. A grandmother in one of my workshops shared that when she was feeding lunch to her grandchildren, one said in distress, “Grandma, we forgot to pray. We always pray at our other grandma’s.”

His older sister shushed him, saying, “Jeffrey, we don’t have to pray here. This grandma’s food is always good.”

Humor instills in us a sense of joy. Watching a baby discover her feet for the first time or hearing a youngster describe the monster in his closet leads our bones to laughter and our souls to joy. Reinhold Niebuhr asserted, “Humor is prelude to faith and laughter is the beginning of prayer.” How contrary these words are to sacred-is-grim adherents! Sadly, they would be likely to reject them simply because they have so little experience of joy in the ordinary which erupts into spontaneous prayer.

Humor gives us an opportunity to acknowledge our shortcomings, as the obese comedian did when he introduced himself as a recovering anorexic. We all have shortcomings, but we spend most of our lives trying to conceal them. Often, humor allows us to admit to them publicly, to acknowledge that we aren’t perfect. Humor, after all, springs from the same root as humility, human and humus—“earthiness.”

read the whole thing.

The Real Problem

Our friend at Disputations sums it all up very nicely for us: "the real problem with the Jesuits: congruism."

Now, I admit I had to look it up. Here's the definition from scholastic theology for congruity (since congruism only says 'see congruity'):

That, in an imperfectly good person, which renders him suitable for God to bestow on him gifts of grace.

If that's our problem, and since there's no denying that we are imperfectly good, I say "Amen." God, bring it on!

Everybody Needs a Good Light Saber Duel Now and Then

This summer, I've been thinking: What Weston is missing is a good light saber duel now and then. Not so at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis! Check this out:

Don't All Seminarians Want to be Jedis?

Hat tip to Sean Salai, NSJ
Brought to you by Jeff at the Matthew 12:37 blog.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Saints Alive!

The traffic is lining up for the saints! This due to Loyola Press' new promotion in Chicago. One just might be inclined to a bit of intercessory prayer while in traffic and, they hope, then be moved to purchase a copy of Jim Martin's My Life With the Saints (you'll find it here on the YDML bookshelf)!

Photo compliments of the author himself.

More Comments From Brother Jesuits

Joe tells me that the comment he posted was in response to a post over at The Cafeteria is Closed. Here's the link. As usual in such discussions, not all the comments are so edifying, but I did find a couple other comments by brother Jesuits that I thought were helpful. These were in response to someone considering a vocation in the Society of Jesus. Here they are:

I am a Jesuit in formation from the New Orleans Province currently attending a summer school program where they prepare us to teach high school during our regency assignment. Of the six Jesuits in the program (some of whom are watching me type this), six of us don't find it hard "combining real concern for
peace and social justice (not mere posturing) with complete and
total faithfulness to the Magisterium." That isn't to say you wouldn't find struggles in this order (or any other), but the real picture isn't as bleak as some people enthusiastically paint it. After six years in the society, I am VERY optimistic about our future... In other words, listen to God and "be not afraid."

Jesuit John

I am a Jesuit..... I am always amazed at people who speak ill of the order and have no clue of what they speak. If the order is falling apart, why is it that the Jesuits still run the most well known and orthodox Pontifical University? Why are more Jesuits on staff at the Vatican then any other religious order? People should get the facts straight. I belong to a community that has many diffrent views, but we all take a vow of fidelity to the Holy Father.


From One of My Jesuit Contemporaries . . .

Joe was kind enough to post this comment from one of my Jesuit contemporaries (I think I probably know who it is, but since Joe chose to keep him anonymous, I'm not telling either). You'll find it sounds like several things I've written before, which reassures me that I'm not the lone Jesuit voice crying out in the wilderness here. So, let me say, "Yeah, what he said" to this:

"I'm one year away from ordination in the Society of Jesus, which means I've been in a while, and it's certainly far from perfect. Z, believe me, you do not have to inform any young Jesuit of the problems of the Society. We face them daily. And we endure them to live out the vocation that God has called us to, trying to maintain hope and charity in all things. But as a Jesuit I have already been able to work hard in the new evangelization and seek to grow in holiness through a life of prayer and vows, as well as grow in my love of the Church and knowledge of her teachings. Most of all, I've been able to follow the most unlikely but exciting vocation I ever could have imagined.

It pains me to read the awful things people say about the Society, not because it's all lies, but because there's much truth in it all. But it's also not fair: there are over 3000 SJ's in America, and most are honest, hardworking priests who love the Church, seek to save souls, and never get in the newspaper or on TV. They say [not "celebrate" I love this guy already] Mass, hear confessions, teach classes, etc., etc. They are Jesuits, too.

The Jesuits did an extraordinary amount of good in the Church and the world for 400 years. The Pope is keeping us around because he wants, and needs, us to do that again. [I agree, I believe the Holy Father knows only the Jesuits can do what the Jesuits can do.]

The original point of this thread was a potential Jesuit vocation. The Society is for men God calls to it. It's not about testing ideological winds, or finding the most "perfect," comfortable place to spend one's life, but following God's call, even if it is difficult and less than ideal. For men who love the Church, love the Holy Father, and are zealous for souls, the Jesuits might be the place God is calling you. No doubt, it's not easy, but you can absolutely be faithful to the Church and the charism of St. Ignatius in the Society of Jesus. It is defintely not for everyone, however.

X has generously offered his contact. Mine's _____ Anyone thinking of the Jesuits find out about what we're really all about, and don't listen to all that hating."

Since the author's e-mail has been left out, I'll second the offer. You can write me via the e-mail link on my profile page.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More on "Gimcrackery" About the Jesuits

Matthew Fish adds, with a rather lengthy post, to the discussion about Arrupe and the Jesuits. It's worth the time:

"I am referring to the current gimcrackery going on about the demise of the Society of Jesus, how the late Pedro Arrupe corrupted the Order, about how Jesuits have replaced the “salvation of souls” with peace and justice, how the Order should be suppressed and only a fool would join today, etc.

Two preemptory remarks: 1) this discussion is a wonderful example of how opinion and hearsay elevated to the grammar of real knowledge is one of the worst kinds of demagoguery; 2) I find that the Jesuits have become a wonderful scapegoat for people, as it is far easier to blame the Order than actually live in charity and solidarity in the Church, praying and fasting for the Body.

Those interested in actually fruitful criticism and judgment, and concerned with making a prudent and sensible evaluation of what is in fact the case, seem to be quite rare in these discussions."

read the whole thing.

Tardis Theology

An interesting cover article I spotted yesterday in the library from Church Times. I think the author may be reaching a bit, but still it's an interesting take on the new Doctor Who series from a Christian perspective:

"The Doctor recognises both the monstrous sinfulness at the heart of the human condition, and the potential for us to become so much more than we are. We might disagree whether the solution lies in our own hands or in God’s, but the diagnosis itself is not so different.

Then there is the question of evil. Davies has said that his Doctor Who has no stereotypical mad evil geniuses, because they are not believable. Instead, he wants his villains to have "motivation, and background, and depth, and good dialogue, and a sense of humour". In carrying this through, he displaces the caricature of evil with an attempt to portray complex beings whose subtle motivations and attitudes can lead to evil actions.

Evil has always played an important part in Doctor Who, and that provides another parallel between the spirituality of the show and the Christian faith: both can be considered as "dramas of reassurance". Just as the Christian story tells first of humanity’s fall and then our redemption, so Doctor Who takes us on a journey of horror, fear, and successful resolution.

With fall and redemption in mind, the most uplifting moment of the 2005 series came towards the end of arguably the most frightening adventure: the two-part story set in London at the height of the Blitz. After almost an hour and a half of seeing people turned into soulless, gas-masked zombies, the Doctor manages to reverse the process with a triumphant cry: "Oh, come on, give me a day like this. Give me this one. Everybody lives, Rose. Just this once, everybody lives!"

The fact that a single episode combines both the most terrifying and the most euphoric scenes helps to reinforce the link between the fear of the journey and the joy of the rescue. Critics who condemn the show for being too frightening miss one important fact: the Doctor always wins.

The universe of Doctor Who, where evil exists, but where good ultimately triumphs, alludes to a world-view Christians would have no difficulty in embracing. Paradoxically, a scientific rationalist like the Doctor would be unable to offer any such guarantee.

Religion might be banned on Platform One, but it seems that some reflection of a Christian world-view cannot help but find its way into Doctor Who , whether that is what the programme-makers intended or not."

read the whole thing.

Pedro Arrupe, Perfectae Caritatis, and the Help of Souls

For context on this post, you might first want to read the referenced rant by Karen, and its inspiration by Joe. Joe, interestingly, has also provided his own counterrant. So, here goes:

When a post begins with a personal reminder for you, you know you’re being baited. Though I’m not sure, as in this case, reminding me that I’m a peacenik is so relevant to what followed. Nonetheless, I fear I must take the bait. Karen would be disappointed if I didn’t.

Karen at Some Have Hats has offered her variation on that old saw that Pedro Arrupe is the architect of the downfall of the Society of Jesus. But I would suggest, before casting that stone, one have a look at Vatican II’s Perfectae Caritatis. It seems to me that if blame is to be laid, it must first be laid at the foot of that document, which instructed the following:

The adaptation and renewal of the religious life includes both the constant return to the sources of all Christian life and to the original spirit of the institutes and their adaptation to the changed conditions of our time. This renewal, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of the Church, must be advanced according to the following principles:

a) Since the ultimate norm of the religious life is the following of Christ set forth in the Gospels, let this be held by all institutes as the highest rule.

b) It redounds to the good of the Church that institutes have their own particular characteristics and work. Therefore let their founders' spirit and special aims they set before them as well as their sound traditions-all of which make up the patrimony of each institute-be faithfully held in honor.

c) All institutes should share in the life of the Church, adapting as their own and implementing in accordance with their own characteristics the Church's undertakings and aims in matters biblical, liturgical, dogmatic, pastoral, ecumenical, missionary and social.

d) Institutes should promote among their members an adequate knowledge of the social conditions of the times they live in and of the needs of the Church. In such a way, judging current events wisely in the light of faith and burning with apostolic zeal, they may be able to assist men more effectively.

e ) The purpose of the religious life is to help the members follow Christ and be united to God through the profession of the evangelical counsels. It should be constantly kept in mind, therefore, that even the best adjustments made in accordance with the needs of our age will be ineffectual unless they are animated by a renewal of spirit. This must take precedence over even the active ministry.

The direction which the Society of Jesus took under Pedro Arrupe, was the Society’s attempt to renew itself according to the above principles, which call not only for due attention to the “founders’ spirit and special aims,” but also to “adaptation to the changed condition of our times.” If we are to take this document at its word, then it should certainly not be the case that all that the Jesuits are and do in the 20th and 21st centuries should be in strict accord with Ignatius’ 16th century vision.

That said, Karen’s comment that “the Society of Saint Ignatius and the Society of Pedro Arrupe have little to do with each other” is a gross exaggeration. Of course, they are different. But every Jesuit reads, learns, is formed by and lives by the same Constitutions and the same Spiritual Exercises which Saint Ignatius himself penned.

Karen won’t be surprised to hear that it saddens me that Pedro Arrupe should be looked upon so disdainfully. Indeed, if I were not certain of her good will I would have taken far greater offense at her likening this holy man to Lucifer. Arrupe was not perfect, and certainly he himself would acknowledge that some of the experimentation in the renewal of religious life among the Jesuits went a little too far during his tenure. He himself reined some of that in before his debilitating stroke. But Pedro Arrupe can’t shoulder all the blame for the direction which the Society took while he was Father General, no matter what you think of that direction. This direction was a response to Vatican II, and it was decreed by the Jesuit General Congregation, not Arrupe.

This theory of the downfall of the Society of Jesus, at least as Karen frames it, suffers from what I see as several mistaken presumptions:

1) That a commitment to faith and justice is somehow antithetical to a commitment to saving souls.

2) That Ignatius’ main focus was the saving of souls. If Jesuit historian John O’Malley is to be trusted, it is more accurate to say that his focus was rather on “the help of souls.” Semantics, maybe, but I do think the latter is more expansive.

3) That permanence is more virtuous than change. Karen, God does change his mind in the Bible, several times.

Finally, Karen asks: When was the last time you heard a Jesuit talk about saving someone’s soul?

Well, I realize that I’m at an unfair advantage, but several times, recently. Indeed, I’m guilty of it myself.

Maybe it’s just that I spend too much time around Jesuits, but despite our commitment to peace and justice, I see my brother Jesuits spending a lot more time day-to-day in the help of souls than in campaigns for “overturning oppressive governments,” as Karen colorfully put it. Indeed, I’d say on the whole, while we have achieved much for the sake of peace and justice, it is the less noticed, smaller, day-to-day, “help of souls”--administering the Sacraments and engaging in the works of mercy that Ignatius insisted upon--that we do best! Of that Saint Ignatius and Pedro Arrupe would be proud.

Note: I'm temporarily turning on the "moderate comments" feature, so your comments won't appear right away.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Spotted at the Harvard Coop

I know you're probably sick of me "hawking" the book (no pun intended), but I thought I would just mention that if you're in the neighborhood of Cambridge, MA and would like to see one right away, the Harvard Coop has two copies of Just War, Lasting Peace on the shelves of its Christianity section.

I also pulled them out beyond the others ever so slightly so that they would be easy to spot!

Dominican Sisters Reunite the Hawthornes

Some of you know that in another life I studied American literature. One of my favorite authors is Nathaniel Hawthorne, who has an interesting Catholic connection highlighted in today's New York Times. Many people aren't aware of the fact that while Hawthorne was the consummate puritan, his daughter Rose became a Catholic, and even founded an order of women, the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne. These same sisters were responsible for reuniting in death this week Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife Sophia and other daughter Una, right nearby in Concord, MA (I think a pilgrimage will soon be in order). Here's the story:

Historic Literary Couple Are Reunited After 142-Year Separation

CONCORD, Mass., June 26 — "The life of a man happily married cannot fail to be influenced by the character and conduct of his wife," Julian Hawthorne wrote of his father, Nathaniel, in 1884. "Nathaniel Hawthorne was particularly susceptible to influences of this kind."

To describe Hawthorne or his career as an author without mentioning his wife, the former Sophia Peabody, would be like imagining, Julian wrote, "a sun without heat, or a day without a sun."

Although they were the closest of partners in life, for 142 years — until Monday — Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne were separated in death.

After burying her husband at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery here in 1864, Sophia moved to Germany and then London, where she died in 1871. She and the couple's daughter Una, who died in 1877, were buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in London.

On Monday, the remains of Sophia and Una Hawthorne were reinterred in a plot next to their husband and father.

"It's overwhelming," said Imogen Howe, 67, Nathaniel and Sophia's great-great granddaughter. "It's very emotional. They know now in spirit that everyone is reunited."

The reunion was made possible by the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, a Roman Catholic order of nuns that Nathaniel and Sophia's younger daughter, Rose, founded.

The order, based in Hawthorne, N.Y., cares for terminally ill cancer patients. It was the steward of the London graves, hiring a service to tend to the plots. Last winter, a hawthorn tree fell and damaged the markers, which had already fallen into disrepair . . .

read the rest.

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Christian Hybrid

Those of you familiar with the "emerging church" movement and/or the work of my friend Brian McLaren (his latest book can be found below on the YDML bookshelf), will get a kick out of Kyle Potter's post on "Emergent Opus Dei.":

We will swear our loyalty to Brian McLaren (Alan doesn't know this part yet). We will always work for Brian's good, though it will usually be in ways he doesn't know about, and sometimes through methods of which he would never approve. Unless of course I get bored with "BMac," in which case I will pick somebody else. Like Matt Rees or the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The second rule of the Emergent Opus Dei is that you don't talk about the Emergent Opus Dei. Hm, it seems like that should have been the first rule, for some reason.

This, of course, is very tongue-in-cheek, so you should read the whole thing.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Those Darn Jesuits . . . Helping Bring Nicole Back to the Church

Those darn Jesuits seem to have their hand in everything, even it seems, Nicole Kidman's annulment and marriage this week in the Church:

"Jesuit father Paul Coleman met the couple earlier this week to discuss their marriage, and is tipped to be conducting the wedding ceremony.

The priest said he had a "good feeling about their chances".

"You've got to rely on their maturity and knowledge of each other and I'm impressed," he told members of the Australian media.

Kidman was born in Hawaii while Urban was born in New Zealand. Both were brought up in Australia.

The actress won an Oscar in 2003 for her role as Virginia Woolf in The Hours. Recent projects include Fur, in which she plays photographer Diane Arbus, and thriller The Visiting.

Country star Urban won a Grammy Award for best male country vocal performance last year.

Asked what advice he would give the couple for their marriage, Father Coleman said: "Make time for each other, do romantic things together and never part without kissing."

Read more about Coleman, and Nicole's return to the faith here.

Unfinished Stories

Please check out Father Rob Marsh's wonderful reflection "'Firefly' and Finding God's Will." There's something there for the Catholic, the writer, the preacher and the sci-fi fan in all of us. It's especially interesting if you're a fan of the "Firefly" TV series and/or the wonderful novel The Sparrow.:

"Our ordinary time seems to demand we make it less ordinary. We want to tell a story that gives it significance, finds a meaning, and even points a way forward. We want a pattern in our lives too: we want to see their significance, know their meaning, and make the choices that keep the story alive.

We like our stories to have beginning, middle and end. I always like it when the books I read have chapter titles and not just numbers. I like it even better when they have a little quotation to get me thinking about what it all means.

A little while ago I was given the DVDs of a science fiction show I’d wanted to see but missed called “Firefly” – think Cowboys and Indians in spaceships – and it’s a lot of fun, and very well written, with 8 or 9 well-drawn characters that over the short series grow and take shape and show their stories and change each other in all sorts of ways and hint at secrets and stories yet to be told. Because it was a series that was cancelled part way through. A story with no ending. With loose ends. A dozen stories still waiting to be told. And my intense curiosity about each character and what they still had left to tell, and about the group, the whole, and their collective story which seemed to be going … somewhere, having some significance. I hate not knowing what happens to Inara. I really want to know who Shepherd Book really is and where Simon and his sister are headed. And I never will. Unless I make it up myself. And that doesn’t really work. Because half the pleasure is not in making up, but in appreciating the reality of the characters and the sense that behind them there is an author with a hope."

Go, read the whole thing!

Making Way For the New Generation

One of my favorite sports figures has announced his retirement. Few who follow tennis can't help but like Andre Agassi, who has had one of the most interesting, and the longest lasting, tennis career of his generation of champions. But it may not be too long before we see another Agassi. After all, the Agassi children with Steffi Graf as their Mom, certainly have the genes.

Published: June 25, 2006

WIMBLEDON, England, June 24 — With his voice calm and his eyes occasionally welling with tears, Andre Agassi announced Saturday that the end of his tennis career was near.

If all goes according to his carefully considered plan, this Wimbledon, which begins Monday, will be his last, and he will retire after the United States Open later this summer.

"I think there's a lot of factors," Agassi, 36, said at the All England Club. "It's starting with my family, starting with what it takes to be out here and compete on this level. I have to make sure I approach this through the sense of what's best for who I care about the most and what is best for me.

"There's been a lot of challenges, but it's been 20, 21 years of incredible, incredible memories."

read the rest.

Interleague Play

Now I don't write much about sports here, but as a Red Sox fan I have to say I'm pretty pleased with interleague play. The Red Sox have won their last 8 games, and have only lost one game to a national league team this year! But the really striking thing, looking at the standings this morning, was that all but 2 American league teams won their last game, and several their last few! This, of course, would be impossible if they weren't in interleague play. Doesn't say much for the strength of the National league! Interleague play also means that Pedro Martinez returns to Fenway this week with his new team, the Mets. Will the fans be nice? Well, at least thery're sure to greet Pedro more nicely then traitor-of-the-year Johnny Damon! You should see all the creative slogans dreamt up in Damon's honor this year in Boston!

I just had a thought: Instead of bad-mouthing each other all the time, maybe the different factions within the Church need to come up with their own version of interleague play?! 'Course, we'd need some good umpires . . .

Night Walking in NYC

I'm in New York City for a couple of days. You might be surprised to learn that one of my favorite things to do when I'm here is to walk around Manhattan at night. And not in busy places like Times Square, but along the more quiet avenues. Tonight I walked up Madison Ave from midtown to the upper east side, and it was just so peaceful. The streets aren't crowded. The shops are closed. People are gathered at the occasional restaurant or cafe. One can catch glimpses of all manner of people. The older couple looking lovingly into each other's eyes. The well-to-do young fashion plate inviting her mother into her high rent apartment. The family stretched out across the side walk, young girls chirping, and making it hard to get by. I had to walk with them for a while before finding an opening and, contrary to New York City custom, I even said "hello." People not familiar with New York might think such strolls dangerous, but I have rarely felt unsafe walking Manhattan at night. There are far less notorious places I've been where I've not been able to say the same. It's been a long while since my last Manhattan night walk, it reminds me that I need to escape here a bit more often.

The Perils of Summer TV

One of the things I look forward to in the summer is the chance to see repeated episodes of TV shows that I was too busy to watch during the school year. So, why is it lately that every time I get around to turning one of these shows on, they are showing one of the one or two episodes I did manage to catch during the school year?!!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Pop Quiz

What do all these folks have in common?
Make your guesses, and I'll give you my answer later in the comments box.

On Deck for the Blogroll

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

St. Aloysius, Pray for Us

Gonzaga is not just a basketball team.

Today is the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, one of the early Jesuit saints and patron saint of Jesuit Students--oh, look, that's me!

So, despite the fact that my brain has rejected most of the Latin I've been trying to learn, this is probably the best day to be doing my Latin final! So, I better get to it . . .

Mishaps on Retreat

Kalanna's recent post at Mere Catholics has me wondering: Are mishaps more apt to happen on retreat? I've had my share. On one, a long walk required a purchase of a bottle of water. Unbeknownst to me, on the way home, the bottle, which had a defective seal, spilled all over the retreat house's copy of Kathleen Norris' Amazing Grace. I bought a new copy for the retreat house and kept the slightly waterlogged copy for myself. So, I have a slightly damaged copy of what's become one of my favorite books! Recently, I was so distracted as I arrived at a retreat house for a retreat that I locked the keys in the car with the ignition running! Perhaps God lets such things happen on retreat so that we can put them in proper perspective, as Kalanna did:

The whole thing seemed to me a very befuddled and irritating situation. But her very unusual reaction taught me something crucial – I felt awful about myself for something that had simply happened. Stuff just happens. To you, me, everybody. But anytime it ever happens to me, I become in my heart a worthless human being. And there’s this record player in my brain that starts playing a self-defeating litany that reminds me precisely how worthless anytime I try to do something. Well that record player had started playing pretty fast and loudly as soon as I discovered the locked door and me on the wrong side of it.

Her cheerful response was the wave of a magic wand...

It made me laugh. I learned to genuinely laugh at myself.

Read the rest here.

**And for you fellow sci-fi fans, she also has another post about possible happenings in the Star Trek Universe.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Another Reader

HerbEly has read Just War, Lasting Peace, and was kind enough to offer some comments here.

Thanks Herb!!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Gravid Salad Days

Something fun to do when you haven't checked bloglines in several days. Make a sentence out of the week's words on Here's mine for this week:

Gravid salad days transmogrify into a choleric juxtaposition.

Not necessarily a commentary on the past week!

Almost Home

It's been a pretty exhausting week, but I'm almost home. It's funny, when I was younger, I would enjoy spending weeks "on the road" traveling from place to place. But, now, more and more I find myself longing to be back home. Even if that does mean one more week of Latin!!

I spent the last couple of days, after our big Jesuit pow-wow, with my brother, his wife and my twin niece and nephew. They're two. Incredibly cute, of course. Talking up a storm. Short on attention span. Changing their mind constantly. So, a lot of fun, but also requiring a lot of energy. My brother and I took them to the "duck park" this morning. Fed the ducks. Slid on the slides. Swung on the sings. Etc . . .

This was just a short visit, because I have to get back for Latin, but I'll see them again later in the summer.

But now I'm sitting in the airport in San Francisco, waiting for my flight. Trying to settle down from the busyness of the week. Our meeting was truly inspiring. I'm excited about our hopes for the future as Jesuits in the United States. Just looking around at the 250 or so talented young men with whom I spent most of my week, I could see what great potential we have to serve the people of God and bring the message of Christ! And seeing men I had lived with and been in studies with there who had just been ordained last weekend, I was reminded that it's not too far away for me . . . exciting, and a bit scary. Ordination, God willing, is now less than two years away.

If all goes well, I'll be sleeping on the plane tonight and waking up tomorrow morning . . . at home.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Quick Check In

Limited internet access here, but a few things.

The weather is SO much better here in Los Angeles.

It's amazing to be here with about 250 of my peers! The sound of "Amen" at Mass is incredibly consoling.

I think I've now forgotten all my Latin!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Simple Joys

I'm in New Orleans for the weekend, and went to Mass this morning at Loyola University, where I taught for two years before moving on to studies at Weston. When I walked into Mass, I was immediately greeted enthusiastically by some of my formers students (yes, some of them are actually happy to see me :P). That made my day, and the Mass was pretty good too! It's just nice to be reminded now and then that you have had an impact on people's lives, and that they appreciate it. It doesn't happen everyday, and that's probably good, because then we wouldn't appreciate it as much.

It's good to have those places where you can count on the fact that people will be happy to see you. For me, the places where that is most apparent to me is here at Loyola, and at my sister's house. Even though they're getting older, my niece and nephews haven't gotten sick of me yet!

Jesuit Bloggers Headed to L.A.

Tomorrow I'm off to our first national Jesuit formation meeting in L.A. For the first time ever, I think, all the men in formation will be gathering with the provincials to discuss the future of the Society of Jesus in the United States. And, wouldn't you know it, my flight from New Orleans stops in Houston to pick up passengers, among them fellow Jesuit bloggers Ryan Duns, Richard Beebe and Joe Koczera. Should be an interesting flight! So, for the next week or so, I'll be reporting in from the West Coast.

This One's a Winner

Now that summer is here, I'm finally getting to some of the books that have been impatiently glaring at me from my bookshelf this school year. I'm well immersed in one that I've been meaning to get to since last summer--Lauren Winner's Girl Meets God. It's an extraordinarily well-written, honest, thoughtful, sometimes in-your-face memoir of Winner's conversion to Christianity after being brought up Jewish and eventually embracing Orthodox Judaism. She find that she never is quite able to leave her Jewish self totally behind, despite her realization that there's no turning back from Jesus' claim on her life. Here's a glimpse:

Sometimes I meet Professor Kerry, one of my undergrad advisers, and he looks at me and furrows his brow. He never did understand how this straight-A, Ivy League student could really believe that somewhere up in the sky sat a God who cared if she turned on a TV on Saturday afternoon; he finds it even less intelligible that the same student now believes that God took human form and walked around Palestine. “One day you’ll have to explain to me how intelligent people can believe in something that sounds like a Greco-Roman myth,” he says. “You know: Zeus, Demeter, Jesus.”

Admittedly, it’s a little crazy. Grand, infinite God taking on the squalling form of a human baby boy. It’s what some of the old-timers call a scandal, the scandal of the Gospel. But it is also the whole point.

. . . My old professor can’t imagine how I can possibly make sense of it, but I no longer know how to make sense of God, or anything else for that matter, without it.

The book has broad appeal, but will appeal especially to young adults in college and in their 20s & 30s.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Do a Little Dance . . .

WHO is the King of Glory?

A 70s flashback, courtesy of Stephen Colbert.

Hat tip to GG at DotCommonweal

The Echo

A, at Coming to the Quiet, writes:

. . .After I got off the phone, I felt a certain melancholy settle in. At times like that, my thoughts sometimes turn to my father, now several years deceased. We did not get along through much of my youth and into adulthood. Again, I'll not here and now go into the reasons why. Only in his last years did we reach a sort of peace with each other. And I have to give most of the credit for that to him, not to me. I saw him grow and change. Now, more and more often as I get older, I catch his echo in my being, in a certain phrase he was fond of that seemingly starts to appear in my vocabulary, in mannerisms, the way I walk and talk. It is in fact eerie to experience this, especially as my views and life are in most ways an antithesis of his. Yet, I get reminded...I am still his son.

I am fortunate that my parents are still living, yet this resonates so much with things that I have been noticing lately in my own life. I catch a little glimpse now and then of how I am becoming like my father in certain ways, how things he taught me have become part of me. And yet, there is still that distance, a distance which began in my teen years, one from which we never really recovered. How does one bring such things up without it seeming and indictment? Especially now when neither of us is who we were then? You would think this would make it easier, but in some ways it seems to make it harder. Are we willing to remember who we were then, and the mistakes we made, in order to find reconciliation now? Can we overcome our pride?

It's good to know that I'm not alone in this. Maybe you also know all too well this "echo" which resides in many of us, in spite of our distance? We know, don't we, that the answer is reconciliation. But how do we get there? I hope soon to find out.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Obnoxious Anonymous

Having at last grown tired of obnoxious and even cruel comments by the infamous "anonymous," I have decided to no longer allow anonymous commenting on the blog.

My apologies to those who I know prefer to remain anonymous for good reasons. I'd be happy to take your comments by e-mail, and then post them for you if you wish.

Thanks to all commentors for your contributions!


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"Surprised by Jesuits"--the Podcast

Julie D. has taken her "Surprised by Jesuits" post (excerpted below) on the road, and offered the "spoken" version on the new "This Week in the Catholic Church" podcast. (If you don't have time to listen to the whole podcast, you can skip forward. It's about 2/3 of the way through.)

She reviews Jim Martin's book My Life With the Saints, but also reflects on how it has helped her prayer, and caused her to think differently about Jesuits.

She also, kindly, mentioned me, and my friend Karen of Some Have Hats and A Little Battalion. So, thanks Julie!

Whatever This Means . . .

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 35% Conservative, 65% Liberal
Social Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Ethics: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Seems it was "fiscal issues" that really tipped the balance!

Seen the Beast?

There are those worthless souls who ignore the power of 666, who believe today -- June 6, 2006 -- is nothing more than another ordinary mark on the ordinary calendar. They will go about their lives, blind to the bloodcurdling evil all around.

Soon, the streets will fill with death and decay.

Soon, the anti-Christ will rise to render the Earth a mosh pit of despair -- an empty, rotted stink hole of evil mayhem brought about by all things satanic. Doom will reign! Faces will melt! The world will explode! Die! Die! Die!

Or maybe not . . .

read the rest of Jeff Pearlman's reflection on the significance--or lack thereof--of today's date.

The Vatican, he points out, doesn't "appear to be losing much sleep."


It's been interesting to watch the progress of our book, Just War, Lasting Peace so far. Encouragingly, on Pentecost it reached its highest overall Amazon ranking thus far. And, thankfully, people are finally starting to receive their copies, but slowly. Several of you have kindly reported that Amazon had sent you a shipping notification. However, I ordered a couple of copies a few weeks ago, just to get a bead on things, and have yet to receive them. So, like I said, they are getting out there slowly.

Among the current Amazon rankings of the book, it has reached #164 in the "War & Peace" category, and #168 in the "Church & State" category (I'm not sure why, but it is also listed in the "Epistemology" category). Among the interesting titles it is sandwiched in between at that level are:

Terrorism and International Justice by James Sterba
Rambo and the Dalai Lama by Gordon Fellman
All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman
Hammarskjold by Brian Urquhart
A Handbook of International Peacebuilding by John Paul Lederach
Jefferson and Madison on the Separation of Church and State by Lenni Brenner
Answering Terror: Responses to War and Peace After 9/11/01 by Sharon Hoover
Genocide in Rwanda: Complicity of the Churches? by Carol Rittner
Between Pacifism and Jihad: Just War and Christian Tradition by J. Daryl Charles (which has been paired with our book as a "Better Together" selection)
Onward Christian Soldiers?: The Religious Right in American Politics by Clyde Wilcox

Interesting company, I especially like the title "Rambo and the Dalai Lama."

Monday, June 05, 2006

Fifteen Years Man!!

On Saturday night, I went to my 15-year college reunion at Assumption College in Worcester, MA. Now, admittedly, I don't really keep in touch with many of those who I was in college with. And, since I was a transfer student, I was only there two years anyway. I had a small group I hung out with, but I didn't really have the four years to "bond" with a lot of people, as many of my classmates did. I also wasn't big on going out to the bars, so I missed out a lot on the social scene. However, since I managed my senior year to become the editor-in-chief of the school's newspaper, I did manage to get to know a lot of people I otherwise might not have.

I attended two events: There was a Mass Saturday evening, and I had been invited to join with the alumni choir. It was nice to be back in the chapel where I had been to Mass and sang so many times during those years. But I have to say that the turnout at Mass wasn't huge, and the presider barely acknowledged the occasion. But, still, it was nice, and nostalgic.

After Mass there was a dinner for the class, and I was relieved as I arrived to find that two of the people I used to hang out with were there, and so I grabbed a seat with them. I enjoyed catching up with them, and some conversation with a couple of other classmates and their husbands who I didn't really know so well "back in the day." I kinda wish I had gotten to know more of them better back then, but I remember that there were a few things that got in the way of that: 1) Editing the newspaper took up a lot of time, 2) I was also working about 20 hours a week, and 3) I wasn't much of a drinker, so more or less avoided the party scene.

I was surprised that one of my friends, having seen one of my reflections in Living Faith, had "googled" me, and thus was aware of this blog. I also ran into the guy who was my sports editor on the newspaper (he left a comment on the post below). When I said hello, he said "I read your blog sometimes." So out of about 50 people who attended from my class, at least two had visited the blog. Which just goes to show, you never know who's lurking!

Turns out, one of my friends now lives about two minutes away from my sister (with whom I was staying). So, she and I and our other friend who was staying with her finished off the night with a couple glasses of wine at her place. We had a look through the old yearbook and shared what we knew of the doings of some of our other classmates. We, of course, got a kick out of the big hair (we were barely out of the eighties then) and reminisced about to some of the events we had attended together. Among the more interesting was our "senior week" outing to a night game at Fenway Park. In the middle of the game, the lights went out and, as we sat in the dark, the organist led us in "Take me out to the ballgame."

And, speaking of ballgames, one of the highlights of the weekend was watching my niece and nephews, who had been to Cooperstown the week before, doing their own renditions of Abbott & Costello's "Who's on First?" And, speaking of 15 years, that's also the age of my oldest nephew, who was born at the beginning of that college senior year! Now, he's about an inch shorter than me and taking his end of sophomore year final exams this week. But do I feel old? Naaah . . .

If you don't get the reference in the header, check out one of the best reunion movies ever, Grosse Pointe Blank.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Pentecost Blessings

"Tongues of Fire" descending

Happy Pentecost!

Take a look at The Roamin' Roman's pics of Pentecost at the Pantheon.

And, of course, the latest pics of our man in Rome, Father Carola. Who, it seems, was momentarily confused with the Pope.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Opus Dei and the Jesuits

Commenting on the last post, Estefania offers some interesting perspective on her experience with both Opus Dei and the Jesuits, worth posting here:

Making sense of Opus Dei

Once upon a time.. actually almost six years ago, I graduated from a all-girls school (Colegio Los Campitos - where religious formation was entrusted to the Opus Dei. So ideas like "santification of the daily work" and I cared about those teachings and met great people, some of whom I´m still in touch with.

Was I just trying to "fit" with the group I was in? Or was I seeking a closer relationship with God? Right after starting classes, sign I took part in a "circle", or prayer group at an Opus Dei youth house (where young female numeraries live), under the direction of a numerary. I quit it after some months, not because of a sudden rebellious bout, but the flow of new ideas brought by the beginning of college life and willingness of believing by my own choice, not by the teaching of others.

Almost two years ago, that I finally took up that path again, now through one of my university´s (a Jesuit one) youth groups. To write it shortly, through the Ignatian spirituality opportunities we received, I have been able to think and ask greater questions about God, life, society, religion and other subjects, more joyful and fonder of prayer on the way. So the second question posted in the first paragraph has become: Do I want to seek a deeper relationship with God?
Yes, and gladly so.

Now, in DVC times, I have felt the necessity of telling many around me that the Opus Dei I met is [not] anything like the book portrayed. In doing so, I am thinking again what part did my Los Campitos past play in the person I am now? Of course, I do have lots of questions to be asked: For example, why didn´t we talk more about the Church´s take on social justice, having in the same building we studied in an afternoon school attended by girls born in lower income families?. I believe a greater degree of fairness is desired while one must talk about the Opus Dei (or any other groups inside the Church), so prejudices can be, at least, debunked rightly.

At any rate, I realise I have been blessed for having been able to live and watch how diverse God´s works are and at the same time, how they seem to collide. How similar is to affirm "Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam" and "Seeking sanctity in everyday´s life" .. He is the final answer to it all.

Estefanía Salazar.-

Friday, June 02, 2006

Opus Dei Numerary: "Thanks, Dan and Ron"

An Opus Dei member explains in today's NYT why he's happy about the Davinci Code, and shares a bit about his own faith life:

I knew early on that I wanted to pursue a deep communion with God, since that's what allows me to be truly happy. And I wanted to enjoy all the richness of the secular world. (All right, all except sex, which undoubtedly is one of the richest parts of living in the world.) This is where the adventure begins. Can one be totally focused on God, praying meditatively for hours a day, and also be totally focused on the world — making money, competing or collaborating with colleagues, going out with drinking buddies? The answer, for me, is yes.

My academic work has been in the area of consumer culture, specifically the fashion world and its impact on art. Can consumer culture be combined with contemplative prayer? For us in Opus Dei it can. Our ideal is the life Christ lived before his public life, his life of ordinary work in an ordinary family. God became a man and made human realities divine.

Naturally, when I began teaching at my university last August, I was nervous: Were my liberal academic colleagues going to like me, or at least put up with me? Were my chances for tenure in peril? I was fairly straightforward in talking about who I was, and that was a bit of a shock to many at first. I suppose it still is a shock to some.

read the whole thing.

Couldn't Make a Go of It Here?

Rocco notes the success of the British Jesuits' "Pray As You Go" podcast, and offers an interesting observation besides:

Much as the US Assistancy would be marvelous at doing such a thing, and as much as many people would get a load of benefit from a similar initiative on this side of the Pond, such is the climate -- i.e. US Jesuits can't even take a drink of water these days without arousing the ire of the local Sanhedrin -- that, no matter what was 'casted, there'd be furious letters to Rome and senior prelates screaming for Apostolic Visitations like two year olds wanting ice cream.

It may be an exaggeration, but still something must have prompted him to say it. Food for thought.

Read the whole thing, and check out "Pray as You Go"!

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