Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Occasional Von Balthasar Quote

This semester I'm taking a course in the theology of Von Balthasar. This means you just might see me throwing up a quote of his now and then in the coming months. Like now!:

“Christ did not leave the Father when he became man to bring all creation to fulfillment; and neither does the Christian need to leave his center in Christ in order to mediate him to the world, to understand his relation to the world, to build a bridge between revelation and nature, philosophy and theology.”

"Theology and Sanctity."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Still Duped After All These Years

My life as a Jesuit is a constant process of discovery. Often that discovery involves learning in greater depth the extent to which the Lord has duped me. God never tires of reminding me that he was far more aware of what he was doing when he called me to this life then I ever was in responding. Take something as simple as the religious community I joined--the Society of Jesus. Why did I become a Jesuit, and not something else? I know that one thing that attracted me was the Society of Jesus' reputation as educators. There was also something a little more intuitive that had something to do with my love for the movie "The Mission." And, finally, it was because when I received the promotional material in the mail something just seemed to fit. It was not because out of some great devotion to Jesus Christ, I just had to be a member of the Society of Jesus.

Yet, lately I am starting to become more convinced that this didn't just happen to be the name of the religious community I joined. There was a reason Jesus called me to this religious community which bears his name. I can't speak for every other Jesuit, but for me that "S.J." after my name indicates that I have a particular responsibility to represent and introduce others to Jesus Christ, the center and focus of our Jesuit spirituality, and of my life. I am starting to feel an especial sense of urgency in these days when evangelization seems to be getting a bad name. If we hesitate to speak of Jesus for fear of offending someone, it seems to me that we've given into the worst of lies--that somehow the "Christian" thing to do is to keep from others the one who animates all that we are and do, that to do otherwise might somehow amount to unjust coercion. To be a member of the Society of Jesus does not mean that I'm to keep Jesus to myself, as if he were only for those who belong to the club. No, I'm to share with others who I am, and I am first and foremost a member of Jesus' company.

I have not always been so convinced of this, and certainly was not at the beginning of this journey. But more and more God is revealing to me why, as he did with that first Jesuit Ignatius of Loyola, he desired that I be placed with his Son. My sense is that it is because as a Church and as a civilization we may be reaching a crossroads where the challenge is to refocus on Jesus, or risk losing our way. I suspect that, though it is not always so clear what he meant by this, this was the type of intuition that led John Paul II to urgently insist on the need for "new evangelization." As is the case with my vocation, it may be that we are only just beginning to know what this means. But I think there is little doubt of the fundamental content of this new evangelization--who we must be convinced is somehow good news for all--Jesus Christ.

Jesuits & Family on the Mall

Some of the most consoling and inspiring events I have the privilege of participating in as a Jesuit are those in which large numbers of Jesuits and our lay colleagues and students are involved. I had the great privilege of attending just such an "Ignatian family" event on Monday. At 9:00 am on Monday, students and colleagues from our Jesuit high schools and universities around the country along with priests and scholastics from those same institutions and the Washington DC area filled Saint Aloysius Gonzaga Church in downtown Washington DC for Mass. We then proceeded en masse to the Mall for the March for Life, joining the thousands of other people who had also come to march. In case there was any doubt that we made our presence known, I've included photos of me and a few of my Jesuit brothers. Please pray with me that our witness will continue to convert hearts and minds, and that one day we might see an end to abortion.

The Crew

It wouldn't be a new year without a new photo of the seminarians, young brothers and recently ordained priests that God has blessed the New Orleans province with. Here's the latest, taken just a couple of weeks ago.

There was a request for names, so here they are:

Front row (l-r): David Paternostro,TJ Martinez,Derrick Weingartner,Aaron Pidel,Brian Reedy,John Nugent,Sam Wilson,Shane Courville, Jeremy Zipple.
Second row: Paul Frederick,Marcus Fryer,EricRamirez,Kyle Gautreau,Sean Salai,Sylvester Tan,John Hough,Jay Hooks,Jeff Johnson,Luis Blanco-Doring,Jason Brauninger,Peter Zagone,Casey Metcalf,Jose Fetzer,Robert Murphy,David Brown.
Third row(right): Anthony Borrow,Joseph Hil,Tom Greene,Patrick Hough.
Fourth row (left): Flavio Bravo,Mark Mossa,Raul Navarro,Scott Smith.
Back row: Michael Wegenka,Richard Hermes,Joseph Carola,Kevin Cormier,Stephen Pitts,Anthony Wieck,Danny Tesvich,Roy Joseph,Carlos Esparza,John Brown,Pepe Ruiz,Randy Gibbens.

Friday, January 19, 2007


I'm off to Washington DC this weekend to attend the March for Life. This will be my first time attending in about 12 years! I'm looking forward to it, and especially being reunited with some of my Loyola students, who should be out in force. One of the highlights of the weekend will be the Ignatian Pro-Life Network Mass on Monday morning before the march, a gathering of students, faculty, staff and Jesuits from Jesuit schools around the country!

Hope to see you in Washington!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Veni Sancte Spiritus

I've been thinking lately of the Holy Spirit. Something I was reading lately talked about her as kind of the neglected step-child of the Trinity. And, if you think about, how many of us pray to the Holy Spirit (or the Trinity, for that matter?). I know that my tendency is to pray either to God the Father, or to Jesus. When I think of the Holy Spirit, I think of it more as this holy wind, blowing about the earth, and inspiring human affairs. And may be that's not such a bad way to envision the Holy Spirit, because often it seems, even in Church circles, that we speak as if God were not involved in the things that happen in history, and especially in the Church. I know that when my theology classes get extremely analytical about, say, the Council of Trent, or the Second Vatican Council, sometimes I just want to open my mouth and scream, "We're talking about this as if God wasn't involved!" So, maybe that's why we need to have a sense of the person of the Holy Spirit more than ever, so we can get past this way of talking about things as if everything depended upon us!

Some recent experiences have helped me to see the working of the Holy Spirit, and I hope others can see it too. I recently had the privilege of attending my province congregation, and though confidentiality doesn't allow me to really talk about (even to other Jesuits!) the substance of what went on there, I can say that I saw evidence of the working of the Holy Spirit there. Unexpected things happen which I attribute to the openness to the Holy Spirit on the part of the men there. And though it often had the appearance of just another boring meeting, I felt it a great privilege to be there and to be witness to the work of the Spirit in the lives of my religious community.

I also think that we have been witness to the work of the Spirit in our larger religious community as well. I'm not ashamed to admit that when someone first told me that Cardinal Ratzinger had been elected Pope, I thought she was kidding. It had never occurred to me that he might be the man we needed to be the next Pope. I thought certain someone else would be elected. But despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth of some of my friends and colleagues, I chose to see this as the work of the Holy Spirit, no matter how hidden that work might have seemed at the time. Now, as we've seen Cardinal Ratzinger mature into his role as Pope, I think we can also see that though like any man he is not perfect, the Holy Spirit seems to have given us the Pope we need for this time.

So, I'm thinking, though my preference as a member of the Society of Jesus is usually to pray to Jesus, I might just start throwing in a prayer to the Holy Spirit now and then! Veni Sancte Spiritus!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

New Name, New Direction, Happy New Year!

Dear Friends,

My apologies for kind of dropping off the face of the earth in recent months. As I mentioned, I was sort of discerning "What next?" as far as the blog goes. I'm not exactly clear yet on what form it will take, but I hope to be posting and checking in a little more requently from now on.

And, to commemorate this progression, I have renamed the blog with the line from Jeremiah which completes the previous name of my blog. For Jeremiah was quite conscious that not only had the Lord duped him, but that he let himself be duped! I am also acutely conscious of this in these months when I'm preparing my petition for ordination to the priesthood. It's a time of anxiety, but also of great joy and hope. I hope you will remember me in prayer.

It's been a little while since I've heard from some of you, may God bless the new year for you and your families!



Best Catholic Writing 2006

You've probably seen these collections of the year's best short stories, essays, etc. Well, the last few years there has been a yearly volume of the Best Catholic Writing. I'd be lying if said I didn't hope that just perhaps something of mine might end up there, but it hasn't happened . . . until now.

Well, sort of. You won't actually find my full name in the volume. I'm half anonymously riding the coattails of Amy Welborn, whose post "Are Young Catholics Embracing Orthodoxy" made the volume. The byline is "Amy Welborn and others," and I'm one of the "others," identified only as "Mark." The post and selected comments are included pgs. 29-36 of The Best Catholic Writing 2006, edited by Brian Doyle. And, while my true identity will be shrouded in mystery for many, I do have the satisfaction of getting the final word, my comments completing the entry on page 36.

And, who knows, perhaps I'll make it on my own next time!

The content of this site is the responsibility of its author and administrator, Mark Mossa, SJ, and does not necessarily represent the Society of Jesus