Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

30 September 2006

St. Jerome


Today is the feast of St. Jerome, one of the greatest minds in the history of the Church who gave us his wonderful "Vulgate" translation of the Bible. He's also noted as one of the crankier saints in the history of the Church. Partly this was his own personal irritability I'm sure. Partly he was cranky because he cared and when things went wrong he got upset, which is very human. (Kudos to Richard for bringing this out among other things in his reflection this morning.)

In the world and especially in the Church there is a level of divisiveness that would make even Jerome's head spin. While passion is a good thing, anger and internal divisiveness are not. Rocco Polmo wrote a good article on divisiveness in the Church. His main point is--we get so caught up in internal cat fights, the mission of the Church is lost in the mix. That mission succinctly stated in Gaudium et Spes is: "The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ." The Church must be outward looking, always striving to bring the salvation of Christ to all people. This fundamental mission of the Church is so often debilitated by constant, irate internal squabble.

On an exciting note, tonight is Battlestar Galactica night at Loyola House in preparation for Season 3 beginning Friday! So say we all.

AMDG

29 September 2006

Motown

Today was the novices day out, a much appreciated respite from what has been a very busy week. Three events were on today's outing schedule. First, a visit to a photo exhibit at Wayne State exploring young migrant workers. The reality of such inhuman working conditions that go into putting food on our tables is truly astounding. Difficult work with poor pay and many risks but those engaged in it have few tenable alternatives. While in the neighborhood we also spent some time at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, a lovely building in want of renovation. Many of Detroit's buildings testify to a more prosperous time gone by.

Second stop was the Mexican section of town for lunch, and was it ever good.

Third was a trip to the Motown Historical Museum. I was pleasantly surprised by the place. Though a small museum it was well put together and framed Motown's place in music and culture. Though I'm not a great fan of Motown music, the museum is well worth a visit.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention today's feast of the Archangels: Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel. These angels are powerful ministers of God's protection, healing, and message as has been testified through Sacred Scripture and tradition.

St. Michael the Archangel
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against
the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him we humbly pray,
and do thou O prince of the heavenly hosts
by the power of God
thrust into hell Satan
and all the evil spirits
who prowl throughout the world
seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.

AMDG

26 September 2006

Shout Out

Today's post is dedicated to the young, holy sisters I've had the privilege to know.

First up:

The artist formerly known as Jillian now preforming with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, Tennessee. Jillian, now Sr. Beatrice, is now a novice having already finished a one year postulancy. She is a very dear friend of immense intellect, charm, and kindness who is sure to be a great asset to her Congregation and the Church.








Sr. Beatrice's younger sister Susannah also gets a shout out for joining the same congregation as her older sister. She's on the far left in the upper row with the rest of her entrance class. Susannah like her sister is great and is quiet the classicist in addition to other intellectual gifts. Unlike most religious in the United States the Nashville Dominicans are young and growing.



Last but not least is the newly minted Sr. Mary, also far left top row, who recently entered the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist located in nearby Ann Arbor, Michigan. Mary is a friend and classmate from Catholic University who graduated in philosophy along with yours truly this past May. She's terrifically talented and just plane terrific. I'm certain she will be a wonderful gift to her Congregation and the Church. The Sisters of the Eucharist are a new Congregation which has be blessed with stunning growth and vibrancy.

In a time when many religious congregations are becoming very grey, these women are a source of hope and a witness to the power of the Holy Spirit to give life and give it abundantly.

AMDG

25 September 2006

Midland


We got back from our mini-pilgrimage to the Martyr's Shrine in Midland, Ontario about nine last night after a six hour journey. It was a brief though enjoyable visit. Midland is about two hours North of Toronto in a lightly populated area which was once home to the Huron Indians. The Shrine commemorates those eight Jesuits and lay associates who lost their lives during the mission. The Shrine was build near the site of the martyrdom of Sts. Gabriel Lalement and Jean de Brebeuf who were killed while ministering to the Hurons by attacking Iroquois. After enduring 17 hours of torture witnesses recall their faithfulness and love to the very end.


The Society maintains the Shrine and cares for pilgrims. We were graciously hosted by the Jesuit community at the Shrine, who in addition to being nice folks showed an appreciation of Battlestar Galactica, one of the greatest attributes a group of people can posess.

We were invited to assist at the Feast Day celebrations at the Shrine. Your truly helped by serving. The Mass was concelebrated by a number of priests, mostly Jesuits visiting from the Toronto area. Afterward there was a lovely banquet in honor of the Martyrs.

On our return journey we stopped in Toronto for lunch with a community of Jesuit Theologians. We spent a few hours touring around the University of Toronto which as luck would have it was hosting a Book Festival, publishers from all over Canada were represented.


Today is the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Dmitri Shostakovitch, the celebrated Soviet Composer. For those unacquainted with Shostakovitch, he is a great composer to get to know. While his compositions mightn't be every one's cup of tea, though he is among my favorites in this regard, his constant trials creating great art in a repressive Soviet state provide a captivating story.

AMDG

21 September 2006

Speechify!

Yesterday I gave my first practice homily. It's harder than it looks. It's also considerable different than a regular presentation. I tried giving a presentation at first and it failed miserably. A homily is really more about listening than creating. Discerning what the Spirit is saying to you through the scriptures and saying that.

Tomorrow we leave for Midland.

AMDG

20 September 2006

Random Quiz

You scored as Roman Catholic. You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic


100%

Neo orthodox


82%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


75%

Classical Liberal


50%

Fundamentalist


43%

Emergent/Postmodern


39%

Charismatic/Pentecostal


32%

Reformed Evangelical


25%

Modern Liberal


14%

What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

19 September 2006

One Month

Today is my one month anniversary as a Jesuit. Though a month is a brief time, my experience of this past month has been powerful and more importantly graced. Externally the past month has been relatively simple and peaceful. Most of my time has been spent at the novitiate reading, building community, and praying. Though we've attended some wonderful celebrations and had some great outings, by and large the past month has been quiet, at least by my standards.

However peaceful my external life has been the past month, my internal life has been that dramatic. These few weeks have given me a greater opportunity than ever before to pray through my experiences and seek the Spirit of God. Though this is not always and easy task, nor even a pleasant one at times. I have found great peace, a greater sense of myself, my community, and my loving Lord and Creator. I look forward to many more months in this Least Society.

This weekend my fellow first year novices and I will be making pilgrimage to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Midland, Ontario. More about them some other time.

In other important news, Battlestar Galactica season three beings in 17 days! Mark your calendars, set your Tivo's, this is going to be big. "So say we all." After sacred mysteries and eternal truths, nothing gets me so excited as a good sci-fi series and Battlestar is as good as sci-fi gets.

AMDG

14 September 2006

A quiet week


Life at Loyola House has fallen into a rhythm this week of prayer, study, recreation, exercise, and classes. It's nice having a regular daily 'ordo' though this normal schedule is likely to be uprooted shortly. There is something to be said for a normal daily routine, though there is equally something to be said for the flexibility of an ever changing lifestyle.

We've been reading through the life of Ignatius. When given large sums of money at gifts to help with his journey, Ignatius the Pilgrim would give these away trusting that God would provide a path. He didn't know what his days would consist of, who he would meet, how he would eat, what he would do. Through all this he trusted and was provided for. As I enjoy the comfort a normal schedule gives me, Ignatius the Pilgrim is cause for reflection.


In other news, I found a CD of Jesuit clip art in the computer lab. This should provide graphics for many updates in the coming months. Including today's image of Ignatius being drug away by a servant of the Franciscans during his visit to the Holy Land.

10 September 2006

Cleveland Rocks

We're officially back from our whirlwind visit to Cleveland for Lukas's first vows. Congratulations to Lukas the newest vowed member of the Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus. He took vows during a wonderful ceremony at his home parish. It was a joyous occasion with large numbers of Lukas's family in attendance as well as members of the parish community and his brother Jesuits. Lukas comes from a Lithuanian heritage and most of the ceremony was in Lithuanian. The parish had a very strong sense of both religious and cultural identity which was refreshing.

After Mass I had a chance to meet my parents for dinner. It was a great evening. As an added bonus we got to watch Ohio State destroy Texas. Go Buckeyes!

AMDG

08 September 2006

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary




Today is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Though not much is know about the circumstances surrounding her birth, so great is her importance in salvation history that this day should not pass without being duly marked.

Pray for us O Holy Mother of God.


My brother novices and I leave for Cleveland tomorrow so I probably won't get around to posting again until Monday. We're heading to Cleveland for the first vows of one of last year's novices, I'm looking forward to this celebration. I'm also looking for to seeing my family for a bit on Saturday night, Cleveland being not too far from my hometown.


Tomorrow the Holy Father returns to his native land of Bavaria for an apostolic visit. When Pope John Paul returned to his native land of Poland, he helped set off a wave of faith and action which eventually led to the fall of the iron curtain. Benedict's homeland and much of the western world is likewise oppressed, though much more subtly so. Materialism which regards people as objects and God as irrelevant has become prevalent in much of the developed world. Even among those who profess faith, myself included, the tendency to seek after only material things and reduce human beings to objects which can be used and exploited is hard to avoid. Growing up in such a culture, I often find myself needed to make a distinction between who is useful and whose existance is meaningful.

At the Mass celebrated just prior to the conclave then Cardinal Ratzinger said:

Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires.

We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An "adult" faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth.

We must develop this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith - only faith - that creates unity and is fulfilled in love.

My prayer is that this trip may begin the process of the new evangelization. That countries with developed economies may have an equally developed faith and commitment to God's justice and law.

During this trip to his homeland, I will pray especially for the Holy Father that he may touch those whose hearts are hardened.

God Bless our Pope, Long may he reign!

AMDG

07 September 2006

White Robed Army



Today the Society of Jesus remembers and celebrates four of its own who lost their lives at the service of Christ and His Church.

Sts. Melchior Grodziecki and Stephan Pongr√°cz were Jesuit priests martyred in Slovenia. They along with a diocesan priest named Mark Krizevcanin were killed by Calvinist soldiers who invaded the city in which they were ministered. When given a chance to save their lives by recanting the faith, they chose death rather than denounce the Church.

Blessed Thomas Tsuji was a Jesuit killed for being a priest during a great period a persecution in Japan.

Blessed Ralph Corby was executed in England on the charge of high treason i.e. working as a Jesuit priest.

God is truly glorious in His saints.

On a far less profound note, pictures and brief bios of my brother novices and I have been posted on the Chicago Province website.

AMDG

06 September 2006

Book Meme

Per Joe's request,

1. One book that changed your life: Leisure: the Basis of Culture by Josef Pieper. I was first introduced to this book by my former Dean, Father Pritzl, who was also the first philosophy professor I ever had. Pieper wrote in Germany following the Second World War, a time when the focus of life had shifted to increasingly practical concerns. His brief but profound text calls us back to a more fully human approach to the world. Truly meaningful and beautiful aspects of life such as love begin with what Pieper calls an "existential shock", something that reaches beyond the everyday activities of life and takes hold. Through reflection on this existential shock the world becomes deeper, more vivid, more real, more human yet also more divine. I've read Leisure: the Basis of Culture a number of times, with each subsequent reading I find the text more profound and clarion.

2.
One book that you've read more than once : Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I'm a hopeless Anglophile and get caught up in the Britishness of it all especially the first half of the book set in Oxford which reminds me of my wonderful term there amongst the Dreaming Spires. Waugh masterfully crafts compelling characters and weaves a wonderful message about faith and family.

3. One book that you'd want on a desert island: US Army Survival Manual for obvious reasons.

4.
One book that made you laugh: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. The man has a real gift for story telling.

5.
One book that you wish had been written: Recently I've become very interested in the history of secular humanism and atheism. Though much has been written in this field, I believe it merits still further investigation.

6.
One book that you wish had never been written: There are many books I find frustrating, though even truly awful books serve a purpose. Usually to demonstrate how not to write books or the foolishness of certain ideas.

05 September 2006

Factoids

Classes have started in earnest here at Loyola House. There's not particularly rigorous as of yet and I don't expect them to become so, though they have been interesting so far. By far the most awkward class of the day was Spanish. Though I've had to muddle through some Spanish before, mostly by speaking French with what I thought was a Spanish accent and hoping for the best, I haven't studied Spanish in earnest since second grade. Today we went through the standard first day studying a language ordeal. Mostly consisting of staring blankly as the professor speaks to us in a language we don't know and going around the table introducing ourselves to people we already know (and live with) only in Spanish. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to continuing, learning languages is fun though painful at times.

Also, from another class we went over a list of ways the Society is unique compared to religious orders. Here are some highlights:

Jesuits profess perpetual simple vows immediately following novitiate.


Jesuits have no specific work as a charism other than to Find God in All Things. The educational tradition of the Society comes from the fact that education encompasses so many things it seemed a natural fit for a group of men trying to find God everywhere.

Jesuits do not say the divine office together. Ignatius wanted Jesuits to be fully apostolic without the time constraints of singing in choir, though Jesuit priests do say the office in private.


Jesuits do not have a specific religious dress or habit. The "Jesuit Cassock", which is what the saintly Father Pedro Arrupe SJ is sporting in the picture, is derived from the student dress of the University of Paris in Ignatius's time, it was never an official habit. From time to time guys still wear them. I think they look a bit like Jedi or perhaps Sith Lord outfits, either way they're extremely cool and nice to see from time to time.

Jesuit Scholastics, i.e. those training to be ordained, do not take a religious title until ordination. That is to say Jesuit priests are not referred to as 'Brother' prior to ordination. The only Jesuits refereed to as 'Brother' are those who are not seeking ordination.

The Jesuits rule is the last approved rule of the Church, though it's not usually refereed to as a 'rule' but as the Formula of Institute and Constitutions, it is in fact a rule.

Jesuits regularly manifest their consciousnesses to their superiors. According to Canon Law this practice is forbidden to all other orders, the Society was given a dispensation from this aspect the Canon Law.

Jesuits take a fourth vow of willingness to go wherever the Pope wishes to send him. Only those Jesuits who take this vow are fully professed members of the Society able to take leadership positions.

Jesuits take solemn vows after ordination.

Just of few little things which make the Society a bit different and in my most humble opinion special.

AMDG

03 September 2006

Football


The Michigan game was fun, though neither Vanderbilt nor Michigan played particularly well the spectacle of such games is great. Everything from the pre-gaming tailgating to the band to the hordes of enthusiastic and slightly drunk students. As you all probably know or could at least assume Michigan defeated Vanderbilt without much difficulty.

This was my first trip to Ann Arbor; it is a remarkably lovely city, much more so than I expected. Conveniently, the Society has a community in Ann Arbor within walking distance of the football stadium. I hope to visit Ann Arbor again, it seems like a little city well worth getting to know.

Today we attended the final vows of a Jesuit brother. It was a lovely ceremony. I had much the same feeling as when I attended the Jubilee Mass last week: a remembrance of God's work through the years and looking forward to the continued work of the Spirit in years to come. The icing on the cake was some immensely amusing polkaing after Mass, though some of my brother novices did not approve of the accordion music.

AMDG

01 September 2006

Out of the Quiet

I'm back from retreat at Manresa, the Detroit one unfortunately not the Spain one. It was a wonderful though brief retreat. Since it was a retreat and silent I don't have much to report. Silent retreats are funny. While my external surroundings were serene and peaceful, the silence allowed any internal disquiet to show through. The noise of everyday life often drowns out more serious matters.

The prospect of intense introspection and listening that a silent retreat brings is not always an easy one but in my experience such time in immensely fruitful. Ours is a God who speaks in the silence more clearly than in the din of the world.

Tomorrow some of my brother novices and I head to Ann Arbor for a U of M football game versus Vanderbilt. As an ardent Ohio State fan I'm deeply conflicted about rooting for U of M. My sense of self-preservation will probably keep me quiet though I will at least wear red. Go Buckeyes!

AMDG