Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

28 October 2007

Fields of Golden Corn

Here Matthew surveys the fields of golden corn in preparation for last night's dinner.

Also of note are some pumpkin creations of the Loyola House community. Note especially St. Ignatius Loyola the pumpkin featuring in the middle of the line-up.

The Future

January will be a momentous time for the Society of Jesus. Our General Superior Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, SJ has called the 35th General Congregation. A general congregation is the highest body in the Society of Jesus made up of members from each of the provinces. It is called only for matters of great moment and to elect superiors general. At this congregation Father Kolvenbach plans to submit his resignation having received approval to do so from Pope Benedict.

Yesterday I was at a meeting of Detroit area Jesuits to brainstorm the kind of man the Society needs for its new leader and what direction is needed for the future. The meeting brought up a variety of viewpoints and concerns. What impressed me was not the specific ideas but what I perceived as the source of those ideas--love of God and His Church. Despite the many difficulties the Society of Jesus will face in the coming years, if we hold close to God and His Church we'll be okay.

23 October 2007

Pretty Things

Yesterday, I was at the Warming Center after a long weekend in Omena, Michigan at the Jesuit villa. I noticed something yesterday which hadn't previously caught my attention--pleasantries or the lack thereof. Speech at the Warming Center is much more direct than what I'm used to. It is a language of utility. The same is true of the prison. Language looses its art in these places. Their very speech is molded by the harshness of their lives and surroundings.

Beauty begets beauty. The guests of the Warming Center have precious little beauty in their lives. Apart from well maintained public parks, which Detroit has few of, the homeless find themselves in dreary places. They receive what they need to remain alive from various agency, but I fear they lack something required to really live, access to the beautiful. The darknesses of their lives must be brightened by more than just material assistance. The means to stay alive does not make life worth living. Darkness can only be dispelled by light, the light that makes life worth living, the light of the beautiful. AMDG

14 October 2007

Warming Center Article

Br. Jim Horgan, SJ, director of the Sts. Peter and Paul Warming Center where I work on Mondays, asked me to write a short article for the center's November news letter, this is what I've come up with so far:

The Two Tables

There are two tables in downtown Detroit less than a mile distant yet worlds apart. I had the privilege of sitting at both. In the center of the table first table were fine wines and rich foods. Surrounding the table were doctors, lawyers, and businessmen—men who had achieved much in life and were enjoying the fruits of their labors. They were dressed casually but smartly, insignias of designers dotted their clothing and every once in a while the glint of a gold watch was visible. My father was among them.

The second table was filled with some stew, a few pieces of bread, and soft drinks. Around the table sat men of less certain prospects. Some lived on the street, some in shelters. Most were in the grips of addiction. None had the luxury of a secure position in society or a comfortable savings to fall back on. They were dressed in odd assortments of clothing, some clean, some dirty, and mostly ill-fitting.

On first glance, the two tables appeared very different. Yet as I reflect on my time at the Warming Center and those two tables the differences pass away. At both tables were groups of men coming together to share their stories. Each had its share of laughter and concern; each group of men had hopes and fears. They all wanted to be valued, to find peace and security. All were seeking. The fine things of the first table had not insulated its occupants from doubt nor had the poverties of the second table crushed hope and gratitude.

In my few months at the Warming Center, I have learned the first table at which I received a reserved seat by accident of birth and the second table which the Society of Jesus missioned me to sit around are not so different. Our worth comes not from these separate tables but from our seat at the table prepared for all, the banquet table of the Lamb of God. As Christians we are called to bring all our tables together in anticipation of the table of the Kingdom set for all. AMDG

01 October 2007

First of the Month

I was working at the Sts. Peter and Paul Warming Center this morning when I learned of a phenomenon I had previously never considered. The center was remarkably quiet this morning. One of the staff members mentioned to me that the first of the month is check day. Most of the guests of the warming center receive some sort of government aid in the form of a monthly check. Various institutions will keep checks for those without a stable address.

For the next few days the center will be quiet while the normal guests are "living it up." Some stay in a hotel for a few days or buy food. For most unfortunately the money goes to support their addictions and is consumed in very short order. I'm awed by the power of addiction over these people's lives.