Things Jesuit

Hope Is an Art

Ignatian Spirituality - 10 hours 15 min ago

By Vinita Hampton Wright

True art requires inspiration, vision, practice, imagination, and patience. Something inspires the idea, which leads to a vision of what the painting or story will become. The artist works at the vision, practicing her craft on good days and bad. She allows her imagination to take hold of the vision and keep her process vibrant. And she understands that the work is finished when it’s time; she cannot force it to conform to her schedule. [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Hope Is an Art, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Mystery, Murder, Theft, and Google

Latest from the Jesuit Post - 13 hours 45 min ago

Undisputed Fact: I love books. No, I don’t think you quite understand: I love books. If I were to tell you the number of books sitting on shelves in my room right now, I’d probably scandalize you. If I talked about the number of books about books that I’ve read, you’d probably recommend that I pursue healthier hobbies. If I were asked to find a word that could better communicate my obsession and love affair with books, I’d start my search in, yes, a book. All of this is to say that I love books and firmly attest to the mantra “when in doubt, go to the library.”

But, while adventures leap from the dusty folds of dog-eared pages, stories about books are often, well, quite boring. At least that was my running presumption, until I discovered the Atlantic’s recent article “Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria.”

It’s the story—drama and tragedy, nearly science fiction—surrounding Google Books. It contains mystery, intrigue, and conflict. And while it doesn’t contain murder, it contains stakes which seem much higher.

Act I: A BIG Idea.

One of the Co-founders of Google, Larry Page, had an idea: scanning all the books ever written, creating a sort of universal digital library. His alma mater the University of Michigan attempted a similar project with its library collection of 7 million volumes, which would take the university nearly 1,000 years to complete on its own. Larry Page thought Google could accomplish the feat in 6 years.

They struck a deal, a deal which soon expanded to include Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, the New York Public Library, and more… Google created custom scanners and special software, and dedicated tons of money (40-50 million dollars per year) to the endeavor.

A decade later, Google announced that it had scanned 25 million books, which is nearly 1/5th of the estimated number of books published in the entirety of human history. The feat is astounding, but it also raised questions.

Act II: The Plot Thickens with Complications and Ideas

In response, publishers and authors filed a class action lawsuit against Google alleging copyright infringement. Google responded by claiming that its copying was limited to “fair use” asserting that their intention was to only use “snippets” of the works. They were merely using small sections of the books, scanning these books/sections into a complicated network of linked citations. The central question of the legal suit was whether or not this scanning and use of snippets was fair use, but it led both sides to a question: Couldn’t Google easily do more than simply search books?

And then the plot thickened: Google could easily do more, especially when it comes to out-of-print or “back catalogue” books. An idea developed: Google could bring to life books long dead; it could bring these books back to general consumption and research. It could create an eternal library which encompassed the entirety of human knowledge and publication. The idea was a very “google” idea concerning human knowledge, both vast and futuristic, but it also seemed that it might be in the publisher’s and author’s interest to let it happen.

Google’s digitizing out-of-print books could not only preserve the knowledge and works, but also inspire new interest and research in the forgotten works. Out-of-print books are dead weight to publishers and, frankly, dead to authors. The Google option would relieve the weight, would give attention to lost or forgotten works, and would provide compensation to copyright holders that they would not receive otherwise. Maybe it would be in the best interest of everyone to allow Google to resurrect the back catalogue: “The plaintiffs… had gotten themselves into a pretty unusual situation. They didn’t want to lose their own lawsuit—but they didn’t want to win it either.” 1

Act III: A Settlement in the Middle Ground, that Never Happened.

Soon, it became apparent that both Google and the authors and publishers were interested in more than simply the question of “snippets.” The authors and the publishers were driven by the idea that, in fact, creating this sort of eternal and universal library—with protection for the copyright holders—might be a good idea. Here’s the crazy thing: Google agreed.

What started as a class action lawsuit concerning snippets, developed into a possible settlement which extended much, much further. Google would create a digital library of all the books ever written using a sort of creative, collective licensing agreement—an agreement from which authors and publishers could “opt-out” at any time. The agreement would allow for the library, and even sale of books with 63% of the revenue from sales funding a new entity: “The Book Rights Registry.” This entity would be tasked with 1) distributing the funds from the sales and use to the copyright holders, and 2) discovering who actually held the rights to the books—a particular challenge for all out-of-print books.

It appeared like it was too good to be true for both Google and the authors. In one settlement: the universal library would be created, Google would implement a system of public access for schools and libraries, previously lost books which were out-of-print would be accessible, and authors and publishers would be paid. The ramifications would be vast and unfathomable—nearly a story of science fiction, which is exactly why the settlement failed.

As a class action, the settlement “could theoretically bind just about every author and publisher with a book in an American library.” 2 It would bind them to a single corporation, the mighty Google. The sheer scope of the settlement proposal and the allegations that it would create a sort of monopoly of access to books eventually killed the settlement.

Act IV: A Court Case, But Who Won?

Instead of a settlement, the case went to trial: Google won, but everyone lost. Google could legally use its “snippets” of books as part of fair use; and since Google’s scanned copies were “fair use,” the authors and publishers received nothing. Google was not allowed to create its universal library, and the out-of-print books exist somewhere, scanned and ready but locked away.

Act V: So… Now what?

The end of the drama concludes not with a murder or further intrigue, but rather with a quiet whimper. The Atlantic article concludes with the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when the U.S. Government takes the Ark of the Covenant and simply shelves it away. As a lover of books and knowledge, the image resonates with me.

A simple flick of a switch, a short line of subroutine, and suddenly over 25 million books become instantly accessible. An eternal, universal library erected as “one of the great[est] humanitarian artifacts of all time.” 3.

BUT, with the excitement of such a possibility also lies the scary reality: a single corporation would hold the keys to this universal library. All of human knowledge and publication held by a lone, colossal mega-corporation. It sounds like the plot for a science fiction movie, except that it very nearly happened.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Becky Eldredge Explains the Examen

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 05:30

By dotMagis Editor

Becky Eldredge, dotMagis blogger and author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls, walks us through the steps of the Examen in this four-minute video. As Eldredge explains it, the steps are: Ask for the Holy Spirit’s help. Be thankful. Notice God’s presence. Notice the lack of God’s presence. Look to the future. For a peek into why Eldredge loves praying the Examen, watch her conversation with Paul Brian Campbell, SJ, here. ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Becky Eldredge Explains the Examen, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

John Jesus Muhammad Eric Clapton ________

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 02:01

My only thought was to get him out of the building. I’m not a small person; I’d use force if I had to.

He slipped in on the heels of a high school group who had come to tour our school. I greeted the eager, young, college-bound kids, and just like that I was faced with a true stranger. A man probably experiencing some form of poverty and mental instability. A man who didn’t belong, who wasn’t supposed to be there.

He walked right up to me. He wore sweatpants cut off below the knee. And over the sweatpants, a ragged pair of camouflage shorts doctored to look and function like a makeshift tool belt, torn, dangling pockets bulging with items unseen.

He spoke. “Shanti, shanti, shanti – as-salamu alaykum, alaykum, alaykum – Shanti, Shanti – as-salamu-alaykum!” Peace. Peace be upon you.

In the moment, it didn’t register with me that he was offering words of tranquility. The situation was anything but tranquil.


We shared perhaps 10 seconds of pleasantries, but my hesitation about him didn’t fade. I told him my name was Eric. The front desk worker looked on, dialing a phone lifting it up to her ear. A nondescript call to campus safety.

“Eric the Red! A viking!” he said with enthusiasm. “No one knows my real name. But, I’ve had five names in the past. Five powerful names.”  His eyes pierced me, bright blue with pupils rimmed by a subtle golden sunburst. He had a dark round circle on his right temple, maybe a birthmark or a coverup for some old tattoo on his face. Sprawling across his dry, cracked hands were black lines, serpentine permanent ink that twisted away beneath his long sleeves. His knuckles were bleeding, freshly sliced open.

He asked for the pen in my pocket, took out a business card, and began to scribble as he spoke with rapid-fire words.

“My first name began with a ‘J’ – John the Baptist, the messenger, and my second name began with a ‘J’ – Jesus Cristo…”

“My friend,” I interrupted. “It’s so beautiful outside. Do you mind if we enjoy the sunshine together while you tell me your names?”

He obliged without hesitation, and I made eyes with the desk worker. Relief.

As we left the building, he continued. “My third name was Muhammad,” he said. “The prophet. And, you’ll never guess my fourth name.”

“Joseph Smith?” I asked. I thought maybe I had his pattern down.

“No, no man – Eric Clapton! Clapton! He could wail. Eric – just like you. Eric the Red, but your beard is more brown than red. Nope. It’s not even red at all. It’s just brown. But you’re still Eric the Red. Eric the Red with the brown beard…”

By now, a campus safety officer had arrived, and my (to that point) four-named friend sensed his time was up. The officer was kind and gentle, encouraging John Jesus Muhammad Eric Clapton along. Before he left, though, I asked whether he needed anything.

“Yeah, man – I need a little more time with you. I have so much to say – 23rd floor, Triple – A, above Abraham’s attic, V. Edwin, my grandfather, who was scared of the letters of his name…I only live on the 23rd floor above Abraham’s attic. My grandfather left me because he was so scared of his name. ‘IT’S JUST ONE SIMPLE NAME’ I’d tell him, but he would never live above Abraham’s attic with me…”

“Hey, listen – I’d love to chat more, but I have to work. You understand, right?” Those piercing eyes met mine, and his bloody knuckles extended out. I offered my own, and after our fists met, he started walking away. He turned back and launched into a rap-poem-prayer of some kind. I turned to head back inside and teach, leaving the officer to watch alone.


I’ll likely never know his fifth name. John Jesus Muhammad Eric Clapton ________. Maybe Taylor Swift or Donald Trump or Cookie Monster. And if I meet him again, I suspect that he wouldn’t be able to relive or recall the moment we shared. It started with an alarm that had to be silenced, but once I understood him a bit, I knew he wasn’t someone to be afraid of. Perhaps just someone who wanted to be heard for a while.

And, perhaps, someone who in a sense was all those people.

John the Baptist – a messenger, calling me to patience, greater love, and reminding me that it’s not about me. Jesus, who came among us in an unexpected way and who got pushed out from time to time. Muhammad – a prophet, one who offers words that are hard to understand but hold great significance. And Eric Clapton – one who, when he does what he does, leaves people with a memory that doesn’t fade.

His real name will remain a mystery. And, I didn’t give him as much time as he wanted. But, his names revealed a deeper truth: he was just who he said he was.


The cover photo was taken by Jennifer Aguilar (an Arrupe College student). Check out her Instagram page.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Grace of Failure

Ignatian Spirituality - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 05:30

By Tim Muldoon

This topic came up in class, and it gets better as I continue to think about it. Here’s the thumbnail: the young Ignatius went to Jerusalem to imitate St. Francis, wanting to walk in Christ’s footsteps and convert Muslims. But after he got there, the local priests sent him packing, and he was dejected. Why did God set him up for failure? One of the most difficult periods in my own life was a professional failure. It [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article The Grace of Failure, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Why does the Left have a religion problem?

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 02:14

The American Left has a religion problem.

The problem is that there is no religion on the American Left, or not in a meaningful way. The largest religious group in the Democratic party, for instance, are “nones”: almost 4 in 10 Democrats. That’s bad for the Left, bad for America, and bad for the Church. It’s even bad for the Right.

Where is the Religious Left?

The phrase “Religious Left” is a strange-sounding phrase, and that’s my point: we associate religion in politics with the Right. While conservatives don’t hold a monopoly on issues of religion and politics – one thinks of Catholic social justice advocates – the Right has managed to convince Christians it does.

But this is simply bad for the Church: Christian teachings are not the same as any party’s platform, and nothing is worse than the appearance that it is. Take the most obvious example: Donald Trump is arguably the least Christian president in U.S. history. While Trump is a Presbyterian, many have argued that his moral character hardly reflects the heart of the Gospel. And yet because he ran against a Democrat widely feared by the Religious Right, he won more evangelical votes than Bush, Romney or McCain.

Meanwhile, the lack of religion on the Left means that the Left approaches such issues as tone-deaf outsiders. Many have argued that the Democratic party should re-think its pro-choice party platform. This is unlikely to happen. What is problematic, too, is the lack of attempts of the Left to try to understand how abortion is connected to religion for many people. Even if Hillary didn’t lose because of abortion, there is no question that the Left’s perceived anti-religiosity hurts it at the polls. As one former Obama aide put it, the Democrats are “not even pretending to give these [religious] voters a reason to vote for them.”

So where does the Left’s religion problem come from? For one thing, the Left is young, and young people are less likely than older age cohorts to be religious: 5 in 10 millennial Democrats are nones. That’s a huge problem: who is going to replace the Baby Boomers on the Christian Left?

Second, the “Religious Right” has made the idea of a politically active religion off-putting for many on the Left. This point is so obvious that we don’t even know we know it. 

Third, one cannot forget the secular tendencies of the progressive Left. While the Left in the U. S. has historically had a warm relationship with religion, many strains of the European Left view religion with suspicion. Are such attitudes affecting the American Left as it becomes more progressive?

There is no question that the fastest way to rebuild the Christian Left would be to evangelize millennials, as someone like Jim Wallis at Sojourners is doing. But this will be tricky. Most “nones” were raised in a religious household but then left that religion, often because they stopped believing its teachings.

We also need to ask hard questions about the secular ideologies of the Democratic party. The Democratic party is known for its support of equality and human rights, but why does that support always put it on a crash course with Christians churches, and especially the Catholic Church? That can’t always be Christians’ fault.

Most importantly, Christians will have to find a way to rebuild a distinctively Christian politics of the Left. What do I mean by distinctively? Bishop Barron has recently called attention to the “identity/relevance dilemma”:

The more we emphasize the uniqueness of Christianity, the less, it seems, the faith speaks to the wider culture; and the more we emphasize the connection between faith and culture, the less distinctive, it seems, Christianity becomes.

Speaking of Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option, Barron argues that Christians on the Right have lost the point of the Christian message in their attempt to join forces with conservatives and become politically relevant.

Perhaps there is an analogous problem on the Left. Has the Religious Left, in its desire to join the broader coalition of the Left, ceded its ability to argue for the distinctiveness and power of religion on the Left, allowing itself to be just another bland facet of the Left in exchange for relevance? Certainly many Christians on the Left have worked very effectively with secular movements to secure basic human rights and needs. But do they do so as just another NGO? 

These arguments cut both ways. As I came to see in my interview with Rod Dreher, we desperately need a Religious Right that puts its faith before its politics. But at least the Religious Right is having that conversation. Where is the Religious Left’s crisis?

What do you think? What can we do to repair the Left’s relationship with religious voters?  And how can the Religious Left lead the way?


Image courtesy FlickrCC user Roger Jones.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Tasting the Breeze

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 05:30

By Andy Otto

I was recently asked how we can “turn down the noise” in our lives so we can better notice God around us. What I don’t think we actually do is listen to the noise. How often do we pause to notice the sounds coming into our ears? The sights and colors entering our eyes? The scents entering our nostrils? It’s this kind of awareness that’s key to an Ignatian spiritual life. St. Ignatius would call [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Tasting the Breeze, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Pope Francis: The World is Not Round

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 02:14

Globalization has drawn a wide range of cultures into encounter with one another. While this process of globalization affects everyone, it particularly challenges Catholics as they struggle to reconcile this reality into their faith lives. How do such culturally diverse groups of people ascribe to this one, universal Church? Pope Francis provides an image of two contrasting geometric figures to aid in rethinking how we encounter the multicultural Church. It is an image, moreover, from which any person of good will can benefit.

At General Congregation 36, a world-wide meeting of Jesuits, when asked about his thoughts on the effects of globalization and the problems of colonization, Pope Francis spoke about the danger of conceiving this process as a “sphere,” that is, as a process of standardization. This standardizing process seeks to impose a single world-view, a homogenous vision for society, economics, politics and culture. In contrast,  the polyhedron, a multi-sided geometric figure, better preserves this multicultural richness. “Our image of globalization should not be the sphere,” Pope Francis reflects, “but the polyhedron. It expresses how unity is created while preserving the identities of the peoples, the persons, of the cultures.”1  

For Pope Francis, this geometric metaphor offers a way to shift the individual’s disposition when thinking about the issues of globalization. We should not see the world as a homogenous, standardized sphere, but rather a multi-sided, yet unified, polyhedron. He has used this metaphor previously, and as other writers have noted it is potentially complicated. Pope Francis, however, is merely advocating for a shift in thinking about the process of globalization as potentially positive. In fact, all people of good will can benefit from adopting such a shift in how better to encounter the multicultural world.

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To see the globalized world in regards to the polyhedron requires both cultural humility and spiritual openness. Humility is a central spiritual disposition in the Christian life, and is especially important in Ignatian spirituality. Spiritual poverty, or humility, allows us to be empty of our preferences and be wholly open to Christ. Cultural humility speaks to a similar tension. If in our multicultural encounters we lack an openness to learn or, worse, have an unreflective arrogance, we indeed block ourselves off to the richness of the body of Chris. We intentionally or unintentionally globalize in the spherical fashion. Rather, like Christ who models humility for us in the Gospels, we too ought to seek a cultural humility in our encounters to better open ourselves up to the experience of Christ in others. Having this spiritual openness better disposes us to grow in our own faith lives, and it deepens our experience with the truly Universal Church. But even for non-Catholics, recognizing how cultural humility and an attitude of openness better prepares ourselves for richer encounters with our neighbors across the globe. Adopting such a disposition is easier said than done, but it will be a great start to keep a spirit of  humility and openness at the center of our cross-cultural encounters.

The polyhedron can be a helpful way to understand the desires Pope Francis has for each of us. Seeing the globalized world and the multicultural Church as one united through a variety of rich identities will help us grow as a global society and in the Body of Christ. We must reflect on our own cultural heritage in the context of a globalized society, recognize the reality that we will continuously be drawn into global encounters, and better dispose ourselves to be culturally humble and spiritually open. The unity of all Christians and all people lies not in our cultural identities, however, but in our faith in Jesus and our trust in one another. If we start there, we might be surprised at how we continue to grow in appreciating the many rich cultures both in the Catholic Church and throughout our polyhedron world.
This post is an adaptation of a presentation given at Saint Louis University’s ATLAS Week.


Image courtesy Catholic News Service/Paul Haring.

Categories: Things Jesuit

What Makes You Hesitate?

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 05:30

By Rebecca Ruiz

I often revisit Ignatius’s reflections on the Resurrection in the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises at this time of year. This year, I am finding myself moved in a particularly unexpected way by Matthew 28 (SE 307): Meanwhile, the eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. —Matthew 28:16–17 I imagine myself on Mount [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article What Makes You Hesitate?, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

A Therapy Session with John Mayer

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 02:00
Embed from Getty Images

It was the summer of 2003 and the Counting Crows and John Mayer embarked on a US tour. Me and a couple good buddies went to see the Crows hoping they were the headliner. Nope. The headliner was this skinny guy in his mid-twenties in a t-shirt with his band and his guitar.

I didn’t come to see John Mayer. I thought he was “poppy pop pop”. “Your Body Is a Wonderland” and I’m not interested. Girls go Ga Ga and I go OK pal what you got? Turns out he had more than I ever knew he had. When he played, I didn’t hear anything but his guitar. And O that guitar. According to my friend Drew, that guitar brought tears to my eyes.

I was a man who spent his college years listening to Zeppelin and Jimmy Page, Hendrix, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, even a little Robin Trower.1 These are some guitarists man! The best and brightest! And this skinny guy reminded me of all of them and somehow sounded such that he was taking it to a whole-nother level. All I remember is Mayer’s guitar screaming into the night and illuminating the sky with every lick and sensationally stunning run. Then I forgot all about Mayer. His music just didn’t reach me.

Many years later, I encountered Mayer’s Born and Raised album. I was in my late 20’s feeling like I was still very much trying to find my way. I was asking the big questions and was trying to retrace my steps, examine my conscience, and wonder where to go from here. When Mayer was singing “all at once it gets hard to take, it gets hard to fake who I won’t be” he was singing straight to me, singing to my soul, to the depths of me. Mayer was singing to me and I was like, what in the world? Who is this man? I thought I knew. I didn’t have a clue.

Turns out he didn’t have much clue either.  He was finding himself right before my eyes, letting go of whatever wasn’t true and beautiful and everlasting. Like me, Mayer was undergoing a transformation. A much needed one. After a pair of interviews featuring a certain shallowness and insensitivity, he became hounded by the media and a persona non-grata to his peers.2  So, seeking rebirth he took off for for Montana in 2010 where he examined his conscience.

This year, when asked by NPR how he got over being perceived as a shameful inhuman womanizer, he literally said: “just die and come back to life.” What? Die and come back to life? That’s crazy talk man. That’s what spiritual gurus say. That’s what people say after they’ve gained wisdom and realized it ain’t about them, it’s about who they are becoming, about who they desire to become, and what they are doing with their gifts. After his awakening, Mayer doesn’t get himself wrapped up in what other people (most of whom “don’t care about him anyways” are saying). He doesn’t get wrapped up in the cycle of shame anymore.

So, reborn in the hills, he “found home”. Which is to say, he started to accept himself. He began to accept his limitations, his shortcomings, and his fears of failure. He became rejuvenated in mind, body, and spirit. In his words he became “a man”, he became a “grown-up”.

What’s more important is why Mayer had to “find home”. From a 2012 Rolling Stone profile:

The kid had his own worries. For one, his parents fought a lot, which he says led him to “disappear and create my own world I could believe in.” Also, he’d begun to suffer from anxiety attacks and feared ending up in a mental institution.”

He sought psychiatrists and therapists to help cope. He would often deal with his anxiety by isolating himself in his room to play guitar.

At the height of his stardom, his anxiety largely involved his fear that his career as a musician and the fame that comes with it would flame out if he wasn’t being lavished with praise. He was anxious because he was constantly worried about his persona in the public eye. He wanted to give flawless performances to gain the approval of the masses. He wanted to impress and please. One negative comment about a song or performance would send him into ruminations that would only intensify his anxiety and leave him feeling ashamed.

The problem with shame is that I feel like I am unlovable as I am. Shame is poisonous and it is linked to my anxieties over whether I “measure up” or not. Shame often isolates me and leaves me lonely and afraid. Mayer has had his fair share of experience with loneliness as I’m sure I’ve had and will have again.

When Mayer and I reject our imperfections we reject ourselves. We shame ourselves into believing we are a bad person. This shaming entraps us in fear and anxiety. It keeps us from being free to love, to express compassion and courage. When I am courageous enough to open up and be honest and transparent like Mayer does in his music, he and I can help those we open up too and ourselves in the process.

I’m grateful John Mayer endured the trials he did as a budding teen and has the imperfections he has as a self-proclaimed “recovering ego addict” so he can write music that literally calms the anxieties of others and keeps them from having their own panic attacks.  Thank God for that skinny kid who can wail on guitar.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Easter Comes Late

Ignatian Spirituality - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 05:30

By Cara Callbeck

Sometimes in our lives Easter comes when we are still very much in the desert of Lent. Maybe we have lost a loved one, are living through a personal struggle, or are caring for someone who is ill. Whatever the case, we can find ourselves in the desert much longer than 40 days. In such times, Easter Day becomes but a date on the calendar, and we find ourselves still kneeling at the foot of [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Easter Comes Late, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Sexual Abuse and the Culture of Fear

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 02:14

It’s official: Bill O’Reilly is out of a job. After accusations of sexual harassment began to snowball against him in recent days, even a last-minute visit with the Pope couldn’t save his top-rated FOX News slot.

O’Reilly is the latest in a line of high profile cases of sexual misconduct, including those of former Fox News chair Roger Ailes, Uber, Choate Rosemary Hall, and Sterling Jewelers (owner of Kay, Jared and Zales). Unfortunately, the list goes on and on.

In most, if not all of these cases, the accusations betray a larger cultural problem beyond just an individual’s reprehensible behavior. Abuse or worse goes unreported because of a culture of silence and fear.

The story always seems to run the same way. Victims are afraid to speak up because it would rock the boat, harming their careers, socially isolating them, and causing themselves tremendous psychological pain. Other members of the institution turn a blind eye, because they say it’s not their problem or are unwilling to deal with the awkwardness. Victims remain silent until a critical mass is reached, when many finally feel safe to come forward. Then the evil becomes news.

How can we combat this culture of silence and fear? “The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). Institutional and personal transparency and accountability are essential to beginning to address this cultural problem. Institutions must adopt policies and procedures to address claims fairly and with concern exclusively for the wellbeing of people over the reputation or preservation of the institution. Responses along these lines are the common response after the scandal breaks.

Personal transparency and accountability is a less common response, but are just as important for preventing abuse. Men especially need to own up to their own weaknesses and impulses, and learn to deal with them in healthy, appropriate ways. These internal issues are not exclusively related to sex, but are often psychological and social, especially related to power dynamics and self-worth. While external policies and procedures can and should hold people accountable after the fact and disincentivize misbehavior, ultimately what is internal to a person is the only thing that can truly prevent abuse.

I don’t know if Bill O’Reilly is guilty of sexual harassment, but if he is, I hope that he might live up to his principles and be honest with himself at least. Especially as a Catholic and a self-professed defender of conservative “family values,” he owes it to himself, his family, his viewers and especially his victims to admit that he did wrong, that he fell short of his faith, and that he depends upon God’s mercy for forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. Only when we all are able to be honest with ourselves, admit to our faults and ask forgiveness, will we be able to build cultures based on mutual respect and dignity.


Image courtesy FlickrCC user Justin Hoch.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Expressing My Love for God

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 05:30

By Becky Eldredge

This post is based on Week Eight of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure. Some of St. Ignatius’s most noted words can be found in one of the last meditations in the Exercises: “Love shows itself in deeds more than words.” (SE 230) As I reflect on these words, it reminds me that Jesus desires concrete acts in response to the abundant love and gifts God offers us. So how do we express our love for God [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Expressing My Love for God, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

You’re right.

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 02:01

“Garrett, you’re sick of us, aren’t you? All day today you’ve been kind of snappy every time we asked a question.”

“No, it’s just that…”

Insert excuse here. Insert another. But before I began, she bravely turned her head to look me in the eyes, a sort of exclamation point or double underline or italics for her words – words that, frankly, already made their point quite well. I stopped. And despite the tremendous fatigue of four days of overtime chaperoning, my mind sprinted through the millions of things that I could say.


They say that in make-or-break moments, moments your brain calculates to be worth the adrenaline rush, the blast of that natural drug slows time down and we somehow have an eternity to react in such a way that ensures our survival. The adrenaline kicked in; I weighed three possible responses in what seemed like infinite time.

First possible response: I solved this already.

Why are you asking about the schedule today? Saturday and Sunday we went through this same thing, again and again. I was the sole possessor of the trip itinerary, y’all asked me what was next, I responded, again and again, patience fading with each response, until I realized the problem. And then I solved it. I gave you the schedule. I put it in the groupchat. Along with a funny, clever and apologetic meme. You have it now. Problem solved…right?


Second possible response: Yes, we’re all tired.

Yes, I am tired. Yes, we are tired, all four of us chaperones…this is a lot of work. Can you cut us a little bit of slack? We ARE trying. I’ve been this tired since day one, and I have been trying my best to be the most compassionate and patient version of myself every time I get flustered, like just now, but this time I couldn’t pull it off.

You got me.

Third possible response: I’m far more overwhelmed than I look.


I have the same schedule that you do. And though I co-planned the trip, I don’t know much more than you do.

This is the first time I’ve planned one of these! It sounded delightful in my mind – an “intercultural exchange”, a “two-way cultural immersion” – proposed by the campus minister of the other school. It sounded awesome, a meeting of two groups of 10 high schoolers from a mostly Mexican-American high school in Waukegan, Illinois and a mostly Oglala Lakȟóta high school in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. It sounded exciting and adventurous, an immersion first in Waukegan then in Pine Ridge: visitors would become hosts, hosts would become visitors, sharing prayers, foods, service and 35 hours of I-90 round-trip road tripping…and, truth be told, this is turning out to be far more delightful than I even imagined–but, truth be told, also far more demanding…

These things don’t plan themselves. You can only do so much before you dive in, because you can’t plan for what you don’t know to plan for…

Yes, we have a schedule, but this is all-new territory for both me and the campus minister at Cristo Rey. Yes, we have a schedule, but we’re also making it up as we go along, hustling when we see you all getting antsy, staying when we see you getting deep, and trying to ride these waves as best we can.

You all have been so good, so open, such good listeners, such good sharers, so patient with our long days and short nights…I am truly grateful. But your question hit me right where I’m most vulnerable right now…


Back to reality. As she looked up again, I responded with something between my head’s snappy comeback and my heart’s sappy declaration of insecurity:

“Mariah, you’re right… I have been snappy today. I am sorry.”

“No, that’s okay. It’s just if you leaders get crabby, we get crabby, too.”

“Ah…well, honestly, we’re just standing by right now, waiting for our next move, letting some of the folks over there finish talking. We’ll all be going to the service site, soon. How was lunch? Crazy story that guy told, huh?” I felt my tone shift, immediately, and watched hers shift to match.

“Yeah…” Her mind seems to switch tracks – “So do we really need to wear hair nets at that service thingy this afternoon?”

The next day, the three other chaperones and all ten of my students slept soundly through the first six hours of the long drive home. Seven albums in a row, a sunrise in the rearview mirror, an open road ahead and a minibus without cruise control all to myself–I catalogued all my favorite moments of the trip. 

I wondered how I was so awake, so happy, and so ready to host ten students and chaperones at our place in less than two weeks–a bit of a surprise after the previous five days’ mounting fatigue. I won’t tell you what my favorite moment was, but I’ll give you a hint: it was an unexpected one. It was bold. It was a game-changer.


The cover image, from Flickr user Sandro Lombardo, can be found here.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Live as Easter People

Ignatian Spirituality - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 05:30

By Vinita Hampton Wright

Easter has arrived! We made the long way through Lent; some of us journeyed through the liturgical marathon that is Holy Week, with its multiple services leading up to the Great Easter Vigil. Now we dwell in the weeks prior to Pentecost. Yes, we keep looking forward to the next event in the Christian year. Jesus has risen from the dead; in the coming weeks, as we hear in the Gospel stories, he will appear [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Live as Easter People, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Sins of the Past and Hope for the Future

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 02:14

“Oh honey, my family’s been working for the Church for a long time.”

I knew from the playful twinkle in her eyes, the seriousness on the rest of her face, and the way she said “long” that she didn’t mean her mother had been the parish secretary before her. She meant her family had been working for the Church for a very, very long time — and not by choice.

I had just met a descendant of slaves. I, a Maryland Province Jesuit and alumnus of Georgetown University, was standing face-to-face with a woman whose biological forebears were the slaves of my spiritual forebears. I don’t think my jaw dropped, but my heart certainly fell.


In 1838 The Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus sold 272 men, women, and children. Prior to that sale, slaves had been used to maintain plantations that helped support and finance the activities of Maryland Jesuits, including the operations at Georgetown. Jesuit leaders eventually concluded, however, that slaves were no longer an economically viable model for maintaining operations.

As a result, these 272 people were sold for $115,000, which is the equivalent of approximately $3 million today. Some of the money of the sale was used to pay off construction debts at Georgetown, and so helped to keep the school open. Several decades later and for unclear reasons, two buildings at Georgetown were named after the two Jesuits who organized the sale.1


I’ve known Georgetown and the Maryland Jesuits owned slaves for a while. I first learned about it from a Jesuit I met in college.

After I entered the Jesuits, that same Jesuit took my fellow novices and me on a tour of the part of Maryland where the Society of Jesus first came to what became the 13 original colonies. We learned about the Jesuits’ participation in a voyage across the Atlantic driven by a desire for religious tolerance, the early efforts of Maryland Catholics to peacefully coexist with local Native Americans, and how the Maryland Jesuits not only survived the Universal Suppression of the Society of Jesus but managed to come out of it a full nine years before the Suppression was officially lifted by the Pope. We got to visit the longest continually-operating Catholic parish in the country and a number of original missionary outposts dating back to the 17th century.2 Finishing that tour I felt like I was standing on the shoulders of giants. I was proud.

As an alumnus of Georgetown University I was even prouder. My alma mater looms large in the history of the Jesuits in that region, and when I learned how Georgetown can trace its roots all the way back to 1634 I was all set to declare Georgetown the oldest university in the country. (#sorrynotsorry, Harvard!)

And our Jesuit guide taught us more about the slaves. At that point, the best evidence suggested that some of the proceeds of the sale of the slaves had gone to support the expenses of Jesuits in formation.3 I remember immediately wondering if blood money had contributed to the money I had just used to buy lunch. Suddenly my chicken salad sandwich became less appetizing. The recognition that the same religious order that brought Catholicism to this part of the country had chosen to treat human beings as property and were more concerned with economic evaluations than human dignity made me feel that the giants on whose shoulders I stood became noticeably shorter.

However, my pride continued to swell as we visited a small parish that used to be staffed by Jesuits. This parish had originally been founded because the black Catholics in town weren’t welcome to pray alongside their white sisters and brothers. A Jesuit, Horace McKenna, came to be involved with this new parish, which eventually culminated in significant involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.

When learning about the history of this parish from one of the women who works there, I was immediately struck by the continued vitality of the parish and the pride she and the other women involved there took in both the past and present of their community. And so I asked how long she’d been at the parish.

And then, there I was, speaking with a woman whose ancestors may well have worked on plantations just a few miles from where we stood at that very moment. And those plantations might have been owned by the same men who helped shape the Jesuit and Georgetown history I’d been spending all day feeling so proud of.

I was shocked. I was embarrassed. I didn’t know what to say.

While I’m reluctant to speak on behalf of this woman, it didn’t seem like she was blaming me for enslaving her ancestors. But it was clearly important to her that I, a Jesuit, know that we shared not only this conversation in the present, but the reality of Jesuit slaveholding in the past.

Meeting this woman has stuck with me ever since that afternoon in June of 2012. I’ve found myself carrying this question of how to respond to Georgetown and the Maryland Jesuits’ history of slaveholding into my prayer and my studies. A philosophy term paper, which required at least as much prayer as academic research, led me to conclude that I needed to become more responsible for the enduring legacy of slavery the day I enrolled at Georgetown University, and even more responsible the day I entered the Society of Jesus.


Over the last couple of years, Georgetown has taken significant steps in investigating and coming to terms with its slave-owning past. Much of the fruit of that work culminates today, April 18th,, as Georgetown, along with the Maryland Jesuits, hosts a Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition, and Hope and offers a formal apology for its slave-holding past in the presence of descendants of the former slaves. Additionally, the buildings formerly named for the Jesuits who organized the sale will be rededicated and named for one of the slaves sold in 1838 and a freed woman of color who founded a school for black girls in the Georgetown neighborhood.

These actions, while important, do not erase the grave sins of the past. However, if we have any hope of working toward a more just future we have no choice but to honestly and courageously engage the challenging and painful realities we find ourselves facing in the present.

It seems appropriate that Georgetown is taking these actions so shortly after Easter. When Jesus rose from the dead, the scars of his crucifixion didn’t magically disappear. On the contrary, Christ’s wounds became the starting point of reconciliation with Doubting Thomas. In the same way, our society still bears the scars of slavery and racism, and the only way we too can work towards reconciliation is by recognizing the wounds of those who continue to be marked by the legacy of slavery.

So what do we do about this “legacy of slavery” thing? Is that even real? Didn’t slavery end with the Civil War? And if not, the Civil Rights Movement certainly took care of any lingering racial inequality, right? Do we really have to spend time thinking and talking about this?

I think that seeing the on-going impact of slavery causes a lot of us to have the same reaction I had when the woman in Maryland told me she was a descendant of slaves. We get uncomfortable, embarrassed, and don’t know what to say. We want to look away. That seems, to me at least, to be an understandable initial reaction. But our reaction cannot stop there.

When the resurrected Christ appeared to Doubting Thomas, I’m sure Thomas felt embarrassed and uncomfortable. But rather than quickly looking away, he took the time to honestly look at and accept the reality of the wounds still evident on Christ’s body, even though the event of the Crucifixion was now in the past. The wounds were still there. The wounds are still there. We should follow Thomas’ example of not looking away.

Because we follow the wounded and resurrected Christ, we love and serve his wounded people. We know that the suffering and death of Good Friday must lead to the resurrection of Easter. Thus we should not and cannot allow the sins of our past to dictate the way we continue to act in the present and future.

Whether or not you can be present at Georgetown’s Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition, and Hope, I hope we can spiritually join with both my brothers and the descendents of our slaves in remembering the sins of the past, expressing contrition for their impact in the present, and praying in hope that the wounded and resurrected Christ may help us build a better future.

Author’s note: Special thanks to Fr. David Collins, SJ for his work as the chairperson of Georgetown’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, clarifying the historical details included in this piece, and introducing me to so much of Jesuit history, including this dark chapter.


Image courtesy the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus.

Categories: Things Jesuit


Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 04/17/2017 - 05:30

By Marina McCoy

In the Resurrection accounts, Jesus’ friends often need time in order to recognize him. Mary Magdalene initially thinks he is the gardener as she sits near the tomb, mourning. Did she not recognize Jesus because she assumed he was dead, and his Resurrection did not fit into her expectations? Only when he calls her by name does she recognize him. The disciples on the road to Emmaus initially dismiss Jesus as someone who is ignorant [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Resurrection, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Will Charity or Love Prevail?

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Mon, 04/17/2017 - 02:14

(The Latin “caritas” is translated into English as “love” as well as “charity.” Starting over after our Lenten almsgiving, we can take time to reflect and ask ourselves: are they really interchangeable?)


Charity shows itself in words
Love shows itself in deeds

Charity is: “I’ll see you when I can”
Love is: “every distance is not near”

Charity likes to be comfortable
Love likes to bring comfort

Charity has all the answers
Love listens for the answers

Charity hates mistakes
Love thrives in the messiness

Charity is from my surplus
Love is from my depths

Charity is for “those people”
Love is for “us”

Charity seeks the selfie
Love seeks to be present

Charity is: “I will save you”
Love is: “Your liberation is my liberation”

Charity looks for obstacles
Love finds opportunities

Charity doesn’t “see” color
Love faces reality

Charity pities the “poor”
Love knows that I too am poor

Charity can wait for tomorrow
Love always lives for today …

… because charity wants “good enough,”
And Love desires me to greatness now


Categories: Things Jesuit

Christ Has Risen!

Ignatian Spirituality - Sun, 04/16/2017 - 05:30

By dotMagis Editor

In this Easter season, Christ has risen in our churches, homes, communities, and workplaces. All of creation is illuminated by the new dawn brightening behind the Risen Lord, bringing his triumph into our lives. Please enjoy this imaginative prayer exercise for Easter based on Piero della Francesca’s 15th-century fresco of The Resurrection. Blessings on you, your family, and your faith community during this Easter season. ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Christ Has Risen!, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Time Well Spent, or 8 Reasons You Must Watch ‘Dr. Who’ Series 10

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sat, 04/15/2017 - 02:30
Embed from Getty Images

One muggy day in August 2015, I sat down to watch my first episode of Dr. Who.1  As it turns out, that was a fantastic decision.  I heard the intro music for the first time and watched a blue Police Box float through a wormhole.  Before I knew it, plastic mannequins came to life and started to attack this young girl, Rose Tyler.  My heartbeat quickened as I asked myself what kind of series this was.  Horror?  Sci-fi?  Rose seemed doomed.  And then we meet the Doctor.2  He takes her hand and leads her out of danger.  Though a bit rude and brash, his witty lines won me over in an instant.

I fell in love with the series and raced through nine Series and 12 Christmas specials over three semesters.  And, as we prepare to welcome the Doctor back for Series 10, I thought I would share some of the reasons we should be excited for the Doctor’s return.

1. It’s been a while.


The short answer is simple: no episodes have aired for Dr. Who since the Christmas special, “The Return of Doctor Mysterio.”  That three-month-hiatus is enough for me.  For more long-term fans of the series, there has been nothing but that special since December 2015.  A year is more than enough time to wait to get back inside the TARDIS.

2. Getting to know Dr. Who


The series’ title  asks one central question: who is the Doctor?  He has been portrayed by thirteen different actors throughout the series’ run.3  Each incarnation has a different personality, but deep down is the same character. With each new body, another aspect of who he is comes to light.

The Doctor can range from silly, as he defends his choice to wear a bow tie or a fez (regardless of what anybody else says),4 to serious, in his speeches in the face of hostile aliens.5  Operating between these two extremes, he demonstrates just how complex people really can be, as a Time Lord who effectively can live forever.

3. The companions who shape the Doctor


At their best, the companions make the Doctor a better person.  Rose Tyler taught him to care again after the scarring effects of the Time War and Donna Noble stopped the Doctor from turning into a monster in her debut.

This series, we are introduced to a new companion, Bill and we know little about her.  How will the Doctor react to travelling with a new person, especially after he went through hell6 to try and save the last one’s life?

4. The Fandom is bigger on the inside

The Whovian community has produced a number of adaptations of songs and a band that writes music inspired by the series.  The fandom extends far beyond costumes and music too.

The St. Louis Science Center hosts a Dr. Who night (where yours truly may or may not have been in attendance. A number of people dressed as characters from the series, including some incredible handmade costumes.  One person had hand-knitted the Fourth Doctor’s scarf and another had made her own habit for this obscure character.

Did I mention that I have acquired three posters and a TARDIS travel mug which sits proudly on my desk.  And how else can I get away with wearing a bow tie and suspenders in public?

Sadly, no fez. River shot it. (courtesy of the author)

5. Tight writing takes you deep.

One thing that snuck up on me in watching Dr. Who is how tight the writing can be.  Sure, plot holes exist  in the overarching narrative, but the series does a wonderful job of subtly tying its series together.  Innocuous references throughout a series turn out to play a big role by the series finale.  Spoilers: count the number of Bad Wolf references in series 1 or Saxon in series 3.

Individual episodes also can carry tremendous weight.  Blink from series 3 contains perhaps the most well-known speech and explanation7 of time travel.  And the two-part story right before it explores the Doctor’s chance to be human.  It still gives me chills.

6. Villains, classic and new


The series continues to bring back classic villains like Daleks and Cybermen, while at the same time introducing new ones like the Weeping Angels.  Each antagonist, particularly the repeat ones, provide a different challenge for the Doctor and his companions, a different feel to the story, and it is richer for it.  What makes it even more interesting is that these villains often have great strength, powers, or weapons, but the Doctor can only use his wits to defeat them.

7. It’s fun!


When I stop and think about the series, I recall that I am following the (mis)adventures of an alien and his human companions as they travel through time and space in a blue Police Box.  As a premise, it is silly and nonsensical, and that is why I love it.  It can be sad to say farewell to companions8 or to the Doctor,9 but they make the series stronger and more versatile.  Still, Dr. Who is a fun romp at heart.

8. Something Big is going to happen.

Sadly, Peter Capaldi has announced this will be his last series as the Doctor.  This means that, by the Christmas special this year, we will be introduced to a new Doctor.  This is also the last series with Steven Moffat as the head writer.  The last time this happened, David Tennant tied together all of Russell T. Davies’ universe and opened the doors for Moffat’s brilliant writing.

Consider this an invitation to grab your Sonic Screwdrivers and join me.  Allons-y!


Categories: Things Jesuit