Monday, 28 July 2014

Seatback Entertainment: Progress or Stultification?

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

The medium is the massage. – Marshall McLuhan

I have always enjoyed flying, which is a blessing given that my current position involves a fair amount of travel. Apart from the security lines, I profit from the down-time in the lounge, I enjoy looking out the window of the aeroplane, and I actually like the little meals they bring right to your seat as though you were an astronaut. Finally, I appreciate the opportunity to watch films. A large fraction of the movies I see are at ten thousand metres off the ground.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Though the Gorge Was Mute, God Spoke at the Grand Canyon

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

Credit: Santiago Rodriguez

We went deep into the heart of Arizona to see the earth and the sky display their magnificence. After the last of the retreats of our summer tour, Adam and I drove for four days back to Milwaukee. Our first stop was one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon – an impressive and inspiring landscape, overwhelming our senses with its immense size and beauty. As our visit guide explained, almost two billion years of our planet’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and the wind cut through layer after layer of rock. This erosion resulted in combinations of spectacular forms and delightful geologic colours like every shade of red, citron, buff, russet, and pink. In its depths, the canyon is deep red, and at times brown or violet.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

I Would “Friend” You, Lord; But in What Way?

By Edmund Lo, S.J.

We all have friends. “Bros”, Best Friend Forevers (BFFs), close friends, acquaintances, you name it. Not surprisingly, the quality of the friendship depends on how well we know the person, and how much effort we put into the relationship. Think about those groups of friends that you have, with differing levels of intimacy. Which group does God fall into?

Let us be honest about this. Some of us have God in the “BFFs” category; others may have God in the “acquaintances”, or even the “speed-dial when crap happens in my life” category. Some only seek affirming or wise words from God when they want them. When this is the case, God is not any different from an inanimate book with wisdom sayings. Such a relationship is one-way with no strings attached: I call you up when I need a quickie. Or, some may have God in the “awkward” zone: I kind of know you, but I don't know how I feel about you.

Monday, 21 July 2014

[Not] Seeing the Face of Christ in the Homeless

By Artur Suski, S.J.

Three weeks in the Paris of North America. Three weeks contemplating the suffering and rejected Christ. Three weeks of soul-searching.

Though a Jesuit’s summer is often full of Jesuit-formation activities, such as making one’s own eight-day retreat and attending formation gatherings, there are chunks of time that often lend themselves to creativity. I had three weeks at my disposal and I decided to make good use of them. I have been the last three weeks in Montreal, volunteering at a well-established (since 1877) soup kitchen and shelter – Accueil Bonneau.

My initial decision was simply to come to Montreal in order to polish my French. Not really knowing how to go about doing this in a most effective way, I asked some French Canadian Jesuits for some suggestions. After a few email exchanges it was decided that I’d have lots of French conversation at a soup kitchen. Hence Accueil Bonneau.

Friday, 18 July 2014


By John O’Brien, S.J.

One night, which happened to be Good Friday, I sat in a friend’s living room and listened to a man describe his trip to hell and back. Human suffering was never so visible as it was in the face of that smiling man.

Lansana is from Sierra Leone, a west African country founded by former American slaves. In 1991, armed rebels, frustrated by decades of tribal discrimination and the huge gap between the poor and diamond-swollen rich, launched a civil war. In ten years it displaced or killed nearly one third of the population. For Lansana, the son of a moderately successful plantation owner, the war meant a descent into Dante’s inferno.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Astonishing Givenness of the World

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

Photo: John O'Brien, SJ

The whole of nature is something prepared for us, composed for us, given to us, delivered into our care by a supernatural dispensation. – David B. Hart

Being suddenly struck by the sight of the full moon is one of those commonly disarming experiences. The other night as I was walking down the street, I looked up and there it was, perfectly round and full and low on the horizon next to a church spire. I had not been at all aware of its phase, and it took me a bit by surprise. There it just was.

There is a mix of the familiar and the strange when one sees the full moon in this way—or any other weird or beautiful thing: a bridge over a river, a deer in the path, even the dripping of an icicle outside the window. It is not that it is something entirely new, for these are all things that are commonly seen, but rather the being surprised at all by its simple presence that is disarming: one is suddenly reminded that it is, rather than what it is. Such unexpected encounters are, I think, not uncommon, though some more than others have cultivated an attitude that makes them more alive to the sheer givenness of things in the world.

Monday, 14 July 2014

St. Petersburg and Montréal: A Tale of Finding God in Two Cities

By Br. Daniel Leckman, S.J.

St. Petersburg

In 2004, I spent a month in St. Petersburg, Russia. It’s a trip that affected me on many levels and created many incredible memories: like standing at the graves of Dostoyevsky, of Pushin, and of Tchaikovsky. It was also one of the first times in my life where I can remember having a deeply spiritual experiences in a city. Of course, St. Pete was like no other city I had ever seen. Her history, her architecture, her incredible colours, amazing metros, her culture … each one of her stories seemed to call to me. There are too many moments in this trip to recount in a short blog; but there is one that stood out.