Friday, 29 August 2014

Farewells and Rebirths

By John D. O'Brien, S.J., on behalf of the Ibo writers

Credit: Santiago Rodriguez
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. –Winston Churchill
The time has come to say farewell to our loyal readers. Sort of. For we are not so much departing from you, nor you from us, as we are putting to rest the format of communication that has served us both so well these past few years. The editors and writers of Ibo have decided that this will be the final article here, as we migrate to an exciting new blog-site hosted on Patheos.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Three Impediments to the Christian Faith that St. Augustine Overcame, and Why They Still Matter

By Adam Hincks, S.J.


Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear. – J.R.R. Tolkien

Many of the things get in the way of Christian faith and have remain remarkably consistent through the ages. Here are three roadblocks that St. Augustine, whose feast we celebrate tomorrow, had to overcome before fully embracing the Catholic faith, as described in his autobiographical Confessions.

1. Disordered Sexuality

When it comes to sex, St. Augustine wears his heart on his sleeve in the Confessions, speaking with remarkable frankness. He is famous for relating that as young man he used to pray, ‘Give me chastity and continence, but not yet’ (VIII, 7). Unfortunately, he lived in a culture, not unlike ours, in which chastity was seen as unmanly. When his friends boasted of their own conquests, he was eager not to lose face with them:

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Day I Wanted to Punch Jesus

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

"My arms are too short to box with God.” - Johnny Cash

I got into a fistfight once. It was more of a crazy dance than a boxing match. I’d like to think that I was defending my then-girlfriend's honour, but I was probably protecting my stubborn pride. I hated that fight. I was terrified and my heart thumped in my chest, but I knew I had to fight. The way I remember the fight we both got our noses bloodied. In all likelihood, I got the worst of it. Hopefully, the other guy thought of me as he got out of bed the next day. I doubt he did. That’s the closest I’ve ever been to being a boxer. Fisticuff games don’t count, regardless of what my brothers might say.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Having Tea with China

By Edmund Lo, S.J.

Photo: Edmund Lo

I feel like I know you, yet I do not.

We share the same bloodline, but I was raised under colonial rule, for better and for worse.

I jokingly tell others that my Chinese friends think I am too western, whereas my western friends think I am very Chinese. This is who I am, but I want to know more about my roots. I am not a Sinophile, because I do not come to you as a foreigner; you are already a part of me. I just want to know you more. I have longed for such an opportunity, and it finally happened.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Bread in the Lord’s Prayer – Common misunderstandings

By Artur Suski, S.J.


One of the very first prayers that Christians learn is the Our Father. It’s a prayer that all Christians know and pray daily, and it’s one of the only prayers that Jesus taught us. It is such an important prayer that the entire English-speaking Christian world has adopted the same translation.

As I’ve been reading some commentaries on the Greek text of the Lord’s Prayer, I’ve come to see how much meaning we miss in the English translation. Consequently, also lost in translation is some of the original intent that Jesus had in mind.

It is some of these findings that I would like to share in this post. I’ve decided to limit myself to the sentence that has provoked the most discussion over the ages, the phrase “give us this day our daily bread.” Here are three points that I will tackle:

Friday, 15 August 2014

Viva La Vida

By John O'Brien, S.J.

On the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe (Aug 14), patron of journalists among other things, I noted that my birthday — or “anniversaire” as they say here in Quebec — had arrived.

It’s the anniversary of being “dato alla luce” (literally: given to the light), as the Italian phrase goes. But enough linguistic poaching. I’m presently enjoying days of villa with my Jesuit brothers on a lake in the Laurentian Mountains west of Montreal. “Villa” is Jesuitese for our annual week of relaxation, usually accompanied by hikes, films, novels, and this year at least, paint-ball. Yes, a large group of late-20 and 30-something professed religious let their primal survival instincts loose in an epic game of urban warfare. But I digress. As my birthday often falls during our summer villa-week, I get plenty of fraternal feting and roasting (the two go hand-in-hand in notre petite compagnie). But it also is a pleasant reminder each year to take stock, as a good existential philosopher might do, of the horizons of my being.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Does God Answer Prayers?

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

There will be an answer—let it be. – Paul McCartney

Does God answer prayers? This is one of the most common religious questions out there. It cuts straight to the question of what kind of relationship we can have with God. It informs how—or even whether—we pray. And it quickly branches out to a multitude of related questions. How can God answer conflicting prayer requests? If God doesn’t answer all our prayers, how can we know which he will answer? What kinds of things should we ask for and what should we not ask for?

I would like to suggest that asking whether God answers prayers is often the wrong question. Usually, it comes out of anxiety or unreflective doubts. Assurance that God “answers” requests is taken to be a sort of proof of faith. In such situations, the question that people should really be interested in is, “Is God listening to me?” And this is really distinct from whether he grants requests.