Sunday 29 April 2012

A Jesuit on Mars

By Eric Hanna, S.J.

I think I'd like to be
A Jesuit on Mars
To soar through that black, airless sea

And evangelize the stars

Perhaps some child of the red sands

Awaits the Word of God

They'll gape in amazement as I land

In my ecclesial space pod

Friday 27 April 2012

Journey Home: Finding God in Me (& All Things)

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

Home is where the heart belongs. Being at home is about finding out where our hearts feel at peace, where we experience joy and transformation. For me, this very exercise of discernment has been my quest for God. For the last 13 years, it has been an intentional search. The adventure to find God in my life has been nothing short of an odyssey, or a quest for the Holy Grail. It meant my preparation for this expedition would lead me to God. When I set out, I knew that if the quest leads me to attain God, it would mean transformation and eternal life.

This story is like that of every eager and aspiring person who has set out to find the meaning of Life and the fountain of Truth. My intent to find God has configured me into Odysseus – leaving home to wander the open seas – while becoming a stranger, a guest in a world he did not fully understand. At first, the journey was about all the things I would have to learn, to acquire or to give up in order to experience the Divine. It was as much about learning as it was about unlearning. I had to unlearn unhealthy behaviours and habits. I had to relearn to accept myself.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

The Sensual Worshipper

By Artur Suski, S.J.

When we go to Church, we often tend to forget that we are both body and soul. We make efforts to block out what comes to us through the senses in order that we may all the better engage the spiritual. What ends up happening is that we see our body working against our soul. “Keep the sensual to a minimal,” you say. “Don’t add things that will pull you away from the spiritual,” you say.

But is this attitude healthy? One that should dominate our Sunday Masses? Are we not both body and soul? If so, should we not try to have a liturgy that involves both aspects, a liturgy that enables us to reach out to the Lord even through the senses? It is true that there are moments of inner contemplation in which we retreat from the senses; but for the most part, our lives do not allow for such a retreat. In that case, we have to discover how to engage the senses in such a way as to lead us closer to Jesus in our worship. A good liturgy would involve the five senses, yet in such a way as not to overwhelm us. Here are a few reflections on each of the senses:

Monday 23 April 2012

What I Love About Rose

By John D. O’Brien, S.J.

Those who know me are aware that I have a particular affection for a certain girl. There are many others who are attracted to her as well. She has great personality, has had a fascinating life, and makes me want to be a better person. I thought I’d share a bit about her today – readers, meet Rose Prince.

Rose was born in northern British Columbia, the daughter of Chief Joseph and his wife Agathe of the Carrier Nation, and studied at a residential school at Lejac, near Fraser Lake – about a two-hour drive west of the city of Prince George. I mention this because when I was a Jesuit novice, I hitchhiked there for my pilgrimage. It is silent and rugged country, awesome in its beauty. Bald eagles soar its skies, and mule deer and black bears rummage the grass along the side of the highway in late May.

Friday 20 April 2012

Collaboration and Communion

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

And from my pillow, looking forth by light
Of moon or favouring stars, I could behold
The antechapel where the statue stood
Of Newton with his prism and silent face,
The marble index of a mind for ever
Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.

A research group I work with, the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) collaboration, has recently published a couple of exciting papers. In one of them, we demonstrated the first-ever detection of the average motion of distant galaxy clusters using the afterglow of the Big Bang as a back-light. A few months earlier, we reported our discovery of an abnormally large, very ancient cluster of galaxies.  Perhaps because the catchy name we gave it―El Gordo―our announcement was picked up by not a few news agencies (BBC, CBC, NPR, CNN).

Thursday 19 April 2012

Doing little things with Great Love

By Brother Daniel Leckman, S.J.

How do we experience God’s Will for us? Many struggle with this question. We think we know what God wants, or maybe we confuse that with what we want. Either way, it seems that the struggle to know God’s Will is always part of our lives: “ What does the Divine and Infinite Lover want me to do with my life?”

This past week, a homily at the Newman Centre, a Catholic chaplaincy at the University of Toronto, put things into perspective for me and brought me back to St Therese of Lisieux. The priest contemplated and explored the struggle to know God’s Will by simply saying, “God wants you to be wherever you are, to do whatever you can with love, and in service to others.” I’m slowly getting this lesson!

Tuesday 17 April 2012

With a Little Help from My Friends

By Edmund Lo, S.J.

Today is the feast day of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Now I have only read one book on Blessed Kateri, so I am by no means an expert on the Lily of the Mohawks. I know that she underwent much suffering and discrimination to become a Christian, and that she was also known for her chaste life. She is perhaps most renowned for being a Native of North America.

I suppose this is how we conventionally learn about the saints of the Church: we read about them. A criticism on hagiography – the writings on the saints – is that this kind of “literary genre” is written in a way that portray the saints as perfect, impenetrable spiritual warriors. The portrayals of the saints are not human enough. It places too much emphasis on the good, and little, if any, on the bad. It is difficult to relate to them.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Jesuits of English Canada

By the blog editors

Last summer, the Jesuits who belong to the Province of English Canada, together with a number of their lay collaborators and a delegation of Jesuits from the French Canada Province, came together with Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, the Father General of the Society of Jesus, for a congress in Midland, Ontario. The occasion was the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Jesuits in Canada, and to pray, discern, and discuss directions for the future.

A short video was recently released that conveys the highlights of that historic gathering. It also provides a certain glimpse of the Jesuits in Canada today:

Thursday 12 April 2012

Happiness On Trial – Part II

By Artur Suski, S.J.

In my last blog (“Happiness on Trial I”), I presented two ideas of the Christian vocation. You are all very familiar with the first: “I want to be happy!” The Christian strives above all for her happiness. St. Thomas – with “a little help from his friend”, that is, Aristotle – states that the Christian will only be happy if she lives according to her human nature, and to truly live according to human nature, she is to be a ‘reasonable’ person; in other words, to use her reason. St. Thomas, of course, goes further than Aristotle: not only are we to use our noggin properly, we are also to contemplate God’s truths. We, however, will only be complete and truly fulfilled when we see God face to face. But it is not that simple … it is only when we live virtuous lives that we will be properly disposed to ascend to this glorious beatific vision!

So, what is wrong with this model? I’ve pointed out in my last post, using Bl. Duns Scotus’ reasoning, that this is too “me-centred”. Check out what Hans Urs von Balthasar says about this: “Now, if according to St. Thomas, God is the indispensable One, that without which the hunger for happiness cannot attain its end, is not there in this concept the danger of turning God inadvertently into an end? … In this perspective, God can certainly be the end of the human being – a desired end perhaps sought out through asceticism and mystical passion, with a scrupulous observance of the Commandments – but at the end of the day, it will be my end, it promises my ultimate fulfillment.”

Tuesday 10 April 2012

I Heard the Teacher Speak My Name

By John O’Brien, S.J.

She was sitting outside the cave, with nothing but a wretched ache in her heart. All she knew was that the one whom she loved was gone – the bitter taste of absence. Her love for him was not possessive or exclusive. Indeed, it was shared by many others. But that only seemed to increase the miracle that he was, and now the emptiness of the world without him. It is a blinding ache.

Which is why when she turns, and he is standing there, she doesn’t recognize him. Why am I weeping? Never mind, just tell me if you know where they have taken him. And then the unthinkable, the hope beyond all hope. “Mary,” he says. It is her own name, spoken by him – by him! – and her eyes are opened in an instant. He is back from the place of death, of not-being-here. “Mary,” he says simply, as if she should have known the loss would not be forever. Then she is daughter and sister and beloved all in one. She can feel the torrent of meaning contained in the speaking of her name: a gentle chiding, a reassurance, a calling, and a limitless loving that urges her back to life.

Friday 6 April 2012

Feeling Like Hell

By Edmund Lo, S.J.

One of our blog's faithful followers recently recommended Hemingway's “Today is Friday” in one of his comments, and I decided to check it out just to show that we really do appreciate our readers' comments. It is a short play concerning the conversation between three soldiers who were on guard during the crucifixion of Jesus. I find it quite an interesting read. All three soldiers bring intriguing perspectives in their own rights, but I will focus on the third soldier.

Throughout the entire play, he suffers from some kind of a stomach pain. He pleads with the other two to return to the barracks with him because he “feel(s) like hell tonight”, but stresses that it is neither because of the drinks nor the boys' night out; he simply feels like hell. We can make an educated guess that he is referring to how he feels after what transpired during the day, that is, the crucifixion.

Thursday 5 April 2012

The Cross: An Encounter with God and Our (Suffering) Brothers and Sister

By Eric Hanna, S.J.

A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads. —Mark 15:21–27

We often feel like once we have mastered the basics, we can move on to the more complicated stuff. But the basics, the foundations of our faith, can never be mastered or completed. They bear repeating again and again. The cross is just such a foundation. We must return to it again and again and continue to discover it. St. Augustine is said to have declared, “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song”. But, in this happy season, what is the place of the cross?

Hosanna: What Does My Love for Christ Inspire Me to Do?

By Brother Daniel Leckman, S.J.

On Sunday, I looked at my calendar for the umpteenth time this week, fully aware that my work load was not getting any lighter, and that I should be stressed; incredibly stressed. And yet, I did absolutely no work that Sunday morning. I slept in, made bread for the community, and at around 10:30 am I headed out, in a rainy Toronto day, to partake in a very special celebration.

As I was walking, I entered a prayerful expression of gratitude to our Lord for this special day, Palm Sunday. This day is meaningful for me for one reason: We spent all of Lent abstaining, sacrificing, and staying away from stuff we love in order to get closer to Our Lord. Not that our Lenten days should be considered as sad and mournful, but try walking around with a big smile on your face when you only have one day a week of meat and chocolate for more than a month!

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Nonviolence: The Hunger Games and Violence as Entertainment

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

I looked around – once, then twice – and after verifying that nobody familiar was around I did the deed: “One ticket for The Hunger Games, please.” Just a few days before, I had announced that I would not watch the film: children killing children is not something I want to witness. I have never read the books, but I have read enough reviews to know what the film contains. Within hours of tweeting my announcement, many had advised me on why the film was worth seeing: the film – just as the book – was a social commentary on violence, hegemony and totalitarianism.

I was doubtful whether it was the right thing to do. I brought it to prayer. I hoped to experience detachment, spiritual freedom, to let the Spirit guide my decision. Why do I want to see this film? Do I want to prove others or myself wrong? Do I just want to be entertained? In prayer, I discerned mixed feelings about the film. On the one hand, my growing desire to witness to nonviolence challenges me to discern the type of images and information to which I expose myself. Media that contain sex and violence are highly consumed, and are highly profitable. As I try to live nonviolence, it is important to abstain from films that glorify violence. On the other hand, I craved for the excitement of this type of film. After praying about the film, and weighing on the pros and cons of watching it, I decided to watch it, and to pray about my experience afterwards.

Sunday 1 April 2012

Choosing Books

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

All you have to do is write one true sentence.  Write the truest sentence you know.
(Hemingway, on how to begin a story)

Doing full-time philosophy studies involves a goodly amount of reading, leaving me with less time (and notably, energy) for my 'own' reading.  Having realised that I need to be more selective, I recently did something that I rarely do:  I abandoned a novel.  It was Lancelot, by Walker Percy. I had never read anything by him and that was the first book on the shelf I saw by him, so I took it. But I quickly found it plodding, uninteresting and even downright silly.  Finally, about three-quarters of the way through, I made the principled decision to put it aside. Life is too short.