Friday 31 August 2012

God and the Higgs Boson

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

Nor do I so forget God as to adore the name of nature. –Browne

When CERN issued a report of the discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson, the news made headlines around the world. I felt a particular thrill, for back in the summer of 2003 when I was an undergraduate, I worked at CERN on the ATLAS Forward Calorimeter. The hard work of literally thousands of people―including my own comparatively minuscule contribution―is bearing fruit. Physics is continues to explain more and more about our physical world, and that is reason for great excitement.

One of the reasons for the story’s success in the press is a nickname that has been widely adopted: “the God particle”. The familiar and tiresome science-religion narrative naturally ensued. Consequently, several people asked me to comment on it, and some suggested that I write something about it here.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Much Ado About Nothing

By Edmund Lo, S.J.


After my annual eight-day retreat in Montréal about two weeks ago, I decided to stick around for a few more days to visit friends. During those days, I was twice taken out to all-you-can-eat restaurants. Although I enjoyed the company very much, I felt ill at ease during the meals. It wasn't that the food was mouldy and disgusting, but it was rather the idea behind the all-you-can-eat or buffet concept that was jarring.

During my younger days in Vancouver, I used to enjoy these kind of meals quite a bit. After all, you can get a great quantity of food from a large selection for a fixed price. You may as well get your money worth, no? One example of that was Japanese food; it meant that I could have all the salmon sashimi that I had ever wanted. Then, somewhere down the road, I began to reflect on this experience of eating in general.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Leading Us to God: The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite

By Fr. Jeffrey Burwell, S.J.

(credit: Catholic Knight Blog)
Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree in July, 2007 concerning the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, called by many either the traditional Latin mass or the Tridentine liturgy. He explained that the ancient liturgy of the Church, normative for more than a thousand years until Pope Paul VI released the new missal in 1970, had never been abrogated. Rather, he claimed, the old mass was such an important part of Catholic tradition that it “must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage.”

Sunday 26 August 2012

Hope Springs from the Heart of Jesus

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

I have recently learned about the struggles and heartaches of many married couples for whom I deeply care. They have been in my prayers and thoughts throughout the summer; it is something that has affected my prayer life and my understanding of family dynamics.

It is with this disposition in the background that I watched the film Hope Springs a few days ago. It tells the story of a couple from Omaha, Nebraska who are struggling with their marriage. Kay (Meryl Streep) is married to Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones), a crotchety old man who takes no interest in his wife; he is rather content with the newspaper and the Golf Channel. Kay realizes that she wants a “real marriage” again and coerces her husband into attending marriage counselling. Their counsellor, Dr. Fend (a very subdued Steve Carell) then invites them to rediscover intimacy and to explore their feelings.

Friday 24 August 2012

Remembering a Prophet and Leader: Fr. Jim Webb, S.J. (1944–2012)

By Edmund Lo and Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

Some have understood prophets as those who hear the voice of God in the cry of his people. It can be said that this description also fits the late Fr. Jim Webb, S. J.

Fr. Webb—henceforth, Jim—was the former Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in English Canada who recently died of cancer. He was a man who was deeply in touch with God's poor. He learned very early in his Jesuit life that in order to authentically live out the vow of poverty, there is a need to live with the Jesus who is present in the poor and humble of our world. In a sense, Jim heard the cry of the poor and he longed to become a companion of the poor Jesus. He found this motivation in the second week of the Spiritual Exercises, in which the key grace is to follow Jesus Christ as closely and concretely as possible.

His personal identification with the poor and humiliated Jesus led him to seek the poor in our world—be it at West Avenue in Toronto, in Jamaica or in other places—in order to develop deep and life-giving friendships with them. He sought authentic friendships with the members of the mystical body of Christ. He was aware that his ministry with the poor was a kind of sacrament: it was both a sign of and a means to become closer to the poor and humble Christ. Indeed, as we become closer to the poor, we become closer to Jesus.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Top Ten Books of my M.A.

By John D. O'Brien, S.J.

As the summer winds down, one looks back on the great books discovered over the past year. In my case, I shall look back a bit farther and make it the past two years, since many came to light as a result of a master’s program in theology. St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote that “love consists in interchange between two parties”—that is, one shares what one has with the beloved. So, dear reader, may I share with you my top ten books of recent vintage, with the hope that you might enjoy them as I did.

Monday 20 August 2012

Recreating and Re-creating

By Artur Suski, S.J.

Summertime can be a time of relaxation and recreation. We work hard in the fall, winter, and spring; then comes the summer with its inviting weather, calling us to take time off to enjoy some time with family and friends. I have been reflecting on the word recreation recently: In our culture, this word is used for any sort of event that is not associated with a job or a necessary task; it is free time that is spent on doing something enjoyable. That is a good definition, but it is not a great definition. I would rather label this as relaxation.

Friday 17 August 2012

Driving Under the Influence...of Jesus

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

The vehicle in the left lane swerved in front of me. The driver neither signalled nor seemed to consider the distance between our cars. It took some self-control to not scream at him. Nonetheless, these thoughts resulted from this short encounter: “He needs some driving lessons or shock therapy”. The truth was that I needed to be more like Jesus. What this experience made evident was not the fact that there are bad drivers out there, but the fact that we all need to be witness to our Christian vocation even when we are driving. 

What would Jesus do? Clearly, Jesus did not have a car, but he rode a donkey or a colt several times. The Virgin Mary rode a donkey to Bethlehem. I am sure they were considerate to their fellow donkey-, camel- and horse-riders. Consideration and kindness go a long way when it comes to sharing streets, avenues and highways with other drivers. While driving, there are a few things we can to help to build the kingdom of God:

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Our Lady: The Soul of A Nation

By Brother Daniel Leckman, S. J.
I believe that every nation has a soul, and that this ‘soul’ is often expressed through the culture of its people. Some may argue that the culture of a nation has nothing to do with its soul, and everything to do with the artists behind it. This approach may be correct, but it does not appeal to the romantic in me! Therefore, whenever I travel to new places, I often turn to the arts in my quest for an understanding of the elusive spiritual side that a nation may have. 

Venezuela was no different: If I was at a theatre watching a play, in the streets, listening to original music of local people, or at an evening of Venezuelan folk music (none of which I truly understood much in the end), I always paid careful attention to the artistic expression of the heart/soul of the nation. But it was not in the capital of Caracas that I finally had a taste of the real soul of the country, but in the village of Guasdualito.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Charlotte Brontë on Marriage

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

Holy Matrimony … is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man's innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church … and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men's carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
―Book of Common Prayer

One of the great contributions of nineteenth-century English novels is their rich exploration of the domestic sphere. I do not think there is a single major author from this period who was not preoccupied with the subject, and, needless to say, marriage inevitably plays a large role within it. The life of the home, though it may not always be glamorous or exciting, is (or ought to be) one of the most important of human projects, since it is the setting of our most intimate relationships and so many of our chances for happiness stem from within the four walls of our houses.

Sunday 12 August 2012

Welcoming God into Your Imagination

By Eric Hanna, S.J.

Your imagination, like every aspect of who you are, is a gift to you from a loving God. Imagination is an intimate part of the self. Sometimes we feel we must shield our imaginings from others – because others may not accept what we imagine and in so doing deny an aspect of our self. But, as many of us have learned over the years, that which we hide from others is what we most long to show, so that it may be seen and loved unconditionally.

Friday 10 August 2012

The New Evangelization

By Artur Suski, S.J.

The phrase “The New Evangelization” has been around for quite some time, and it seems to have originated at some point during the pontificate of the late Pope John Paul II. I have been pondering about the exact meaning of this phrase for a while, especially as to how it relates to my soon-to-be ministry to youth and young adults. So, how are we to understand “The New Evangelization”?

The first thing that undoubtedly comes to mind is that it is new because there has already been an initial evangelization movement, in which those that have never heard of Jesus were introduced to him and the Gospel. The novelty of this new evangelization is that it tries to evangelize a culture or a society that is already familiar with Jesus and the Gospel. This society, however, has for the most part embraced many of the values of the Gospel, yet it has left Christ behind as well as some of his more demanding teachings.

The question is then how to re-evangelize, to “put on the new man” (Eph 4:24)? The following are a few humble insights into the matter:

Wednesday 8 August 2012

We Are Young: Drinking from the Living Waters

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

We are young 
So I set the world on fire 
we can burn brighter than the sun 

These lines are from the song We Are Young by Fun. – featuring Janelle Monáe – which describes the hopes, joys and sorrows of a young man at a bar before closing time. These lines can also describe the experience of each young adult who attended one of the Hearts on Fire retreats this summer. For six weeks, five Jesuits toured the south of the United States to present these retreats. In each of the six cities where we gave the retreat, we met young men and women who were looking to learn more about the meaning and purpose of their lives.

Monday 6 August 2012

Olympic Glory on Mount Tabor

By John D. O'Brien, S.J.

Yesterday the world witnessed the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt set an Olympic record in the 100-metre dash in London and win the gold medal. He ran, not for a piece of metal per se, but for what it represented: being a champion. All the hours of training, sweat and sacrifice were for that goal and its one defining attribute: glory.

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration, in which Christ’s glory is revealed to three of his apostles on top of Mount Tabor. So what exactly is this thing called glory?

At first glance it is merely human renown, fame, praise and honour – the basking in the limelight of adulation. Aristotle listed the “honour of men” as one of the objects of life that are often sought but ultimately fail to satisfy (along with riches and pleasure). Does this mean the glory of athletic victory is but a vain pursuit? The answer is not so simple.

Saturday 4 August 2012

One More Time: On the Examen Prayer

By Edmund Lo, S.J.

The examination of consciousness – or the Examen prayer – is a staple in the lives of all Jesuits. We all do it, and with good reasons. It allows us to see how the Lord has (or has not) been working in our lives each day; we see his fingerprints, and we also see which area of our lives need the grace of God so to further more growth. I shall hereby use two analogies to highlight its importance.

For those of you who have had the opportunity to work with quantitative data in any kind of research, or if you recall the days of good ol' high school math, you will know the graph with the x and y axes. It is often on such a graph configuration that we plot our data points, to see what our results are telling us. If we have a few data points, we may be able to see how the line is shaping up, but we simply cannot be sure of its accuracy. On the other hand, we can be much more certain of the shape of the graph – and hence what the data are indicating – when more data points are collected and plotted. A line with 25 data points is much more reliable than that with 5.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

With a Little Help of My Friends

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

I have been on the road for six weeks. I've been traveling with a group of my Jesuit brothers throughout Southern United States; giving retreats to young adults. It has been a wonderful and inspiring experience. I've been blessed by traveling and working with a super band of brothers. I can easily count my blessings; I am grateful for this opportunity to proclaim the Kingdom of God to young men and women. Yet, the road trip takes its toll. It tires the body and at times it makes the soul a bit weary.

Once in a while, I am hit by the loneliness of a sailor's life. In those moments, I turn everything to God and I beseech Him to transform the feeling of being cut off from all human contact into a sense of solitude or companionship with Him. One of these moments occurred just the other night. I felt lonesome and a bit gloomy, and I brought that to the Lord. I told Him how heavy my heart was and I asked Him to convert my gloominess and melancholy into joy. The Lord then asked me if He was enough for me. I took a moment to get in touch with what was happening within me: “Is God enough for me right now?” I told Him He wasn't. Not at that moment.