Sunday 30 September 2012

Talking to Normals

By Eric Hanna, S. J.
A while ago, I found myself jokingly using a nickname for those people who were not familiar with the Catholic faith: 'normals'. This was a funny way for me to remark on the fact that we as Catholics, and Jesuits in particular, can use a lot of jargon that is unfamiliar to the rest of contemporary society. It was a reminder to myself not to use arcane terminology when simpler words sufficed. However, it got me to thinking.

We believers love to be counter-cultural. If the world moves one way, many of us are inclined to move the other. If you are a believer, I ask you the following question: do you see yourself as normal and the rest of the non-believing or different-believing world as abnormal? Or is it the other way: is the world normal and we ourselves the ones who are different?

Saturday 29 September 2012

Martyrdom: Testifying to Love

This homily was preached at the Martyr's Shrine in Midland by Fr. Peter Bisson, Provincial of the Jesuits in English Canada, on Saturday, September 22, 2012, for the Feast of the Canadian Martyrs. The actual feast was celebrated this past Wednesday.

Thee hundred and sixty three years ago, here in this place, Christ did a new thing in North America. Just as His own identity was fully revealed in His death and resurrection, so too was His life made manifest here in the lives and deaths of Sts. Jean de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues, Gabriel Lalement, Noel Chabanel, Antoine Daniel, Rene Goupil, Jean de LaLande, as well as in the lives and commitments of their Huron and French companions. True life and true human flourishing - which is to be a friend of God's - is to be found only through the death that is to give yourself away in love.

This is the message that has attracted you here!

Friday 28 September 2012

Of Mice and Men

By Edmund Lo, S.J.


Ever since the complete mapping of the human genome in 2000, the idea of personalized medicine according to our own genetic makeup has been causing quite a buzz in the field of medical science. Recently, a particular article from the New York Times brought up another kind of “personalized” medicine. In this scenario, the biological sample of our own personal diseases are transplanted into mice, and these animals in turn serve as the targets of drug therapy. If the results are positive, the drugs are then administered to the human patient.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Who Are You?

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

Photo: The Gallery Collection/CORBIS

Man lives that list, that leaning in the will
No wisdom can forecast by gauge or guess,
The selfless self of self, most strange, most still,
Fast furled and all foredrawn to No or Yes.
– G.M. Hopkins

“If someone were to ask you, ‘Who are you?’, how would you respond?” This was a question I was recently asked, and quite seriously. It is the kind of question we all encounter from time to time, and some people take a stab at it with more confidence than others. For my own part, such a question usually confuses and embarrasses me, but this last time I faced it with equanimity and realised what had caused me such discomfort before.

Monday 24 September 2012

On the Camino With Santiago – Alissa Golob

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

This is my new interview column. Once a month, I will feature some of my personal heroes. These are men and women who are addressing some of the most important challenges of our time. 

My first interviewee is Alissa Golob. She is originally from Peterborough, Ontario. As the Youth Coordinator at Campaign Life Coalition, she has travelled across Ontario, addressing Canada’s youth, and motivating them to become active in the pro-life movement. She has been featured on various radio and television programs such as ByLine with Brian LilleyThe Arena with Michael CorenGlobal Television, as well as in a recent documentary called The 12 Biggest Lies, where she spoke about the myth of overpopulation and the humanization of a fetus. She recently organized the Defund Abortion Rally at Queens Park, Toronto, which had over 2,000 people in attendance. She is also one of the main organizers of the March for Life, the largest pro-life event in Canada to date, which consists of a pro-life rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, a Youth Banquet dinner and a Youth Conference. 

Santiago RodriguezWhat inspired you to do the type of work you do today? 

Alissa Golob: When I was 13 years old, I saw my first image of an aborted baby and it really drove me to become more involved in pro-life activism. I grew up praying to end abortion, but when I actually saw what it did to a baby, it was something I just couldn’t ignore. My parents were always very encouraging and supportive, and helped me grow in knowledge and strength, which helped me continue on in pro-life activism throughout my teenage years. Since then, it has always been something I’ve been very passionate about, which is why, I believe, God led me to do this work full-time.

Friday 21 September 2012

Becoming Who We Are: Learning from the saints

By Brother Daniel Leckman, S. J.

One of the most wonderful aspects of my journey as a Jesuit has been the deepening of my relationship with the saints. From my days as a Jesuit novice until today, my respect, admiration and desire to learn from the saints has only increased. However, like many things in life, these relationships are complicated, and I’m slowly learning that I’m not the only who thinks so.

Our modern secular world definitely has problems with the saints. It’s so much easier to dismiss these people who heard God speaking to them in particular ways than to actually learn from their life experiences. The rational for this response is often something like: “I can’t hear God speaking to me, so if they did, they must have been crazy people in serious need of medication.” There is nothing new in this perspective. Many people in our modern world find it simpler to mock, ignore or dismiss anyone who lived in previous centuries—or even previous decades—than to accept their wisdom. So, even though I’m kind of saddened by this response, I’ve come to expect that bias against the saints from the my secular friends.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

The Classical Trivium

By Artur Suski, S.J.


What is the Classical Trivium? The Classical Trivium was the title of Marshall McLuhan’s Doctoral dissertation; but in reality, the name is much older than that. It was the first stage of a classical education that any Greek and Roman would have received growing up. It was the foundation of a student’s education, the backbone to the further study of philosophy and other more advanced subjects such as law. Three subjects made up the trivium: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Students only progressed to the next stage when they have successfully mastered the previous one.

Monday 17 September 2012

Vowed for Life and Lord

By Adam Lalonde, S.J.

Three weeks ago I made my first and perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Interiorly I had been telling myself that there would be no public display of emotion. I wondered if some people would be put off. Would they understand that I had spent two years preparing for the vows I would now profess? If so, then it should be obvious that I had already been through the struggles, the joys, the discernment. I had spent countless hours in prayer, in retreats, in seminars, and spiritual direction. Everything that was to be experienced emotionally had been done. Now I would simply be declaring publicly what I was already living in my heart.

That’s not quite how it turned out. The moment came. I knelt before the elevated Eucharist as per the centuries-old tradition of the Society of Jesus. And that’s when it began to hit me. I was suddenly aware of my Lord before me and my family, friends, and my brothers in the Society behind me. And then (in French) I said the words:

Sunday 16 September 2012

Video Games: How They Glorify God

By Eric Hanna, S.J.
For those with only a passing familiarity with video games or for those with no familiarity at all, video games played an important role in my development: mine was among the first generations to experience electronic games in this way. It is possible for video games to have an incredibly toxic, pacifying effect on the human person, causing one to withdraw from reality. One the other hand, such games can also have an exceptionally beneficial effect, communicating ideas and promoting interaction between people in remarkably novel and nurturing ways. Video games, when part of a balanced life, are fuel for the imagination.

The Christian response to the phenomena of video games and different kinds of interactive media should be the same as it has been for books, movies and TV. Learn the medium and use it responsibly for the glory of God. But one aspect should never be forgotten: having fun glorifies God! Just look at five-year-olds running around a playground.

Friday 14 September 2012

Till Death Do Us Part?

By Edmund Lo, S.J.


The life of a Jesuit is heavily immersed into doing different kinds of ministries, and it is of no surprise that these often become conversation topics. A few nights ago, the topic of funerals came up in our dinner conversation. We talked about how people have preferences for their funeral plans: some cultures have public viewings like wakes, some even having them in their own homes. Others opt to have a public prayer service. A fellow Jesuit remarked that it is becoming more and more common for some to decide on foregoing a funeral altogether. At times, it is due to financial issues; but other times, it seems as if people do not want others to see how awful they look after they die. It is as if they prefer to visually remain in others' memories the best way possible.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Is Canada a Nation of Thieves?

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business! … Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!
― The remorseful ghost of Marley, A Christmas Carol

A few months ago, a CBC article caught my eye: “Canadians a charitable lot despite economic woes”. Though this title implies that we owe ourselves a pat on the back, I was frankly shocked at the numbers I found therein. Contrary to the CBC’s opinion, it appeared to me that we are woefully remiss when it comes to sharing our wealth. Nor is this a matter of small moment: Christian tradition would condemn us in surprisingly strong language.

Monday 10 September 2012

The Gift We Give Each Other

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

Imagine streets without traffic lights; cities without bridges or tunnels; communities without clean water, courts or law enforcement. This is not a reference to a post-apocalyptic world, but to a society where nobody pays taxes. Indeed, there are few things as opaque and mysterious as taxes. It is a topic that can be quite divisive. Albert Einstein was baffled by them, and Winston Churchill used to vilify them. We have also heard Benjamin Franklin's sardonic adage, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” In other words, taxes are unavoidable. But why do we need taxes? Why pay them?

Saturday 8 September 2012

That Sinking Feeling

By Brother Daniel Leckman, S.J.

From the Prophet Jeremiah came words that are somewhat familiar to anyone who reads the Old Testament on a regular basis – words that are never easy to hear. The context is a complicated one. God tells his Prophet to announce to his people that their sin has become so great that he will now inflict great punishment upon them: “Your hurt is incurable … there is no one to uphold your cause … all your lovers have forgotten you” (Jer. 30:12).

This after all is a God of action. He keeps his end of the covenant/bargain, and expects his children to do the same. When they don’t, what else can he do but punish them? What is striking about the passage is that there is also redemption. Once God punishes, and once the people repent, God promises to uphold and protect his people: “I’ll restore the people’s fortunes … I will make them honoured amongst the nations” (Jer. 30:18).

Thursday 6 September 2012

"I Am With You Always" – The Eucharist

By Artur Suski, S.J.


I recently came upon a very sad statistic, that anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of Catholics do not believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Why does this sadden me? As I reflect upon it, it isn’t so much that people are not following their beliefs, though this is also a source of sadness. Rather, it is that they pass by Jesus who is truly present for them, and in so doing they fail to recognize the abundance of love and mercy given to them. There is a wealth of theological treatises written on the topic of the Eucharist, and I do not intend to add another one to this collection – what my reflection will focus on is the heartfelt encounter that happens between the person proper and Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Why Doctor-assisted Suicide is a Bad Idea

By John D. O’Brien, S.J.

What do you do when a loved one has a terminal disease, is in prolonged, acute pain, and needs a ventilator and feeding tubes to be kept alive? Have far do we go to prolong life with technology—is the law of sustaining life to only go so far and no further?

This is a perennial and complex question that vexes both private citizens and ethicists, both secular and religious. Thankfully, the Church offers clear teaching on the matter. We can distinguish between ordinary measures, providing food, water and special treatment—including ventilation if there is an expectation of healing and not just the prolonging of death—and extraordinary measures, which might be possible but disproportionate to the expected outcome, and can be opted against. The criteria are both reasonable and compassionate.

As Christians, we are not afraid of natural death, for it is the entry into new life. At the same time, we do not believe that suffering invalidates the inherent value of a human life. As our society increasingly loses its sense of this value, moves to adopt a more Dutch model of assisted suicide are making strides once again. Of note, the British Columbia Supreme Court as well as the Quebec National Assembly recently ruled in favour of legalizing physician-assisted suicide.

Sunday 2 September 2012

A Day in the Life of A Jesuit

By Eric Hanna, S.J.
My friends and family know that I am a Jesuit, that I study, that I live a life of prayer and dedication to God. Yet the exact nature of this life is something of a mystery. So I have decided to give the account of a typical day in my life as a Jesuit.

No Jesuit I know has ever done just one thing his whole life. Our work is always growing and changing, as we ourselves do. We are many things to many people. We are teachers, both in high schools and universities. We are pastors of parishes. We are researchers in almost any field you could name, from theology to physics to ecology. We are coordinators of programs that provide aid to the poor, homeless, refugees, and different kinds of people who are marginalized. We are spiritual counsellors and retreats directors. And when we are in formation, as I am, we are mostly students.