Monday 31 December 2012

Les Misérables: Love, Revolution and Our Hope For the Face of God

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.


I recently watched the film Les Misérables, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It reminded me of my first experience of this story. In the summer of 2003, I travelled to New York City to visit friends. While in town, I was invited to see the longest running musical in the world on Broadway. It was a magical production; I delighted in this story of love and revolution, of redemption and conversion. I was smitten by this tale about the misery of the human condition, this story about sacrifice and oblation. Les Misérables conveys the wretchedness of post-Revolution France, but it also relates the meaning and effects of love and forgiveness.

Saturday 29 December 2012

The Forgotten Ones

By Edmund Lo, S.J.

Chinese Refugee Family, Martha Sawyers (1902-88)

An acquaintance of mine recently asked me, “what was the best book that you have read in 2012?” Since this enquiry took place in a group setting, I did not have a chance to give him an adequate answer. At any rate, the first book that came to mind was a Chinese one called Da Jiang Da Hai 1949 (English: Big River, Big Sea – Untold Stories of 1949) by the current Minister of Culture of Taiwan, Lung Yingtai. Lung's original intention was to paint the cultural backdrop from which she came to her son, who is half Chinese and half German. This history is the chaotic times of war in China during the forties, with the Japanese invasion in the Second World War, and the subsequent civil war between the Communists and the Nationalists.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

The Tweets of the Saints

By Eric Hanna, S.J.
If some of our favourite saints had used Twitter, this is what their tweets might have looked like.

One month ago

@Augustine I was a Manichean *before* it got all mainstream and popular. Bleh, maybe I'll try something new.

@Hildegard grrr... headaches again. And not just administrative ones.

@Nicholas I'm a bishop! I do not go #ho-ho-ho. At least not that often.

@Aquinas Major Drama! Mom doesnt want me 2B friar, has locked me up in tower. Could this month get any worse?

Monday 24 December 2012

Christ of the Altar and of the Street Corner

By Artur Suski, S.J. 


Every year, we celebrate the incarnation and birth of our Lord that is Christmas. We also go a step further: we believe in Christ’s words that he will return in the glory of his Father at the end of time. Therefore, we find ourselves somewhere in between these two great events: a historical moment of the past in one, and an unfulfilled one of the future in another. But ought we really stop at these two?

Saturday 22 December 2012

The Baby is Coming

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

In the opening song of one of my favourite musicals, Wicked, there is an exchange between the midwife and a father about the forthcoming birth of the long-expected baby.

Midwife: It's coming.

Father: Now?

Midwife: The baby is coming.

Father: And how!

They soon discover that the baby is not what they expected – they are puzzled by it;

Midwife: How can it be?

Father: What does it mean?

My friends, the baby is coming. We are now but a couple of days away from the celebration of the spiritual birth of Jesus. "To us a child is born, to us a son is given" (Is 9:6). These prophetic words are fulfilled in the infancy narrative of St. Luke the evangelist. The baby born in the stable is the eternal Son of God. Jesus is the Word who was in the beginning, the Word who was with God, the Word who was God. All things made were made through him (Jn 1:1-3). When the Prophet Isaiah says: "to us a child is born", he reveals, in all its fullness, the mystery of Christmas: the eternal generation of the Word of the Father, his birth in time through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday 20 December 2012

The Reality of The Hobbit

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

The end of writing is to instruct; the end of poetry is to instruct by pleasing. –Samuel Johnson

A couple of days ago, I finished re-reading The Hobbit. I suppose I was inspired to do so due to the recent release of the first part of the new film adaptation―even if my ambivalence towards Peter Jackson’s treatment of the Lord of the Rings might compel me not to see his most recent œuvre, it at least served as a reminder that I should revisit the book. But before this becomes a laundry list of complaints against the films (which perhaps I could post on another day if anyone expressed interest) let me turn to the actual novel.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

The Advent of Hope, Joy and Peace

By Brother Daniel Leckman, S.J.

Our journey through advent continues, as does our walk with one of our favourite prophets, Isaiah. He has always been a favourite of mine. His messianic predictions just ooze with comfort, peace, and seem to always speak of the great hope that is to come. He’s definitely a nice refreshing change from the gloominess of some of the other prophets, like Jeremiah.

But as we all know, Isaiah isn’t only about appealing phrases and nice imageries that make us feel the joy of the season and leave us in a complacent state of peace. No my friends, Isaiah is quite straightforward: the Holy One of Israel is coming. Not in a “this is a movie trailer with a formulaic and kitschy catch phrase announcing the onset of an epic battle” kind of way, but more of in an “if your heart is ready, you will receive the greatest gift humanity has ever been given: The Word of God, the Light of the world, among us” kind of way.

Monday 17 December 2012

There is a Great Cry in Ramah

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

Cogniet, Scene du Massacre des Innocents

One is at a loss for words in the face of the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut a few days ago. There are no words to speak right now, because I don’t think they exist. Or if they do, I do not possess them. It is true that we all reach for explanations, theories and solutions, and the professional world of words was alight with these almost immediately. Some have merit, to be sure, but frankly, I can’t debate these right now. For now there should be only grief. Rachel is weeping for her children; and she refuses to be consoled, because they are no more.

Saturday 15 December 2012

Let There Be Light — or Not?

By Edmund Lo, S.J.

As we further venture into the heart of the Advent season, the question of “what do you do during Advent / pre-Christmas times” has surfaced on several occasions for me. A friend of mine has the wonderful tradition of baking goods in her family, of which I am one of the beneficiaries. At our Jesuit community in Regina, we light candles according to the weeks of Advent while singing O Come, O Come Emmanuel before supper. What about me? Do I have any Advent traditions that I have inherited from my past?

I was born and raised in Hong Kong, a place with quite a short documented history compared to many other places on Earth. The history of Christianity on this land. This is to say that Christianity – and subsequently Christmas – has never been culturally engrained into the genes of us Hong Kong folks. I think that this would serve as a useful context as I share with you my only recollection of any kind of an Advent/ pre-Christmas tradition that my family had. This tradition was to go into the eastern end of the ever-bubbling commercial district called Tsim Sha Tsui to look at the Christmas lights. In fact, this is quite a popular thing to do for folks in Hong Kong during this time.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

La Guadalupana: Witness to the Mystery of the Incarnation

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

Earlier this year, I visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast we celebrate today. At that time, I was in Mexico City, participating in a conference on migration. The Basilica is located at the foot of the Tepeyac Hill where our Lady first appeared to Saint Juan Diego. There is a big sign on top of the main doors of the church: “Am I not here who am your mother?” From the very beginning of my visit, Mother Mary was inviting me to turn to her son. Mama Mary’s motherhood became very evident to me. Just as Mary gave us Jesus through God’s grace, so Jesus in turn gave Mary to the Church when he said to the beloved disciple, “Behold, your mother” (Jn 19:27).

Monday 10 December 2012

Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in a Nutshell

By Artur Suski, S.J.

It may be that some of you have previously come across Pope John Paul II’s (JPII) Wednesday general audiences on the topic of marriage and sexuality, known as the Theology of the Body (TOB). I was recently asked to give a talk to grade 12 students on this very topic, and the presentation itself went rather well. Upon hearing that the talk was about sex, students of both sexes were equally attentive.

JPII’s work is truly marvellous. He goes into such depth that often one has to re-read whole sections to perhaps grasp a part of what he means. Not many come in contact with the actual content of the TOB, especially given the fact that the book is two inches thick! As such, I would like to share with you some of the key ideas of the TOB.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Got the Reading Blues

By Eric Hanna, S.J.

I wanted to write a lengthy and edifying article for you today, my friends. Something to inspire your souls and challenge your minds. But it's the close of the semester and things are stacking up. And what better way to ease my burden … than to share it with you.

As I heaped stacks of books in their precarious places on my desk and shuffled through sheet after sheet of jumbled and hastily-written notes, I pondered all the assignments I still have to write and all the reading I still have to do. And at this time the rolling rhythm of the blues came to my mind. And the following song crossed my lips.

Won't you sing it with me? And with all the busy students who are wrapping up their semesters?

Thursday 6 December 2012

Rejoicing in Judgement

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

Christ the Judge, detail, Sistine Chapel

Heaven is above all yet: there sits a Judge / That no king can corrupt. ― Katharine in Henry VIII

I have a Jesuit brother who is known for saying to members of his community, “I’m judging you right now.” It is a self-deprecating jest, with the humour coming from the contrast between the rigour associated with judgement and his otherwise pleasant demeanour. In other words, the joke relies upon our perception of judgement as a negative thing.

However, in the Bible, and especially in the Old Testament, judgement is viewed in the opposite way. An entire book is about heroes who are called “judges”: the Book of Judges tells the stories of men who were sent as champions of justice, peace and order in the Land. Judgement, in general, is eagerly awaited by the Israelites. In the Psalms we find countless instances of prayers for God to come as a judge. “Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth,” says the writer of Psalm 96. How many of us today would “rejoice” before judgement?

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Whither Productivity?

By Edmund Lo, S.J.


As part of my formation as a Jesuit, I have been teaching at the Jesuit-run Campion College at the University of Regina for the past three months or so. Extensive time spent in my office to research and prepare for my course seems to be the norm; nevertheless, there are also these rare moments when I would run into my colleagues either in the hallway or the photocopying room. More often than not, we would still be in our own respective “work modes”, with our brains going a hundred miles an hour about our courses. It is then of little surprise that our conversations would usually revolve around work: “Yeah, my day has been productive; got a lot of marking done”; or “today was a slow and unproductive day; didn't get much done.” This did not go unnoticed by me: in many ways, an equal sign has been drawn between my productivity and the quality of my day. But is this equal sign justified?

The idea of work has been highly regarded in the Catholic tradition. There is certainly a practical aspect about work. In the parts of the world where people grow what they themselves eat, work directly translates into food. In other places where one's work may not be involved with food per se, wages allow one to purchase food and other necessities. We may recall the passage from St. Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians, that “… if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.” (2 Thes 3:10) Having said that, the purpose of work is not just about practicality. In his encyclical Laborem Exercens, the late Pope John Paul II comments that “… work is a fundamental dimension of man's existence on earth” (LE 4). It is part and parcel of the meaning of our lives because we are called to be good stewards of what the Lord has given to us through creation. This is what ultimately gives meaning and dignity to work. (For more reflections on the nature of work, please refer to my fellow Jesuit blogger's previous account)

Monday 3 December 2012

The Golden-Tongued Composer

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

This week, December 5th to be precise, is the anniversary of the death of one of history’s greatest musical geniuses, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It seems that everybody loves Mozart; even his contemporaries recognized his greatness. Josef Haydn wrote that “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years”, and few would argue that this mantle may be extended for several hundred more. His compositions—more than 600 of them—have both depth and pathos, yet seem to dance with a lightness that returns us to joy. But what is more interesting is what a number of theologians have recognized in his work.

Saturday 1 December 2012

The Heroic Life of Campion

By Michael Knox, S.J.


Around the world today we celebrate the life and death of Jesuit priest St. Edmund Campion who was, in 1970, declared a saint and martyr of the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Paul VI.  Born into prosperity, and having read at St. John’s College, Oxford, at the age of seventeen Campion successfully embarked on what, by all accounts, was a sensational career honouring two successive queens of England with his well-known oration, while at the same time receiving praise from both his students and powerful patrons among the English aristocracy. It is said, however, that in his heart, the then young deacon of the Church of England, was deeply drawn to the Roman Catholic faith, and for this reason left England in 1569.  After a brief time in Ireland as a private tutor, Campion embraced the Church while on pilgrimage in France, and then walked to Rome, where in 1573 he was admitted to the Society of Jesus.  After just over five years of training, Campion was ordained a priest, then took a post lecturing in rhetoric and moral philosophy at the Jesuit college in Prague.