Wednesday 27 February 2013

Easter(n) Promises: The Threefold Office of Christ

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

A couple of weeks ago, I started to read some of the homilies by Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture. I have thoroughly enjoyed his vision and understanding of the importance of culture and communication for the mission of the Church, specially pertaining to the new evangelization. He sees culture as something that unites people as well as an encounter with the Word of God which leads to communion, solidarity and dialogue.

In his writings and tweets (@CardRavasi_en), he often refers to our mission as coming from our baptismal promises – our Easter promises. He states that we must integrate our Christian identity into all of life. That identity has authenticity in Christ. We are baptized into Christ, and through baptism we enter into his threefold office: We are called to share in his priestly, prophetic and kingly office (CCC 897).

Monday 25 February 2013

Twitter Through the Lens of the Exercises

By Edmund Lo, S.J.

When words are invented out of the sheer impact or popularity of a phenomenon, we know that such an event has “arrived”; its status is of such importance that our language needs to adapt to it. For example, to google something is to search for its meaning on the internet by using the Google search engine. Another example is to tweet; while this word has its origin in the sounds made by birds, it mainly refers to the action of sending short messages through the social media platform that is Twitter. When a friend of mine recently told me that she was giving up Twitter for the Season of Lent, it dawned onto me that Twitter has reached a point where it is considered by many as an object of indulgence, one that creates a sort of dependency on its users.

For those of you who have had the chance to know me as a person, I may come across as a sort of a severe critic of social media; after all, I am one of that dying breed who does not own a Facebook account by choice. What would such a person have to say about the quickly-evolving world that is social media? For starters, the fact that I am writing this blog entry should serve as evidence that I am not that big of a Luddite; nevertheless, a critical look at our media of communication is necessary. While using it in moderation is commendable, understanding the intentions behind it is the next step.

Friday 22 February 2013

Our Bodies at Prayer

By Artur Suski, S.J.


“In the celebration of Mass we raise our hearts, minds and voices to God, but we are creatures composed of body as well as spirit and so our prayer is not confined to our minds, hearts and voices, but is expressed by our bodies as well. When our bodies participate in our prayer we pray with our whole person, as the embodied spirits God created us to be, and this engagement of our entire being in prayer helps us to pray with greater attention.” - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)

Lent is a time when we stop and ponder our hearts' intentions. We give up one thing; we embrace another. Among other things, then, Lent is a time to examine what we do and why we do it. The bottom line is: where is my heart? The Lord said to his disciples: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21). This simple reflection brought me to the topic of prayer and the role of our bodies in prayer.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

The Next Pope and the Number of the Beast

By John D. O’Brien, S.J.

Amid the fervent speculation over the identity of the next Pope has been an undercurrent of conjecture over whether the Church is about to elect its last Pope, the pontiff who will preside over the apocalyptic era, perhaps the final consummation predicted by Christ.

The dominant fuel is provided by the Prophecies of St. Malachy, the 12th century Archbishop of Armagh, who reportedly had visions of all the popes from 1143 until “the end of the world”. He left a series of cryptic Latin phrases which supposedly describe each one. Pope Benedict XVI is the second-last on the list; his successor, therefore, will be the final pope. He will be called “Peter the Roman”, of whom the prophecy says:
In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Petrus Romanus, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations, and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills [i.e. Rome] will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The End.

Monday 18 February 2013

Don't Miss the Plane: Pay Attention

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.


In the novel The Second Coming, Walker Percy follows the story of Will Barrett, a man who was too busy to live in the present moment and simply “missed” his life. In light of this, Percy asks: Is it possible for people to miss their lives in the same way one misses a plane? In his words,

“Not once in his (Barrett's) entire life had he allowed himself to come to rest in the quiet center of himself but had forever cast himself forward from some dark past he could not remember to a future which did not exist. Not once had he been present for his life. So his life had passed like a dream.”

Friday 15 February 2013

Remembering Scripture

By Adam Hincks, S.J.


Haile wedded Love … by thee

Founded in Reason, Loyal, Just, and Pure,

Relations dear, and all the Charities 

Of Father, Son, and Brother first were known. 
– Milton

A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me how Sacred Scripture should be interpreted in daily life. He wanted to know if there are any norms for identifying which ideas from Scripture apply in “black-and-white” to life today and which need to be contextualised for contemporary culture or for a specific situation.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

The Pope's Resignation: Food for Thought and Prayer

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.


This past Monday at 5:55 am, I was on a plane, on my way back to Toronto. I was awakened by the voice of the captain, who asked the flight attendants to prepare for landing. A minute or so later, the plane shook violently and there was a rapid change of cabin pressure. The emergency oxygen masks were subsequently released from the ceiling. For the next thirty seconds, passengers were screaming, the flight attendants were asking us to remain calm, and the flight captain was assuring us that it was going to be a safe landing. All I could think about was that we were going down. I cannot say my life flashed before my eyes, but I did think of some people I love and care for. This event certainly gave me lots of food for thought and prayer.

Thankfully, we did land safely. As the plane was taxiing to the gate, we were informed that there was a medical emergency (someone had a heart attack in the midst of the turmoil) and we needed to wait until the paramedics tended to our fellow passenger before we could get off the plane. Perhaps in an attempt to distract us during the wait, the captain casually commented: “In other news, the Pope resigned this morning.” Some thought the captain was making an attempt at humour, but I instinctively knew that he was telling the truth.

Monday 11 February 2013

Learning the “John the Baptist Style”

By Edmund Lo, S.J.

Photo: Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

My fellow brother Jesuits have written previously about the Jesuit-led young adult retreat called Hearts on Fire (HoF), where the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola is introduced. We had the opportunity to bring HoF to Regina, Saskatchewan this past weekend, where I found myself in the unique position of being both on the Jesuit retreat team and the local host.

I have always enjoyed running retreats. It gives me a concrete sense that I am not someone who serenades the retreatants with eloquent speeches, nor gives them a substantial lecture of how to understand God on a rigorously intellectual level. I am merely preparing them, so that they be prepared for an encounter with the Lord in their prayer and reflection periods. As many know, this kind of encounter can be wildly unpredictable, yet immensely fruitful. Couple this with taking care of the details behind the scene to ensure that the retreatants be physically well-disposed, and I have a strong sense of what the mission of St. John the Baptist feels like: “prepare the way of the Lord, then get out of the way”.

Friday 8 February 2013

The Feeling Heart

By Artur Suski, S.J.


For the last month or so, I’ve been reading a book by the Jesuit Fr. James Kubicki on the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The book, titled Rediscovering Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, tries to revive the devotion to the Sacred Heart. I highly recommend it; it is an excellent read.

I would like to share with you one powerful insight from the book that has really helped me in these last few weeks, especially in regards to my prayer life. The keen insight that Fr. Kubicki makes is about the affective Heart of Jesus. He states that the devotion to the Sacred Heart is not simply having warm and fuzzy feelings when one thinks of Jesus’ Sacred Heart. Rather, it is going right to the heart of the matter, that is, to Christ’s own affectivity: to feel what He feels and to imitate it. The key to an authentic devotion to the Sacred Heart is to enter into the affective movements of the Heart of Christ.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Christ in the Streets of Vancouver

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

I regularly go with a group of college students at night to the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver. That area is sometimes called “Canada’s poorest postal code” on account of its high concentration of hostels and flophouses. Once there, we set up a couple of foldable tables on the sidewalk and give out cups of hot chocolate and bran muffins. During these visits to the DTES, we meet and engage in friendly conversation with a variety of people: homeless, drug-addicts, prostitutes, or residents simply passing by. Some do not want to talk much. Others seem grateful to linger and chat about life. A number of these encounters will remain on our memories for a long time.

One of the people we met is Barney.* He told us he was homeless, but survived by hustling and the free meals the various missions provide. Barney stayed talking with us for a while, would disappear, then return again, each time asking for more muffins. Eventually he admitted they were for his friends on the sidewalk around the block, telling us they were crack dealers, and couldn’t leave their spots or they’d lose business.

Monday 4 February 2013

In Praise of Calvin and Hobbes

By Eric Hanna, S.J.

Chances are you've heard of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. If you haven't, I highly recommend you start reading it and don't stop. To my mind, it equals any work of literature in terms of its depth of character and its exploration of the human experience. Also, it's a pleasure to read: it is very funny and beautifully drawn. It's one of those marvellous experiences that are all-too-easy to miss. So let me tell you about it.

Calvin is an ordinary boy of grade-school age whose best friend is his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, who comes alive as the product of Calvin's imagination. Hobbes and Calvin are playmates and philosophical sparring partners. Hobbes' main trait is how he demonstrates the value of friendship. He is someone with whom Calvin can share the moment, explore possibilities, and from whom he can learn a new perspective. What's great is that neither Calvin nor Hobbes can escape a child's lack of experience. They look at the world through fresh eyes.

Friday 1 February 2013

Thinking Through the Evidence with Richard Dawkins

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

Hamlet: Do you see nothing there?
Queen: Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.

Back in December, Al Jazeera aired an interview of Richard Dawkins by Mehdi Hasan. Despite the content being nothing really new under the sun―Dawkins was defending his popular arguments against religion and faith in God―it was an engaging programme because Hasan is a forthright interviewer and Dawkins is as cool as a cucumber―surely one of the reasons for his popularity. It’s hard not to like a gentleman.

During the question period in the last third of the programme, there was one question (starting at about 32:15) that really got to the heart of the matter, in my view. An older gentleman asked Dawkins, “If the Almighty God appears suddenly on the cloud or in the airs or [in] part of the universe, what is your reaction? Are you going to believe, or are you going to go against him?” In other words: “What evidence would you need for God’s existence?” Here is the response: