Friday 29 November 2013

When We Are Gathered in His Name

It occurred to the editors of Ibo that there was one basic question, so fundamental to the Christian life, that it demanded to be explored for greater profit of both ourselves and our faithful readers. Quite simply, the question was this: What are the ways Christ promised to be with us? “That’s so obvious!” the reader might cry. Perhaps. But it is nonetheless an important question. Unless we know the primary ways of encountering the living God in the bracing reality of our lives, the faith risks becoming an abstraction at best, an ideology at worst. There are four privileged ways we know of in which Christ manifests himself to his people in the here-and-now. Four writers will explore these in the short articles that follow. This is the first. 

By John D. O’Brien, S.J. 

Friars’ visit, Wayside Academy, Peterborough, Ontario, 2004 (John O’Brien)

Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst. – Matt 18:20 

I must admit I chose this particular topic because I had never before given it adequate thought. It also seemed the least dramatic, and possibly for me the most hazily and haphazardly felt. The other manifestations of Christ were more clear to me, for I have experienced the power of the Word, the Logos leaping through a living text and speaking in the darkness. I have felt the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, in its radiant and pulsing reality. I have met Christ in the poor, and had my heart burn within me in their (and his) company. But, what about that simple promise in Matthew 18: where two or three are gathered in my name...?

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Advent in the East and West

By Artur Suski, S.J.


In an address to the Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic bishops in 2001, Pope John Paul II said that “the Church breathes with the two lungs of the Eastern and Western traditions.” A few years earlier, in Ut unum sint, we hear the same call: “The Church must breathe with her two lungs!” (# 54) But how are we to understand the Pope’s words? Are we all to become bi-ritual? I don’t think that is what the Pope had in mind. The Pope spoke of the whole Church. Given this context, the Pope wanted to point out that the Catholic Church has been dominated primarily by the Latin tradition. A balance must be restored. Both the East and the West ought to learn about the other and they ought to be faithful to their own respective traditions.

Monday 25 November 2013

Veni Sancte Spiritus

By Brother Dan Leckman, S.J.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. —Roman Missal, Pentecost Sequence

As the first draft of my thesis paper is wrapping up this week, a big part of me is relieved that this will leave more room for my faith life. It’s funny how, as a student, I struggle to keep my faith vibrant. There have been some weeks when I was burning with zeal for God and others where I practically told God, “I’ll talk to you later, man: I got twelve pages to write this weekend about the New Evangelization!”

The irony is not lost on me that I sometimes compromise my prayer life in order to write about how to evangelize faith and justice in our world. I also understand that this compromise is almost inevitable – something I believe even Ignatius recognized. Amazingly enough I have still found consolation even in those moments of compromise. Perhaps that’s because, sometimes, the more distant we are from God the more God draws near to us.

Friday 22 November 2013

Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity and the Evolution of Man

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

The Next Step [of evolution] has already appeared. And it is really new. It is not a change from brainy men to brainier men: it is a change that goes off in a totally different direction—a change from being creatures of God to being sons of God. — C. S. Lewis

This article contains spoilers.

Gravity, the recent film directed and co-written by Alfonso Cuarón, is technically awesome and visually beautiful. It is masterly in its building of suspense. The bold choice to create the sound of outer space accurately—i.e., silence, except for the astronauts’ breathing, the voices of their radio communication and the subtle sounds transmitted through their space suits—is extremely effective. For all these reasons, comparison to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is inevitable and well-deserved.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Healing a Broken World: Grappling with Rob Ford

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

If you are interested in reading the latest in the Rob Ford saga, this entry is not for you. I will not say much about him, but will rather explore the way I have grappled with this debacle. There has been much buzz and chatter about Ford in the last two years. That has increased exponentially in the past three weeks. He has appeared in almost every major network in North America due to his misconduct. One thing is certain: Rob Ford is not perfect. He is far from it.

Monday 18 November 2013

Tell Me Again: Journeying with Maleficent

By Edmund Lo, S.J.


The retelling of classic tales has never been my cup of tea. Perhaps it is because I am a purist, in that I appreciate preserving the spirit of the original. I also think that some retelling attempts have their own agendas. This is especially the case when the villain is seen in a much more sympathetic light. The evil one turns out to be the one with truth on his side, while the good one is just pretending to be righteous. Black becomes white, and white becomes black. There is no truth.

Recently, Disney has released the trailer for the upcoming movie Maleficent, focussing on the imaginary backstory of the chief villain from Sleeping Beauty. Then I read up on its synopsis and noticed the bit of nuance. From the Disney website:

Friday 15 November 2013

Straight Shooter

By Artur Suski, S.J. 


The Church and the secular world have different understandings of sin. When the media and other secular institutions talk about sin, they often equate sin with evil, with little deviation from this. The Church, on the other hand, from its earliest years has had a different understanding of sin.

There was no single word in the Greek language that can be translated into our English word sin. There are seven Greek words that are translated as sin in the Bible, with the most frequently used word being hamartia. It was used 221 times in the New Testament. Its literal meaning is quite revealing - it sheds some light on how the early Church understood sin. It means, literally, “to miss the mark”. To sin is really to miss the mark; think of an archer that is aiming for the bull’s eye in a target. If he’s really good, he’ll hit the mark. If not, he’ll miss the mark, or, he’ll sin.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Calling All People to Life

By John D. O’Brien, S.J. 

Photo: John O'Brien

Coming so soon from watching one of the most moving and remarkable films I’ve ever seen, I was inspired when I received a song by Canadian songwriter and musician Erin Leahy that explored similar themes. Leahy’s “Calling All People to Life”, like the movie Gravity, dwells upon the idea of the inherent fragility and value of human life, pivots upon the power of prayer, alludes to the fundamental choice between life and death, and has great exultant motifs of baptism and rebirth. Already getting radio-play, this new song from the Juno-award winning artist also captures several basic themes from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. I invite readers to first take a moment and listen to the song for themselves, which is posted here with her permission:

Monday 11 November 2013

Winning the Lottery

By Eric Hanna, S.J.

When they hear I have a vow of poverty, people often ask, “what if you won the lottery?” Children especially find this to be an important question. Sure, it's okay to have a vow of poverty … but if you won the lottery, would they take your money away? That doesn't seem fair.

Well, there are two answers to this question: a technical answer and a heartfelt answer.

Firstly, the technical answer. A member of a religious order with a vow of poverty won't be gambling. And if I bought a lottery ticket it would be with the community's money anyway. So really, if the ticket were a winner, the money would belong to the community. Ditto for gifts: whatever is given to me is not for my use alone but a donation to the whole religious order of which I am a member.

Friday 8 November 2013

Knowing God’s Will: First Steps

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

If you ask me what you are to do in order to be perfect, I say, first – Do not lie in bed beyond the due time of rising; give your first thoughts to God; make a good visit to the Blessed Sacrament; say the Angelus devoutly; eat and drink to God’s glory; say the Rosary well; be recollected; keep out bad thoughts; make your evening meditation well; examine yourself daily; go to bed in good time, and you are already perfect. 
– Bl. John Henry Newman

St. Ignatius of Loyola would often close his letters with the prayer that he and his correspondent would have the grace to know God’s will and the strength to carry it out. He is by no means alone in this prayer. I suspect that most Christians often petition God for guidance about what to do in concrete situations. And yet, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that discovering God’s will requires advanced spiritual experience or that it is the domain of mystical gurus. This can lead to a dilemma: we feel that we ought to seek for God’s will in our lives—whether it be for big, life decisions or small, everyday decisions—but at the same time we can feel that we do not have the spiritual know-how to get there. As a consequence, we either avoid commitment or become complacent.

When we are not sure how to come to know God’s will, Thomas Merton offers excellent, down-to-earth advice. In New Seeds of Contemplation, he writes:

Wednesday 6 November 2013

The Senate Scandal: The Slippery Slope of Incoherence

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

It all started with moments of self-entitlement. Lapses of judgment led to lies and cover ups. It all ended in the current predicament of the Canadian government, which has been consumed by the Senate expenses scandal. It is very easy to accuse the guilty parties, or simply to play partisan politics. I don’t intend to judge the senators, and those who are accused of assisting with cover-ups due to their lapse in judgement. Their actions are being examined by the Senate, and suspensions, sanctions and criminal charges, if any are laid, are being assessed.

Monday 4 November 2013

Busy Zombies

By Edmund Lo, S.J.

“I am too busy to read this.”

While I certainly hope that the previous statement is not true, I think we all have those moments. We make decisions to say yes or no to things, because we simply cannot do everything. That being said, we tend to fill out our daily schedules. We are often busy with something. I myself do not like to sit on my hands and remain idle. But what kind of busy-ness is found in our lives?

The Chinese character for “busy” is máng. It is made up of two parts: the root (or the “radical”) of the character is the “heart” radical found on the left side. On the right, it is the word “death”. This is obviously not referring to cardiac death. As it is the case in many cultures, the heart stands for something more important. It often symbolizes the very being of our selves. Even our own Céline Dion from Canada thinks so.

Friday 1 November 2013

One Hand at a Time

By John D. O’Brien, S.J. 

Fra Angelico, 15th c., National Gallery, London

Pray for me, and I shall for you and all your friends, that we may merrily meet in heaven. 
– St. Thomas More  

Saints alive! It’s that day of the year again, when we collectively honour that large company, the friends of God. There is a more restricted notion, which holds the saints are the elect in heaven. A more expansive one includes the living who are holy, as when St. Paul calls out “to the saints, who are at Ephesus” at the beginning of that famous letter. So while today we collectively honour the canonized, we may also reflect on the living who have been saintly influences during our lives.