Friday 30 May 2014

Sampling Prayer: Why Catholic Young Adults Don't Pray

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

“Why should I care?”, Ben asked about the statement on the billboard. We had been discussing the phrase it advertised: JESUS LOVES YOU.

“Knowing it does nothing for me. People need to stop telling me that Jesus loves me,” Ben complained. He told me that Christians should be more concerned with helping others realize that they are loved by God instead of simply broadcasting it so matter-of-factly. “I want to feel Jesus' love. I want to feel it in my heart. How do I do that?”

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Translating the “Christian Message”

By Edmund Lo, S.J.


As an attempt to improve my French, I am currently enrolled in an intensive program at the University of Laval in Québec City. Given that I spent the first two years of my Jesuit formation in Montréal, my French is good enough to get by (or je me débrouille). This is not the case with many of my fellow classmates, who often struggle mightily to explain themselves. They cannot find the right words and phrases, because they only know the English ones. To this, our professor comments that we just need to find another way to express ourselves in French. I find this simple remark interesting for several reasons.

Monday 26 May 2014

The Balancing Game

By Artur Suski, S.J.


I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to direct Ignatian retreats at the Jesuit retreat house in Guelph, Loyola House. I’ve learned a tonne about Ignatian retreats as well as about the complexity of the human experience. This includes the “characters” whom I’ve encountered. After I’ve given enough of these Ignatian retreats, I begin to see certain patterns in peoples’ lives. I’d like to share with you a significant pattern that I’ve been noticing in a large part of my retreatants: it is the challenge to live a balanced life.

Friday 23 May 2014

Why We Need Friends

By John D. O’Brien, S.J. 


You are my friend, 
I never knew it 'til then 
My friend, my friend 
 Patti Labelle

Frank Capra’s beloved classic It’s a Wonderful Life explores a number of themes, but perhaps the most important – or at least the final word – is given to the angel Clarence, who leaves his copy of Tom Sawyer to George Bailey with this line inscribed: “Remember George, no man is a failure who has friends.” That even the most mundane and provincial of lives can be considered a success if it includes the gift of friendship, is a profoundly Christian idea. Yet it also immediately begs a number of questions. What is true friendship? What differentiates friendship from other kinds of loving relationships? And is it the number or the quality of friendship that is the more important?

Wednesday 21 May 2014

The Blessing of Wounded Hands

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

Claude (right), whose grandmother was murdered by his neighbour, Innocent (left).
Claude forgave Innocent and the men have now reconciled.
From the book "As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda", by Catherine Claire Larson.

Now it seems to me that love of some kind is the only possible explanation of the extraordinary amount of suffering that there is in the world. I cannot conceive of any other explanation. 
– Oscar Wilde

The risen body of Jesus Christ is wounded. This fact about the resurrection has been more present to me than usual this Easter, probably prompted by a homily that I heard during the Octave of Easter. The wounds of Christ were also mentioned by Pope Francis on Divine Mercy Sunday when he canonised John XXXIII and John Paul II:

The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, yet they are also the test of faith. That is why on the body of the risen Christ the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy and faithfulness. Saint Peter, quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: “By his wounds you have been healed”.

Monday 19 May 2014

Because I'm Happy

By Brother Daniel Leckman, S.J.

Last week I met up with an old friend. I had not seen him since the early 2000s so I was really looking forward to chatting with him again. When he and I were two young, idealistic McGill students we used to have rather intense conversations together about life, God, the arts, spirituality, love and anything else under the sun. We realized last weekend that not much had changed between us since those days. Although not a religious person, he is more aware of the need for spirituality in our world than most of my non-believing friends and family. Consequently, it was a pleasure for me to field questions from him during the evening because I could tell he was genuinely interested in my experiences of the past few years. After a certain point, he asked me a question that caught me off guard:

“What makes you happy?”

Friday 16 May 2014

Prayer Is Not a Bed of Roses: Becoming a Transformative Pray-er

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

Photo: Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

Haven't you at times told God something that didn't match up with your heart? How about reciting a prayer to simply appease your guilt or instigate your piety? I've been there – done that – time and time again. But prayer is not supposed to be a bed of roses. Thankfully, the Good Lord can be very blunt with me and he is constantly disabusing me of my spiritual opulence. Lately, Christ has been back at it again. This time, he drove me to some mountains in Brazil to invite me to ruminate on the power of prayer. This meditation has taken flesh in some questions: How does prayer affect us? How does it transform our hearts and our lives? What happens to us as we draw near to the living Lord to speak to him of the movements of our hearts? How does God mold us as we discern his presence in our lives? How does prayer change the pray-er?

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Swansong, Materialized

By Edmund Lo, S.J.

Credit: Mother Teresa Middle School

My interest in origami has been previously documented. Throughout the past six months, I have had the privilege to share this interest with the students in the form of an after school program at Mother Teresa Middle School (MTMS) in Regina, Canada. Origami can be a highly individualistic pursuit: grab a piece of paper, follow the instructions, and voilà, a new creation made. While I was quite content with teaching the kids different designs and such, I also wanted them to learn more than just folding things for themselves. That was why I decided to swing for the fences with the kids: we began an ambitious yet different origami project together.

Monday 12 May 2014

Theology for Dummies – It’s for Everyone!

By Artur Suski, S.J.


In a few months’ time, I will be leaving Guelph behind and moving to Toronto to begin my theological studies at Regis College. As I reflected a bit on a Jesuit’s requirement to study theology as part of his formation, I also recognized that it should be an integral part of every Christian’s daily life, and not just the clergyman’s. It seems that today more and more of our adult Christians know less and less about their faith. For the most part, today’s adult Christians seem to have an elementary school level faith because their faith formation seemed to have stopped after their reception of the sacrament of Confirmation, which is usually received in grade eight.

Friday 9 May 2014

Seven Reasons I Marched

John D. O'Brien, S.J.

Today I marched with about 2000 others on the streets of Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, which is the province of my birth and where I presently live and work. We marched from the city hall to the legislative buildings through the downtown streets, in a damp and drizzly west coast afternoon. As I reflect back, I can identify seven primary reasons I attended the March for Life today.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

So, You’re Reading the Title of This Blog Entry

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

Though a limited series, it was one from which he had acquired more sound information by diligent perusal than many a man of opportunities has done from a furlong of laden shelves.
— On Gabriel Oak’s tiny library in Far from the Madding Crowd

Now you are continuing on to read its first sentence. Before you go any further, stop and ask yourself what are the chances that you will read every sentence of this blog article, right through to the end, without checking your email, looking at Facebook, texting a friend, following a hyperlink, or interrupting in any other similar way. If you are like me and are honest with yourself, the chances are small! How many online articles do we merely skim, glance at, or half-heartedly scroll through, desultorily highlighting random snippets of text?

Monday 5 May 2014

Don't Be Afraid to Try: Ogres and Poetry

By Eric Hanna, S.J.

We've all had that moment of fear when asked to do something creative.  Fear tells us that if we risk expressing something we are not quite sure of, others will tear it down simply because they don't understand.  This pattern leads us to avoid trying new things.  It is a pattern that students at Regina's Mother Theresa Middle School are trying to break.

When I first started helping out with an after-school program of creative writing and poetry, some students were quite eager to try expressing themselves.  But there were always a few who froze.  They wrote nothing at all, or non-committal phrases about safe topics: movies they'd seen, videogames, etc.

Friday 2 May 2014

The Rosary: Sitting at the School of Mary

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.


Editor’s note: Catholic devotions: why do they matter, what are they made of, what are they are not. In a strong and prescriptive phrase in his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote “we ought to praise not only the building and adornment of churches, but also the images and veneration of them according to what they represent.” He seemed to press the point even further, writing “we should show our esteem for the relics of the saints by venerating them and praying to the saints. We should praise visits to Station Churches, pilgrimages, indulgences, jubilees, crusade insults, and the lighting of candles in churches.” For some, these devotions are the spiritual life-blood of the believing Church; for others they may seem simplistic or quaint. But in the spirit of our founder, we, too, seek to explore and understand the powerful role of devotions in the Church today. 

The Rosary is a meditation on all important moments of salvation history. 
– Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Mom lives far. Strike that. Mom lives very far. It has been almost a year since I last saw her and I have missed her more than one could imagine. I am very grateful for life, the way she loves me, and the goodness in her life. There was a point in my life when I did not see that. We struggled to communicate. We didn't always see eye to eye. Heck, we got mad at each other, too. But over the years, we mostly enjoyed each other’s company and loved each other very much.

Like all mothers, mine is a worrier. At times, she was overprotective and, therefore, blames her grey hairs on us (just kidding Mom, you have no grey hairs – you dye them). All the good and crazy things that Mom does stem from her deep love for my brothers and me. She has always been our fiercest advocate and bodyguard. Hands down, Mom is my biggest cheerleader. She is always excited for me in all that I do. To her, everything is an opportunity that I am going to naturally excel at. She cheers me on in such a great manner that I never feel pressured.