Wednesday 30 July 2014

My Interview with St. Ignatius Loyola

By Eric Hanna, S.J.

Thursday (July 31) is the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola this year.  As a Jesuit in formation, I have always looked to Ignatius for inspiration. The fifteenth century noble turned religious pilgrim set down a spiritual tradition that continues to change the lives of people in the present day. But what would Ignatius say if he could see what has been built upon his foundations? It was my privilege to sit down with St. Ignatius and pose this question.

Monday 28 July 2014

Seatback Entertainment: Progress or Stultification?

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

The medium is the massage. – Marshall McLuhan

I have always enjoyed flying, which is a blessing given that my current position involves a fair amount of travel. Apart from the security lines, I profit from the down-time in the lounge, I enjoy looking out the window of the aeroplane, and I actually like the little meals they bring right to your seat as though you were an astronaut. Finally, I appreciate the opportunity to watch films. A large fraction of the movies I see are at ten thousand metres off the ground.

Friday 25 July 2014

Though the Gorge Was Mute, God Spoke at the Grand Canyon

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

Credit: Santiago Rodriguez

We went deep into the heart of Arizona to see the earth and the sky display their magnificence. After the last of the retreats of our summer tour, Adam and I drove for four days back to Milwaukee. Our first stop was one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon – an impressive and inspiring landscape, overwhelming our senses with its immense size and beauty. As our visit guide explained, almost two billion years of our planet’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and the wind cut through layer after layer of rock. This erosion resulted in combinations of spectacular forms and delightful geologic colours like every shade of red, citron, buff, russet, and pink. In its depths, the canyon is deep red, and at times brown or violet.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

I Would “Friend” You, Lord; But in What Way?

By Edmund Lo, S.J.

We all have friends. “Bros”, Best Friend Forevers (BFFs), close friends, acquaintances, you name it. Not surprisingly, the quality of the friendship depends on how well we know the person, and how much effort we put into the relationship. Think about those groups of friends that you have, with differing levels of intimacy. Which group does God fall into?

Let us be honest about this. Some of us have God in the “BFFs” category; others may have God in the “acquaintances”, or even the “speed-dial when crap happens in my life” category. Some only seek affirming or wise words from God when they want them. When this is the case, God is not any different from an inanimate book with wisdom sayings. Such a relationship is one-way with no strings attached: I call you up when I need a quickie. Or, some may have God in the “awkward” zone: I kind of know you, but I don't know how I feel about you.

Monday 21 July 2014

[Not] Seeing the Face of Christ in the Homeless

By Artur Suski, S.J.

Three weeks in the Paris of North America. Three weeks contemplating the suffering and rejected Christ. Three weeks of soul-searching.

Though a Jesuit’s summer is often full of Jesuit-formation activities, such as making one’s own eight-day retreat and attending formation gatherings, there are chunks of time that often lend themselves to creativity. I had three weeks at my disposal and I decided to make good use of them. I have been the last three weeks in Montreal, volunteering at a well-established (since 1877) soup kitchen and shelter – Accueil Bonneau.

My initial decision was simply to come to Montreal in order to polish my French. Not really knowing how to go about doing this in a most effective way, I asked some French Canadian Jesuits for some suggestions. After a few email exchanges it was decided that I’d have lots of French conversation at a soup kitchen. Hence Accueil Bonneau.

Friday 18 July 2014


By John O’Brien, S.J.

One night, which happened to be Good Friday, I sat in a friend’s living room and listened to a man describe his trip to hell and back. Human suffering was never so visible as it was in the face of that smiling man.

Lansana is from Sierra Leone, a west African country founded by former American slaves. In 1991, armed rebels, frustrated by decades of tribal discrimination and the huge gap between the poor and diamond-swollen rich, launched a civil war. In ten years it displaced or killed nearly one third of the population. For Lansana, the son of a moderately successful plantation owner, the war meant a descent into Dante’s inferno.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

The Astonishing Givenness of the World

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

Photo: John O'Brien, SJ

The whole of nature is something prepared for us, composed for us, given to us, delivered into our care by a supernatural dispensation. – David B. Hart

Being suddenly struck by the sight of the full moon is one of those commonly disarming experiences. The other night as I was walking down the street, I looked up and there it was, perfectly round and full and low on the horizon next to a church spire. I had not been at all aware of its phase, and it took me a bit by surprise. There it just was.

There is a mix of the familiar and the strange when one sees the full moon in this way—or any other weird or beautiful thing: a bridge over a river, a deer in the path, even the dripping of an icicle outside the window. It is not that it is something entirely new, for these are all things that are commonly seen, but rather the being surprised at all by its simple presence that is disarming: one is suddenly reminded that it is, rather than what it is. Such unexpected encounters are, I think, not uncommon, though some more than others have cultivated an attitude that makes them more alive to the sheer givenness of things in the world.

Monday 14 July 2014

St. Petersburg and Montréal: A Tale of Finding God in Two Cities

By Br. Daniel Leckman, S.J.

St. Petersburg

In 2004, I spent a month in St. Petersburg, Russia. It’s a trip that affected me on many levels and created many incredible memories: like standing at the graves of Dostoyevsky, of Pushin, and of Tchaikovsky. It was also one of the first times in my life where I can remember having a deeply spiritual experiences in a city. Of course, St. Pete was like no other city I had ever seen. Her history, her architecture, her incredible colours, amazing metros, her culture … each one of her stories seemed to call to me. There are too many moments in this trip to recount in a short blog; but there is one that stood out.

Friday 11 July 2014

The Guy Who Drove Jesus Nuts

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.


The scent of bitterness filled my heart and resentment clouded my mind. I could not take one more minute of his foolishness, and I danced away from a conversation I did not want to continue. It was dark by the time I reached my room and flicking the switch on did not seem to alter my foul mood. I tried to read for a bit, but I found myself replaying the conversation in my mind. I knew it was a waste of energy and I opted for the rest that comes with sleep. I went to bed but sleep did not come easily, for my heart was heavy with anger and my mind was stuck in replay. I was too tired to sweep the floorboards of my brain and to hush the echoes of my heart. Resentment and bitterness invited all their friends and they threw a party at the foot of my bed. I always try to be a good neighbor and let people party, even if it’s late, but after a while it was time to either knock on the door or to call the police. A rushed Hail Mary served as my messenger, and soon the party was over – either my tiredness kicked in or my emotions caved in.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

An Open Letter to St. Paul

View from Highway 1, along the California coast.

Dear St. Paul:

I know that you have to sort through much fan mail, so I want to thank you for taking the time to read this letter. You probably know me from all the “intercession requests” that I've sent you. You are a great inspiration to me; in fact, you are one of my top-five saints.

 For the past four weeks or so, I have been a part of a Jesuit “mission band” which gives the Spiritual Exercises to young adults. I trust that you've heard of this manual written by my spiritual father, St. Ignatius of Loyola. I am not here to recount to you all the details of the retreat; rather, I think I've found some parallels between my experience and yours.

You know, working with fellow young Jesuits has been something that I have thoroughly enjoyed. It isn't as if we all think alike and we always get along. Friction is inevitable, as we are only human beings. I mean, even you and St. Peter had that argument in Antioch. If that could happen in public, I wonder how the discussions were like in private!

Monday 7 July 2014

Apparitions – Should We Care?

By Artur Suski, S.J.


Ask a handful of Christians if they believe in apparitions, and you would likely find that the majority of them do not. And, really, why should they? We already have the Bible and our traditions. What more can these apparitions possibly “add” to our faith? Right? I beg to differ. In fact, I would challenge them and say that it is not biblical to reject all apparitions and make light of them. Was it not St. Paul who wrote, "Do not extinguish the Spirit. Do not despise prophecy. Test everything; retain what is good" (1 Thess 5:19-22)? Apparitions have been an integral part of our faith journey as Judeo-Christians. It was through apparitions that our Patriarchs of the Old Covenant received guidance from God, and the Torah itself! It is through apparitions that prophets received their call and their sacred messages to pass on to the people. Why would it be any different now?

Friday 4 July 2014

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire of Grace

By John D. O’Brien, S.J. 

Photo: Sarah Scali

The life of a Jesuit Regent can be pretty marvellous, even a little unhinged. Especially summers, when any pretence to maintaining a "regular" life fails completely. All that remains is living in the here-and-now, or in the "sacrament of the present moment", as de Caussade puts it. I recently described a two-week service trip to the Northwest Territories (NWT) with a group from my college. It was a tremendous experience in every way: we travelled far, we served in distant communities, prayed a lot together, and shared both joy and hardship. We came limping back, but with hearts full and alive.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Justice and Peace and Galaxies

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

(Photo: VIS -

I found Him in the shining of the stars. –Tennyson

What do galaxies have to do with justice and peace? It is perhaps a curious question to ask, but it is one that came up during the 2014 Vatican Observatory Summer School held last month. This four week programme, offered every two years, is for beginning graduate students or upper-year undergraduates in astronomy. One of its unique features is that a maximum of two students are accepted from any one country, making it a very international experience. The school this year, on the topic of “Galaxies: Near and Far, Old and Young”, had twenty-five students from twenty-three countries.