Friday 29 August 2014

Farewells and Rebirths

By John D. O'Brien, S.J., on behalf of the Ibo writers

Credit: Santiago Rodriguez
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. –Winston Churchill
The time has come to say farewell to our loyal readers. Sort of. For we are not so much departing from you, nor you from us, as we are putting to rest the format of communication that has served us both so well these past few years. The editors and writers of Ibo have decided that this will be the final article here, as we migrate to an exciting new blog-site hosted on Patheos.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Three Impediments to the Christian Faith that St. Augustine Overcame, and Why They Still Matter

By Adam Hincks, S.J.


Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear. – J.R.R. Tolkien

Many of the things get in the way of Christian faith and have remain remarkably consistent through the ages. Here are three roadblocks that St. Augustine, whose feast we celebrate tomorrow, had to overcome before fully embracing the Catholic faith, as described in his autobiographical Confessions.

1. Disordered Sexuality

When it comes to sex, St. Augustine wears his heart on his sleeve in the Confessions, speaking with remarkable frankness. He is famous for relating that as young man he used to pray, ‘Give me chastity and continence, but not yet’ (VIII, 7). Unfortunately, he lived in a culture, not unlike ours, in which chastity was seen as unmanly. When his friends boasted of their own conquests, he was eager not to lose face with them:

Friday 22 August 2014

The Day I Wanted to Punch Jesus

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

"My arms are too short to box with God.” - Johnny Cash

I got into a fistfight once. It was more of a crazy dance than a boxing match. I’d like to think that I was defending my then-girlfriend's honour, but I was probably protecting my stubborn pride. I hated that fight. I was terrified and my heart thumped in my chest, but I knew I had to fight. The way I remember the fight we both got our noses bloodied. In all likelihood, I got the worst of it. Hopefully, the other guy thought of me as he got out of bed the next day. I doubt he did. That’s the closest I’ve ever been to being a boxer. Fisticuff games don’t count, regardless of what my brothers might say.

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Having Tea with China

By Edmund Lo, S.J.

Photo: Edmund Lo

I feel like I know you, yet I do not.

We share the same bloodline, but I was raised under colonial rule, for better and for worse.

I jokingly tell others that my Chinese friends think I am too western, whereas my western friends think I am very Chinese. This is who I am, but I want to know more about my roots. I am not a Sinophile, because I do not come to you as a foreigner; you are already a part of me. I just want to know you more. I have longed for such an opportunity, and it finally happened.

Monday 18 August 2014

Bread in the Lord’s Prayer – Common misunderstandings

By Artur Suski


One of the very first prayers that Christians learn is the Our Father. It’s a prayer that all Christians know and pray daily, and it’s one of the only prayers that Jesus taught us. It is such an important prayer that the entire English-speaking Christian world has adopted the same translation.

As I’ve been reading some commentaries on the Greek text of the Lord’s Prayer, I’ve come to see how much meaning we miss in the English translation. Consequently, also lost in translation is some of the original intent that Jesus had in mind.

It is some of these findings that I would like to share in this post. I’ve decided to limit myself to the sentence that has provoked the most discussion over the ages, the phrase “give us this day our daily bread.” Here are three points that I will tackle:

Friday 15 August 2014

Viva La Vida

By John O'Brien, S.J.

On the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe (Aug 14), patron of journalists among other things, I noted that my birthday — or “anniversaire” as they say here in Quebec — had arrived.

It’s the anniversary of being “dato alla luce” (literally: given to the light), as the Italian phrase goes. But enough linguistic poaching. I’m presently enjoying days of villa with my Jesuit brothers on a lake in the Laurentian Mountains west of Montreal. “Villa” is Jesuitese for our annual week of relaxation, usually accompanied by hikes, films, novels, and this year at least, paint-ball. Yes, a large group of late-20 and 30-something professed religious let their primal survival instincts loose in an epic game of urban warfare. But I digress. As my birthday often falls during our summer villa-week, I get plenty of fraternal feting and roasting (the two go hand-in-hand in notre petite compagnie). But it also is a pleasant reminder each year to take stock, as a good existential philosopher might do, of the horizons of my being.

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Does God Answer Prayers?

By Adam Hincks, S.J.

There will be an answer—let it be. – Paul McCartney

Does God answer prayers? This is one of the most common religious questions out there. It cuts straight to the question of what kind of relationship we can have with God. It informs how—or even whether—we pray. And it quickly branches out to a multitude of related questions. How can God answer conflicting prayer requests? If God doesn’t answer all our prayers, how can we know which he will answer? What kinds of things should we ask for and what should we not ask for?

I would like to suggest that asking whether God answers prayers is often the wrong question. Usually, it comes out of anxiety or unreflective doubts. Assurance that God “answers” requests is taken to be a sort of proof of faith. In such situations, the question that people should really be interested in is, “Is God listening to me?” And this is really distinct from whether he grants requests.

Monday 11 August 2014

The Art of Listening

By Brother Daniel Leckman, S.J.

A few weeks ago, as I was praying with the city, I contemplated one of the recurring themes in my Jesuit vocation: I've known for years that I can be a good listener to people’s stories and spiritual journeys. This does not mean that I remember everything they tell me. It just means that I have a natural ability to silence my own voice and listen to the experience of the other so attentively that I almost feel like I’m partaking in it. I believe this is one of the greatest assets I bring to the Society of Jesus but I also know that there are limitations to my ability. I know, for example, that a crowded room can distract me from focusing solely on one person. I also know that, for whatever reason, there are times when I lose interest in a person’s account. I feel bad whenever that does happen but it’s just part of life I guess. Finally, I’m fully aware of the fact that when I work as a spiritual director there is a certain danger of being too emotionally engaged in listening to my directee. Until this particular prayer, I had always thought that my ability to connect with people by emotionally sharing their experience would be one of my great assets to the society. That night, I began having second thoughts about it.

Friday 8 August 2014

Enter Sandman: Ignore the Trolls and Avoid Walking Dead

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.


Over my years of seminary and Jesuit formation, one thing has always been clear to me: the wand chooses the wizard. It is also clear to me that the decision to stay up late at night is also the decision not to pray in the morning. Whether I am making a sandwich at 11:17 pm, watching Epic Fail YouTube videos after midnight, or pondering my life goals at 2:46 am, sometimes I resent having to go to bed because there's so much I could be doing instead.

This blog entry is not about sleep preferences, for both early birds and night owls can be successful. It's not about the stuff you do on the internets, either. We all need the World Wide Web to settle all sort of ridiculous disagreements with friends and co-workers. I've written before about time management and procrastination, so I'm going to spare you all sorts of lists and tips. I write these lines to point out how sleep deprivation and its consequences get in our way of living life to the fullest.

Wednesday 6 August 2014

Entering Through Their Little Doors: Doing Theology With Children

By Edmund Lo, S.J.

About a year and a half ago, my niece Monica asked me a question: “So, how do you know what God wants you to do?” How on earth do I answer her? As I kicked my mind into high gear, she was quickly distracted, as a six-year-old would.

I thought about my niece's question for quite a while afterwards. If Mony were to demand an answer from me again, I would tell her that we know what God wants us to do by a peace and happiness that we find within us. It is different from the short-lasting happiness of a piece of chocolate; rather, it is a happiness, or “joy”, that lasts. This has to do with the Ignatian understanding of consolation, that we are being oriented towards God, and we can concretely detect this in our lives. Perhaps you have found yourself in a similar situation before, where a child asks you a question that requires a complicated answer.

Monday 4 August 2014

A Glance at Contemplative Prayer

By Artur Suski, S.J. 


More and more I’ve been noticing that people these days have a great thirst for spirituality, and especially for prayer. It seems that the more our contemporary culture throws at us an anti-faith and materialistic mindset, the more something deep within calls to us. I think this is what has moved people to search for some sort of spirituality. “New Age” movements have sprung up like dandelions; for instance, there has been a renewed interest in Buddhist meditation. There has been a modest increase in interest in Christian spirituality too, though admittedly not as great as such things as those “New Age” movements. Christianity has been tried, and is has been found to be very, very difficult, mostly because of its sexual morality, which uncomfortably challenges many in today’s “liberated” and sexualized society.

When it comes to prayer and its many forms, however, Christianity can offer a wealth of resources. That so many Christians today don’t know how to pray, or simply don’t pray, speaks volumes about the terrible job we have been doing in promoting and teaching prayer. In this entry, I would like to spend some time on what many in the Church call contemplative prayer. I will attempt to provide some sort of practical guide that can be followed by people in all walks of life.

Friday 1 August 2014

On the Threshold of Religious Life: an Interview with Jesuit Novice Erik Sorensen

By John O’Brien, S.J. 

Erik Sorensen is in the final days of the first phase of Jesuit formation known as novitiate. For two years, he has been studying, praying and embarking on experiences known as “experiments”, all designed by St. Ignatius of Loyola to test the candidate and help him grow in his vocation. Erik, 24, will be professing vows of perpetual poverty, chastity and obedience on August 17, 2014. 

Erik, tell us a little bit about yourself and your family background. 
I grew up in Red Deer, Alberta with my parents and two younger sisters.  Ever since I was young, I have been interested in aviation. This interest led me to get both my pilots license and a Bachelors Degree in Aerospace Engineering. 

What brought to the doorstep of the Jesuit novitiate? 
During my years in high school, I entertained the thought of being a priest. But I was never super serious about it because I was so intrigued by my passion for aviation and I was unable, at the time, to reconcile these ideas.