Thursday, February 21, 2008

We're not just a sinking ship

This is something I commented (with a few additions) over at Some Wear Clerics.

A couple things I want to say:

First, Nicolas is not going to do anything about those (that George Weigel harps on and with him many conservative blogs) things, ok? He's not I don't think, and that's just life. We can say that's good, bad, whatever, but he'll write some good things, be a good administrator, keep good ties with the Vatican, and that's probably it. To keep whining about it is not helpful. He can't even do much of anything about our Universities in the U.S. We can't. Control has been lost, and that has to be dealt with now as it is. Maybe the best thing is to take our Jesuit name back and leave it at that. Fine.

Second, it's wrong to act as if the Society of Jesus can be reduced to its worst members or to intellectual currents. There are thousands of Jesuits who will take with them to heaven thousands of people, both of whom we have never heard of. And they will quite easily do so without "orthodoxy" ever crossing their minds. Sure, that's an important term and question in current day intellectual Catholic America, but is not all there is to living a good Jesuit life. It's actually fairly low on the list, both for Jesus and Ignatius. As Balthasar once said: "Every Catholic who lives in love has his own free and immediate access to God and his freedom to state his opinion in the Church, provided that this is done in love." He is simply being a good Augustinian here, and Benedict has spoken similarly. Jesuits may have some screwy opinions, but that doesn't condemn them to hell.

I think a good Benedict quote from during Vatican II puts some of this in perspective: "Some seem concerned only with Joseph, the rosary, the consecration of the world to Mary, devotion to the sacred heart of Mary, and so on - which betrays their lack of theological enlightenment." Sound like something you've heard many "liberal" Jesuits say? Not that some traditional pious customs are not good. Not that thinking with the hierarchical Church is not what we should do. But it's not all we do.

Nor is thinking with the Church repeating the Church, as many seem to think on "orthodox" blogs. De Lubac never grew tired of pointing out the difference between "traditionism" and "thinking with the Tradition." There is a great difference, and simply repeating the Tradition does it no service and actually harms it, misunderstanding the problem of language and history. So of course I'm all for thinking with the Church. But let's let the contemporary Society of Jesus figure out how to do it, as we are trying to do - listening of course to Benedict's helpful advice - and not try to squeeze ourselves back into some earlier "orthodox" models. That does the Church no service.

Markel, SJ

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