Friday, February 27, 2009

So, In Your Opinion, What Reform do the Jesuits Need?

So, what do you think that Jesuits need to change? What kind of reform do we need? Please, readers, weigh in. I would like to hear from you, at the beginning of this Lent, what you think is the primary kind of renewal that we need. I have often been curious about how outsiders view us. Positions are often so extreme -- intense love and intense hatred. So I thought this would be a beneficial activity for us. Please offer your experiences and observations in the comment box. Thanks.

Dumpsters Within

I don't like to look inside.
Too many open garbage cans,
lids off, and trash spilled around.
And scrawny dogs with fevered yellow eyes
scratching through the things that were my life.
And dumpsters iron-strong, pushed up against
walls in alleys long since lost and darkened,
places where I used to curl up and sleep,
and forget I'd ever seen the light of day.
It hurts to look
within where there is now no place to dwell
except the dirty dumpsters of the past.
And a heart all but strangled that has forgotten
blood that once flowed freely from pierced head
and reddened beams upholding hands that die
and spread stretched out against a darkened sky.

(Another old college poem)

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

76 comments:

Anonymous said...

According to the quite scathing article Are the Jesuits Catholic? by Paul Shaughnessy, S.J, "the number of priests who jump ship each year roughly equals the number of entering novices; the number of Jesuits who die annually is twice as high as either." The Jesuits are indeed in trouble.

Perhaps they should do what all orders do every now and then. Go back to their founding. From this article a big break from the founding was the abandonment of loyalty to the Pope, replaced by loyalty to present and future popes, which, since they aren't around to to be loyal to, allows the Jesuits to do whatever they want.

BCatholic said...

Nathan,

I don't think that the Society is nearly as bad as what Father Benedict was thinking when he said that to you. That being said, it does have serious problems.

Let me start with the positive: most Jesuits are not the ideologues that the majority of orthodox Catholics think. Most seem to be fairly middle of the road men, who are happily Catholic, but maybe a little lukewarm. Others, those in love with the Exercises and who promote Ignatian spirituality, are on fire. It's contagious. I mean here Ignatian spirituality in the original sense, ie not reducing the examen to my day's "high and low."

For starters, most Jesuits do not dress like religious, which you yourself noted. Other than working out and while in house, I'm not sure if there is a time when a priest or religious should ever be in lay clothes.

Secondly, most Jesuit liturgies are filled with liturgical abuses.

Thirdly, most Jesuits I know do not celebrate Mass daily. They attend one, without even concelebrating. In the biographies of saints, many times it stresses the fact that out of his great devotion he celebrated Mass daily.

For a long time, the Jesuits I knew met once a week for communal recitation of the office (I know this isn't something that they are required to do, it's what separates them) but they only prayed one Psalm. And when I've prayed the office with Jesuits, many have seemed to not know how to use the breviary, which I thought was telling.

While I am very patient with lay people and their struggles with matters of dissent,
I think it's very clear to anyone who knows me that I do not tolerate priests teaching against the Church. This takes place at many Jesuit universities and rarely do I see other Jesuits ever take a stand against this. Maybe it happens behind the scenes but...

That's for starters.

Deirdre Mundy said...

More reverence for the liturgy and the Eucharist.

No mickey-mouse/supersoaker Masses.

I think if the Jesuits put Christ and Eucharist back at the center of things, the rest will follow.

Though part of the problem with the 'image' (not reality) of the Jesuits is all the show-boating, beloved by the media guys who seem to be willing to say anything for attention.

From the inside, they might look like "Crazy old uncle so-and-so" and people might just roll their eyes at their exploits, but from the outside, they become the face of the Society of Jesus. They probably even scare off some vocations.

So more of an effort to make it known that crazy and Jesuit aren't Synonyms.

I've known a lot of good, solid Jesuits who really love the church. Unfortunately, it's the nutty ones that get all the attention.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

"So more of an effort to make it known that crazy and Jesuit aren't Synonyms."

I'll pass on the word.

"Thirdly, most Jesuits I know do not celebrate Mass daily. They attend one, without even concelebrating."

I admit to being puzzled by this one too. Priests are not to receive in the manner of a lay person, as you know, and are strongly encouraged to say a daily mass. I see no reason why concelebration is not a more regular practice among us. I could speculate on reasons, but I won't. I agree though that the Eucharist must be the beginning of our renewal. This means that not just a new appreciation of Mass must come about, which I already see happening among many Jesuits, but also a greater understanding and love of the priestly ministry. And part of that ministry is the daily incorporation in persona christi into the self-diffusive immolation of Christ on the altar. Priests do themselves no service when they ignore this daily lived reminder of their identity.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

corey said...

Don't water things down..speak the TRUTH! America makes excuses all the time for behavior...enough! Jesuits are so well educated and are so equipped to teach on Catholic teachings, scripture, etc. To who much has been given, but will be expected. Jesuits are given years of training and teaching. I would like to see Jesuits turn around and speak the truth. I have known several Jesuits. I grew up with Father Thomas and he taught us and expected much from us. Then there are other Jesuits who when I seek advice from them, I find that instead of advice, they are making excuses for me and watering things down, even telling me that my sins aren't sins (when they really are:)) As parents, my husband and I aren't going to water things down for our kids when it comes to teaching them and raising them. We have to equip them for what the world will be like when they are grown. The same goes for clergy. Equip us with tools and truth! We need guidance and direction. PLEASE!

Anonymous said...

I was first introduced to the Jesuits back in 1971 in Mankato, Minn. They were great! The priests
inspired me to follow the path of religious life.

It seems many Jesuits have gone to far to the left and become a little too secular. I would like to see a return to solid orthodox teaching once again.

A Jesuit Fan said...

I don't know that I qualify as a "true" outsider given that I went to a Jesuit University and currently work in a Jesuit Apostolate.

What I think the Jesuits need is a return to the roots of the order, a simplification and a revitalization. For many have gone too far left over the years and the reason there are so many issues is many Catholics are more center or to the right.

For too many liturgical abuse, decent from church teaching, hostility to the Church and the hierarchy is the norm rather then the exception. Now I am not saying the society as a whole is like this, I owe the credit of my own discernment of vocation, and the mere fact I am still Catholic to a couple of good solid Jesuits but there are a few that I think Francis Xavier or Ignatius would have run out of the Society on rails.

Anonymous said...

The 2002 article I mentioned in the first comment also points to a big elephant in the living room: the Jesuits are currently an organization of mostly gay men, many actively so. (I do not know this for a fact. This is the contention of the author, a Jesuit priest.)

The Jesuits simply can't survive as a religious club for gay men, even if they are chaste. I'm not saying everyone with same sex desires must be driven away, but it can't be the case that the percentage of Jesuits with same sex desires greatly exceeds the population average if the Jesuits are to survive.

BCatholic said...

Nathan, if Jesuits don't want to concelebrate (some Traditionalists don't want to), why not attend in choir?

Anonymous, I go to a Jesuit university and know about sixty Jesuits fairly well. Very few of them are homosexual. I know of some but it's a minority.

Anonymous said...

BCatholic,

Do you have a conjecture then as to why the author of that article, Paul Shaughnessy, S.J., believes the ratio to be much higher? It could be a generational thing (I believe he was talking about Jesuits in the 50's in 2002) or a locational thing, or maybe Shaughnessy was just blowing things out of proportion. Any insights?

Anonymous said...

That should be "I believe he was talking about Jesuits in their 50's in 2002." That is, he wasn't talking about the 1950's, but Jesuits who are between the age of 50 and 59 in 2002.

Bobadilla said...

Paul Shaughnessy is one of those orthodox Jesuits who, a long time ago, felt the need to seperate himself from the regular communities and apostolates of the Society and minister as a priest in other venues. Since I (as a young Jesuit in formation) don't know what he went through, I can't judge his decision.

It does seem that many such Jesuits are often bitter about their experiences which then colors their views of the Society. They focus excessively on the negative and, most importantly, they have no clue as to what the younger men are like.

From my own experience: most Jesuits are straight and usually we are too busy being Jesuits to be having long discussions of what people's sexual preferences are. The focus on this issue doesn't relate to my lived experience.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

Jesuit Fan, I think that the words you use, "simplification and a revitalization," are good words. And I would have to say that in my experience among younger Jesuits, that is what I see. I think that as we continue to both examine our roots in Ignatius and get over our antipathy to maybe some of the positives of the 1965 Society, we may be able to begin implementing some more consistent and structural reforms. As it is, we still often look like middle aged bachelors. The lifestyle of a "family of slender means" that we are supposed to live is still an ideal. But I think that the structural implementation will come soon, or I hope at least.

"the Jesuits are currently an organization of mostly gay men, many actively so."

This is not true in my experience, much less the "actively so" part. I think he is talking about a different generation.

"Nathan, if Jesuits don't want to concelebrate (some Traditionalists don't want to), why not attend in choir?"

Attending in choir is ok, but not receiving communion, since that would imply that a priest has the same status in the congregation as a lay person. They should say their own mass, hopefully with others present to fully embrace the symbolic universality of every mass, or concelebrate. There seem to me to be very few reasons to have to attend mass as a lay person when you are a priest.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

Joseph Fromm said...

Dear Nathan,

In the past 15 years I have some the greatest Church experiences with the Jesuits and some of the worst experiences with Jesuits.

Honestly, Jesuits fall into two groups.

The first group are those that live the Spiritual Exercises as way of life.

The second group ignores the Spiritual Exercises as a way of life.

A Jesuit can live for the poor with out Liberation Theology.

A Jesuit can be ecumenical with out Tielhardism.

A Jesuit can pray with out the introduction of Hindu or Buddhist practices.

A Jesuit can provide a homily without talking about themselves.

A Jesuit can be politically active with out publicly supporting pro abortion parties and politicians

A Jesuit can say Mass while just reading the black and doing the red.

Honestly it is not "Jesuit Cool" to bash the Holy Father.

Thanks for the opportunity to express thoughts and relate my Jesuit experiences.

JMJ

Joe

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

Joseph,

I appreciate your comments. I think I grasp the sentiment, as I have also heard similar things from others. I agree wholeheartedly about your statements concerning the mass, the Holy Father, politics, and talking about ourselves in homilies (Good Lord, very annoying), etc. I would only have a couple of questions/comments:

As you know, our current Father General, Adolfo Nicolas, has spoken about given the Spiritual Exercises using Buddhist approaches in order to approach more closely the spirituality of the East. many Catholic practices have adopted Eastern modes of prayer. As long as these are just "practices" as you say, without accepting any of the theology, what is wrong with that? The Catholic tradition of prayer has adopted practices from many cultures in the past, and I don't see why it cannot continue to do so. Though I do think it should do so in a way that clearly separates itself from all forms of New Age thinking and commodification of religious practices simply as "another" approach among many to God. The mass is paramount.

What is ecumenical Teilhardism?

Though many of the Jesuits' problems have come about by pushing the envelope in the areas of spirituality and ecumenism, we cannot forget that Benedict before GC 35 complemented us specifically for working on the frontiers of theology. Nor can we forget the many contributions that certain forms of Liberation Theology have made to Catholic Social Teaching. As I have said before on this blog, there is not just one Liberation Theology, but many liberation theologies. The CDF came down on certain kinds.

Thanks again.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

Anonymous said...

jesuit permanent deacons.......

Anonymous said...

be more orthodox,give up liberation theology,dont let the society of jesus become one kind of "national catholic reporter".

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

Biggest Jesuit problem: bad table wine!

Mason Slidell

Anonymous said...

At this juncture Jesuits who have lost their faith need more 'contemplation' and less 'action'; more time alone with Christ in Eucharistic presence.

I studied under Jesuits from 7th grade through college. One Jesuit, a former Fordham philosophy professor (no longer with us), helped me find my way back to Christ. Afterwards, while some Jesuits were of considerable help, the example and spiritual guidance of others, and of fellow Catholics, led me away from the Church and eventually from Christ.

After many, many years I returned to Christ but not through any Church. I had lost my faith, did not believe in His divinity, and sought God humbly and without even any assurance of finding anyone let alone Christ. I was resigned to accept that what I perceived as value was 'as good as it got'. I prayed the Our Father once daily hoping, trusting someone might hear me. I believe I felt some 'presence'. Later, although I did not believe in Christ, I picked up a used copy of Ignatius exercises to give to my mother given that it accorded with her beliefs. Yet I was compelled to read it. Could not wait to get home. It was then, when I opned it and started reading, that Christ unequivocably manifested himself. I was not expecting this.

I returned to the Church and looked for the Jesuits. The church I found, not only the Jesuits, often contradicted my encounter, except for the Eucharist. That is why I suggest looking for Christ there.

Ex aedibus said...

Back when I was in the diocesan seminary, my main style of formation in the spiritual life was in the Salesian model. We started with St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life but were introduced to other forms of Catholic spirituality as well.

I must say that when I was first inroduced to Ignatian spirituality by a Jesuit, I found it incredibly beautiful and practical. Perhaps a greater attention to the sources and a deeper practice of authentic Jesuit spirituality could help. Speaking as a former diocesan seminarian, I do think that much of Jesuit spirituality can be most beneficial for a parish priest, as it is meant for those in active apostolates.

Jesuit bashing is often a favourite pasttime of some diocesan seminarians and priests. It is unfortuate, precisely because there are just so many good Jesuits. I do revere Father Hardon, especially because his books were the ones which lead to me to the Faith and helped to deepen the faith of a new convert. My pastor's brother is a Jesuit and there are many others that I've come in contact with over the years. I know that there are good ones out there.

For the new Jesuits, the best thing that you can do for your community and the church is to perservere, striving to be the best Jesuit you possibly can be. The Church needs you. Eventually, a lot of the silliness will pass away as it is elsewhere in the Church.

As for the Drinans and others in your midst, I doubt that you'll get them to behave.

Jimin said...

Fidelity, fidelity, fidelity, as RJN said. The Jesuits must return to the mission of papal loyalty and away from the prideful view that their calling is to operate a parallel Magisterium.

Joe said...

A lot of good stuff has been said, so I'll try to (briefly?) synthesize what I think useful and add, for piquancy, some other thoughts.

1- Liberation Theology (note the uppercase letters) has to go. It must be pulled up by the roots, hacked into manageable size, thrown into a wood chipper and used as kindling. Any and all remnants of "some of Marxist analysis can be valid" must likewise suffer the same ignominious fate.

2- Liturgical abuse must cease. A little empathy for those whose hearts are drawn to God by Mass in the Extraordinary Form wouldn't kill anyone.

3- A moratorium on The Usual Suspects who get quoted in the media would likely be a good thing.

4- A humbler view of the 4th Vow would be nice.

5- Casuistry in support of dissent (what Fr. Shaughnessy calls "semantic lines of retreat") has to go, as well. As does the dissent. We all know that when someone says something like "Many people today believe that Humanae Vitae..." they really mean "I think that Humanae Vitae..." but are trying to leave some wiggle room in case they are called on this. A great many authors in America Magazine suffer from this.

6- The preferential option ought be for CHRIST. You cannot be indifferent to the poor once you establish that; whereas you can be indifferent to Christ after opting for the poor.

7- There are some places, not all places by any means, where there are Jesuits who are not being chaste or whose same-sex inclinations would fall under the heading of "deep-seated." The fact that until 2007 Boston's Jesuit Urban Center was celebrated as the "Best Place to Pick Up a Mate- Gay" by Boston Magazine, or the assorted doings of Fr. Godfrey in San Francisco's Holy Redeemer Church don't exactly help quell the doubts.

But I believe there are such places and these activities must screech to a halt.

8- The infatuation with "progressive" politics is a fool's errand and must cease. It deceives nobody when abortion or same-sex issues get (at best) lip service but progressive economic or defense positions are treated as revealed truth infallibly handed down from Christ Himself.

9- What the Magisterium says, goes. Always.

Thanks for asking, and I'll be checking in on the SJ to see how it's proceeding with implementation.

AMDG,

-J.

Joe said...

P.S. Since you're askin', I'm not so crazy about GC32. Oh, and the Land O' Lakes agreement needs to be exorcised. Leave Land O' Lakes to butter.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

The Spiritual Exercises are surely the greatest legacy and treasure that the Jesuits bring to the Church. They offer not so much a teaching as a clearing space, an encounter with Christ and a chance to walk with him personally. As many of you have said, a return to the (full) charism, including the paragraphs on thinking with the Church, would be a huge step in this process. I believe that every Jesuit should be an expert in giving the Exercises. If every priest, as Benedict XVI has said, should be an expert in prayer, so too should every Jesuit be an expert in living and praying and offering the Exercises in some capacity.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

Mason, can't do much about the table wine. Sorry

Faith said...

When I was in College, we had a Jesuit for a Chaplain, and he was very brilliant, a Doctor of Physics. I went to him hoping for a serious answer to a very serious question. Two semesters had passed and in each semester we had professors who shocked us. The first semester, we had a theology professor who just returned from a summer institute in Rome and told us all in class that there was a new theology and that it was wrong for us Catholics to keep believing in hell, that no one goes to hell, because nothing good ever goes to hell, and no one on earth is ever so bad as to have nothing good at all in his/her person, therefore, no one ever goes to hell. The second semester there was a religious sister who insisted that heaven is not an actual place, just a feeling in the heart, a state of not being bothered by conscience. So I went to see the Jesuit Chaplain and asked him, Father, tell me please, is there a heaven and a hell? The Church used to be so sure that there is, why is it changing its teaching now? And since when did the Church discover that heaven and hell did not exist? Was Christ wrong when He spoke of Hell in the Bible? And where did he ascend and sits at the right hand of the Father, if not in heaven? And the Jesuit Chaplain told me, 'DO NOT ASK. YOU SHOULD BE GOOD SIMPLY BECAUSE GOD IS GOOD." And I told him, "But Father, I need to know. You see, it is hard to be good all the time. Sometimes, our passions take stronger hold on us, and only the thought of hell or heaven can make us try harder to be good. If you convince me now that there is no hell, I tell you Father, I will come out of this chapel a different person. If God is all love, and does not punish the wicked, I will have less qualms about doing wrong once in a while. I want to know how the Church discovered there is no hell or heaven anymore. I want to know when Christ and the Apostles Creed started to be irrelevant." And he said, "My child, don't you understand? Your faith is immature if fear is the only motive you have for doing good." And I replied, "Yes, Father, I understand I am immature in my faith, and precisely because I am immature, I can only be good when I remember that God is JUST. If theologians insist that God is all love, then my immature faith will not help me grow in holiness. And Father, if there is no hell nor heaven, what are you a priest for? If everybody can go to heaven, why do you have to be a priest?" THIS IS MY EXPERIENCE WITH A JESUIT PRIEST. And because of this, I looked and looked and asked and asked until I came upon a priest who said, "Yes, hell and heaven are dogmas of the faith. Anybody who denies an article of faith is not Catholic." And guess what, the Priest belongs to the SSPX group. So, to keep my faith, I am now a traditionalist. I pray for the Jesuit Priest. I hope when he dies he will not have to acount for the many confused souls who got lost because he refused to give the Catholic answer.

Matts said...

The Jesuits need to abandon the study of history, which is the root of all revolution. That is the root of their problems and their lack of fidelity to the Magisterium. Once they accept that the Church is timeless and unchanging, all other problems will go away. Although, to be honest, the problem is probably rooted in the spiritual exercises themselves. The idea that one's personal experience takes precedence over communal worship is fundamentally Lutheran, and is at the heart of Jesuit individualism. It's fundamentally destabilizing.

Anonymous said...

I have studied under and worked with Jesuits in the U.S. for about thirty years. Many Jesuits number among my closest friends, most trusted confidants, most admired Christians. One thing that has struck me about the order over these decades is that no order in the Church puts greater spiritual and intellectual resources at the disposal of its members, especially its members in training, than the Jesuits. While so many orders and dioceses have adjusted their training regimens in reaction to decreasing personnel numbers and un-amended apostolic commitments, the Jesuits stay committed to a luxurious training program. What diocese sends their priests for doctorates in theology or philosophy anymore? How many religious from teaching congregations are doing advanced studies in the humanities or social sciences anymore. Once upon a time, the “learned clergy” was a cornerstone of the Church and could be found throughout the US. Nowadays because of the crunch to get priests into parishes, if a bishop can afford to send his priests for anything beyond the M.Div. (a professional degree, not an academic one), he sends his brightest to get canon law degrees (likewise professional and not intellectual) so that they can serve on tribunals. I don’t mean to cast aspersions on congregations or dioceses, I just mean to highlight an important commitment that the Society of Jesus, still the Church’s largest religious order, seems to have made and that returns to the Church, and to the world, a gift of immeasurable price … and one that is profoundly “traditional” (once upon a time, “Matts,” the Church didn’t fear advanced study in non-theological fields: from Gregory of Tours to Hubert Jedin, I wonder how the great priest historians of our Church would react to your derogation of historical studies).
That said, I know more than a few Jesuits (but let me insist, less than the majority by my reckoning) who (a) don’t appreciate the luxury of what their own order and the Church make available to them and (b) become neglectful that these resources are put at their disposal in service to the Church. As to (a), I’ve been disheartened too many times by Jesuits who dabble in this and dabble in that and who developed a kind of entitlement about what they deserve and what they ought to be allowed to do. This sense of entitlement comes off very poorly among lay people who don’t have the straightforward resources like money and time at their disposal the way Jesuits do. (When I was studying with Jesuit scholastics in Boston and became aware of how much time and money was made available to them for their formation, I began reminding them – good-naturedly, I hoped – that that was the widow’s mite they were spending.) Furthermore, there’s something about the system that lets Jesuits, especially younger Jesuits, acquire a very solipsistic attitude about their training. I don’t have a problem with Jesuit “individualism” per se: it’s precisely a respect for individualism that let’s genuine talents rise to the surface and be cultivated. But the shadow side of this anthropology lets pride get cultivated as well … and so we find Jesuits making headlines by doing and saying things that cause pain among fellow Christians, even fellow Jesuits, certainly friends of Jesuits; that aren’t in the service of the Church; and that in certain instances with certain Jesuits are not simply, as the new father general explained to the pope, occasional mistakes or accidents of individuals.
I suppose there’s really nothing new about accusing Jesuits of being prideful or of exhorting them to be more humble. Pride and self-serving ambition – albeit of a very different sort than we see today – played a big part in the order’s suppression in the late eighteenth century. I find the blogged tirades against “the Society” rarely well-informed. Even given the sins and weaknesses of Jesuits – individually and corporately – their service to the faithful, even if it looks differently now to how it looked in the 1950s, is unique and profound. The Church would be a poorer place without the order as it exists today, perhaps that is why Christ chooses to continue sustaining it.

Karen said...

I keep getting e-mails from people telling me that I HAVE to weigh in on this. The truth is, I really don't. As many Jesuits have pointed out to me over the years, I have no reason to be invested in the fate of the order. I simply cared, and had the hell beaten out of me for caring. But I'd like the e-mails to stop, so I'm weighing in to say that I agree with the things that Joe said. And that what seems to be a Jesuit love affair with Obama that is rivaled only by the thrill going up Chris Matthews' leg is the thing that finally made me give up. For whatever that is worth.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

Abandon history and personal prayer. Jesuits might as well abandon faith, hope and charity too.

Mason Slidell

Anonymous said...

"I simply cared, and had the hell beaten out of me for caring."

Priceless.

x said...

I work for a Jesuit college and have had a little personal experience. The comments are most interesting. I don't have anything to add, other than to say however I may have issues with this or that Jesuit's theology or personality, I have found them without exception to be uniquely sincere and earnest educators (but not always so respecting the Church.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

"This sense of entitlement comes off very poorly among lay people who don’t have the straightforward resources like money and time at their disposal the way Jesuits do."

Anonymous, thank you very much for your wonderful comments. You are right I think, there is a tension there. On the one hand, the Jesuits found no conflict in the idea of forming a man for 14 years, all along intending to send him to England to be almost assuredly martyred (Edmund Campion). Personal formation is that important to the Order, and something I think we must hang on to. The result, when use dwell, is educated men dedicated to God and his Church who are able eloquently to serve the intellectual needs of the people of God.

On the other hand, you are right: there is a lot of self-entitlement that goes around. I have seen much of it, and I'm sure I betray some of it. We spend a lot of money on our education, and yet often do not take it seriously, sometimes taking it for granted, forgetting that it is a gift and not a chore. Thank you for your comments. Pride is something we must work on very hard, and still is, in my opinion, one of our greatest weaknesses.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

Fr Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. said...

Nathan,

I think the Jesuits need to reform in the same way the Redemptorist (my Congregation) and many others need to reform: by returning to our charisms as expressed by our founders in our individual original rules. We were all founded for a particular reason and we fulfilled that reason, more or less, until the chaos of the 60's of which the changes in the Church are only a part.

Religious men and women used to be different and that was good, but being seen as "better" or "above" wasn't good. When that was recognized we threw out the proverbial baby, bathwater, and basin, and in the process, lost our identities. We've been trying to re-invent the wheel ever since and make ourselves relavent. Well, we already have our wheels--our founders gave them to us. As for being relavent, religious, by definition, aren't relavent. We're different. We live totally for Jesus Christ and the Gospel and that is not relavent to society. Rather, we are to call society to relavence, that is, to the Gospel.

Sure, some things in our rules and ways of living didn't work in the past. Those things can be adjusted or even disposed of. But we can't dispose of the whole rule, the traditions, and the teachings of the past.

So, we need to reform our orders by breaking with the hermeneutic of rupture and re-develop a continuity with the past. It's the only hope for the future.

Oremus pro invicem.

Anonymous said...

The Soceity of Jesus has to begin their reform from within, but I do think they they are killing themselves from within..I have been associated with the Jesuits for over forty yrs. knew many good holy men... but as I see the priests now many have lost their way and their faith...not even celebrating Mass on Sundays...no priestly ministry, just prof. teachers...they dont even dress as priests...the John Paul II generation of priests would not be invited into the ranks of the younger fathers because they beleive in Jesus ..ADMG

Anonymous said...

ONE OF THE HOLIEST PRIESTS I HAVE EVER MET IS FATHER IVAN FUCEK,SJ WHO LIVES IN ROME....IF ALL JESUITS/PRIESTS WERE LIKE HIM THE CHURCH WOULD BE HOLIER FOR IT. ADMG

Anonymous said...

Who are you, Nathan O'Halloran SJ? Your name doesn't appear in the 2009 USA Jesuit Assistancy Catalog. You seem to be an imposter.

Anonymous said...

WHERE IMPOSTER OR NOT..MANY OF THE COMMENTS ARE TURE...IGNATIUS WOULD TELL MANY OF THE FATHERS TO GO AND TAKE A HIKE..AMDG

Babodilla said...

"the John Paul II generation of priests would not be invited into the ranks of the younger fathers because they beleive in Jesus"

I believe in Jesus and happen to be quite fond of JPII. Most other scholastics I know fall in that same category.

Anonymous said...

This is a continuation of the comment I wrote anonymously on March 1, 2009 8:29 PM.

I was a little struck to read in Joe's synopsis the opinion that liberation theology 'has to go'.

On the one hand I agree fully that the first option is and must be Christ. Yet it seems that Liberation theology is attacked while the omnipresent 'capitalist theology' is not even mentioned.

After my personal re-encounter with Christ, I whole heartedly searched was looking for the best way to serve Him. I read Gustavo Gutierrez, Jon Sobrino SJ, Juan Luis Segundo SJ and other liberation theologians and recognized validity in much of what they said. I immersed myself in the life of the poor, lived in poverty, advocated on their behalf in front of Church officials, only to personally experience the arrogance, abuse and indifference of some Jesuits and many non-Jesuits towards the poor. Almost countless examples. Yet these were priests and lay people who were receiving communion with me. So is it just the Jesuits who have to change?

It's a complex issue for later I discovered that some 'liberation theologians' such as non-Jesuit Frai Betto supported the 'right to abortion' and honored left-wing tyrannies, while others honored those of the right.

In addition I discovered that most of the poor I encountered, I hate to put it so bluntly, lied and were as opportunistic as much as the rich. Reducing or subordinating liberation to economics I concluded is a heresy. Selfishly ignoring economics and structural injustice also is.

There is a culture of abuse in our Church, and by that I don't just mean 'only' sexual abuse. It comes from the left and the right, takes on various forms and postures and infects from many sides, attacks the Spirit, attempts to fragment and push Christians and non Christians away from Jesus Christ.

Attacks on the pope similarly come from many sides; rebellion is widespread and not just Jesuit rebellion. Consider for example the rebellion of women against the pope's authority or on the other of Lefebrists.

Why did Matthew and John go out of their way to point to Peter's role? Surely Jesus knew that there would be powerful forces trying to divide us, not only ideologies, but the arrogance of individuals, and the malignant spirits wanting to dwell within, masked as ideology.

Not only the Jesuits need to return to the personal encounter with Christ in the Eucharist and to approach Him with absolute humility, sincerity and the willingness to place Him and the ALL of the mandates of his gospel above all things, if we are to remain the salt of the earth.

We have been entrusted with The most precious gift. How many grasp the monumental and eternal significance that the Church through its Sacraments even has the authority to forgive sins. What other religion can claim this? Absolutely none. Yet even this is abused, as is the Eucharist. Too many seem to be all too willing, and with utmost arrogance, to trade it in or put it at risk. Many Jesuits and many, many others need to repent, to truly examine themselves in front of the Eucharist and repent, truly repent. Until that happens I don't think anything will change.

Anonymous said...

I live in Brazil,here the liberation theology is dying.
Why?
The people dont like it,theyre rejecting this theology.

Joe said...

Dear Anonymous (no, not YOU Anonymous...the other Anonymous):

I made a specific point of referring to Liberation Theology in capital letters, as opposed to lower case-L, lower case-T "liberation theology."

By the former -- and I have my complaints about the latter, but they are minuscule in comparison -- I mean that sort of "Marxism with enough Christian buzzwords to make palatable."

This is not the correct venue to discuss any given theologian's version of this, but suffice it to say that Marxism clad in the fig leaf of convenient Christianity ought be terminated with extreme prejudice, and quickly. Least of all because it does not do (nor will it ever accomplish) that which it claims to be its prime goals.

At the root of structural injustices are gravely sinful people. Hence the crying need these people be brought to conversion to Christ.

AMDG,

-J.

Anonymous said...

At the root of self-righteous and pretentious internet posts are gravely underoccupied people.

Anonymous said...

"WHERE IMPOSTER OR NOT..MANY OF THE COMMENTS ARE TURE...IGNATIUS WOULD TELL MANY OF THE FATHERS TO GO AND TAKE A HIKE..AMDG"

But, Jesus said, "Say yes when you mean yes, and no when you mean no. Everything else comes from the evil one." To pretend to be a Jesuit is saying "yes" when the response is really "no."

Anonymous said...

With Manifestation of Conscience in the Jesuits there are so many cover ups of all sorts of things including abuse....the SJs bad mouthed the bishops ....both they practice do the same things...when there is no paper trail any thing that happens is quickly forgotten.perhpas Ben XVI would rec that this be done away with.

Anonymous said...

I KNOW A FEW YOUNG MEN WHO APPLIED TO THE JESUTIS AND WERE REFUSED BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO CATHOLIC...WHAT EVER THAT MEANS...I GUESS THEY PRAYED THE ROSARY, WENT TO MASS AND CONFESSION AND WERE SEEMLING HOLY OVER THE FORTY YEARS THAT I HAVE BEEN IN CLOSE, CLOSE CONTACT WITH THE SJS I HAVE SEEN THAT ALL DISAPPER IN THE SJS AND I AM NOT IMPRESSED WITH THE YOUNG SCHOLASTICS ADMG

AMDG said...

I was educated by the Jesuits in England during the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s and my experience of the Jesuit priests I met was that they fell into 2 very distinct categories. The first were the older ones in their 70's who had been ordained in the 1940's and 1950's. These men had an immensely strong sense of Jesuit identity which they lived through their love of Jesuit saints, their dedication to the Spiritual Exercises and outwardly through the Roman collar and the famous English Jesuit "wings". They were truly men for others who, one felt, had been formed as an entire religious and educational community in one man that existed only to give of himself wherever in the world he might be. The second group who had mostly been ordained in the 1960s and 1970s despised clerical dress in favour of looking like the eccentric proprietors of second hand book shops (old sports coat, kipper tie and ill-fitting slacks) which made them a laughing stock behind their backs to their pupils. They espoused rejection of the traditional faith, the Pope and the Magisterium, but in shouting loudly about what they hated seemed to have little of substance to offer in its place rather than a loose commitment to "Justice" even though this was what they denied to their pupils rich or poor by refusing to teach them their own religion. This vacuum of belief made them incredibly needy as people, frequently depending on the support of lay colleagues and even pupils to help them cope with life. In some cases they descended into mental illness and left (sometimes via Buddhism or psychology).

Jesuits are great when the faith is strong and they have a legitimate target to attack. But like any great weapon if they develop a fault in their guidance system they can be incredibly self-destructive. In my opinion their greatest fault lies in their unwillingness to take criticism and criticise each other.

My propsed remedy: reform in the true sense of the word- get back to the founding spirit of St.Ignatius and the original companions- shabby cassocks with no buttons (and the "clergyman" version), adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the celebration of one's own daily Mass, devotion to Our Lady, dedication to the Pope and to doing his personal will, a zeal for souls in both the post-Christian West and the Missions. Last but by no means least-use all the weapons, techniques and disguises of the world to preach Christianity to Secularism but do not end up by preaching secularism to Christianity.

Anonymous said...

I suggest all Jesuits abandon their secular clothing and start to wear, say, sackcloth and ashes...because, as you remember, Jesus made it very clear that the clothes make the man.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

Thanks for these good comments:

"As for being relavent, religious, by definition, aren't relavent. We're different. We live totally for Jesus Christ and the Gospel and that is not relavent to society. Rather, we are to call society to relavence, that is, to the Gospel."

"Last but by no means least-use all the weapons, techniques and disguises of the world to preach Christianity to Secularism but do not end up by preaching secularism to Christianity."

"I KNOW A FEW YOUNG MEN WHO APPLIED TO THE JESUTIS AND WERE REFUSED BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO CATHOLIC...WHAT EVER THAT MEANS"

Exactly, whatever that means. Be careful that those were the actual reasons, not the one's they themselves may have given. I was accepted into the Jesuits with two other men from Steubenville. Sure, there was a little resistance, but you have to give it to them: Steubenvile is about as "Catholic" as you get.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

You'll fine me listed in the catalog as Nathan Halloran, SJ. I have added the O for various personal reasons related to my grandfather and Irish ancestry. Sadly, I'm just me. No sheep's clothing or anything. Thanks for the vote of confidence though.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

Anonymous said...

Loyalty to Christ and the Holy see are all thats needed. The rest will frollow.

BCatholic said...

"Attending in choir is ok, but not receiving communion, since that would imply that a priest has the same status in the congregation as a lay person. They should say their own mass, hopefully with others present to fully embrace the symbolic universality of every mass, or concelebrate. There seem to me to be very few reasons to have to attend mass as a lay person when you are a priest."

Diocesan priests do this all the time. They just place a stole over their surplice. Is this illicit?

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but it seems you are referring to when many priests concelebrate just using an alb and stole. But they are concelebrating, saying the Eucharistic Prayer, and not in the congregation as a lay person. You do not need to say your own mass when you concelebrate, only if you cannot concelebrate. It sounds to me though like the diocesan priests you are referring to are concelebrating.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

BCatholic said...

Nathan,

They are most definitely not concelebrating. They are vested in only cassock and surplice and they kneel for the Eucharistic prayer. They only put the stole on for the reception of Communion. They are participating in the Mass in choir. They also normally help with the distribution of Communion. Then they take the stole back off.

Anonymous said...

THERE IS MENTION OF THE CASSOCK..WHEN I WAS A STUDENT OF THE JEUISTS IN THE LATE 1960S..MANY OF THE JESUITS STILL WORE CASSOCKS ..EVEN SOME BIRETTAS...I WAS TOLD BY SOME SJS TODAY..THAT IF THEY WORE A CASSOCK TO THE CLASSROOM TO TEACH THEY WOULD BE ASKED TO GO INTO THERAPY BY FR. PROVINCIAL..AMDG ...AND YES THERE ARE STILL MANY GOOD JESUIT PRIESTS, BUT THEY KEEP THEIR MOUTHS CLOSED IF THEY WANT FINAL VOWS...UNLESS YOUR MENTOR IS BEN XVI ..THEN FR. GENERAL HAS TO KEEP QUIET...AMDG

Anonymous said...

IN MANY SJ HOUSES THE FATHERS DO NOT VEST IN ALB AND STOLE...THEY SIMPLY CONCELEBRATE IN JEANS OR SHORTS...THE ONLY ONE VESTING IS THE PC ....I THOUGHT THIS WAS NOT ALLOWED???????AMDG

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

I don't think that is allowed. That doesn't happen as often in the U.S. as in Central/South America.

I think you are talking about Fr. Fessio. Other than him, the habit of denying final vows because you are a "good priest" is not a practice. Again, you may not be in on some of the inside politics and so you are missing things. You should withhold judgment unless you know the facts.

I wear my cassock to class sometimes and teach in it. I wear it to all sodality events too.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

Anonymous said...

I WEAR MY SJ CASSOCK EVERY DAY TOO..AND I DO THINK I KNOW MUCH OF THE INSIDE POLITICS OF THE SOCIETY AMDG

Anonymous said...

The cassock issue is slightly more complicated. I don't know the full history, but I do know that the American bishops forbade the wearing of cassocks save in very limited situations (e.g., one was in a religious institution, etc.). This was done in the 1800s, during tense times between Catholics and Protestants. The intention I think was to smoothe over differences, to keep the Faith from looking to alien to a Protestant majority who were easily frightened by the intimidating dress of flowing black robes. Frankly, I love the cassock, but I also understand that if it's an impediment to bringing people to Christ, it needs to see rare usage.

The cassock issue recently flared up again in my diocese. Several younger Roman priests decided to start wearing them in public and the bishop promptly called their attention to the standing order. This doesn't mean that certain orders like the FSSP aren't ignorant of the local law (or don't care), but it helps to keep things in perspective. The Jesuit who brought me into the Church was really old school and he observed the law -- he NEVER wore the cassock off campus. This is part of holy obedience.

More generally, I've found the comments here to tend toward being unfair. There are many post-Vatican II Jesuits who labor for God in obscurity. Yeah, they wear jeans and don't fit the regal image of ages past. Maybe that's not always a bad thing. I'd like to see more collars, but the beauty of black is it goes great with jeans.

My Melkite priest also does this. He can wear the cassock wherever he darn well pleases because he answers to no Roman. He goes civilian a lot though. Know what? I cherish having him as my friend and spiritual father and he's Orthodox in every sense of the word.

Martin said...

Fathe O' Halloran,

I am a third-generation student of the Jesuits, married by a Jesuit.

In my part of the world, at times the Jesuits appeared to be more interested in creating assembly lines for the production of a Catholic middle class than in the salvation of their charges. Never mind the heavy stuff like the mystical nature of the Eucharist; the basics like knowing the difference between right and wrong seemed less valuable than being proficient in the game of Rugby Union. As Chesterton wrote, we Christians have known all along that a duke might be damned - at times, it felt as if you would be damned if you didn't achieve good exam results, or perform well in the Glasgow University Bursary Competition. This was the priority.

What seemed like the Jesuit desire to emulate the English public school movement produced interesting results. Every Sports Day, a 'Victor Ludorum' was declared - one Victor Ludorum of my generation apostasised to Islam.

The decline of the English Province has been so marked that my old school no longer has any Jesuit on the teaching staff. When the best speakers from amongst alumni that they can muster for prizegiving are a televison scriptwriter no longer practicing the faith (but who did win the Glasgow University Bursary Competition), and a pair of Sikh soi-disant 'comedians' locally famous for their profanity, you have to wonder what's going on.

I can still vividly recall the Mass held on the last day of the 1983-84 school year. George Earle SJ, then the Father Provincial, turned and berated us for being 'the children of the rich'. Even to a 13 year old, this seemed like a form of bullying. When he died, his obituary in the 'Daily Telegraph', openly referred to him having been a child molester.

This cultural malaise persists. The good Jesuits, the committed ones, left to do other things. Nearly a quarter of a century after having to suffer the wisdom of Father Earle, I encountered one of my old masters doing parish work in another city. When I introduced myself, his very first comment upon hearing of the year from which I came was how its star pupil was now a prominent lawyer. Two decades of experience had barnacled itself to me since I had last seen or spoken to the student in question - it might be un-Christian of me, but his career is of much interest to me as mine has been to him, which has been none. The Jesuit concerned is a saintly man, one of the best I have ever met; but even saints have blind spots.

In my experience, the formation of the individual was a matter which the Jesuits kept to themselves; one wonders how many otherwise happy and faithful lives might have ben led if they'd decided to spread that feeling around.

John Preston said...

My experience of the Jesuits has largely been confined to Britain and Ireland. Many of the older Jesuits are good, faithful Catholic religious but they are in the minority and many are marginalized, criticized and repudiated by the majority. Left-wing ideology continues to rule attitudes and policies, although this seems to have dissipated a little in recent years, but the mentality remains and can be destructive. Centrist and conservative (with a small c) Catholics are persona non grata and if they exist within the provinces this invariably leads to marginalization and injustice. I have heard of cases of cruelty in official attitudes to individuals. Jesuits who pursue these policies are not necessarily arrogant but complacent and their mentality is almost sectarian in its independence from the Catholic mainstream. Bullying is common. I could continue with many other illustrations of bad practice but what has this achieved?

In company with the Society world wide these provinces are getting old and the weight of the old outweighs their effectiveness. Jesuits take a long time to die because their lives are comfortable but within ten to twenty years the numbers will be severely diminished and there are not enough young and middle-aged men to make up for the losses. In Britain there are less than 200 Jesuits, in Ireland fewer still, the majority are well over 60, vocations are almost non-existent, beyond ones and twos, and of these not all stay. The leakage among the young is continuous. Good work still continues to be done, mainly on an individual basis, but the prospect of joining is formidable to young men because they will be entering an old folks home and will have few, if any, contemporaries.

The constant emphasis on lay collaboration gradually erodes Jesuit identity and the future seems to promise that the Society will become a lay institute in all but name. Yet collaboration is mainly applied on a cosmetic basis and a culture of secrecy continues to prevail. This causes frustration, disappointment and disillusion among the lay collaborators and many fall away because their hopes are not realized. Despite the rhetoric, the development of this tendency has been caused by falling numbers and few vocations. For young men interested in a Jesuit vocation there is less to join and they would be better engaged as collaborators without the discipline of vows. Some collaborators give the Society a bad name by acting in what they believe to be a Jesuit manner yet is far from what the Society actually is and does. This is especially true of Ireland which, if anything, is even more deeply embedded in the ideology of the 1970s than Britain. Both provinces find it difficult to restrain such activity.

Inevitably the question has to be asked, 'Does the Church any longer need the Jesuits?' In the short term, yes, because institutions like the Gregorian University and the Biblical Institute in Rome continue to serve the Church well. But in the long term it will be impossible for the Society to maintain these institutions due to shortage of manpower and men of the calibre needed to staff them. Whether this will create a crisis for the Church remains to be seen. Religious Orders come and go but those founded after the Council of Trent are all, in different ways, subject to crisis, eroded apostolates, diminishing numbers and few vocations. The Jesuits will be able to keep going for the foreseeable future but it is hard to quantify how well they will continue to serve the Church. Given the oppressive character of those in charge of government and formation, it is unlikely that effective reform will be possible because any signs will be effectively stifled. Since the Second Vatican Council the Society has, to quote a cliche, lost an empire and not yet found a role. Whether this is a tragedy or not is debatable but it looks as though the Society's present vocation is to disappear.

Old Lion said...

I think that the Jesuits are victims of a dissonance (largely of their own making) between public expectations and the reality of their vocations. To many American Catholics, even (or perhaps particularly) among those with no personal experience with members of the order, the perception of the Society of Jesus is still that of an elite cadre, the "Navy Seals" of the religious. They train for decades to become black belts in theology, philosophy, and science; they have profound mystical insights derived from intense spiritual exercises; they mold children into men; and they are zealous in their defense of Mother Church. Of course, even the most casual acquaintance of an actual Jesuit priest, not to mention anyone who reads AMERICA magazine, knows that this is a grossly inadequate caricature. But from my vantage point as a former student and occasional patron of Jesuit institutions, it seems to me that the Society still finds it useful to lean on the old stereotype as its public persona. This breeds confusion and occasional contempt among the laity, and I imagine it is not all that healthy for the priests. If I had my druthers, I would like to see the Jesuits genuinely reclaim their heroic heritage of obedience, rigorous intellectual integrity, and the inculcation of sound moral character in our youth; but if that isn't possible, they would be better off admitting that they are just another liberal order that cares more about temporal politics than eternal truths.

Anonymous said...

IN 1884 THE COUNICL OF BALTIMORE LEAD BY JAMES CARDINAL GIBBONS. PROM THE BALT. CAT AND ALSO RULING ON CLERICAL VESTURE..IF YOU READ THE NORMS OF THE USCB TODAY..THE CASSOCK IS VERY MUCH ALIVE AND ALLOWED..IN MANY A DIOCESE THE CASSOCK IS WORN BY MANY OF THE PRIESTS....IT IS EVEN BACK FOR CEREMONIES AT THE NAC ...

Fr. Erik Richtsteig said...

The above mentioned norm concerning the cassock was abrogated by the NCCB in the mid 1990s. The use of the cassock is left to the discretion of the individual diocesan priest and each religious institute.

Bobadilla said...

Old Lion,

"I would like to see the Jesuits genuinely reclaim their heroic heritage of obedience...but if that isn't possible, they would be better off admitting that they are just another liberal order"

Two things: trust me, the Jesuits will never admit to being "just another" anything. The Magis in everything.

On a more serious note, you can find the most recent document on Jesuit obedience to the Holy Father here:

http://www.sjweb.info/35/documents/Decrees.pdf

It is decree number one, as it should be.

Old Lion said...

Bobadilla,

Thank you for the link. I think it is notable that the Society of Jesus needs 54 entire paragraphs to explicate all of the nuances of the vow of obedience (GC35-Decree 4).

Bobdilla said...

Old Lion,

Welcome to religious life. If you read the Constitutions written by Ignatius, you can get even more paragraphs!

Anonymous said...

Wow. There are a lot of underoccupied people in this world.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the posters for pointing out the abrogation of the ruling on cassock wearing. It appears based on the actions of certain bishops that this is not as widely known as it should be.

As for the comments on English Jesuits, I would point out that NOR has linked to articles describing the astonishing drop in Catholic marriage services performed in England. This points to a more general problem of Christian life.

Furthermore, if one reviews recent census data, it becomes clear that the vocation crisis is not just about religious life -- it's about marriage as well. When one factors in that the overwhelming majority of Catholics are of the lapsed kind, it puts a perspective on the real ratio of priests to laymen. I never see the gloom and doom reports give the numbers this way. It's like all 60 million alleged Catholics living in the U.S. actually go to Church more than once a year.

The closures of many parishes in places like Scranton speaks to a decline in organized religion. Historic reversals in the practice of mainstream Protestants also shows that the U.S. and the West more generally are becoming secular. For the first time in 100 years, there are more single adults now than married. Boston's archdiocese has even waged an ad campaign in an attempt to rehabilitate the image of marriage and promote it as a vocation among young people. Yet, we hear very little about the "crisis of marriage vocations."
Instead, criticism is leveled at Vatican II, "liberals," celibacy, strictures against priestesses, etc.

So, the crisis is not one of the Jesuits failing absolutely at their mission -- although the astute comments here reveal places where improvements can be made. If the church is semper reformanda, then so are the orders of religious.

The silver lining: Much of the disruptions to normal communal -- never mind religious -- life will go away as the credit card, Ponzi-style economic order we have begins to fall apart. We're just in the early stages of this.

Over the past 50 years, much ink has been spilled regarding the ascendancy of secular colleges as the Jesuit humanistic model was supposedly going into decline. But as we watch the money men -- with their Harvard MBAs -- flail about while exhorting us to print more money to buy things we don't need, the economic distortions eventually disappear and with it, a concomitant collapse in faith in the expensive vocational training used in business and finance. Specialization is high risk now -- I know, I work in a technical field and have watched engineers become paper pushers because their high powered EE degrees had no place in the real world. With the incredible levels of student debt, college is now a very risky proposition. The perenniel need will be felt again, for men and women can think critically, morally and broadly about problems. The days of math wizards concocting ridiculous models to create elaborate Ponzi schemes and derivative markets is over. Specialization is career suicide for any intelligent young person.

I suggest rather humbly that the splendor of the truly liberally educated man will again shine forth even if there is an overall decline in numbers of active college students. Certainly, many of the vocational schools posing as universities will either shutter or go into bankruptcy in the next few years as the credit spigot goes to a trickle. The distractions of E-Z credit and bubble professions have lured many good men and women away from religious life. As the West enters into Third World status, materialism can no longer remain the motivating force in people's lives. As with the Soviet Union, so too with the United States: One social collapse brings about a rebirth in certain corners of the Church. Therefore, I leave you with the happy prediction that the Church will experience a modest rebirth in the quality of priests and other vocations even as society continues to slog through decades-long economic depression. The Jesuits will find men coming to them who are more open to communal life and a sense of passionate mission.

Quirino Sugon Jr. said...

In St. John Bosco's Prophecy of Two Columns, the Barque of Peter can only survive if it anchors itself on two columns: one bearing the Sacred Host and the other bearing the Statue of Mary. So for the Jesuit Order to survive, it must propagate once again the Traditional Latin Mass (replaced by innovative liturgical experiments) and the Sodality of Our Lady (replaced by Christian Life Communities).

Anonymous said...

No thanks, pal. Why do no Catholics online resemble anyone any of us meets outside church?

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell said...

"The leakage among the young is continuous. Good work still continues to be done, mainly on an individual basis, but the prospect of joining is formidable to young men because they will be entering an old folks home and will have few, if any, contemporaries."

There is a feeling for some that they are entering an old folks home. But, at least in my province, in the last ten years, only 3 of the 40 + men who took vows have left. Not bad numbers. We are growing.

Like all religious groups, we are necessarily influenced by the culture around us. Hopefully the collapse of the market will slim us down as well, and make us a bit leaner in the service of Christ.

As to the question of our mission, I think it is as alive and well as before. We were not founded to combat the Reformation, but that quickly became an important part of our early work. So too, Paul VI gave us the task of combatting atheism. In our times, as far as I see it, one of the things most desperately needed from religious groups is the talent and intelligence for dialogue with other religions and with a growing secular world. Look at the growing breech between fundamentalism and secularism. That is where we must move into the gap and proclaim Christ.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

Anonymous said...

The Jesuits are the only group that's keeping the Church from becoming more like the Mennonites and other sects, totally divorced from the world (and reality!). I pray to God every day that the Jesuits continue their prophetic ministries which rail against fundamentalism and absolutism in our Church and world. The Church is so confused if it believes Jesus of Nazareth would have embraced the pedophilic father of the Brazilian 9 year old instead of the girl herself, her mother, and her doctors. What a mess absolutists and conservatives have wrought on our world!!!

Anonymous said...

Less emphasis on how bloody amazing the Jesuits are, their history, etc., more emphasis on the sacraments, Catholic theology, the life of the soul, and the last things. The Jesuits were not originally designed as a mutual admiration society, looking down its nose at all other orders and non-Jesuits. The elitism is a troubling sign, especially when the numbers are declining so badly.

Anonymous said...

I notice that many Jesuits give homilies at mass before they are ordained to Holy Orders. This practice is explicitly forbidden by the Holy See in the Code of Canon Law. That being the case, can a non-ordained Jesuit preach a homily in good conscience if told to do so by a superior?

James Thomas said...

I don't understand why people continue to be so exercised by the Jesuits any longer. Their reputation of being intellectual imperialists is only confined to a relatively small minority of the entire number. From my experience most of the Jesuits I have met have been dull to the point of mediocrity but they behave as if they are people who count. It is going to be hard to keep this pose going for much longer because their numbers are diminishing and their influence with it. The massive move of numbers to India will, in time, entirely change the character of the Order. Despite their plea for justice many American and European Jesuits dread this tendency and move powerfully to resist its influence. There are several provinces throughout the world that are on the point of extinction and can only continue through compromised amalgamations until they too vanish. In time it is predicted that there will only be one European province. Who, of any real calibre, will want to waste their life in a process of managed decline? There is neither the will nor the ability to see the need for change.

Anonymous said...

The Jesuits need to take their vows, especially the fourth vow, seriously. They ought to be what their great founder intended them to be, soldiers for Christ and His Vicar on earth.