Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Annual 8-day Silent Retreat

Tomorrow I begin my annual 8-day silent retreat.  Please keep me in your prayers and you will be in mine.  
Every day we wake up empty and frightened
Don't go to the study and pull out a book,
Take down a musical instrument instead
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are a hundred ways
To kneel and kiss the ground.
Jalaluddin Rumi
I will be kissing the ground at the feet of Christ and before his face. 

Christ's peace be with you all.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Subverting the Masters of Suspicion

Just a quick thought I had while flying today. I've been traveling a lot, so not much time to write.

Over the weekend I was at a Jesuit ordination, and it got me to thinking about religious life again and the meaning of the vows, especially in our age.

We live in an age still dominated by the Ricoeur dubbed Masters of Suspicion: Nietzsche, Marx, Freud. Though not modernists, each of them continued to argue that there is a subtextual meta-narrative capable of explaining every aspect of life. For Nietzsche: power. For Marx: money. For Freud: sex.

Religious life answers each of these three lords of our age with its vows.

Against Nietzsche: obedience. Obedience is not the destruction of the vital powers, but rather their release in freedom.

Against Marx: poverty. Voluntary poverty, in imitation of Christ and in solidarity with his poor.

Against Freud: chastity. The subtext of life is not sex but desire. Not sexual desire but personal desire. The religious lives this to the full, refusing Freud's reductive determinism, refusing to immanentize the eschaton.

Religious life is a hermeneutic of love founded in the person of Jesus Christ.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Reflections on the Trinity

Sorry I haven't finished my comments on women in Paul yet. I'm a bit behind on posts. So instead, in honor of the Trinity whose solemnity we just celebrated, I'm posting below a reflection on the Trinity that I gave to some of the seniors on one of my retreats. They found it very helpful, particularly because it offers concrete ways of praying to each of the Divine Persons, using three kinds of love in Greek from C.S. Lewis' analysis in The Four Loves as their tools for prayer. Use it if you find it helpful. I think the Trinity often gets the shaft in our prayer, but it is at the heart of Ignatian spirituality.

Indeed, Arrupe offered an analysis of the Ignatian revelation as ultimately trinitarian. Ignatius' first profound mystical moment was beside the Cordoner river, where he was given the building blocks of the Spiritual Exercises. He was given there, he tells us, a profound knowledge of the meaning of the Incarnation, of the work of the Son.

Then, while outside of Rome at La Storta, he had a vision of himself being placed by the Father with his Son, and heard the words, "I will be propitious to you in Rome."

Finally, while discerning the meaning of Jesuit poverty in his personal diary, he had profound experiences of the Holy Spirit, including groans, tears, and an experience of something he called loquela, which no one knows how to translate.

These were his three most mystical moments, revealing his spirituality to us as eminently trinitarian. I'll write more on that tomorrow if I can, before we get to the feast of Corpus Christi. That will deserve its own reflections.

So here are those reflections:

Prayer Sheet
Relationship with the Trinity

Three Kinds of Love:

Storgae: Love of a child for his parents and vice-versa

• Words that describe: Affectionate, unconditional, strong, constant, pure, without any ulterior motives, condescending, always there, generous, trust
• Goal: Growth, development, maturity, security

Philia: Love of friendship

• Words that describe: Brotherly, honest, comfortable, open, non-exclusive, easy
• Goal: Personal development, deeper awareness of myself, fun, comraderie, holiness

Eros: Romantic love
• Words that describe: Overwhelming, incredible, passionate, exclusive, intense, emotional, difficult sometimes, creative, intimate, eyes
• Goal: Growth in love, joint holiness, children, unity and one flesh

God the Father

• Kind of love: Storgae

• Kind of Prayer: Asking for help, thanking, praising, looking up to him as your Father, needing mercy, sharing problems, etc. Jesus in the Garden, “Dad, take this cup from me.” Profound trust. This is what we need to develop.

• Personal fruit: Sonship. To be able to call myself a Son of God. That is the most important thing I can ever say about myself. Develop this relationship. Learn to call out to God as your dad, as your father. This is one of the most important things that Jesus came to teach us. This is part of what it means to be a Christian. Learn to do this, or you have an inadequate relationship with God.

Scriptures: Romans 8:14-17; Psalm 131. Be quiet and still with your Father who loves you. Learn to call him Abba. Learn to let him love you.


• Kind of love: Philia

• Kind of prayer: Of equals, easy, honest, open, personal, questioning, problem-solving, catching up. Don’t be afraid to talk about regular things. He wants to know, from you. Jesus my age, at my experience level. He was the age of all of us. Ask him about girls he liked. What did he do about it?

• Personal Fruit: Friendship with God. Learn from Jesus how to really be a good friend. Learn to share yourself, and offer yourself.

Scriptures: John 1:35-39; John 15:12-17

The Holy Spirit

• Kind of love: Eros

• Kind of Prayer: Intense silence, music (sing her a love song), praising (think of how much time you spend praising your girlfriend), gazing into her eyes, open hands, use of the body as we expect from erotic love.

• Personal fruit: Lover of God.

Scriptures: Joel 2:28-29; Wisdom 7:25-27; Romans 8:26-27

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

Sunday, June 7, 2009

George Tiller, R.I.P.

I was busy for a while, so I didn't have time to comment on a fairly important event that rocked the pro-life world recently. I'm speaking about the murder of George Tiller. What an awful time for this to happen. Not that there is ever a good time for someone to be killed, but this is particularly bad timing. Just as Obama has offered an olive branch to the movement, someone in that movement has reacted with a terrible act of violence.

I posted recently on the Old Guard of the pro-life movement. Don't get me wrong. I love the Old Guard, and I think that the movement is where it is now because of them. Because of the Old Guard, more Americans now call themselves pro-life than pro-choice. In 1995, the percentage was 56-33 pro-choice. Now that has swapped to 51-42. That is quite a switch. Nor do I call Scott Roeder a member of that Old Guard. Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, has unambiguously stated that Scott was never a member of Operation Rescue.

The change has come about because of a wide variety of things. Operation Rescue played a large part. But even more importantly has been the grassroots impact of crisis pregnancy centers, post-abortive services, counseling, homes opened for women to live in while they complete a pregnancy, and other grassroots methods of fighting abortion that have focused on the women as much as on the babies.

Traditionally, the movement has employed a trio of tactics to fight abortion: operation rescue; political engagement; and services offered to women. After FACE when sitting in front of an abortion clinic became a felony, that leg of the tripod evolved into the methods of Mark Crutcher, and harassment of abortionists at their homes and at work. These methods were effective. We ran most of the abortionists out of El Paso using this latter method.

But I think what the movement has learned as of late is that the path of fanatical language and good party-bad party politics doesn't work. Tiller the Killer, as we called him growing up, was a household name. And he was a killer. To the end, he was one of the only abortionists to perform third-trimester abortions for almost no reason whatsoever, even on minors, without reporting any instances of statutory rape. But Norma McCorvey was converted, not by being called a killer, but by the love of a young girl. And I think that one thing that we should accept from Obama is his offer of dialogue.

This does not mean that we get lulled to sleep. It means that we actively engage in this new stage of the battle. There are a Scylla and a Charybdis that we must navigate here. On the one side, we can hear Obama's framing of the issue in a whole new way, a way more positive for the pro-life movement than from any other democratic president, and sit back and believe ourselves victorious in the culture wars. If we do this, we will wake up to find ourselves in the situation of Europe now, where issues of morality have ceased to be salient in the public square. Or, we can go the route of the three wise men -- Novak, Hudson (replacing Neuhaus) and Weigel -- and refuse to hear Obama as anything but a fork-tongued politician. If we go this route, we must also condemn L'Osservatore Romano as naive and ignorant of American affairs. But we must steer between these two hazards. We have not won, but the days of Weigel's partisanship are over. They must be over, because they did not work. It is time to universalize our movement, removing it from the shade of any party and any ideology. We will talk to everyone, and we will rejoice in the death of no one.

I'm not sure where this should take us necessarily. But hopefully the death of George Tiller will bring the abortion debate to a new level that will finally lead us to that hoped-for victory.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

Vive Roger

Well, I just have to pass on my excitement from the world of sports with all of you.  Federer has done it, finally, and all the tennis world breathes a sigh of relief.  He has tied Sampras and won all four majors.  He is now, arguably, the greatest tennis player ever.  Only Rod Laver won all four grand slam titles in a single season.  And Agassi is the last to have won all four at all. Before him, you have to go back to the 60's to Emerson and Laver to find this accomplishment again.  So he has won 14, and has done something that Sampras never did, winning all four.  He has finally won the French.  What will solidify his title as greatest ever?  For me, he has to defeat Nadal once more in a grand slam title.  You can't be the greatest ever if you can't be the greatest in your own time. He needs to win at least one more, and he needs to do it against Nadal.  Then I would be content.  

And yes, the U.S. defeated Honduras 2-1 after the humiliating 3-1 loss vs. Costa Rica.  I have many issues with our team, but at least we can now say that twice we have come from behind -- against El Salvador and now against Honduras -- proving that we have heart and the capacity to score when needed.  Now how about having a defense.  

I know, you all care about basketball or baseball.  I could care less.  So I'm passing on my joy coming from two of my favorite sports and two of the greatest sports to watch.  

Nice going Roger.  Now let's go win the World Cup!  (yeah right) 

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ