Friday, July 31, 2009

Feast of St. Ignatius and New Blog

Today is our feast day.  And the contribution that some of us have decided to make to St. Ignatius is this new blog that kicks off today.  

In the Constitutions, St. Ignatius writes in paragraph 378:
Because of the utility there is in the practice of disputation (especially for those who are studying arts and scholastic theology), the scholastics should participate in the disputations or ordinary circles of the schools which they attend, even if not of the Society; and they should endeavor to distinguish themselves by learning joined with modesty.  
He continues:
During the preceding afternoon these theses will be posted in writing on the door of the schools, so that those who wish may come to dispute or to listen.  After these defendants have briefly proved their theses, those from within and without the house who wish to object may do so.
Then in paragraph 379:
The purpose is that the intellectual powers may be exercised more and that difficult matters occurring inn these subjects may be clarified, for the glory of God our Lord.
Finally, in characteristic Ignatian fashion, he concludes the discussion on disputations in paragraph 382 with a caveat:
In regard to the exercises of repetitions, disputations, and speaking Latin, if something ought to be changed because of circumstances of place, time, or persons, the decision will be left to the discretion of the rector, with authorization, at least in general, from his superior.
These quotations above summarize what we at this new blog are attempting to do.  Combining, hopefully, "learning with modesty," we are posting our ideas on the modern day "doors" so that everyone can see them.  We'll try to prove our theses, and then "those from within and without the house" can do what they can to prove use wrong.  Such is the method of disputation, foundational to the idea of western learning since Socrates.  

Of course, Ignatius always adds two things to just about everything he says.  First, make sure that it fits the circumstances.  After all, if we are to find God in all things, regularly updating our methods is required.  Second, do so under the sure protection of obedience.  The idea of this blog is thus a response to the belief that "something ought to be changed because of circumstances of place, time, or persons."  That something is how Jesuits live in and confront the world with their particular charism.  To hide either out of fear or apathy is directly contrary to our mission.  For this reason, hoping to give glory to God and to exercise our intellectual powers for the good of society, "Whosoever Desires" has been born.  

This project cannot work unless you are engaged.  We thus ask that you contribute vigorously to our discussion.  The more comments the better, since this is precisely how disputation works.  Ideas are put in the open so that they can be commented on.  We encourage all comments.  Just be charitable in form and content please.  If you have something harsh to say, clothe it in courteous language.  

The formula for first vows in the Society concludes:
And, as you have freely given me the desire to make this offering, so also may you give me the abundant grace to fulfill it.  
This blog is an offering of some of us.  Hopefully St. Ignatius will be pleased by the effort of his sons.  Please keep us in your prayers.  

St. Ignatius, pray for us.

Nathan O'Halloran, SJ

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