Saturday, October 22, 2011
The founder of the order of the Society of Jesus in the 16th century was not born a monk. He was born to a Basque noble family, a man of pride ascending the ladder of fame in Spain, then manifested in the military honour and power of knights, until he was seriously wounded in the battle of Pamplona in 1521. Such was the case also with Francis of Assisi. In Ignatius of Loyola we see again the power of the transformation God uses in us -weak humans - so that we can become one day united to him in Christ. God who is the eternal Mystery is also the approachable father who calls everyday his servants to become closer to his eternal Son.
While being hospitalized, Ignatius read De Vita Christi written by the influential theologian Ludolph of Saxony and there he contemplated in a vision the "discernment of spirits." From the hospital emerged the conversion to Christ when Ignatius experienced the joy of being with Christ and likewise the experience devoid of joy when he projected his glory without Christ. True joy is a fruit of the Spirit as written in the New Testament. And here Ignatius discerns the true joy which will carry him, with some friends, to Jerusalem and then to Rome. The Jesuits or Society of Jesus, approved by Pope Paul III in 1540, were active in the Counter Reformation preaching. They carried the missionary work to China in the Far East, to the Middle East, and the New World. Ignatius of Loyola was beatified and then canonized in 1622. In his active life as a disciple of Christ, Ignatius educated many followers in the Exercises. The Jesuits have been at the forefront of Catholic education. Not an easy task in an increasingly secular environment, they continue to teach and found universities and schools in the entire world. Among them you will recognize such giants as the twentieth/21st centuries Henri de Lubac, Karl Rahner, John Courtney Murray, and Avery Dulles with their suffix S.J. or sj which means Society of Jesus. On this blog, many of them are featured in links to other websites of great learning. In this spirit, Christians are invited to learn, guided by the Church, and be open to the Spirit.
Fr. Michel Chalhoub spoke at Jesus the King Melkite Catholic parish about the need for repentance. He said that we are preoccupied by temporal things at work, family, and entertainment to the point that we leave no space in our thought for God. The advances in consumerism and material innovation are not matched by advances in hunger for spiritual renewal. This is particularly seen in the Mass when people receive the body and blood of Christ without having confessed their sins. St. Paul said that he who receives the sacred body of Christ without merit brings upon himself judgment. "You may say: I did not steal or kill, but are you sure that in your heart you have not killed the reputation of your neighbour? Could not you humble yourself before God as he humbled himself to the point of death for you?" He continued: When I raise the cup to the Father in the Eucharistic prayer, I kneel and so you behind me should kneel in your hearts. The love that God showers on us everyday requires us to repent and be humble. He touched upon an event in the life of St. Elizabeth. When the Blessed Virgin Mary rushed to visit her cousin Elizabeth, she did not expect the older woman who had just been pregnant miraculously to receive Mary with humility. In Luke we read that Elizabeth said to Mary "And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me." In her humility Elizabeth was granted the revelation that from Mary shall come the Lord. It is with such humility that we should repent, receive the Sacrament of Penance or Confession and only then receive the Body and Blood of Christ our Lord and God. Michel Chalhoub also said that when he kneels before the Eucharist, he prays for all the people in church and all their sick and their departed ones so that the ever loving God may grant his mercy to all.