- Reflection: Henri de Lubac SJ for the anniv. of the restoration
- A Reflection on Pedro Arrupe SJ for the restoration of the Jesuits
- Reflection: Teilhard de Chardin SJ
- Reflection: Vicente Canas SJ for the restoration of the Jesuits
- Reflection: Anthony de Mello SJ for the restoration anniv.
- Reflection: Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ for the restoration
- Reflection: Alberto Hurtado SJ for the anniv. of the restoration
- Reflection: Blessed Miguel Pro SJ, anniv. of the restoration
This is the ninth reflection, commemorating the two hundredth anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus. A reflection on the life of Henri de Lubac.
You are the centre, Lord, of my life. The centre of my life. Amid all my preoccupations, all the worries and hassles and concerns in my mind right now, can I focus for a moment on the centre of my life? Can I open my heart to God, my guide, my healer, my teacher? Can I stop for a moment and listen to God’s voice?
Henri de Lubac was born in 1896 and was arguably one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century. Like his friend and fellow-French Jesuit, Teilhard de Chardin, it was his study of the past that made him a revolutionary scholar. In de Lubac’s case it was a deep academic rediscovery of the writings of the early Christian church that caused him to call for a more orthodox, redefinition of what were thought by many people to be accepted Church positions concerning such matters as Grace, the Eucharist and the social nature of Salvation. De Lubac enriched the study of God for the entire Christian community. Though his ideas came under suspicion and scrutiny in the early 1950’s, it was gradually recognised that his profound insights and understanding of Church tradition were remarkably prophetic and he became one of the key theological experts of Vatican II, and was a major influence on the final texts of the documents on The Church (Lumen Gentium) and The Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes). In recognition of his contribution to the modern theology, Pope John Paul II appointed de Lubac a Cardinal in 1983. He died in 1991.
God is not a spectacle. He freely manifests himself by his Word “is never something closed, which could be taken in at a glance like a circumscribed landscape; it is something which is always happening anew, like water from a spring or rays from a light”. Hence it is not enough, as St Augustine said, to have been initiated once unless one is unceasingly inebriated at the fountain of eternal Light. “To anyone who loves, this truth is immediately obvious; the face and the voice of the Beloved are at each instant as new for him as though he had never yet beheld them.” Such a one cannot fear that the day might come when he will have exhausted God; he drinks at the source of a knowledge and of a love which, he understands better and better, will eternally surpass him:
The characteristic of God, who, in revealing himself, shows himself to be incomprehensible, is not conditioned simply by the obscurity of earthly faith. This faith therefore cannot simply disappear in the face-to-face vision; on the contrary, it is then, precisely, that the incomprehensibility of God in every perception of God will reach its maximum. It would be ridiculous and contrary to all experience as well as to all true faith to interpret this face-to-face vision as a definitive grasping, after the fashion of an acquired science or a human philosophy.
Augustine’s axiom, ‘si comprehendis non est Deus’, applies in heaven as well as on earth.
“God”, says Irenaeus, “will always have to teach us, and we shall always have to be instructed about the things of God; the divine riches are ‘never-ending’, just as the kingdom of God is without end.” St John has taught us that “God is light, and in him there is no darkness.” We must be careful not to lose sight of that teaching. But we also know, as the Psalmist says, that “he made the darkness his dwelling place”; in other words, his light is too intense and too profound ever to be penetrated. Whoever makes progress into it as though into a “luminous cloud” understands better and better that his true knowledge and his true vision consist in “not-grasping”. It is thus that he enters and plunges deep “into the joy of the Lord”.
And even the humblest movement of faith secretly introduces us to this end that knows no end.
Henri de Lubac describes an encounter with a person not an idea. Reflect over your own experiences of encountering God.
Is there anything in what De Lubac describes that you recognise? If so, dwell there for a few moments.
Is there anything in what De Lubac describes that you long for? Longing and searching can also be another way of encounter. If so, dwell in your longing and your searching, can you get a sense of it not as an absence but as, in itself, a presence that is holding you and calling you?
De Lubac speaks about a knowing or a knowledge which is not grasping - it is not a mastery of God but rather receptivity. As you listen again, think what that grace of presence might mean for you. What do you need to learn or unlearn in order to accept it?
There is always a joy in seeking God even when things are dry or difficult and a joy in finding God or letting God find us. De Lubac uses a striking image of plunging deep into that joy - plunging deep into God’s self. Take time at the end of this reflection to give thanks, to discover the signs and the intimations of that joy in the day, and ask for the grace of saying ‘I accept for love of You'.
This is the sixth Pray as you go reflection, commemorating the two hundredth anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus. A reflection on the life of Anthony de Mello.
Karen Money sings Sanctuary: ‘Take me to a quiet place, where I can be with you.’
Anthony de Mello was born in 1931 in Bombay, and had a major influence on Christian spirituality across the globe. He developed an engaging story-telling technique called ‘Sadhana’ that has enhanced the use of imagination and contemplation in popular ways of praying. In his writings and conferences he used examples and stories from the major faith traditions, especially drawing on the insights and truths found in both Hinduism and Buddhism. He saw the development of awareness as one of the most important elements of spiritual progress, and renewed the meditation of ‘Application of the Senses’ from the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius’ for a whole new generation of religious seekers. Anthony de Mello died in 1987.
The explorer returned to his people, who were anxious to know about the Amazon. But how could he ever put into words the feelings that flooded his heart when he saw exotic flowers and heard the night-sounds of the forests; when he sensed the danger of wild beasts or paddled his canoe over treacherous rapids?
He said, ‘Go and find out for yourselves.’ To guide them he drew a map of the river.
They pounced upon the map. They framed it in their Town Hall. They made copies of it for themselves. And all who had a copy considered themselves experts on the river, for did they not know its every turn and bend, how broad it was, how deep, where the rapids were and where the falls?
Much of Tony de Mello’s writing took the form of stories. He used them, as Jesus used his parables, to prompt people to think for themselves. What’s your own first response to this story?
In your own life, what corresponds to the map the explorer draws? What, on the other hand, corresponds to his experience of the Amazon?
How do you encounter God in your prayer? Do you find God difficult to encounter. Spend a few moments reflecting on this.
As you listen to the reading again, ask yourself how you would respond to those people who wanted to know about the Amazon.
No more words! Take a moment simply to feel the God who is greater even than the mighty Amazon river flood your own heart.
This is the seventh reflection commemorating the two hundredth anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus. A reflection on the life of Gerard Manley Hopkins.
The monks of the Abbey of Keur Moussa sing: O all you works of the Lord, O bless the Lord, To him be highest glory and praise for ever. Wherever it is I am right now, what works of the Lord can I see? Perhaps the sky, the clouds? Perhaps hills or fields, or a horse or a dog, or a tree? Perhaps it’s just the inside of a bus that I can see? Perhaps another human being. Can I imagine all these things, the works of the Lord, praising God, their creator, now? And can I do the same myself?
Gerard Manley Hopkins was born in 1844 was an English poet and convert from Anglicanism. He developed a love of the arts as a young boy, and continued to write and paint all of his life. When he chose to become a Catholic and then enter the Jesuits he destroyed most of his early poetic works, and for his early years as a Jesuit he stopped writing. Following encouragement from one of his Superiors, Hopkins began to write once more and he developed a poetic technique which he described as ‘sprung rhythm’ which he used to particularly good effect to describe nature. His use of language was innovative, employing ancient as well as dialect words, and even inventing new words. He ministered quietly in various schools and parishes in Britain before being sent as Professor of Greek and Hebrew at the newly-established Catholic University in Dublin. Few of Hopkins contemporaries appreciated his poetic gifts and it was only after his death in 1889 when his friend, Robert Bridges, the Poet Laureate, published a volume of Hopkins work that his genius began to be recognised. He has a plaque in Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey.
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
The poem, ‘God’s Grandeur’ echoes the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, especially the Contemplation for Attaining Love’, an ecstatic celebration of God’s dynamic presence and action in the cosmos. Can you think of a time when you have felt especially close to God in a natural setting?
‘Generations have trod, have trod, have trod’. Hopkins’s lines imply a common anxiety among Victorian believers, that the modern age of scientific and industrial progress- ‘our smudge and smell’- has distanced us from a direct communion with nature- ‘nor can foot feel, being shod’- and therefore we are further from God. Does this ring true for you? Are there ways in which your busy life has made you less aware, less sensitive to the ‘dearest freshness’ in things?
The poem presents us with a beautifully maternal image of the Holy Spirit, ‘brooding’ with ‘warm breast and bright wings’. What kind of image does this conjure up for you? Does this feminine image help you to grasp the intimacy of God’s love for you?
Notice the use of the word ‘charged’ in the first line. The first meaning that presents itself is that of energy and dynamism, like a charge of electricity. But charged can also mean ‘entrusted’, ‘given a mission’. The task of the created world, the reason for its existence, is to bear witness to God’s glory and grandeur. Does this idea attract me? What about me, am I too ‘charged’ with the task of giving God glory? As you listen again, think about the word ‘charged’ in the first line: ‘the world is charged with the grander of God’.
Speak to God now, about what arises from your time of reflection and the emotions this poem has evoked in you. It may be that you feel regret for a lack of awareness, that, like many people, you have not ‘recked his rod’, that is, you been slow to acknowledge God’s majesty. Or perhaps you feel a renewed sense of energy and mission, of being ‘charged’ with carrying out a great endeavor. As you express these feelings to God, can you also ask him to deepen your sense of wonder and delight at his presence.
This is the eighth Pray as you go reflection, commemorating the two hundredth anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus. A reflection on the life of St Alberto Hurtado.
Joanne Boyce sings You are my Hands. As I listen to this music can I put myself entirely at Gods’ mercy?
This month we are reflecting on the life of St Alberto Hurtado. Born in 1901, Alberto was a Chilean priest, lawyer and social worker, who in 1944 became the founder of the ground breaking charitable organization ‘Hogar de Cristo’, which aimed to provide homes and shelter to assist poor and abandoned young people in Chile. He was dedicated to making Catholic Social Teaching more widely known and understood. He published a number of important books and founded the journal ‘Mensaje’ and in 1947 he helped establish the Chilean Trade Union Association. He was much sought-after as an inspirational preacher and retreat director for young people. He died of cancer aged 51 and was widely revered throughout Chile for his saintliness. He was canonised by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
I hold that every poor man, every vagrant, every beggar is Christ carrying his cross. And as Christ, we must love and help him. We must treat him as a brother, a human being like ourselves. If we were to start a campaign of love for the poor and homeless, we would, in a short time, do away with depressing scenes of begging, children sleeping in doorways and women with babies in their arms fainting in our streets.
There are many sufferings to heal. Christ stumbles through our streets in the person of so many poor who are hungry, thrown out of their miserable lodgings because of sickness and destitution. Christ has no home! And we who have the good fortune to have one and have food to satisfy our hunger, what are we doing about it?
St Alberto has in mind real faces he has actually seen with his own eyes around the city he lives in, the faces of the poor, the hungry and the destitute. For sure, the faces you know will be different ones. See if you can bring to mind the times and places when you have encountered the homeless where you live. Can you picture their faces?
And now, notice how you reacted to the people you saw. Did you turn away from them or move towards them? Did you feel disgust, or fear, or tenderness, sympathy…? Don’t judge yourself: just take a moment to remember and to deepen your awareness.
How would you like to react the next time? Put aside your hesitations and inhibitions… if St Alberto is right, if people in need are nothing less than Christ in our midst, how do you want to respond to Him, standing in front of you, needing your help?
Finding Christ in the poor is not as easy as it sounds. We need the help of deep prayer and we can count on the support of our friends in the communion of saints. Let’s listen once again to the words of St Alberto Hurtado to see if his vision and his passion are infectious.
Finally, ask the Lord to help you to go deeper. He is always happy to receive the doubts and dreams of his followers. When we talk freely and openly to him about our lives, He offers us His healing, his insight and his power. Take a moment to open your heart to Him now; sharing with Him anything you need to say and asking Him to help you respond lovingly and generously to the needs of the poor.
This is the tenth reflection, commemorating the two hundredth anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus. A reflection on the life of Bl Miguel Pro.
The nuns of Mary, Queen of Apostles, sing the hymn Jesu dulcis mermoria. Sweet is the very thought of Jesus; giving true joy to the heart. But sweeter than the sweetest honey, is his very Presence.
Miguel Pro was martyred in 1927 having been arrested and executed for the crime of being a priest at a time which was described by the English author, Graham Greene, as the “fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth”. Born in 1891, he was forced by anti-clerical laws to leave Mexico in 1914, Pro studied for the priesthood in California, Spain, Nicaragua, and Belgium, but in 1925 he returned to Mexico to help establish an ‘underground’ Church. For two years, with great imagination, energy and joyful good humour he moved from house to house, often in disguise, and brought comfort to the beleaguered Catholics by his preaching and the celebrating of mass and the sacraments. Following his arrest in 1927, he was accused of involvement in a bombing, and was convicted without trial. As a public lesson the President of Mexico invited many diplomats and journalists to witness the execution by firing squad, but this move rebounded badly as images of the execution of the priest were published around the world and drew wide-spread condemnation of the regime. Pro’s final words of ‘Viva Cristo Rey!’ (Long Live Christ the King!) became a rallying cry for opposition. Miguel Pro was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988.
In the inadequate light he could just see two men kneeling with their arms stretched out in the shape of a cross – they would keep that position until the consecration was over, one more mortification squeezed out of their harsh and painful lives.
He began the prayer for the living: the long list of the Apostles and Martyrs fell like footsteps – Cornelii, Cypriani, Laurentii, Chrysogoni – soon the police would reach the clearing where his mule had sat down under him and he had washed in the pool. The Latin words ran into each other on his hasty tongue: he could feel impatience all around him. He began the Consecration of the Host (he had finished the wafers long ago – this was a piece of bread from Maria’s oven); impatience abruptly died away: everything in time became a routine but this – ‘Who the day before he suffered took Bread into his holy and venerable hands . . .’ Whoever moved outside on the forest path, there was no movement here – ‘Hoc est enim Corpus Meum.’ He could hear the sigh of breaths released: God was here in the body for the first time in six years. When he raised the Host he could imagine the faces lifted like famished dogs. He began the Consecration of the Wine – in a chipped cup. That was one more surrender – for two years he had carried a chalice around with him; once it would have cost him his life, if the police officer who opened his case had not been a Catholic. It may very well have cost the officer his life, if anybody had discovered the evasion – he didn’t know; you went round making God knew what martyrs – in Concepcion or elsewhere – when you yourself were without grace enough to die.
The Consecration was in silence: no bell rang. He knelt by the packing-case exhausted, without a prayer. Somebody opened the door: a voice whispered urgently, ‘They’re here.’ They couldn’t have come on foot then, he thought vaguely. Somewhere in the absolute stillness of the dawn – it couldn’t have been more than a quarter of a mile away – a horse whinnied.
He got up to his feet – Maria stood at his elbow. She said, ‘The cloth, father, give me the cloth.’ He put the Host hurriedly into his mouth and drank the wine: one had to avoid profanation: the cloth was whipped away from the packing-case. She nipped the candles, so that the wuck should not leave a smell . . . The room was already cleared, only the owner hung by the entrance waiting to kiss his hand. Through the door the world was faintly visible, and a cock in the village crowed.
Maria said, ‘Come to the hut quickly.’
‘I’d better go.’ He was without a plan. ‘ Not be found here.’
‘They are all around the village.’
Was this the end at last, he wondered?
The reading describes the final mass of a martyr priest isolated and vulnerable yet acting with courage to serve his people. What did you feel as you listened to it, did any word or phrase particularly strike you, or any image make an impact on you?
The words 'the day before he suffered he took bread into his holy and venerable hands' are at the heart of the reading. Can you think of a time when you faced the uncertainty of suffering, or of isolation or vulnerability. What thoughts or emotions now come to mind about such a time.
At his execution by firing squad Blessed Miguel Pro smiled and held his arms out in the form of a cross. In the reading some at mass make the same gesture. What possible value has such pain and suffering in our lives today?
The extract ends with a cock crowing and the dawn of a new day. What echoes do these images have for you or for your future?
Listen now to the reading again in the light of your reaction to these questions
Speak to the Lord about any feelings or responses you have, and listen quietly to what he might want to say in return.