Archive for March, 2013

Jesuits in Formation Share Their Reactions to the Election of Pope Francis

Four young Jesuits in formation share their amazement and excitement about the election of the first Jesuit pope in a new Ignatian News Network video. The Jesuits featured in the video are all contributors to The Jesuit Post website, which tackles topics from politics and pop culture to Jesus and the Catholic Church in an attempt to make a case for God in a secular age.

Jesuit Provincial Explores Parable of the Prodigal Son in Lenten Podcast

Jesuit Father Myles SheehanJesuit Father Myles Sheehan offers his reflections on the parable of the prodigal son in the fourth Lenten podcast from the New England and New York Province Jesuits. He explains that home is a place “where we are fully known, fully accepted and welcomed not for what we’ve done, good or bad, but simply loved as we are.”

Fr. Sheehan, provincial of the New England Province, says the story of the prodigal son and his older brother and father challenges us with “our deepest image of finding a home in Christ and accepting our place.”

During a retreat years ago, Fr. Sheehan was asked to imagine himself in the story of the prodigal son, but he became frustrated when he could not identify with the son’s wild actions and recklessness.

“I was the older brother: hardworking, dutiful and totally resentful that my strict religious behavior was not bringing me the joy and fun that I saw in others who did ‘bad’ things,” he said.

Fr. Sheehan realized that for him, the parable is about the father’s invitation to the older son to come home and receive his father’s acceptance, healing and forgiveness. For Fr. Sheehan, the invitation is a call to open his heart and find his home in God.

“I am called to go to the father’s house – not in fear, not with a tight set of good behaviors, but with an open and loving heart,” Fr. Sheehan says.

Listen to the full podcast at the New England Province website.

Pope Francis Begins Ministry with Inaugural Mass; Jesuit Father General Among 180 Clergymen who Concelebrated

Pope Francis greets crowd before celebrating inaugural Mass in St. Peter’s Square at Vatican (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis officially inaugurated his ministry as pope and bishop of Rome in a liturgy filled with biblical symbolism and signs of the universality of his mission on March 19.

The Mass was concelebrated by about 180 clergymen, including Father General Adolfo Nicolás, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Father General Nicolás visited with the pope on Mach 17.

But before the solemn rites began, Pope Francis — known for choosing public transport over chauffeur-driven limousines — took his first spin in the popemobile, blessing the tens of thousands of people who arrived in St. Peter’s Square as early as 4 a.m. to pray with him. He waved and, at one point, gave a thumbs up to the faithful. He also kissed three babies held up to him by the chief of Vatican security, Domenico Gianni, and other officers.

But he climbed out of the open jeep used as a popemobile to kiss a severely disabled man.

Before entering St. Peter’s Square, he addressed by satellite thousands of his fellow Argentines gathered in Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, where he had been archbishop before his election as pope. He thanked the people for their prayers and told them: “I have a favor to ask. I want to ask that we all walk together, caring for one another … caring for life. Care for the family, care for nature, care for children, care for the aged. Let there be no hatred, no fighting, put aside envy and don’t gossip about anyone.”

As the Mass began, tens of thousands of pilgrims, faithful and tourists continued to arrive, filling St. Peter’s Square and crowding around the large video screens placed along the boulevard leading to the square. By the time of Communion, the Vatican said there were between 150,000 and 200,000 people present.

In his homily, which can be read in English here, Pope Francis asked prayers that he would be able to protect the church like St. Joseph protected Mary and Jesus, “discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand.”

He said in the Gospels, St. Joseph “can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions.”

But more than anything, he said, the church’s patron saint teaches Christians that the core concern of their lives must be Christ.

“Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation,” Pope Francis said.

He called for special efforts to protect “God’s plan inscribed in nature” and to protect one another, especially children, the aged, the poor and the sick.

Although according to church law he officially became pope the minute he accepted his election in the Sistine Chapel March 13, Pope Francis received important symbols of his office just before the inauguration Mass — the Book of the Gospels, the ring of the fisherman, St. Peter, and the pallium, a woolen band worn around the shoulders to evoke a shepherd carrying a sheep.

With members of the College of Cardinals dressed in gold gathered before the main altar in St. Peter’s Basilica and brass players sounding a fanfare, the rites began at the tomb of St. Peter. Pope Francis venerated the mortal remains of his predecessor as head of the church and was joined there by the heads of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

Processing behind the Eastern church leaders and the cardinals, Pope Francis — wearing a simple, mostly white chasuble and his black shoes — came out into St. Peter’s Square while the choir chanted a special litany to Christ the King.

French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who had announced Pope Francis’ election to the world six days earlier, placed the pallium, which had been worn by Pope Benedict XVI, around the new pope’s neck. The retired pope did not attend the Mass.

“The Good Shepherd charged Peter to feed his lambs and his sheep; today you succeed him as the bishop of this church to which he and the Apostle Paul were fathers in faith,” Cardinal Tauran said.

Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, presented Pope Francis with the fisherman’s ring, a gold-plated silver band featuring St. Peter holding keys, a reminder that Jesus told St. Peter: “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Giving the pope “the ring, the seal of Peter the fisherman,” Cardinal Sodano told the pope he was called, as bishop of Rome, to preside over the church with charity. He prayed the pope would have “the gentleness and strength to preserve, through your ministry, all those who believe in Christ in unity and fellowship.”

Six cardinals, representing the entire College of Cardinals, publicly pledged obedience to the pope.

While many Christians acknowledge the special role of the bishop of Rome as the one who presides over the entire Christian community in love, the way the papacy has been exercised over the centuries is one of the key factors in the ongoing division of Christians.

For the first time since the Great Schism of 1054 split the main Christian community into East and West, the ecumenical patriarch attended the installation Mass. Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, first among equals of the Eastern Orthodox, sat in a place of honor near the papal altar.

Catholicos Karekin II of Etchmiadzin, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, also attended the Mass along with delegations from 12 other Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, 10 Anglican and Protestant communities and three international Christian organizations, including the World Council of Churches.

After the Lord’s prayer, Pope Francis exchanged a sign of peace with Patriarch Bartholomew and with Catholicos Karekin.

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the Jewish community of Rome and several international Jewish organizations sent representatives to the ceremony, as did Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain and Hindu communities and organizations.

Also present were representatives of 132 governments, led by the presidents of Italy and Argentina, the reigning royals of six countries — including Belgium’s king and queen — and 31 heads of state. Vice President Joe Biden led the U.S. delegation, which included Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the Society of Jesus in the United States

Ryan Duns, SJ is a Jesuit scholastic studying at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, and has been playing traditional Irish music on a tin whistle for over 25 years. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Pope Francis is a ‘Jesuit’s Jesuit’ Who Knows Importance of Sts. Francis of Assisi and Ignatius of Loyola, Jesuit Says

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis is “a Jesuit’s Jesuit” who understands the importance of St. Francis of Assisi in the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, said the Jesuits’ secretary for the promotion of the faith.

U.S. Jesuit Father Gerald Blaszczak told Catholic News Service March 15 that while most Jesuits were shocked that a Jesuit was elected pope, “any Jesuit worth his salt” would not be surprised that the pope took the name of St. Francis of Assisi.

Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1958 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1969. He had been novice master and, from 1973 to 1979, was the Jesuit provincial for Argentina.

Father Blaszczak said Pope Francis’ training and priesthood as a Jesuit “tell you that he’s been steeped in Ignatian spirituality,” has had “a top-notch secular education” and that “his formation has always put him in touch with real people in real-life situations,” which he then has reflected upon in an effort to identify the ways God was present.

“That he chose the name Francis signals to us where he’s from, what he’s about and what he believes the reform of the church is going to require: It’s not going to require moral muscle, it’s not going to require just philosophical analysis; it’s going to require an engagement with the person of Christ,” particularly through the Scriptures, he said. “But it’s going to be the Christ poor and humble.”

While some people thought maybe Pope Francis took his name thinking also of the great Jesuit St. Francis Xavier, Father Blaszczak said Jesuits know just how important the life, example and spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi was in the conversion of their founder, St. Ignatius, and in the development of what has come to be known as Ignatian spirituality.

St. Ignatius, who lived 1491-1556, was from a Spanish noble family. After being wounded in battle, he began reviewing his life and thinking about his future. Father Blaszczak said he saw his choices as life and a career in the royal court or a life spent imitating St. Francis of Assisi.

“For Ignatius, Francis is the alternative to the life of the world. Francis, with his itinerant ministry and his intense devotion to the life of Christ and his ascetical lifestyle,” is the counterbalance to the worldly life in the court, the Jesuit said.

“Ignatius, as he admits himself, was given to womanizing, gambling and feats of arms,” but at the time of his conversion, “to his great surprise,” Ignatius finds himself “much more attracted, much more consoled, enlivened and given joy when he thinks about imitating the life of St. Francis,” the founder of the Franciscans, who died in 1226.

Father Blaszczak said Catholics already have a good hint of how Ignatian and Franciscan spirituality might impact the way Pope Francis exercises his ministry “in the way he engaged the people of Rome” when he first stepped out onto the balcony as their bishop and pope March 13 “with great simplicity, with minimal pomp and circumstance.”

The Jesuit said he expected Pope Francis to continue as much as possible to live as he did while cardinal and archbishop of Buenos Aires, with “simplicity and austerity in conformity with the life of Ignatius and Francis, in conformity with his intention to follow Christ poor and humble.”

The focus of St. Ignatius, St. Francis and “historically of our new pope” when he was bishop was to be closest to the poor and those on the margins of society, he said.

The modern papacy, however, has included a certain style dictated by protocol and respect for the pope.

Father Blaszczak said he did not think that would frustrate Pope Francis.

“From the conversations I’ve had with my Latin American Jesuit colleagues, this is a man who knows his own mind. This is a man who is not afraid of choosing and marking his own direction,” he said.

He also said he did not think the life of the Society of Jesus would change much with a Jesuit in the Apostolic Palace, because “we are bound to the service of the church through our connection and availability to the Holy Father, and that doesn’t change” no matter who is pope.

The Jesuits promise not to seek high offices in the church, which explains in part why there has never been a Jesuit pope before. However, Father Blaszczak said, that Jesuit promise is secondary to their promise to always be available for whatever mission the church needs them to take on.