Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Jesuit at Vanderbilt Finds his Niche on the Frontiers

Last year, Jesuit Father Bruce Morrill, was enjoying a comfortable post teaching and writing at Boston College, a Jesuit-run institution in a heavily Catholic city. But last spring, on his annual eight-day silent retreat, he began thinking about how he might better fulfill the Jesuit mission of “going out to the frontiers.”

The frontier, in this case, is a secular university in an overwhelmingly Protestant city. Fr. Morrill, the recently appointed Edward A. Malloy Chair of Catholic Studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, has only been in town a few months, but is already finding his presence is much needed at the school and in the community.

The only Jesuit priest currently serving in the Diocese of Nashville, Morrill has begun serving as the de facto spiritual advisor for the group of seven Jesuit Volunteer Corps members in Nashville. These recent college graduates who live in community and work at social justice organizations around town rely on Father Morrill’s support.

“It seems to be a really good fit,” Father Morrill said of his newly adopted city. “The people are fantastic, at Vandy and in the wider community,” he said.

In his first semester teaching at Vanderbilt, Morrill is teaching two master’s level courses and one doctoral seminar. His current courses are “Suffering, Politics and Liberation,” which is a survey of European, North and South American theologies; and “Aquinas, Rahner, and Metz,” a doctoral seminar on “one trajectory of 20th century Roman Catholic theology,” he explained.

A widely published theological scholar, Morrill focuses his research and writing on liturgy and the sacraments, with a particular interest in ritual, cultural anthropology, political theology, and investigating the problems of suffering in social contexts.

Next semester he’ll teach the second-half of a year-long required course in constructive theology for the Master of Divinity students, and then an advanced seminar in liturgical theology.

As Morrill’s seen so far, his presence is definitely a welcome addition to the “frontiers” of the Catholic Church in Nashville. The Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, were founded more than 450 years ago “to be available for missions and do things that nobody else can do,” Father Morrill said. “We were founded from the start to be men who are mobile and can work alone.”


Jesuit Reflects on Keeping Christ in Christmas

The lighting of the first Advent candle marks the beginning of the penitential season, a holy time to focus on repentance and on our need  for Jesus in our World.  Yet, often in the preparations for Christmas, we can lose sight of the reason for the season. Jesuit Father Thomas Madden, retreat director at the Jesuit Spirituality Center in Grand Coteau, offered the following reflection to help us refocus our sights…

Now that Thanksgiving is past, we may turn our full attention and energy to preparing for Christmas.

The merchants already for some weeks now have been trying to capture our attention and get us to start the shopping frenzy that makes the coming month the most important time of the year for them. And there are reminders here and there to “put Christ back in Christmas,” but it is an annual campaign that seems to lose more ground every year to take hold of the popular, maybe even the Christian, imagination.

What does it mean to “put Christ back in Christmas” besides going to church on Dec. 25? How might Jesus himself answer that question about how to celebrate his birthday?

I asked myself the question and heard the answer in something that he himself once said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Longing for the Lord: An Advent Examen

The Ignatian Examen is a spiritual treasure that has helped countless people become more aware of God’s presence in their daily lives. The Missouri Province of Jesuits has produced podcast reflections for you to prepare during the season of Advent for Christ’s birth.

Longing for the Lord: an Advent Examen links the Ignatian Examen with another treasure of Church tradition, the O Antiphons from the Liturgy of the Hours for the week before Christmas. The O Antiphons give us a way of looking at Jesus and finding the events in his life that speak to us. On these pages you will find some simple aids to prayer that will help you sustain a mood of eager expectation as the Advent season builds towards Christmas.

Ready to start? Listen to Jesuit Father Joseph Tetlow as he explains in a simple fashion how to do the basic Examen and then offers a deeper explanation of how to keep using the Examen and apply it to Advent.

Beginning on Dec. 17, there will be special prayers each day, based on the O Antiphons. Links will appear at the top of this page that you can use individually or as a family to join the Church worldwide in its Advent prayer.

Please visit the Missouri Province of Jesuits website for the full podcast reflections and transcripts.

Approaching Islam in the Light of Ignatian Spiritual Exercises

How do Jesuits approach Islam and Muslims in the various contexts of countries and works? How do the Spiritual Exercises guide our perception and action within the Christian-Muslim relationship and what can we learn in listening to Muslim spiritual experience?

These were some of the main questions asked in the international meeting “Jesuits Among Muslims” which took place in Rome, hosted by the Gregorian University. 37 Jesuits from five continents participated in the meeting, highlighted by the visits of Father General and Cardinal Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council of Interreligious Dialogue.

American Jesuit, Father Patrick Ryan’s paper “Looking at Islam with Ignatian eyes – Reading Ignatius with Muslim Eyes” opened this circle of reflection on Jesuit foundations, followed by a fruitful discussion about “Ignatian Discernment: Relevant for our Modus Procedendi with Muslims Today.”

“Certain images and themes in the spirituality of Ignatius have a certain parallelism with themes in Islamic spirituality, without suggesting any derivation of either from the other; the similarity between the Quranic motif of the fall of Iblis (the Devil) for refusing to bow before Adam and the medieval Christian sense that the sin of the angels was their rejection of the planned Incarnation as the background for Spiritual Exercises # 50 (the sin of the angels); the centrality of election in the spirituality of Ignatius and the similarities with and differences from Islamic istikhara ; imagery from military life in both Muslim mystical jihad al-akbar (“the greater jihad”) and the Crusade/Reconquista imagery in some of Ignatius’ most famous writings,” commented Fr. Ryan.

The meeting aimed on the one hand to a reflection on the shared spiritual-theological basis underlying and inspiring all the very different apostolic engagement of Jesuits which reaches from the courageous pastoral presence in difficult situations as in Algeria or Pakistan to the scholarly reflection on the Arab-Christian heritage in Beirut (Universite Saint Joseph) and Rome (Jesuits at the Pontifical Institute of Oriental Studies, others at the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies).


This Weekend in the Pews: The New Roman Missal – Challenge & Opportunity

In preparation for the new English translation of the Mass, Jesuit Father John Baldovin, a professor of historical and liturgical theology at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, presents this in-depth study of the New Roman Missal. Hopefully it will help your prepare for the changes you will be experiencing this weekend in the pews.

The brief overview is about the changes in the translation along with some ideas for faithful ministers of the church to engage this new translation responsibly and use it as well as possible.

The New Roman Missal: Challenge & Opportunity from Jesuit Conference USA on Vimeo.

The Roman Missal is the book containing the prescribed prayers, chants and instructions for the celebration of Mass in the Roman Catholic Church. Published first in Latin under the title Missale Romanum, the text is then translated and is published in modern languages for use in local churches throughout the world. In this video, Fr. Baldovin, gives a background on the history of the translations, their implications and how we got to the latest translation of the Missale Romanum to be implemented in United States parishes this weekend.