Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father Jim Martin’

Father James Martin on the Papal Resignation in The New York Times, on The Colbert Report

Jesuit Father Jim Martin on The Colbert ReportJesuit Father James Martin, editor at large at America magazine, appeared on The Colbert Report last night where he and host Stephen Colbert discussed the pope’s resignation, the papal election process, ex-pope etiquette and the unlikelihood of choosing an American pope.

Fr. Martin also has an op-ed, “The Change Upon Christ’s Rock,” in The New York Times today on Pope Benedict XVI’s legacy:

“Paradoxically, Benedict might also be best remembered for how he left the papacy. In becoming the first pope to resign since 1415, he demonstrated immense spiritual freedom, putting the good of the institution, and of a billion Catholics, before power or status. This most traditional of popes — who in his role as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had often been criticized for exercising too much power — has done one of the most nontraditional things imaginable.”

Read the op-ed at The New York Times website and watch Fr. Martin on The Colbert Show below:

Jesuits React to Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation

Pope Benedict XVI waving“I didn’t see it coming,” said Jesuit Father Stephen Sundborg about Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, echoing the thoughts of many Catholics. Pope Benedict’s announcement that he will resign on Feb. 28 makes him the first pope to step down in over 600 years. Here are some reactions and commentary from U.S. Jesuits on the pope’s resignation:

Fr. Sundborg told KOMO News Radio he thinks it means that “this is a very thoughtful pope. He sees he doesn’t have the energy to carry on as pope beyond what his current age and strength is. I think people will respect this [decision].”

Fr. Sunborg went on to say that he thinks Benedict will be remembered as “the pope theologian.”

“He was an expert at the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago. He wrote very extensively about the Gospels. He tried to re-engage culture in a positive way.” Listen to all of Fr. Sundborg’s comments at the KOMO News Radio website.

Jesuit Father George Coyne, a former director of the Vatican Observatory who teaches at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., said Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down because of poor health is in keeping with the pope’s character.

“I think it was a very courageous move, a very good move,” said Fr. Coyne, who knew Benedict as a cardinal for many years. “I think he had a very personal conviction that he could not carry on the job because of general health conditions.”

Benedict “lived through the aging of John Paul II, and I think that very much influenced him,” Fr. Coyne said. “He didn’t want to see the church go through another period like that.” For more from Fr. Coyne, visit Syracuse.com.

Jesuit Father James Martin, of America magazine, tweeted, “The Holy Father’s resignation is a selfless and noble act done for the good of the Church he has loved and served for his entire life.”

On America’s website, Fr. Martin also wrote about the pope’s legacy: “His most lasting legacy, I would suggest, will not be in the various ‘newsworthy’ acts of his papacy that were highlighted in the media so often … but something far more personal: his books on Jesus. Far more people will most likely read those moving testaments to the person who is at the center of his life—Jesus of Nazareth—than may read all of his encyclicals combined.”

Jesuit Father Drew Christiansen also wrote about the pope’s legacy on America magazine’s website, noting some of the pope’s contributions during his tenure:

“His encyclical Caritas in Veritate, with its affirmation of structural reform as ‘political charity’ and his call for a global authority to regulate the financial sector, may be the most radical since John XXIII’s Pacem in terris 50 years ago. Though not a diplomat himself, he conducted extraordinary visits to Turkey, Britain and the Holy Land. His address to the British leadership in Westminster Hall was both a diplomatic and personal triumph.”

Jesuit Father John Fitzgibbons, president of Regis University in Denver, told the Denver Post that the news was shocking in its impact, but he believed there had been signs.

“I think the Holy Father, Benedict, has signaled in a number of ways he’ was very open to a more humane response to the human realities behind such offices,” Fr. Fitzgibbons said.

Fr. Fitzgibbons said Benedict will be remembered for carrying on John Paul II’s “glowing understanding that this is a worldwide church, and he moved further away from Euro-centrism by appointing cardinals that came from all over the world.”

As for what happens next, Jesuit Father Thomas Reese offers a helpful Q-and-A on the papal transition, conclave and election of new pope on America’s website.

Jesuit Father James Martin on Trying to Make Sense of the Senseless after Newtown School Shooting

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Jesuit Father James Martin offered this reflection on “The mystery of pain, the solace of faith” in the New York Daily News after the tragic Newtown school shooting on Dec. 14:

I write these lines within hours of hearing about the horrific shootings in Connecticut, and I write them from a retreat house in New England, a place of prayer. I also write them at the invitation of this newspaper.

The question on so many minds and in so many hearts is: Why?

It is an age-old question, one that believers have been asking, struggling with, raging at, and weeping over, for many centuries. Why would God allow something like this to happen? It is what theologians and saints have called the “mystery of evil.” It was asked in another form recently, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, when many lost their lives.

In this case, however, and in all cases involving children — especially the violent deaths of children — the question takes on even more poignancy and greater urgency.

As a believer I need to say this: There is no satisfactory or adequate answer to that question. It is, to use another ancient phrase, a mystery. That word is often used as way of avoiding complex problems, but in this case it is true, and the thoughtful believer knows this in his or her heart: There is no answer that will take away our grief or fully explain how a good God could permit this.

Anyone who tells you that he or she has an answer to that question (for example: it is a punishment for our sins; it is the result of a vengeful God; it proves there is no God; or it demonstrates meaninglessness in the universe) does not offer a real answer. For no answer will satisfy in the wake of such agony.

Yet, as a believer, I also need to say this: That it is a mystery does not mean that there aren’t perspectives that can help the believing person in times of tragedy and sadness. For me, there are two things have helped me in facing tragedy:

First, as a Christian, I believe that violence, suffering and death are never the last word. God promises us eternal life, and will give us that life just as he gave it to his Son, who also died a violent death. “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them,” is the prayer spoken at Catholic funerals. God, I believe, has already granted all those who were killed eternal rest and perpetual light.

This does not take away our sorrow, but it can offer us hope for those who have gone before us. It also offers us the hope of being reunited with our loved ones in the fullness of time.

The second thing, or person, I turn to is Jesus. We do not have a God who is removed from our sufferings. When Jesus went to the tomb of his good friend Lazarus, whom Jesus would soon raise from the dead, he wept. Why? Because he loved Lazarus, as he loved Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha.

Jesus understands what sorrow is. Jesus understands pain. Jesus, I believe, weeps with us. Our God is not an intellectual abstraction or a philosophical theory, ours is a God who has lived a human life. This helps me during times of sadness. Jesus is with us in our pain, not standing far off.

The two perspectives are really one. The God who weeps with us also promises us eternal life. And the God who promises us eternal life weeps with us. For our part, we can work to end violence, to console those who remain and to build a more loving society.

For those who are not Christian but who are believers, like my Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters, I would not presume to offer a perspective, but I might still say that we all believe in a God who loves us, who is love, and who therefore weeps with us. On this we might begin to find some common understanding. For those who are not believers, I might say that in the wake of such horrendous tragedies, our hearts are called to compassion, to support the families and friends of the victims; and our sense of morality impels us to work for an end to such appalling violence.

There may not be answers that will satisfy, but for the believer there is God, who is sorrowful with us, who offers us eternal life, and who moves us, through our hearts, to build a more loving and compassionate society.

New York Daily News; image via Regis University

An Advent Reflection from Jesuit Father James Martin

Jesuit Father James Martin“Advent is all about desire,” an elderly Jesuit in Jesuit Father James Martin’s community used to say every year. Fr. Martin writes in America magazine that while he didn’t see it at first, now he understands what this Jesuit meant.

“Christians who celebrate Advent desire the coming of Christ into their lives in new ways. The beautiful readings from the Book of Isaiah, which we hear during Advent, describe how even the earth longs for the presence of God. The wonderful ‘O antiphons,’ sung at evening prayer and during the Gospel acclamations toward the end of Advent, speak of Christ as the ‘King of Nations and their Desire.’ The Gospel readings for the season tell of John the Baptist expressing Israel’s hope for a Messiah. Mary and Joseph look forward to the upcoming birth of a son. My friend was right. It’s all about desire,” writes Fr. Martin.

Fr. Martin points out that holy desires are different than surface wants, like wanting a new gadget or a bigger office. When Fr. Martin talks about desire, he’s “talking about our deepest longings, those that shape our lives: desires that help us know who we are to become and what we are to do. Our deep longings help know God’s desires for us, and how much God desires to be with us.”

Desire also plays a key role in a Jesuit’s life, according to Fr. Martin. “As novices, we were taught that our deep longings are important to notice. A young Jesuit who dreams of working with the poor and marginalized, or studying Scripture, or working as a retreat director, will be encouraged to pay attention to his desires. Likewise, Jesuit superiors reverence these desires when making decisions about where to assign a particular Jesuit,” he writes.

Fr. Martin concludes, “Desire is a key part of Christian spirituality because desire is a key way that God’s voice is heard in our lives. And our deepest desire, planted within us, is our Advent desire for Christ, the Desire of the Nations.”

Read the full article by Fr. Martin at the America magazine website.

“Mr. and Mrs. Jesus Christ?” on New York Times’ Editorial Page

Jesuit Father James MartinThe recent discovery of an ancient Coptic papyrus by Harvard church historian Karen L. King that mentions Jesus’ wife has some questioning its authenticity. But Jesuit Father James Martin wrote in a recent op-ed for The New York Times that even if it is found to be authentic, “Will this fascinating new discovery make this Jesuit priest want to rush out and get married? No.”

In his article titled “Mr. and Mrs. Jesus Christ?”, Fr. Martin wrote that it is more likely that Jesus was celibate since the papyrus is said to date from the fourth century — roughly 350 years after Jesus’ life and death.

Fr. Martin said there are several reasons Jesus might have remained unmarried: “Jesus, who knew the fate of other prophets, may have intuited that his public life would prove dangerous and end violently, a burden for a wife. He may have foreseen the difficulty of caring for a family while being an itinerant preacher. Or perhaps he was trying to demonstrate a kind of single-hearted commitment to God.”

Fr. Martin wrote that even if evidence of a married Jesus is found from an earlier date, he won’t stop believing in Jesus or abandon his vow of chastity.

It wouldn’t upset me if it turned out that Jesus was married. His life, death and, most important, resurrection would still be valid. Nor would I abandon my life of chastity, which is the way I’ve found to love many people freely and deeply. If I make it to heaven and Jesus introduces me to his wife, I’ll be happy for him (and her). But then I’ll track down Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, who wrote so soon after the time of Jesus, and ask them why they left out something so important.

Read Fr. Martin’s full op-ed at The New York Times website. For a lighthearted take on the topic, check out The Jesuit Post’s suggestions for the best wedding gifts for “Mr. & Mrs. Jesus Christ.”