Posts Tagged ‘Vatican’

Jesuit Finds God Through Study of the Stars

Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory, is used to questions about his job, such as “Why does the Vatican have an observatory?” and “Aren’t there more important things to do than look at the stars?” In fact, he used to ask himself the same type of questions.

Br. Consolmagno recalls being a postdoctoral fellow at MIT and lying in bed at night wondering, “Why am I wasting my time worrying about the moons of Jupiter when there are people starving in the world?”

He had no answer, and he eventually quit his job and science and joined the Peace Corps.

“I told the Peace Corps people, ‘I’ll go anywhere you ask me to go, I’ll do anything you ask me to do; I just want to help people,’” he says. “They sent me to Africa, to Kenya, where I ended up teaching astronomy to graduate students at the University of Nairobi!”

Now as an astronomer at the Vatican, Br. Consolmagno explains that he encounters God in his scientific studies.

“Astronomy is how we experience the universe as creatures who are interested in more than just, ‘what’s for lunch?’” says Br. Consolmagno. “But what I have also come to see is that belief plays a fundamental role in being able to do that astronomy.”

According to Br. Consolmagno, there are three religious beliefs you have to accept on faith before you can be a scientist: that this universe actually exists; that the universe operates by regular laws; and that the universe is good.

“Science is where I get to spend time with the Creator,” says Br. Consolmagno. “When God invites me to encounter him in the things that have been made, as St. Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans, God is setting up a game we get to play together. It is a game that, on top of everything else, tells me he loves me. And for that, I am grateful to be an astronomer.”

To read more about Br. Consolmagno’s thoughts on God and astronomy, visit Thinking Faith, the online journal of the British Jesuits.

Jesuit Named by Pope Benedict to Pontifical Council for Culture

Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro,  the editor of the influential Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica, U.S. Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, a Portuguese poet, a Spanish architect, two astrophysicists, a Belgian journalist and a curator at the Vatican Museums were named by Pope Benedict XVI to help advise the Pontifical Council for Culture.

For the first time since 1993, religious and laymen — not just cardinals and bishops — were named full members of the council.

The new lay members are French philosopher and writer Jean-Luc Marion and Estonian classical composer Arvo Part. Eleven new consultors or advisers were named to the council, including Bruno Coppi, a professor of plasma physics and astrophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Others include: Father Jose Tolentino De Mendonca, a Portuguese theologian and poet; Santiago Calatrava, a Spanish architect; Piero Benvenuti, an Italian astrophysicist; Wolf Joachim Singer, a professor of neurology and head of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Germany; Marguerite Peeters, a Belgian journalist; and Micol Forti, the curator of the Vatican Museums’ collection of contemporary art.

Blessed John Paul II created the Pontifical Council for Culture in 1982 with the aim of helping the world’s cultures encounter the message of the Gospel. In 1993, the late pope united the council with the council for dialogue with nonbelievers thus paving the way for using culture as a bridge for dialogue between people of faith and those who profess no religious beliefs.

Croatian Jesuit Who Saved St. Peter’s Dome from Collapse Honored with Stamp

For the 300th birth anniversary of Jesuit Rudjer Boskovic, the Croatian and Vatican Post jointly published a postage stamp with his figure on it.

In 1742,  Boskovic was consulted, with other men of science, by Pope Benedict XIV, as to the best means of securing the stability of the dome of St. Peter’s in which a crack had been discovered. His suggestion of placing five concentric iron bands was adopted.

The dome, for which his lasting solution saved Michelangelo’s work from destruction, is featured in the stamp’s background.

The presentation was hosted on September 13th by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Croatia, who in addition to the stamp, decided to mark the third centenary of Boskovic‟s birth also by publishing the book “Rudjer Boskovic in the Diplomatic Service of the Dubrovnik Republic” in two bilingual editions: Croatian – French and Croatian – English



Jesuit Discusses Intersection of Faith and Science at Event Honoring Galileo

GALILEO-ROMETop Renaissance scientists and scholars gathered on a grassy hill overlooking Rome one starry spring night 400 years ago to gaze into a unique innovation by Galileo Galilei: the telescope.

“This was really an exciting event. This was the first time that Galileo showed off his telescope in public to the educated people of Rome, which was the center of culture in Italy at that time,” said Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, Vatican astronomer, as he stood on the same knoll.

Today, the grassy hill is part of the American Academy in Rome, which celebrated its connection to Galileo earlier this year with a number of events that included a discussion of faith and science with Brother Consolmagno.

The Renaissance men gathered on the Janiculum hill included Jesuit scholars, such as Jesuit Father Christopher Clavius, who helped devise the Gregorian calendar 40 years earlier.

Brother Consolmagno told CNS that the unveiling of the telescope was so significant because “this is the first time that science is done with an instrument. It’s not something that just any philosopher could look at. You had to have the right tool to be able to be able to see it,” because one’s own eyes were no longer enough.

“People then wanted to look for themselves and see if they were seeing the same things Galileo was seeing,” he said.

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NJN Exclusive: Jesuit Shares his Experience of Pope John Paul II’s Beatification

P1090777-aCurrently studying theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Jesuit Scholastic Michael Rogers recently had the opportunity to be in the Eternal City during the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

In an exclusive to National Jesuit News, Rogers shares his experience of the late pontiff’s beatification…

In the past few days it has always been crowded around the simplest tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica. This is not the tomb of St. Peter, with its grand Bernini Baldacchino, nor is it the one of the tombs of a pope surrounded by grand sculptures. This is a simple marble slab with the name of the pope buried there, engraved in red. The word around Rome is that the waiting list to offer a Mass at the altar of this tomb is already weeks long. Michelangelo’s Pietà, usually the main attraction in this section of the basilica, garners only a few visitors now. The crush of people has made it difficult to keep the Blessed Sacrament Chapel open lately, and so the tabernacle has shifted to the front of the church from where it usually resides. There, wedged between the chapels of the Pietà and the Blessed Sacrament, the resting place of Blessed John Paul II is simple, and yet there is a profound sense of the importance of this space to so many people.IMG_0636

When word broke back in January that John Paul II would be beatified last Sunday, I was among the first in my Jesuit community to say that I would be leaving Rome. Citing my desire to flee ahead of the crowds, I had planned to go south into the mountains of Calabria, or north to Tuscany. One thing, however, was sure. I was going to get out. Over the course of a couple of months my thoughts on this changed, though. The truth is that as the beatification day approached I wanted to be here more and more. When the invitation to distribute communion for the beatification arrived, all of my ideas about fleeing the city were cancelled, and I responded that I would be there.

It was 5:30am on the morning of May 1, 2011 and although tired, I headed off to a church event here in Rome. Wearing an old borrowed cassock, I crossed the Tiber not far from the General Curia of the Society and waited for the police escort to take us to where we would be distributing communion. In the crowd of over a million people, all around us you could hear languages from all over the world. There were groups of people singing and dancing. There was a sense of joy, and even among the many police who were clearly working overtime, there seemed to be a sense of relief that, for once, there was a gathering of people here in Rome that wasn’t a protest. The moment of this celebration was a moment to celebrate that one of us, someone whom we knew, had almost assuredly gone before us into the place where we all hope to go. Read the rest of this entry »