Monday, January 21, 2008

Let me be passive-aggressive for a moment

I have read with much interest the dismay expressed by several bloggers over the election of our new general. I must admit: I don't understand it because, by all accounts, he is a wonderful man of prayer and service and will be an excellent leader for the Society. One of my Jesuit heros - a man who offers the model of the type of Jesuit I aspire to become - has said that this is the best possible choice for General.

For those who worry about the Society's concern for justice:

Christian belief is not merely concerned, as one might at first suspect from all the talk of belief or faith, with the eternal, which as the "entirely Other" would remain completely outside the human world and time; on the contrary, it is much more concerned with God in history, with God as man. By thus seeming to bridge the gulf between eternal and temporal, between visible and invisible, by making us meet God as a man, the eternal as the temporal, as one of us, it understands itself as revelation.
Not too shabby, I'd say. But coming from the Holy Father's Introduction to Christianity this may come as a shock to some (page 54, if you want to check).

My point is this: the Holy Father recognizes the importance of the temporal order. He's an Augustinian thinker --- read City of God book XIX if you should like. "Revelation" is not some book that comes floating down on a pink cloud; rather, it is an encounter IN HISTORY that calls for the response of faith.

The Society of Jesus realizes, much to the chagrin of many, that "Revelation" is not a series of propositions. It is an encounter (Jn 1:18 - Jesus makes known the Father. It is through an encounter with Christ that we have come to know God....he didn't give us a Summa or a list of "Top-10 Things About God." The Holy Father presses on this point, also on page 54). The difficulty with encounter is that it is refracted through the lenses of history. We struggle, as many love to point out, but the fact of the matter is that we're discerning how God is inviting us to respond today.

I have a lot to say on this issue, but I fear that I'll get carried away. I'm excited for this new General and I hope that my readers will join me in my prayers for him. In my experience of the leadership of the Society - and I know quite a few delegates - they are all men of deep prayer and discernment. I would not be so bold as to question the guidance of the Holy Spirit in these matters and, frankly, I'm horrified by the number of bloggers who think they know better than the Spirit. There are not a few out there who could do well to close their mouths and fold their hands and do some praying rather than prattling.

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