Sunday, August 01, 2010

Fill In the Blank

Yesterday, I encouraged a renewed sense of charity by citing Saint Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises. I'd like to take my own advice and "help a brother out" this morning.

My brother in the Lord over at Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit - Joseph Fromm - sometimes forgets to include the entirety of a quote he puts up on his blog. Quoting from another, Fromm quotes an exchange between the original author of the story and the venerable Father Hardon, SJ:

When my high school friend (not I) expressed an interest in the priesthood, Father Hardon offered advice: "I wish that I could recommend you apply to the Society of Jesus," he said in his careful way. "I love the order, and wish it could be saved. But I cannot in good conscience send any young man into its seminaries."

This quote has elicited several comments to the effect that many Jesuits cannot/will not encourage vocations because it will endanger the faith of young men (while these Jesuits, who so fear for the souls of others, remain at their own grave peril in an apparently toxic spiritual environment?).

What is interesting is what is not quoted. I'm sure Fromm's neglect of the rest of the quote is purely innocent, so allow me to finish it:

When my high school friend (not I) expressed an interest in the priesthood, Father Hardon offered advice: "I wish that I could recommend you apply to the Society of Jesus," he said in his careful way. "I love the order, and wish it could be saved. But I cannot in good conscience send any young man into its seminaries. The closest thing today . . ." And that was how Father Hardon sent my friend and me to visit the Legionaries of Christ.
How curious! As those who keep abreast of Catholic news are aware, these are hard times for our brothers in the Legion of Christ. Who could have known that the founder of Legion would turn out to be immoral, "deprived of scruples and authentic religious feeling," and guilty of "true crimes." Who would have guessed that Marcial Maciel would bamboozle the Holy Father John Paul II and so many of his closest associates? Who ever would have guessed that the rigid clericalism that looked to outside world as a demonstration of their sanctity actually provided the perfect mechanism to conceal a vast swath of abuse and deceit?

I am not one who derives any satisfaction from the ignominy that these revelations about its founder has brought to the Legion. It is sad that so many generous seminarians and priests - not to mention the countless number of women and men in their Regnum Christi movement - have been so shamed by the actions of their founder. My heart and my prayers do go out to them and I hope that they are able to reorganize and begin, with vigor and zeal, to proclaim Christ's Gospel to a world sorely in need of it.

Nevertheless, and in keeping with my reason for this post, I do think it necessary to "fill in the blank" as it were. Mr. Fromm has a way of cherry-picking quotes that can be slightly misleading. Thus do I feel it my duty to help give greater perspective to what it is that he writes. Even if Father Hardon was right about the Society of Jesus - and I do not think that he was - his counsel to enter the Legion of Christ might not have been the indictment of the Society that Fromm interprets it as.


Anonymous said...

The Legion of Christ is the illegitimate child of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Maciel was in a Jesuit run seminary (and expelled from it). Without the grace of God to form a true independent authentic charisma what we have today is the Legion is a plagiarised version of the Jesuits spirituality and others. The Jesuits have a long a noble history in the Church. The Legion has been uncovered. I was a Legionary for 10 years, Fr. Maciel used to preach to use how the Jusuits had lost their way (with Liberal Theology) and that God had call the LC's to revitalise the church. The Legion has nothing unique in it, and the Regnum Christi is a copy of the Opus Dei. But I feel sorry for the Brother and Priests who are faithful.

Anonymous said...

I too was in the Legion for too long. We constantly heard critism of the Jesuits,yet we went to their Gregorian Univ in Rome! The Legion adopted some of what was wrong with the Jesuits: the smug attitude and "trickle down" apostolic work. The Jesuits since Fr.Arrupe seem to be heading in the right direction and helping ALL to be closer to Christ. With the Jesuits there is freedom, truth and charity. With the Legion there is deception, minor seminaries to trap the young and naive, and a love of money and power!
Friends don't let friends join the Legion!!!!

Ryan Duns, SJ said...

Thank you, both, for what you have shared. I do think it important that the truth be brought out into the light, even if it is painful.

Anonymous said...

I can add a little more to the genesis of LC spirituality. Essentially the enterprise was launched by Maciel who knew how to project an illusory image of himself as a mystic, all while being an abuser and drug addict. It was enough to command control and control was everything, as it is with all abusers. It was easy when he had children for subjects, but then when he went to Spain he began to need much more substance and was able to pull in some intelligent but more rigorist bent seminarian of from the Jesuit seminary, University of Comillas. Above all one figure- Fr. Raphael Arumi - even if he seemed to know of the founder's drug induced stupors, and some claim the abuse too- built up the mythology of the founder's holiness and mystical gifts. It was he who was the great assembly man of all that came to be the system of formation of Legionaries. All the manner of obedience and prayer. Arumi took his lead from 17th century handbook, "The Practice of Christian and Religious Perfection", published at Seville, 1609 by Fr.Alphonsus (Alonso) Rodriguez. It is there where the Legion lives its vows, obsessing over a whole range of minutiae in permission seeking. Every intentional act must have a superiors blessing. The founder also insured control of all outside contact and centralizing all confidences in the person of the superior leaving no room for an inspiring and mature fraternity of brethren.

Most of the comments I see of those still in seem to not be able to concretize exactly what reform should mean, other than no longer using Maciel as a model. In a healthy religious life, discipline protects spirituality and enables it to flourish, in the Legion discipline, external conformity, zillion norms of regulation, IS the spirituality. Really there is no one in the order who really can reverse or restructure this process. None have ever really experienced true religious life. The new Delegate can rewrite the Constitutions all he wants, but how can you legislate spirituality?

Anonymous said...

I honestly believe the Legion should be handed to the Jesuits.. I mean when I was a Legionary I remember thinking how similar we were to the Jesuits. Of course we were given the line " we are the new Jesuits " but in reality we just stole their spirituality. The Legion has nothing unique in it, the Pope should have ordered it to merge with the Jesuits, I mean at the end of the day they are connected. (Legionaries teaching in the Gregorian) the Legion was practically formed from the Society. They apostolates are IDENTICAL to the Jesuits.

Anonymous said...

But really, the Legion of Christ couldn´t have stolen Jesuit spirituality, since the blind obedience fostered by Maciel and other LC leaders is such a radical departure from the Jesuit obedience of discerned representation (prayerfully knowing your desires, expressing them, and holding them in indifference), that it seems to have become something else entirely.

Jack Keogh said...

I too was a Legionary for twenty years - in fact I was the first Irish legionary to set foot in Mexico with Fr. Maciel. I share your hope that the Legionaries can recover from the awful scandals caused by him. Unlike those who did not know him personally, my generation was less taken in by the "myth" that has been developed about him. Of course, most of us didn't know about his seedy side. He blew hot and cold about the SJs - sometimes admiring them, sometimes criticizing their liberal inclinations. He did instill great loyalty to the Pope in his followers - it's in the LCs DNA and, I hope and pray, it will help them find their way to a less dyfuncional spirituality.

Anonymous said...

I, too, was an LC for a number of years. The Legion had (has?) a practice of eliminating any who showed signs of critical thinking, often just before ordination could occur. That way the Legion could get the maximum usage out of each person before jettisoning those thought to be capable of figuring the whole thing out.
One quibble. As LC's, we never professed or practiced "blind" obedience, at least in theory. We were supposed to practice "motivated" obedience, which is not too different from the SJ model described above.
I would not mind seeing all the LC property and apostolates turned over to the SJs, if there were a way to ensure that the works themselves would remain faithful to the Magisterium. A big "if."