Monday, April 11, 2005

Praying with the pope

The Jesuits have always had a special loyalty to the pope, who has returned the favor by entrusting his prayer intentions to the order since 1844.

As part of that ministry, "The Apostleship of Prayer," the Jesuits ask all Christians to pray with the pope for a different intention each month.

This month's intention is "Keep the Lord's Day Holy." The full ministry is available online:

In December, John Paul II met with Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, the General of the Jesuit Order, to unveil his monthly intentions for 2005.

Shortly after the pope's recent death, every Jesuit in the world received a letter from the Father General touching upon that meeting. Here is the major part of it:

When in the last days of 2004 the Holy Father received me for thirty minutes in his library, nothing indicated to me that the end of his intensely pastoral life was near. His voice was doubtless guttural, but nevertheless understandable.
As in past years, he wanted to personally entrust to me the intentions of the Apostleship of Prayer for the new year. Expressing his gratitude to the Society for this service that benefits at least fifty million faithful, the Holy Father reiterated his marvel at seeing a religious family that assumes an apostolic activity so important for the Church, called to promote the prayer of the faithful for the intentions of the universal Pastor. It is a characteristic mission of those who believe in their vocation of being contemplatives in apostolic action.
As the Holy Father himself asked, I renewed the promise of prayerful accompaniment in his sufferings and his offering of courage and love until the end of his life, for the Church. Let us thank the Lord for the gift of his 'Vicar on earth' for the Church, for the Society, and for the world in a time as important, anguished and complex as this period of its history.
Fraternally yours in the Lord,
Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ
Superior General


Blogger Karen said...

You seem like a real, old-fashioned, St. Ignatius Jesuit. Which gives me and a lot of other people who love him great hope. Please don't let the Liberation Theologists corrupt you! And know that there are a lot of us out here praying for you, and many more like you! We need you.

April 12, 2005 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Allen said...

Good luck and God Bless as you begin this amazing journey. I will keep you and your fellow seminarians in my prayers.

April 12, 2005 12:32 PM  
Blogger Sean Salai said...

Friends, thanks for the prayers!

Karen, liberation theology is not a sin.

I haven't studied it myself. I've also never marched for a political cause.

But as a history student and disciple of zealous St. Ignatius, I can fully appreciate Catholics who become radicalized by their circumstances.

For me, the Jesuits radicalized by Latin American social structures were motivated by the same love of humanity/God as the Jesuits who were radicalized by social structures in post-Reformation England and elsewhere.

As you may know, several English Jesuits tried to blow up King James and Parliament in the 1605 "Powder Plot."

They failed and were executed along with many innocents in an anti-Catholic crackdown.

I do not excuse their excesses because they were Catholic. I excuse them because I'm prone to excesses myself.

I also know the Catholic Church eventually canonized many of these English radicals, including the Jesuit martyrs Thomas Garnet and Nicholas Owen.

It would seem saints can emerge from even very radical theological structures.

And so I find it easy to believe that Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador is a saint, although his cause in Rome has been slowed by ties to liberation theology.

Romero was shot to death while saying Mass. He was shot while lifting the chalice of Christ's blood at the consecration.

I suspect the six Jesuits assasinated in El Salvador in 1989 are also in heaven.

Regardless of their excesses, these men are my brothers. All of them. And where some might see tensions, I see only love in its truest sense.

There is little more I can say, except that I'm sure my comments do not necessarily contradict your own thoughts on these matters.

April 12, 2005 11:07 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I was being flippant and hyperbolic, as I am wont to do. But I do get frustrated with Liberation Theologists because they seem so focused on this planet, which, to me, means so materialistic. And I'm a baby boomer who is just worn out with my generation -- we need to get over ourselves.

My other problem with liberal Jesuits is that the ones I've known have been so hostile to the pope and to orthodoxy in general. (Maybe I've just had bad luck? I do live in California.) I've had Jesuit friends who were very upset with me for owning statues, for voting Republican, and even one who stopped speaking to me because I had dinner with Fr. Fessio. Seems very un-Ignatian to me.

But I love St. Ignatius and you guys beyond reason. Meanwhile, I suffer from terminal crankiness.

April 13, 2005 12:17 AM  
Anonymous Norprovguy11 said...

Well put, Sean. Comments like the attack on "liberation theologists" almost always come more from a knee-jerk those Jesuits! attitude than any real understanding of their cause. After all, Wojtyla's personalist philosophy is also based "on this planet," as is the Balthasarian theology preferred by Karen's dinner companion Fessio. It takes an astounding degree of hubris to denounce Latin American martyrs (vowed to poverty, working on behalf of the poor, killed by right-wing death squads) as "materialistic."

"If they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadoran people." --Archbishop Romero

April 13, 2005 12:21 PM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...


I'm not sure there is definite proof that Jesuits were involved in the "Gun Powder Plot." As you know, we've always been accused of all sorts of things we weren't responsible for, and still are! So, I say "Amen" to yours and norprovguy11's defense against knee-jerk "Those Jesuits" type of comments. As we Jesuits know--and some of more discerning friends (and enemies) do as well--placing all Jesuits into one category of conservatives, liberals, liberation theologians, etc. is impossible! And thank God! It keeps our life interesting and opens us to the needs of many in the Church, not just a select few!!

April 14, 2005 4:21 PM  
Blogger Sean Salai said...


You're right! Jesuit involvement in the Gunpowder Plot is still open to debate.

But I don't feel I need to argue the point.

Besides, most accusations against the Jesuits seem kind of flattering if you think about it.

Does the "black pope" run the Vatican? Maybe.

Did we poison Clement XIV? Perhaps.

Do we topple kings and governments? Only for good reason.

Here's a passage from Pedro Arrupe's "Address to Jesuits Working with Refugees in Thailand" that recently caught my eye:

"The Society is feared everywhere: 'These Jesuits are very shrewd. They are powerful.' As I was saying the other day...we are not as bad as people say we are, nor are we as good as people think we are. We are normal in that we are not geniuses. Perhaps we have a few geniuses in the Society, but very few. Years ago it was said that the great power the Society possesses is its well-trained mediocrity!"


April 17, 2005 7:30 PM  

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