Wednesday, July 31, 2019

In 1518, 27 year-old Iñigo de Loyola was struck in the leg by a canon ball during the Battle of Pamplona. He had refused to surrender to the French despite impossible odds. The French, for their part were so impressed by the man's tenacity that rather than imprisoning him, they got him back to the family castle of Loyola where he underwent a long, difficult, and, in some ways, almost impossible recovery. 
While recuperating he had only two options for reading: a Life of Christ and a book on the Lives of the Saints. With openness to the movement of the Spirit, with contrition for his past sins, and freed from the shackles of the old self, Iñigo, who now adopted the name of Ignatius, went on to write a set of spiritual exercises that have influenced uncounted and uncountable millions of people over the past 450 plus years. 
In 1540 The Society of Jesus was formally recognized as a religious order. Today, in 2019, it is firmly established throughout the world, engaged in diverse ministries and works. 
He died in Rome on this day in 1556 as the first Father General of the Society. Celebrations have been held, and will continue to be held, throughout the known world on this his Feast. The Jesuits of Boston College and Faber Community will gather this evening for Mass and a celebratory dinner. 
I've celebrated this feast in several cities in the U.S., in Taipei, Ljubljana, and N'Djamena. Greetings to my Jesuit brothers throughout the world. Happy Feast.


A bronze depiction of Iñigo after sustaining the leg wound.

The closing Mass in the Sanctuary of Loyola following the conference last month on Psychology and the Spiritual Exercises. I presented two conferences there, one on Ignatius himself and the other on Depression and Desolation in the Spiritual Exercises.  

At the last minute I decided not to concelebrate the Mass (There were lots and lots of Jesuit priests) and instead wandered with the camera. The statue of Ignatius overlooks the entire assembly.
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

Saturday, July 20, 2019

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gn 18:1-10a
Ps 15 2-5
Col 10:24-28
Lk 10:38-42

The responsorial psalm was psalm 15. It is short and was quoted in its entirety.
It began with a question: "Lord, who shall dwell on your holy mountain?" that the psalmist then answered: The one who walks without fault, acts with justice, speaks the truth, and does not slander.  

Who does no wrong to his brother, who casts no slur on his neighbor, who holds the godless in disdain, but honors those who fear the Lord.

The one who keeps a pledge, who takes no interest on a loan, and accepts no bribes against the innocent. 

The psalmist concluded: This one will stand firm forever.  

In his commentary on the psalms Jesuit Father Dick Clifford noted that this psalm contains ten descriptors of the ideal worshipper, ten descriptors of ideal behavior for all people. Psalm 15 describes those whose actions reflect their faith. The challenges are daunting.  

We don't always do justice. Gossip and idle chatter can lead to slander without us noticing. We breathe easier at the proscription against lending money at interest because most of us don't do it.  But, we create quid pro quo situations with others that demand exorbitant interest--the "you owe me big time" idea--that is not necessarily financial.  

The Analects of Confucius also described virtuous behavior.  Confucius lived five hundred years before Christ.  Scholars think the Analects achieved their final written form sometime around 350 B.C. The following comes from Book XII Chapter II:  "Chung-kung asked about perfect virtue.  The Master said, "It is when you go abroad, to behave to every one as if you were receiving a great guest; to employ the people as if you were assisting at a great sacrifice; do not do to others as you would not wish done to yourself."  

Chung-kung replied, "Though I am deficient in intelligence and vigor I will make it my business to practice this lesson."  

I'd like sit down with Chung-kung over beer and pizza. I already like him because, after hearing what perfect virtue entailed, he admitted, in effect, I am a sinner, but I will try.  We are in the same situation. We are deficient in knowing how to act.  We are weak when confronted with less-than-virtuous but easier options.

When we compare the first reading with the Gospel it is apparent that Abraham was much closer to virtuous behavior than was Martha.  Abraham seems to have been a master of understatement.  "Let me bring you a little food that you may refresh yourselves."  A little food?  Rolls. Beef.  Curds and milk.  It seems as if there was quite a bit of exertion put into preparing this little bit of food.  And then he hovered over his guests, waiting on them, until the meal was over.  There was no complaint about how hard he was working, or how much he was spending, or anything else.  Martha, on the other hand, worked hard but without much virtue.  While there is much allegorical interpretation of this narrative describing the difference between the contemplative and active vocations, the narrative is also instructive today in a practical way. 

Unlike Abraham, who was almost obsequious to his guests, Martha committed an appalling breech of etiquette when she dragged a guest into a sibling quarrel. Imagine telling one of your guests "make my sister to get in here and help me instead of sitting around."  Imagine saying to a dinner guest, "Maybe if you tell him, that kid of mine will do something around here.  He certainly doesn't listen to me."  

Embarrassing doesn't begin to describe the guest's feelings upon being exposed to such rudeness.  Attending to the comfort of one's guest is an essential part of hospitality. It defines hospitality. That is what Abraham did. That is what Martha failed to do.  

Martha and Mary are not either/or; it is not the choice to serve or to attend to the words of Jesus.  We are to serve AND to hear the words of Jesus. We are called to prayer AND to work. In the reality of our daily lives we are called to do both simultaneously most of the time.  Our challenge is to be disposed so that we can hear the words of Jesus in the midst of our busy-ness.

The Benedictine motto:  "Ora et labora" (Work and prayer) is illustrative.  It is not work or prayer but work and prayer. Labor and attending to Jesus' word at the same time.  It is not easy, but it is-- like the admonitions in the psalm and the advice in The Analects--an ideal toward which we must strive if we wish to stand firm forever.   

Got back from Spain and Slovenia about ten days ago.  The trip was not uncomplicated.  Every leg involved a canceled, late, or changed flight to say nothing of missed ones.  Luggage did not arrive in LJ or in Boston (the latter much less of a problem).  I also got to spend an unplanned night at Heathrow as the result of a Lufthansa error.  The good news is that they supplied a hotel room and voucher for a meal (exclusive of the beer).  The beer was good.  The burger was, well, British.  

Will be getting back into the full swing of things over the next two weeks.  Originally I thought I'd be away a bit longer.  Most of the Masses I would normally celebrate have been covered so I have a bit of free time.  Not a bad thing.  

Photos from LJ
One of the gelato stands along the river.  After taking this I got some mango gelato.  

Graffiti is everywhere.  The outdoor headwaiter's table, wine, and graffiti make an interesting combination. 

These guys were good.  Just as I took this they began playing one of Brahms' Hungarian Dances that immediately brought Looney Toons and Warner-Brother cartoons to mind.  Not only did the baby boomers have the best rock music in history, we had the best cartoons.  The cartoons use of classical music is one of the reasons I love it today.  

An outdoor bar that is a favorite photo destination. 

The inside of Vodnikov Hram restaurant near our community, 

Am a sucker for this kind of romantic photo.

Reflections from the lower level of Plečnik's colonnade.  There is at least and perhaps two restaurants down there. 

I saw this and knew I had to shoot it.  For ten minutes.  Returning twice.  Each drink is color keyed to a real drink. 

Glasses hanging upside down.  Indeed, this is the same place as the photo above.

Three doors on one of the streets.  I converted it to black and white as well.  

And this is it.  Each says something different. 

Pop's Place (beer and burgers). "Pop" is a friend.  I stopped there with a Franciscan friar to catch up.  Can't not eat fries.  They go better with beer than pizza.  

+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Photos from Ljubljana

Had a very challenging second half of a trip.  Through a combination of rushing (flight was boarding), lack of sleep, and stupidity on my part, I left the laptop on the belt at the TSA in Madrid.  Fortunately it was found.  While they wouldn't ship I was able to send a letter authorizing a friend to retrieve it along with a copy of my passport.  He now has it in Madrid.  Will return to Boston in ten days.  I was not entirely selfless in offering to pick him up at Logan in ten days.  Except for that little glitch and my luggage not arriving in LJ until the following day, the time there was great.  One very hot day and the rest not bad, particularly for the survivor of nine summers in D.C.  

The balconies on the Jesuit retreat house in LJ.  

The inside of Vodnikov Hram restaurant.  Not far from the community. 

Miniature houses in a gift shop.  Looks like pastel Monopoly pieces.

Restaurants filling up at dusk.  No cars allowed in this part of the city. 

The tower of Town Hall.

I enjoy shooting natural still life shots at outdoor cafes.  There are hundreds in LJ.

A little bit of romance. 

These guys were playing a Brahms Hungarian Dance oftentimes featured in Bugs Bunny cartoons.  Warner-Brothers and Looney Tunes are a major reason for  my lifetime love of classical music.  

Slippers for sale in front of a shop.

A gelato stand.  I had mango. 

A favorite outdoor bar for shooting. 

Wine bottles at an outdoor cafe contrast with the background of graffiti.

This display is advertising drinks.  Each color is coded to a flavor.  This was at Odprta Kuhna (Open Kitchen) which happens every Friday in good weather in the square adjacent to the Cathedral.  

Another stand at Odprta Kuhna.  

I enjoy the interaction of light and good glass.

An interesting centerpiece.  Simply an apple and a sprig of rosemary in a bottle.

Three doors.

Repeating patterns attract the camera lens. 

Pop's Place.  "Pop" is Greg Yurkovich, a friend, who was born in Slovenia, grew up in the U.S. and returned home with his own family to open two restaurants.   Both are doing very well.  Was having a beer and some fries with a young Franciscan. 

Late night on a side street. That I feel comfortable walking on dark side streets at 11 PM is a testimony to how safe LJ is. 
  Odprta Kuhna.  Potatoes are roasting beneath the spit. 

Horse steak sandwiches.  I did not have one.  I've eaten horse and don't mind it.  But, the word steak sandwich is only valid in Philadelphia.  Everyone else is a pretender.  

Paella at Odprta Kuhna.  There are perhaps thirty stalls selling all types of food, not necessarily Slovenian. 

Moments after shooting this I ordered a pulled pork sandwich.  It was great.  The camera was safely tucked away in the backpack as I feasted.  

Tourists on the castle's parapet at sundown.  

The wine cellar at Strelec restaurant.  A friend took me to dinner there a week earlier.  Superb meal.  The statue is St. Martin.  

The staircase from the wine cellar to the restaurant.  Fortunately there is a small elevator.  Opted for that.  

The wine storage shot through the supporting cables for the stairs. 

The view of LJ during what photographers call the blue hour.  

Looking west toward the mountains. 

A chandelier that hangs over this intersection throughout the year.  I've shot it often. 

A large crucifix in the sv. Jakob (Jesuit) church complex.  Hung around for a long time because the organist was practicing Bach.  

  Plečnik's colonnade, my favorite structure in LJ.  This was between 11 and 11:30 at night.  Wouldn't wander the streets of my tiny home town after 11 PM.  

Back to a homily next week.  Signed up for Mass at St. Mary's Hall.  Martha and Mary.  A particular favorite. 

+Fr. Jack