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That Greater Glory
Kevin Burke, S.J., dean of the Jesuit School of Theology, and his sister Eileen Burke-Sullivan, a theologian at Creighton University, have collaborated on The Ignatian Tradition (Liturgical Press, 2009), a fascinating thematic anthology of some of the most significant writings in Jesuit spirituality. The founder of that spirituality was, of course, Ignatius of Loyola, and concise selections from his autobiography, his Spiritual Exercises, and The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus document the graced origins for the thought that follows.
But equally influential are the contributions of the 18 other voices in the collection: from early Jesuits like Pierre Favre and Francis Xavier through British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins and French paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to near-contemporaries like Pedro Arrupe, Karl Rahner, and Ignacio Ellacuría. Each interestingly illustrates the adaptation and development of Ignatian spirituality through the past four and a half centuries.
Readers are introduced to a number of less-celebrated Jesuits, such as the German philosopher Alfred Delp, who was imprisoned by the Nazis and hanged, just for being a Jesuit, in 1945; and William Lynch, who in 1960 was judged by Time Magazine “one of the most incisive Catholic intellectuals in the U.S.” Ignatian women are represented by Mary Ward, a Catholic who grew up among Elizabethan gentry but fled 16th-century persecution and founded in Europe the English Ladies, an order called “Jesuitesses” by their enemies; and by Josée Gsell, a 20th-century laywoman from France who, at the urging of Pedro Arrupe, organized Christian Life Communities in 65 nations.
Also included is a critical analysis of Madonna and Child with Garlands, an oil painting by the 17th-century Jesuit Daniel Seghers, an associate of Peter Paul Rubens. Hanging in the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, the painting “functions,” Burke writes, “as a visual contemplation on the incarnation.”
“We wanted to try to cover as many aspects of Ignatian spirituality as possible,” Fr. Burke said, “and while certain authors were really tough to leave out, we made the decision at times based on the fact that another author more or less covered the same ground.”
Eileen Burke-Sullivan added, “I often found myself praying to find whatever the Spirit wanted us to include and asking the various writers to lead me to texts that would be most helpful in illuminating what was becoming clearer and clearer to me about the core insights of Ignatius’ experience and its impact on others.”
Burke-Sullivan helpfully summarizes that Ignatian principles and practices cause those who are formed by them “(1) to seek the greater glory of God, (2) through companionship with Jesus, and (3) always be guided by the discerned Spirit of God; (4) to seek that greater glory (5) in the reality of this historical moment, (6) in this historical place, (7) within the whole created world. All of this suggests that while the Ignatian tradition attends to the traditional spiritual themes of purgation, illumination, and union, it is best approached as a mysticism of service.”
Eat, speak, and listen
Like many generations gathering together over a holiday meal, Janet Flammang’s new book fuses multiple arguments in making a case for the resurgence of home-based food preparation and dining. In The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics, and Civil Society (University of Illinois Press, 2009), the SCU professor of political science writes, “For democracy and civility to thrive, people need frequent, everyday occasions to share pleasures, fears, and opinions with others.” The family dinner links ethnic and religious traditions, offers moments for reflection and storytelling, creates shared sensory experiences, and connects diners to the environment. As she details the nuances of table manners and the mindlessness of eating TV-side, Flammang calls, rather radically, for an across-the-board reduction in work hours as well as better gender distribution in “foodwork” so our culture can reconnect with the very heart of the good life: sharing a delicious, nurturing meal with others.
Lisa Taggart» Hear Janet Flammang read from The Taste for Civilization.
Philosophy and Fashion Sense
Bookending Adventures in Unfashionable Philosophy, the new collection of essays by James W. Felt, S.J., are a pair of short and inviting-sounding essays. “On Being Yourself,” published in 1968, is in tune with the zeitgeist, but with a message meant to be far more than fleeting: “It is I who at every moment decides what sort of person I shall be, and this is my human dignity. To be myself is to be free.” Wrapping up the book is, “Know yourself!”—which, along its path of discourse, tracks the pursuit of an essential aim in life. In between the two “Yourself” essays lie 40 years of intellectual autobiography of Fr. Felt, an emeritus professor of philosophy at SCU. His work traverses a terrain trod by Thomas Aquinas, Henri Bergson, and Alfred North Whitehead, among others; God, self, time, freedom, and the continuity of experience are the stuff he grapples with along the way.