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April 2017 Vol 56 No 2
The Truth Will Set You Free

'The More Universal … the More Divine': Ruminating on an Enigmatic Dictum

If the Spiritual Exercises illustrate Ignatius of Loyola’s view of how an individual can best discover and be open to the will of God, his Jesuit Constitutions show the corporate dimension of this search. Here Brian O’Leary tries to understand one of the chief criteria for choosing between possible apostolic works according to the system Ignatius presents.

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The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the Society of Jesus

In recent years the Roman Catholic Church has tried, in different parts of the world and in different ways, to address the scandal of the abuse of children who had been committed to the care of its institutions. In Canada this was done by the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Philip Shano describes how it went about its work, and in particular how the Jesuits of Canada responded to it.

The Way of Life in a Retirement Community

Improved health care has led to increased life expectancy in much of the developed world in recent decades, with the result that more people than ever will need to make significant changes to their way of life in retirement. For Bob Doud, a regular contributor to The Way, and his wife this has meant selling their home and moving into a retirement community. Here he reflects on this experience.

A Contemplative Path for All

The word ‘contemplative’ can summon up an image of cloistered monks and nuns, high-powered and wholly dedicated experts in the spiritual life. Philip McParland is, by contrast, an active Christian layman who runs a ministry called Soul Space, based on the conviction that: ‘The contemplative path is a spiritual path that can be lived by anyone in any situation and context’. In this article he makes good this claim.

Evagrius the Solitary among the Abbas of Kellia: A Fourth-Century Life of Prayer and Hospitality in Trinity

The Desert Fathers of fourth-century Egypt were among the first to try and trace out common patterns of growth in Christian prayer. Often though, their thought has come down to us only in fragmentary writings. Evagrius Ponticus was one such hermit monk, whose example inspired many others to follow this path. Carol McDonough offers an assessment of his life and legacy.

A Charism Inseparable from Catholic Faith:Hans Urs von Balthasar on Humour

Hans Urs von Balthasar was undoubtedly one of the greatest Catholic theologians of the twentieth century, but he is not normally celebrated for his sense of humour. Yet his own belief was that humour and faith are inseparable. Here Riyako Hikota shows how Christian life has to hold in tension the two poles of humour and tragedy, demonstrating that, in von Balthasar’s view, one specific characteristic of the Church is to make this possible.

The Children of Sarah, Hagar and Mary: A Feminist Perspective on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

The three Abrahamic faiths—Judaism, Islam and Christianity—are frequently thought of as patriarchal religions, privileging the thought and experience of men over those of women. Nevertheless there are scriptural texts, foundational to the three religions, that do place women’s experience centre stage. Oscar Momanyi reflects on these texts in the light of his own encounters with Jewish, Muslim and Christian women in Israel-Palestine.

The Spirit Blows Where He Will Simone Weil in the Light Of Vatican Council Ii

In unexpectedly summoning the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII wanted to let the Holy Spirit flow into and direct the Church as God saw fit. Jane Khin Zaw believes that, two decades earlier, Simone Weil, a French philosopher of Jewish descent, was arguing for a similar renewal. Here Khin Zaw revisits Weil’s writings on the Spirit in the light of the Council.

From the Foreword

A LTHOUGH, ACCORDING TO Sir Francis Bacon, ‘jesting Pilate’ would not ‘stay for an answer’ after he had questioned Jesus about the nature of truth, in fact Jesus had already offered his response. Earlier, in the eighth chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus had told his disciples that, if they held to his teaching they would know the truth, a truth that would set them free. Much growth in the Christian life is rooted in discovering and acknowledging truths—truths about ourselves, about the rest of creation and about God—and allowing our lives to be shaped in relation to what we discover. This issue of The Way bears witness to such a process of discovery and response, in different eras and widely dispersed locations, and to the freedom that it brings.

For decades the truth of child abuse within the Church was unacknowledged and hidden. More recently different processes have been set up to begin to right its wrongs. Philip Shano’s article describes one such process, as it operated in Canada. The fact that the experience of women in the Church has often been undervalued is frequently thought to explain some aspects of abuse. Oscar Momanyi looks at how a closer reading of perhaps neglected aspects of the Christian scriptures (as well as those shared with Judaism and Islam) may help us to a clearer appreciation of the true nature of God’s dealings with humanity, drawing on both male and female experience.

Growth in prayer should be marked by a deeper immersion in truth, and three articles here consider ways in which this growth may be promoted. Although Evagrius the Solitary is hardly a household name today, he was one of the first to try to outline common patterns of development in Christian prayer, as Carol McDonough shows. Philip McParland hopes to dispel the idea that contemplative prayer is only for experts, or for those who can commit their whole lives to it in monastery or convent. In simple steps he presents a path of contemplation for all. Riyako Hikota makes the perhaps surprising assertion, to be found in the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar, that humour is inseparable from growth in Christian prayer and discipleship.

As I become more able to acknowledge the truths of the world around me and of my own nature, and thus become freed of prejudices, I can more easily make choices that will lead me towards God, rejecting whatever might impede that movement. Brian O’Leary looks to a lesser-known passage in the writings of St Ignatius of Loyola to find criteria for making such choices. And Bob Doud describes the experience of a particular choice of this kind—to sell the family home and move into a retirement community—and expounds something of the freedom and spiritual growth that is to be found in it.

Ultimately, it is the Spirit of God whom Christians believe will lead them into a freedom-bestowing truth. For many Roman Catholics this was exactly the experience of the Second Vatican Council. Pope John XXIII had hoped for this in convoking the Council and, as Jane Khin Zaw shows, the philosopher and mystic Simone Weil had desired and anticipated just such a renewal two decades earlier.

Paul Nicholson SJ

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