On the Doors of the World

luther5Since today is our feast day, the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, we, his followers, offer this contribution of a new blog.  We hope you enjoy reading our posts, but please take a look at our FAQ page and authors’ bio page for more information about us and our mission.

In the Constitutions, St. Ignatius writes in paragraph 378:

Because of the utility there is in the practice of disputation (especially for those who are studying arts and scholastic theology), the scholastics should participate in the disputations or ordinary circles of the schools which they attend, even if not of the Society; and they should endeavor to distinguish themselves by learning joined with modesty.

He continues:

During the preceding afternoon these theses will be posted in writing on the door of the schools, so that those who wish may come to dispute or to listen.  After these defendants have briefly proved their theses, those from within and without the house who wish to object may do so.

Then in paragraph 379:

The purpose is that the intellectual powers may be exercised more and that difficult matters occurring inn these subjects may be clarified, for the glory of God our Lord.

Finally, in characteristic Ignatian fashion, he concludes the discussion on disputations in paragraph 382 with a caveat:

In regard to the exercises of repetitions, disputations, and speaking Latin, if something ought to be changed because of circumstances of place, time, or persons, the decision will be left to the discretion of the rector, with authorization, at least in general, from his superior.

These quotations above summarize what we at this new blog are attempting to do.  Combining, hopefully, “learning with modesty,” we are posting our ideas on the modern day “doors” so that everyone can see them.  We’ll try to prove our theses, and then “those from within and without the house” can do what they can to prove use wrong.  Such is the method of disputation, foundational to the idea of western learning since Socrates.

Of course, Ignatius always adds two things to just about everything he says.  First, make sure that it fits the circumstances.  After all, if we are to find God in all things, regularly updating our methods is required.  Second, do so under the sure protection of obedience.  The idea of this blog is thus a response to the belief that “something ought to be changed because of circumstances of place, time, or persons.”  That something is how Jesuits live in and confront the world with their particular charism.  To hide either out of fear or apathy is directly contrary to our mission.  For this reason, hoping to give glory to God and to exercise our intellectual powers for the good of society, “Whosoever Desires” has been born.

This project cannot work unless you are engaged.  We thus ask that you contribute vigorously to our discussion.  The more comments the better, since this is precisely how disputation works.  Ideas are put in the open so that they can be commented on.  We encourage all comments.  Just be charitable in form and content please.  If you have something harsh to say, clothe it in courteous language.

The formula for first vows in the Society concludes:

And, as you have freely given me the desire to make this offering, so also may you give me the abundant grace to fulfill it.

This blog is an offering of some of us.  Hopefully St. Ignatius will be pleased by the effort of his sons.  Please keep us in your prayers.

St. Ignatius, pray for us.

Nathan O’Halloran, SJ

14 Responses to On the Doors of the World

  1. Kyle Cupp says:

    Welcome! I’m looking forward to the posts and discussions.

  2. Of course, expect plenty of jesuitical casuistry.

  3. Kyle Cupp says:

    I expect nothing less. Of course, I’ll respond with my vintage postmodern hermeneutic sophistry.

  4. joe says:

    I’ll chime in with neo-retro-Thomism, for what it’s worth.

  5. Thomas Shawn says:

    What movie is that picture from?

  6. Jason says:

    I was wondering what you think of blogging in light of numbers 273, 389, and 653 of the Constitutions and the idea that all published writings should be approved by the superior general (at least in the past). Do you all have any worries about writing for such a public forum considering that you are still scholastics in formation?

    That said, this looks like it will be an interesting venture and I expect that it will be amDg.

  7. “What movie is that picture from?”

    I don’t know.


    Without the sure guide of obedience, we could not square the project. But we work, as would be expected, under the oversight of superiors.

    As for the writing for a public forum, we are not here speaking for the Society, but simply representing ourselves as members of the Society. Always subject to correction of course. Thanks for the concerns

  8. Thomas Shawn says:

    Mine was a rhetorical question.

    The pic is of actor Joseph Fiennes from the movie Luther show him nailing his these to the door of some Church property.

    So at the inception of your blog, the archetype you (unintentionally) present is of the heretic Luther. Not a good patron saint (so to speak) for any blog by Roman Catholics.

    How about some posts asserting fidelity to the Magesterium instead of the “Benedict better do this and Benedict better do that” variety.

    How would St Ignatius of Loyola himself blog? I’m not familiar at with him or the spiritual exercises. Do the writings of St Ignatius have any relevancy to today’s world? How so?

    • Jeff Johnson SJ says:

      Thanks for the comments. I’d like to respond to a few of your observations and questions. At the end of your comment you ask about the relevancy of St. Ignatius and his spirituality for the contemporary world. I think he is still very relevant and can be very helpful for developing a closer relationship with God. One of his most relevant insights comes from paragraph 22 of the Spiritual Exercises and is referred to as the “presuposition.” We have put the text of the presuposition on our FAQ page, but I will cite a very relevant portion here: It should be presupposed that every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor’s statement than to condemn it. Further, if one cannot interpret it favorably, one should ask how the other means it.

      It is in the spirit of this spiritual disposition recommended by Ignatius, that I’d like to respond to your comments. First, the selection of the image of Luther is not unintentional. Rather it is ironic, especially when considered in light of the title of the post, “On the Doors of the World.” Rather than posting our theses on the door of the church, we are giving notice to the world. It’s actually quite a different strategy and goal from that of Luther. The selection of the image of Luther is also appropriate since Luther and Ignatius were contemporaries and shared some theological insights. However, Luther chose go in quite a different direction. I hope this helps you put a more favorable interpretation on the selection of that image.

      Secondly, I’m having trouble putting a favorable interpretation on your observation that our posts are telling the Pope what he should be doing. To further dialogue that would help us move towards a better understanding of one another, could you please give examples from our posts where we say “Benedict better do this and Benedict better do that.” With some concrete examples of where you find this to be the case, we can better respond and perhaps clarify.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting.

      • Thomas Shawn says:

        Thanks Jeff –

        I was going to make another post apologizing for my poor grammar and other mistakes … I’m just a working guy and I posted in between cleaning a pool for the kids and making their lunch.

        This can be an exciting blog especially for me to read, as it fills in a blank spot showing how St Ignatius and members of the Society (especially young ones) view things.

        I understand your comments about Luther. Just checking. I also clicked over to the other blog by Nathan O’Halloran, SJ and noted the bit about St Ignatius posting things on a door for future debate. (http://underachindolea.blogspot.com/2009/07/feast-of-st-ignatius-and-new-blog.html) I’m sure you’re familiar with “progressive” Catholics who are unfortunately quite fond of Luther.

        Rereading all the blog posts I’m not sure which one gave me the impression that the Holy Father was being second guessed. Perhaps this is my utter lack of training in philosophy, the bloggers’ adeptness in philosophical writing and Benedict XVI’s mastery of it.

        I withdraw that comment. I’m not here to criticize, I’m here to learn.


  9. Mason Slidell says:

    Well played, Jeff.

    • Jeff Johnson SJ says:

      Dear Mason,
      Thanks for your comment, although I don’t agree with the metaphorical suggestion that this is some sort of competition. I would also point you to our FAQ page where we ask contributors and commentators to use their real names.

  10. Thomas,

    Thanks for the info on Fiennes. I intended Luther but didn’t know the actor. I’ve been on flights all day, so I’m just catching up. However, I thought there were some nice twists to putting that picture up.

    The first is the reference from the Constitutions about putting up disputes on the doors for the sake of debate and dialogue. Ignatius approved of such processes, and indeed took up Luther’s challenge. Luther challenged the Church. Ignatius was one of the responses, though of course Benedict XVI has also spoken in favor of many of Luther’s contributions. But now the Society often comes under criticism. Part of what we hope to do here is present a face of the Society that people can see and confront and/or converse with. We’re a small fraction of the even smaller fraction that make up Scholastics, but we think there can be fruit to be born here.

    Second, I like the picture better than any other note-on-door one that I found. Thanks for your comments.

  11. Giovanni says:

    I am a great admirer of Ignatius of Loyola and the order he founded (Jesuits) their contribution to the true Faith has been invaluable and heroic. However I am also skeptical of anything Jesuit from the last 40 years.

    I do not see Jesuits by enlarge contributing to the Liturgical renewal (reform of the reform) in the Church. Not only that in the last 40 Jesuits have had a visible hand in many of the ills of today’s society. It was Jesuit theologians after all that convinced people like Robert Kennedy that being pro-abortion and Catholic was perfectly fine.

    I am not saying that Jesuits are the sole reason for the ills in the Church but more often than not when there is a controversy it is Jesuits that are the front lines of going against Church teaching, or at least corrupting from any meaning.

    The Society of Jesus which was founded in the principle of obedience has not lived up to its founding for quite a while.

    I look forward to reading more of your articles and entries but put me on the side of the skeptical.

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