St. Alberto and the Success of Failures

August 18, 2010


At the close of the feast of St. Alberto Hurtado, SJ (about whose life I wrote this time last year), I thought I would simply relay a small reflection that the Chilean Saint gave on the last morning of a weekend retreat.  I like this short conference because it hints at the non-competitive relationship between time and eternity that only saints manage to maintain.  Whereas, at least to some, thoughts of heaven or eternal life can only represent pious distractions from pressing, ‘real world’ concerns, St. Alberto’s life testifies to the contrary.  An indefatigable energy is granted to those who keep the eternal in view.  The true apostle can press on through apparent failure and risk involvement in the most intractable social problems precisely because, from the perspective of eternity, nothing done in love can be done in vain.

The Success of the Failures

Retreat meditation on the resurrection of the Lord.

It is not all Good Friday.  Christ has risen and is my hope! “I am the Resurrection” (Jn 11, 25).  Today is Sunday and this idea must dominate my thoughts.  In the midst of suffering and testing… optimism, confidence and joy.  Always joyful: because Christ is risen, he has conquered death and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  And it is Christ, my hope who has risen.  My Father, my Friend, he can die no more.  What glory! In the same way I shall rise “in Christ Jesus”… and after these days of enormous, threatening clouds, I shall see Christ. Read the rest of this entry »

The Saint of the Contemporary Society of Jesus

August 18, 2009


St. Alberto

St. Alberto

People often ask me why I joined the Society of Jesus.  I usually reply, in one fashion or another, that I fell in love with her saints.  I remember how my heart would burn as I read about Xavier’s journeys to the Orient, St. Jean de Brebeuf’s martyrdom among the Iroquois, and St. Edmund Campion’s stirring “brag.”  Such examples abound.  And, although I myself have never verified the claim, it is said among Jesuits that there has never been a time when the Society did not have a saint in her ranks.

 Because of the accelerating pace of cultural change, however, I have often keenly felt the gulf separating me from those models.  How would St. Ignatius have responded to globalization?  Would St. Peter Canisius have used a cell phone?  How would St. Isaac Jogues have related to his college professors?  It is easy to doubt that sanctity is possible in modern conditions.  Even Mother Teresa, who died only recently, seems to provide few clues.  Documentaries record her fumbling endearingly with gadgets as commonplace as cameras; and her collection of letters, Come, Be My Light, would be hard to date to the 20th Century if not for the occasional mention of a plane flight. 

 St. Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga (1901-1952), the Chilean Jesuit whose feast the Church celebrates today, begins to fill in this hagiographical gap. Read the rest of this entry »