07 June 2015

Thank you

A few months into the current term, the general council decided to commission an organizational audit of the general curia to help us evaluate things such as staffing levels, internal and external communications, and professional standards. We eventually choose Fr. James Grummer, S.J., a general councilor of the Society of Jesus, to conduct the audit. Having just finished reading his final report, I felt moved to share one part of it with my readers (if I have any left since my posts have been few and far between).

Fr. Grummer rightly points out the generosity and the spirit of self-sacrifice of the brothers who were called and who graciously accepted to work in the general curia. The general council depends on the work of twenty-six (more or less, as the number seems to constantly change) brothers in various roles. You may never know the names of many of them, or at most you might see their photographs in BICI when they begin or end their service in the curia. The fact that they work anonymously, however, does not make them less important. They keep the wheels of the Order turning while the general councilors are globe trotting.

Having worked in the curia myself for many years before being elected to the council, I can testify to the sacrifices they make. Being able to live and work in Rome seems like the dream job to some people, and it is ... for about two weeks. The reality is that life here is often difficult. Although we live in a large fraternity, there is a certain loneliness that comes with living far from one's home. The brothers here often miss important family occasions, such as wedding, funerals and the birth of nephews and nieces, as well as provincial events, such as professions and ordinations. There are, of course, consolations; I enjoyed, for instance, meeting and interacting with the brothers from other parts of the world who are constantly passing through the curia. Overall, however, most of the brothers are quite happy to return to their province at the completion of their term of service. Yet they are not begrudging in their service, and it shows in the positive, joyful spirit that is common in the fraternity. The general councilors have often shared among themselves that we look forward to returning to the general curia after being away for several weeks or months.

As if that was not enough reason to be thankful, Fr. Grummer also points out the fact that most of the brothers who work here are doing something that they have had little or no training for. Due to the frequent staff changes or new ideas from the general council, many brothers were given additional assignments after having worked here for a while. For the most part, we have found willing, generous acceptance on the part of the brothers.

So please join me in thanking these brothers who have generously accepted to serve the Order and the Church by working at the general curia. How about a round of internet applause?

1 comment:

David Roemer said...

Reasons to Believe in Jesus

Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.

Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

by David Roemer