Tuesday, April 24, 2012

From Their Mouths Comes Perfect Praise

It's been a busy week: I assisted at the silent discernment retreat which was full of many graces for all the participants, and now am slaving away merrily on my next chapter of the thesis. I couldn't pass by posting this remarkable video interview of a young boy who knew he was going to die. It's not morbid in the least, but rather is one of the more inspiring interviews I've seen in ages. May we have such conviction and serenity when our moment comes. Take a few minutes...



It's hard not to imagine the Lord welcoming this boy into his kingdom with great joy. One gets the impression he was already mostly there.


L'esprit d'enfance is our goal too. One of Catherine Doherty's well-known prayers was:
"Give me the heart of a child, and the awesome courage to live it out."
Also, my latest posting over at Ibo: another young person who shows us the way. Meet Rose Prince.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Teaching Opportunities

Dear Readers,

If you or someone you know is looking for a new opportunity to teach in a small but vibrant Catholic school community, you might be interested in the following job openings.

I will also take the opportunity to recommend a wonderful essay by Dorothy L. Sayers -- yes, the Dante scholar and detective writer -- on classical curriculum, here. Also,
 my own take on Wayside Academy from my personal experience, blogged not long ago, which might be of interest.

Finally, on the theme of teachers and Easter, a short reflection I made over at Ibo.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

War Horse



Last night I went with my community to see the stage production of "War Horse" at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto. About once a year we go together to see a live drama, and this year it was to this six Tony-award winning (2011) play about friendship between an English farm boy and a horse during the years of the First World War.

Most reviewers have already said what every audience member soon discovers: that the technical achievement of the play is mesmerizing. This is true -- the Handspring Puppet Company, which designed the larger-than-life horses, was given a special award at the Tonys. The models, each of which are operated by three people at all times, are uncannily life-like in their movement, from every twitching ear to their equestrian trot. They are veritable characters in the story. This may, however, also be the show's weakness. It's hard to suspend disbelief when one is being impressed by the puppeteers, whom you can see at all times (they are even costumed in period clothes). So during a private scene between the horse and his boy, there are actually four humans in the picture on-stage.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Victimae Paschali Laudes


Christ is Risen! Resurrexit sicut dixit!

This morning, a confrere and I went to St. Michael's Cathedral in downtown Toronto for Easter morning Mass, where the boys choir from the St. Michael's Choir School sang. The choir school is one of perhaps only two or three Catholic choir schools in Canada and one of only six in the world affiliated with the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. The boys receive a solid academic formation, presently guided by the strong vision of Mr. Barry White, school principal and friend. They tour the world every year, and are often compared to the Vienna Boys Choir (which they have defeated at the International Choral Festival!).

Friday, April 06, 2012

Life and Death in Jamaica

A few years ago, I found myself confined behind the brick walls of the Jesuit house in Kingston, Jamaica, while gunfire raged outside. For three days, army, police and gunmen were battling for control of the city, the catalyst being a government decision to arrest Jamaica’s leading criminal don. Drought had made the city even more combustible, and the urban water shortage was making life difficult. Ironically, those three days were the first time in months I had opportunity to reflect – a rest from the days of teaching at the inner-city school. I spent those house-bound mornings reading and thinking about why I had been led to this violent but hospitable and beautiful island nation.

Above all, I was there because I had been sent, like my fellow novices from Canada, who at the same time were serving in Haiti and the native missions of northern Ontario. We were meant to meet Christ in the face of the poor. Now, as the city was being rocked by the trauma of violence, I was anxious to get out and help in some way.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Les Xavieres

Ignatian spirituality for women? As many know, there is no female branch of the Society of Jesus or Jesuits. St. Ignatius considered it, but in the end did not found any such branch. Instead, several groups spontaneously sprung up independently of the Jesuits, but who share with us a spiritual kinship.

One such group is the congregation of women known as Les Xavieres - or Xaviere sisters. Their life is based on Ignatian spirituality, and they take their name from the great missionary Jesuit of the Far East. Similar to their namesake, the Xaviere sisters are outgoing and apostolic, spread out in nineteen communities in France, Africa and now Canada (where they have two houses: Montreal and Toronto), evangelizing in the name of God. Founded in France in 1921, and officially approved in 1963, there are presently 112 Xavieres, many of them young vocations.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Spiritual but not Religious

Nowadays you often hear people say that they are “spiritual but not religious”. How might we respond to this?



There are many good and morally upright people who do not practice religion. Some have been disillusioned by the human failures of the Church’s members. Others have simply never been presented with the good news of the Church in its fullness. Yet we believe, according to the Catechism, that “those…who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.” Often they show us many things about God by their own natural virtue.

The recent but growing phenomenon of SBNR has come about by (and is most pronounced) among the baby boomers and their offspring. The boomers widely withdrew from religion, emphasizing the need for personal choice over cultural inheritance, and largely left their children to find their own way in matters of ultimate meaning. It's no surprise, then, that many describe themselves this way today. There's also unfortunately a subtle implication  often held expressly  that being spiritual and religious are mutually exclusive, with the latter associated with rules, restrictions, and narrow-mindedness. If you are SBNR, does that make me RBNS?