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The Good News About Human Psychology According to Anthony de Mello, S.J.

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) August 16, 2012: The good news about human psychology according to Anthony de Mello, S.J. (1931-1987), was that we can transcend the limitations of our ego-consciousness and thereby we will change, however gradually the change may occur. He claimed that humankind will not be changed by changing structures that are external to us, but humankind will be changed when men and women are changed. The royal road to change is meditation.


In July 1980, I listened to Tony de Mello present a preached retreat in Denver eighty-five Jesuits on retreat (and to me, a Jesuit novice at the time who was not on retreat but just sitting in and listening and taking notes). Over the years after I left the Jesuits, I took out my notes and reread them. I treasured them. Recently I decided to type up my notes so that I could share them with people who might be interested in them. The thoughts recorded in my notes below are Tony de Mello's thoughts and views. However, the terse writing style is my note-taking writing style. In short, there are no direct quotations of complete sentences spoken by de Mello.


Background Information


The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in the Roman Catholic Church urged religious orders in the church to revisit each order's charism and work toward renewal of the order. For Jesuits in the Society of Jesus founded by Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), the review of the order's charism was extensive, deepening their understanding of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola. For an account of the earlier approach in Jesuit training, see George T. Tade, "The Spiritual Exercises: A Method of Self-Persuasion," Quarterly Journal of Speech, volume 43 (1957): pages 383-389.


Anthony de Mello played an enormous role in the renewal of Ignatian spirituality not only in India but elsewhere, including the United States. His influential life has been beautifully detailed recently by his younger brother Bill deMello (born 1944) in his biography Anthony deMello: The Happy Wanderer: A Tribute to My Brother, edited by Clifford W. DeSilva (Anand, Gujarit, India: Gujarit Sahitya Prakash, 2012).


Anthony de Mello's 1975 lectures in India on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola have recently been published in book form as Seek God Everywhere: Reflections on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, edited by Gerald O'Collins, S.J., Daniel Kendall, S.J., and Jeffrey LaBelle, S.J. (New York: Image/Doubleday, 2010).


Anthony de Mello's book Sadhana: A Way to God: Christian Exercises in Eastern Form was published in 1978 in the United States by the Institute of Jesuit Sources in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), an apostolate of the Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus.


In the summer of 1980, Anthony de Mello presented two workshops at Loretto Heights College in Denver, Colorado (USA) for Jesuits that were sponsored by Ministry Training Services, an apostolate of the Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus. Twenty-six Jesuits participated in Workshop I from June 19 to July 10,1980. Eighty-five Jesuits participated as retreatants in Workshop II from July 13 to 22, 1980. The following notes are based on Anthony de Mello's presentations in Workshop II in July 1980. (Today the former Loretto Heights College is a campus of Regis University, the Jesuit university in Denver.)


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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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