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Life Arts    H4'ed 9/25/13

Pope Francis on Jesuit Spirituality: The Power of the Christ Myth

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) September 25, 2013: On September 19th, the Jesuit-sponsored magazine AMERICA published a wide-ranging 12,000-word interview with Pope Francis, himself a Jesuit. The pope's interview was also published in different languages in 15 other Jesuit-sponsored magazines around the world.


The interview was conducted in Italian by the Jesuit editor of a Jesuit-sponsored magazine in Rome, based on questions that had been submitted to him from the editors of the 15 other Jesuit magazines.


At different times in his life in Argentina, Pope Francis had served as the novice master in the Jesuit novitiate and then as the provincial (the regional religious superior) of all the Jesuits in Argentina. Later, he served as the bishop of Buenos Aires and then as archbishop. He was subsequently elevated to the rank of cardinal.


Not surprisingly, some of the questions asked the pope about his experience as a Jesuit. (Digression: The Jesuit religious order in the Roman Catholic Church is known formally as the Society of Jesus. St. Ignatius was the founder.)


Disclosure: Many years ago, I was in the Jesuits for approximately eight years (1979-1987). However, for many years now, I have not been a practicing Catholic.


Here are the specific key passages from Pope Francis's interview that I want to discuss:


"Discernment is one of the things that worked inside St. Ignatius. For him it is an instrument of struggle in order to know the Lord and follow him more closely. . . . The virtue of the large and the small is magnanimity. Thanks to magnanimity, we can always look at the horizon from the position where we are. That means being able to do the little things of every day with a big heart open to God and to others. That means being able to appreciate the small things inside large horizons, those of the kingdom of God."


"This discernment takes time. . . . Discernment in the Lord guides me in my way of governing. But I am always wary of decisions made hastily. I am always wary of the first decision, that is, the first thing that comes to my mind if I have to make a decision. This is usually the wrong thing. I have to wait and assess, looking deep into myself, taking the necessary time. The wisdom of discernment redeems the necessary ambiguity of life and helps us find the most appropriate means, which do not always coincide with what looks great and strong."


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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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