Tag Archives: Society of Jesus

La Civiltà Cattolica has new leadership with Antonio Spadaro

Antonio Spadaro.jpgLa Civiltà Cattolica, THE prestigious journal of opinion in Italy, and perhaps in very many ecclesial circles, has new leadership in Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro. La Civiltà Cattolica has been at the service of the Church 162 years.

Father Antonio, 45, takes the helm from Father GianPaolo Salvini, 75, who’s been the head of La Civiltà Cattolica since 1985, an apostolate of the Italian Jesuits in Rome.
While not an official organ of communication of the Holy See, La Civiltà Cattolica is reviewed by a ranking –though competent– official of the Secretariat of State. It is said that the Papal Palace, that is, the Pope himself, reviewed the pre-publicaiton draft of the journal; Pope Paul VI changed the process.

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The new director, Father Antonio, also the superior of the House of Writers (near to the Porta Pinciana) is trained in literary criticism and has been at the journal for a time since 1994. He’s from Messina and was ordained in 1996. All of his training was in Italy but he completed his Jesuit formation, tertianship, in Ohio. He earned a doctorate from the Gregorian University under the direction of the Australian Jesuit Gerald O’Collins. The new director has published some 15 books and he’s interested in the new social communications.
Don Antonio hosts two blogs: “Antonio Spadaro” and “Cyberteologia.”
He got a difficult road ahead of him: bringing La Civiltà Cattolica further into the new millennium with the use of English, social media and greater visibility. The voice of  La Civiltà Cattolica needs to be heard. A new broom sweeps clean.
May God grant Father Antonio many and rich blessings as he begins his new ministry.

David L. Fleming, SJ, RIP

Today has been a day of death it seems. I started the day with a funeral of a 8 year old who died the other day of cancer.

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This afternoon I was notified that my former rector, Father David L. Fleming, SJ, 76, died after facing cancer in a courageous way. Well done good and faithful servant. May the Lord be good to him.
David is likely to have been one of the best superiors I ever had. For me, he was a light in darkness when a lot of others were simply too self-absorbed. He was one of those who superiors who took each person seriously and approached each person with sensitivity, grace and love. He always showed me the operation of grace, that is, the act of God’s love on me as unmerited and without reservation.
When I saw David last summer it was a fine meeting –one that was full of memories from the past– but one we both knew that we’d not likely see each other this summer.
Father Fleming’s obituary is here: Fr David Fleming, SJ obit.pdf
Please pray for Father Fleming and all the souls who have died today.
May Father David Fleming’s memory be eternal.

Humor is a Catholic thing, really….

Humor and Catholicism are not easily cohered by many people. For some reason, many people believe that to be a Catholic, a saint, a person “in-tune” with God means, by definition, to look unhappy, if not really be, unhappy. Yea, but no. Really, the contrary is true if you know God, His Son and sacred Scripture. To have a healthy, vibrant spiritual life is have joy. We hunger for intimate connections with God, others and self. We are made for love and joy. Yet, love and joy are mysteries in the Providence, and love and joy separates us from the animals, as does freedom. And to love is be full of joy, full of humor and delight.

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Tonight, I had the pleasure of seeing an old and dear friend, Jesuit Father James Martin, speak at Yale University’s St Thomas More Catholic Chapel. Nearly hundred people were in attendance including members of the local and Yale communities. Father Martin is the Cultural editor of America Magazine, the only Catholic weekly journal of opinion. He’s the author of a plentitude of articles and several books (My Life with the Saints & The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, and he’s due to publish yet another book, Sarah’s Laugh: Joy Humor and Laughter in the Spiritual Life, in a few months.

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Martin was invited by More House to deliver the More House Lecture, which since its establishment in 1962 has had a few distinguished Jesuits. The inaugural More House Lecturer was given by Father John Courtney Murray, SJ in 1962 on the topic of the Problem of God. Martin is now on a spry list of notable –and a few ignoble– scholars and cultural types. A terrific honor, indeed.

Father Martin’s point is that joy and laughter are under-rated in the spiritual life and are essential for a healthy physical and spiritual life. To be joyful is to be in-touch with God. Joy equals holiness (for those who pray).

While humor is culturally bound in time, place and location, there is evidence that laughter had some importance among the Old Testement characters, think of Abraham and Sarah, Isaiah and in the New Testament with Jesus, think of his interchange with Nathaniel. Saints had a particular bias for humor and joy and laughter, think of Saints Teresa of Avila, Philip Neri, Benedict, Blessed John XXIII and Teresa of Calcutta, and countless others.


Father Martin had ten points in praise of humor and its intimate connection with the spiritual life:

  1. humor evangelizes; humor shows others our faith in God, in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; humor shows the victory of love over hatred;
  2. humor is a tool for humility; it aids in the quest of humility; humor is a great way to keep one grounded and away from the Deadly Sin of pride; as my mother says frequently, don’t take yourself that seriously;
  3. humor shocks the hearer to hear something new; humor gets the point of across
  4. humor speaks truth to power, especially when other forms of truth-telling seem to fail; do we need more pompous, puffed-up and powerful people with a distinct lack of humor leading us, in Church and in society?
  5. humor shows Christian courage: think of Saints Lawrence and Thomas More;
  6. humor deepens a relationship with God (if you have one); by analogy –Catholics love theological analogies: being in relationship with God is like being on the phone–someone talks and someone listens; a healthy relationship with God would mean that joy is very much a part of one’s relationship with God; as Father Martin pointed out from the Ignatian spirituality point of view, can I imagine that God might want to be playful with me? Can I delight in God’s desire for giving me the unexpected? Can I, like the Prophet Isaiah, allow God to delight in me and I delight in God?
  7. humor shows genuine hospitality, it shows the other that being welcome in a place is a virtue;
  8. humor is healing –it releases endorphins; one never laughs at sin or personal hurt but in its proper place humor gives us a break;
  9. humor opens our minds –it helps us to relax; humor helps get the message across, eases the burdens and allows us to imagine being personally with Jesus; joy is the surest sign of the Holy Spirit;
  10. humor is fun and fun is a foretaste of heaven.

 Thanks be to God for the grace of laughing. John Paul II and Benedict XVI have also showed us the value and place of humor in life. As I have said before here: can I really take my humanity seriously? Can I be joy-filled? Can I allow God to show me the way to Him through humor?

Tomáš Cardinal Špidlík dead at 91

Tomáš Špidlík.jpgThe staff of the Centro Aletti with faith in the life-giving power of the Lord’s Resurrection announced the death of Tomáš Cardinal Špidlík Friday, 16 April 2010 at 9 pm.

The In making their announcement the staff of the Centro Aletti expressed their gratitude to God for the Cardinal’s many years through his gift of paternity and wisdom. They ask that all of us to be united in prayer to accompany the Cardinal’s soul to his ultimate and definitive passage to eternal life.

The Cardinal’s wake will be at the Centro Aletti until Monday, April 19. On Tuesday, April 20 the Mass of Christian Burial will take place at the Vatican Basilica at 11:30 am celebrated by Angelo Cardinal Sodano with the Holy Father concluding the Liturgy with a homily and the prayers of final commendation.

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Let us pray.

By Thy resurrection from the dead, O Christ, death no longer has dominion over those who die in holiness. So, we beseech Thee, give rest to Thy servant Tomáš in Thy sanctuary and in Abraham’s bosom. Grant it to those, who from Adam until now have adored Thee with purity, to our fathers and mothers, to our kinsmen and friends, to all men who have lived by faith and passed on their road to Thee, by a thousand ways, and in all conditions, and make them worthy of the heavenly kingdom.

The Holy Father’s telegram to the superior general of the Society Jesus, Father Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, reads:

“The pious demise of Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, distinguished Jesuit and zealous servant of the Gospel, has aroused deep commotion in my heart. It is with profound gratitude that I recall his solid faith, his paternal affability and his intense cultural and ecclesial labours, especially as an authoritative expert on Eastern Christian spirituality. I raise fervent prayers to the Lord that, by the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin and St. Ignatius of Loyola, He may give the deceased cardinal the eternal prize promised to His faithful disciples. And to you, to the Society of Jesus, and to everyone who knew him and appreciated his gifts of mind and heart, I send a heartfelt and comforting apostolic blessing.

We give thanks to the Lord for blessing us with this wise and holy priest and cardinal!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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