Saturday, November 17, 2007

I heart Jesuits

One of my favorite T-shirts, which Boston College students made last year, are the simple, I heart Jesuits T-shirts (as seen in the picture).

Although not noted in the U.S. Catholic story, two Jesuit Scholastics studying at Loyola went with the Loyola group and most of the students loved to talk with them. They were both young and friendly and encouraged them to take action back on Loyola's campus. Last year, all the Jesuits present went on stage during the Teach-in and read all the names of Jesuits who had been killed while serving as God. One girl noted after that that we need more Jesuits around. Although I have never attended a Catholic, let alone Jesuit, school, I must admit by the end of the weekend I was understanding the appeal of the "faith that does justice" education.

On Friday night a man said to my friends and me: "I touched Father Roy Bourgeois!" It was funny, but I wondered at the fact that he has attained a sort of celebrity status, at least among Catholic activists. But when I met him later, I was struck at how friendly he was--more down-to-earth than celebrity. Standing ovations, it seems, don't go to the heads of such figures as him, Father John Dear, Sister Helen Prejean (who spoke last year), and others.

And yet, a reader commented to me that it is always the priests or nuns that we talk about dying, rather than the ordinary, indigenous people. Is that a bad thing? One of the great parts of the vigil is that each victim is named or recognized (if no name is known) and is there for "presente." But it is true that the more famous names come first. I don't think that discounts the equal human dignity of an unnamed child versus Oscar Romero (certainly Romero wouldn't say so). But we do need the priests and nuns--the martyrs that we always talk about--to lead the way, to be the inspiration.

From my limited contact with leaders of this movement, they don't seem to lift themselves above anyone. Perhaps members of the movement should be careful about how much we hold them up. Love them we may, but they are our equals. This might also make us realize that we need to put in an equal share of the effort--the leaders cannot do it themselves. (The Jesuits also ended their Mass by encouraging young people to talk to the priests and nuns present if they were discerning a call to religious life!)


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