Wednesday 4 November 2015

The Grey Lady Links

I loved my Canadian theologate. B.A. says I made this clear in my CWR piece about BC, and I think I made it clearer in the combox, when a chap told me how difficult it is for "traditionalists" to understand Ignatian spirituality.

I love the memory of my college so much, I didn't name it in my piece. Although I have marched into the fray, I don't want my college to be dragged into the Douthat Affair. And I don't want to be seen as a Jesuit-basher. Indeed, I don't want to be a Jesuit-basher, for I owe the Jesuits of Upper Canada a lot. I spent three of the most intellectually and spiritually fruitful years of my life among them. My one and only complaint is that my professors didn't warn me against going to BC, but I acknowledge that they probably didn't have enough data to make such a judgment, as Lonerganians would say.

Ironically, it was the Canadian Jesuits' very goodness that made me totally vulnerable to the completely different atmosphere at BC. I am reminded of my elementary school the years the "Grade 2" class was taught by a gentle, pretty, loving lady, and the "Grade 3" class was taught by a witch. The witch's excesses had mostly gone under the radar--weird how children of my generation seem never to have told their parents about abuse--but eventually I heard my mother repeating parental reports about Grade Threes wetting their beds and waking up screaming in the middle of the night. My mother concluded that the switch from Miss Super-Nice to Miss Witch was just too sudden.

When I was at BC, I was asked to help with an Accepted Students' Day, and I spent it encouraging Accepted Students who actually believed the Catholic faith in its entirety to go to Notre Dame instead. (I didn't know anything about Ave Maria, Christendom or any of the new American Catholic colleges.) Naturally I was not asked to help with Accepted Students' Day again, but I think I managed to help fellow believing Catholics. And this was my motive in writing the piece for CWR and anything else I have written about BC.  It was not to slag off the Society of Jesus.

There are very good men in the Society of Jesus, and the ones who are orthodox Catholics suffer a lot, both from the assumptions of orthodox Catholics that all Jesuits are dodgy and from the suspicions of their heterodox /obscurantist superiors and/or colleagues. Looking back on it, my Canadian theologate seemed to be an oasis from this ecclesiastical civil war. I honestly thought, when I returned from Boston, that this war had not reached Canada. It turns out I simply didn't have the data. We vulnerable students had been shielded from all that. Our Jesuit Fathers were truly fatherly.

In the past few days, I have thought about the promises I took in 2005 when I was inducted into the Jesuit Honour Society, Alpha Sigma Nu.  They involved carrying out scholarship "with intellectual integrity", loyalty to the ideals of my education  and service "realized in genuine concern for my neighbour" "for the greater honour and glory of God." Nobody could be sorrier than I was, as a student at BC, that this included facing the reality of the toxic environment around me. A "faith that does justice" includes crying out against such environments to defend believing Catholics and their faith.

Despite what critics may think, I was not at all consciously a traditionalist when I went to BC. I honestly thought I would be a "Jesuit collaborator" (as lay women like me were actually called without malice or irony) for the rest of my life. Ironically, it was the experience at BC that led me more firmly to tradition, and so in a weird way I must be grateful to it, too.

After all this long apologia, here is the link to Ross Douthat's New York Times blogpost.

Update: And one to an article in the American National Catholic Register.


  1. Hi Seraphic! I really enjoy your blogs. You always make clever, thoughtful observations on what you write (and faithful to the Church!). I get a little upset on the days that you don't post, I look forward to your posts every morning :), but then I remember that I pay zero dollars to read your blog.

  2. Thanks! If I don't post, it's because I am insanely busy!


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