Discernment is one of the words Pope Francis repeats most, especially when speaking to priests and seminarians.
He often expresses his desire for greater formation in discernment – a concept that may seem obscure without an understanding its importance to the Pope’s Jesuit formation.
“When a Jesuit says ‘discernment,’ they’re employing a term that has a very rich spiritual tradition within the Society of Jesus, so you can presume a lot in that,” Fr. Brian Reedy, SJ, told CNA in an interview.
Fr. Reedy is a US Navy Reserve chaplain and is pursuing a doctorate in philosophical theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He holds a licentiate in theology from Boston College.
So when it comes to Jesuits and discernment, what are the governing rules, and how can we use them to understand Pope Francis?
Rules of Ignatian discernment
One of the first things to keep in mind when it comes to discernment is St. Ignatius’ distinction between categories of people, Fr. Reedy said, explaining there are different rules for people who take the faith seriously, and those who do not.
When it comes to the current discussion on marriage, Fr. Reedy noted that in his spiritual exercises, St. Ignatius himself speaks specifically about discerning marriage after you have contracted marriage “as an example of one of the things you can’t legitimately discern.”
This, he said, is because “after you are married, you can no longer legitimately discern being married or not, because you’ve made the decision; it’s not a proper object.”
What can be discerned, by a tribunal, is whether or not the marriage is valid.
“That’s a different question than discerning whether you want to be in a marriage still,” Fr. Reedy said. “For Ignatius that question doesn’t make any sense; in fact, it’s offensive to the process that you would discern changing a state of life that you have already committed yourself to.”
Jesuits “look for what is the spirit of the law: why does the law exist, what it is, what is it trying to do?”
But what about Francis’ ambiguity? Is that a Jesuit thing?
Part of the confusion surrounding Pope Francis’ sayings and writings is that his language can frequently be ambiguous and imprecise, leaving people scratching their heads trying to figure out what he actually meant.
But for Fr. Reedy, this isn’t a Jesuit quality so much as it is a personal limitation of the Vicar of Christ.
“Francis is a complicated character. He’s not a precise theologian, so I think some of the ambiguity and imprecision just comes from his own training and background, which the Church just has to be patient with,” he said.
Secondly, the priest said that if we reflect on scripture, we see that the Pope uses a style that is very similar to what Christ himself often used, especially when he senses a “Pharisaical attitude.”
“When he senses that somebody’s asking a question in order to pin something down in a way he fears is going to hurt somebody else” Francis gets obscure, he said, explaining that the Pope is “very sensitive” to having doctrine “turned into a weapon of sorts.”
“I think (the Pope’s) ambiguity is being manipulated,” Fr. Reedy said, explaining that in these cases, “I think we need to continue to push for greater clarity.”
This doesn’t mean we’ll get the clarity immediately, he said, but when it comes to particularly problematic issues “we need clarity. We need a line to be drawn saying we’re not talking about Catholic divorce.”
“So I’m confident that that’s not what the Pope is saying and I think that we should continue to ask for clarity, but not rush to clarity so that we can feel good about ourselves.”
Pope Francis, Society of Jesus, Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola
Full story at Catholic News Agency.
A bit of perspective: Pope Benedict XVI was an accomplished theologian; however, administration and decision-making were not his forte. Hence the selection of Jorge Bergoglio as pope. Pope Francis’ assigned duties include cleaning up and streamlining the Curia and addressing some contemporary issues of the Faith. Each pope, like any leader, has his strengths and weaknesses.
What you wrote about the conclave’s motives is our best read on the conclave. But Pope Francis, by his own words, appears to have not corrected the problems with the Vatican bureaucracy. His time in office is quickly becoming a failed pontificate.
Pope Francis aside, and noting exceptions for several outstanding individual Jesuits (but they usually aren’t the major decision-makers in their communities), if you participate regularly in a “Jesuit church” today, eventually you will end up with a twisted version of the Catholic Faith: a faith that is morally contradictory, that is self-exempting from hard choices, and a shallow faith in which pop-psych is substituted for true mortification, self-discipline, and the “narrow road” that leads to unity with Christ.
Anon, if I was thinking of going to a new parish lead by a Jesuit pastor, what twisted versions of the Catholic faith should I be on the look out for? What dogma might they contradict, or hard choices they might not make, or how would I know “shallow faith” when I saw it? What is true mortification, one doesn’t hear much about that anymore? How is their “narrow road” different than other priests’? Help me here! Please!
First of all, they would never mention homosexuality, except to be welcoming. They can’t, because they’ve paid some $250 million in (predominately) homosexual abuse cases from preying on post-pubescent males during the abuse era. Also, they would never condemn any sexual sin or the holocaust of abortion that proceeds from it. They would talk incessantly about social justice, never mentioning that their only solution for social “injustice” is Marxist in method and socialistic in implementation. They believe in the global socialist state which will homogenize a world religion from all the comparative religions they salivate about, and they will never mention Catholic orthodoxy…
(continued…) in order to eventually condition generations of Catholics that orthodoxy does not exist. They will mix religion and politics so that they’re inseparable in the minds of their subjects who come to know only Jesuitism, which is a made up distortion of the faith with a thin Catholic veneer. They will advocate open borders and elimination of the nation state and denial of all Catholic doctrines that might impede global hegemony. Most of them are no smarter than the sheep they lead astray and have long ago succumbed to their feminist-homosexualist -Marxist ideology and the religion of PC, which leads inexorably to preparation of the global seat of Antichrist.
Ralph, I was reading my Bible the other day and came across this verse: Ac ts 2: 44-45 reads: “And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need..” What part of that should I not believe? Too, I have attended Catholic churches, almost weekly, all over the country as well as my home parishes. I have never seen puppets, I have heard the kinds of things you mention. I admit that I have seen incense “danced” down the aisle a couple of time. Why is ok to swing a bowl of incense on a chain but not ok to carry it down the aisle?
If you believe that, move to Venezuela.
Bob One if you have to ask, you will never learn ….
Bohemond, if you don’t ask, you will never know!!!!!!! There are those who know not what they don’t know, and …
Bob One, look up what Cardinal Arinze had to say about liturgical dancing when he was head of the Liturgy. It is probably still on the Adoremus Website. It was very well balanced, yet many did not listen to him.
Bob One, our sacred Catholic liturgy is not some kind of secular, “humanistic”carnival,” or “hippie-liberal” Mardi Gras– a mockery, a “joke,” such as when the anti-Catholic, drag-queen “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” were televised striding up in their nun-mocking, drag-queen garb, to receive Holy Communion from Abp. Niederauer, at Most Holy Redeemer church!! Our Catholic Mass is SACRED!! Christ Himself is present in the Blessed Sacrament! Everyone needs RESPECT FOR GOD!! A Catholic Mass– is not a place for babies to play!!
I once attended a Mass at St. Ignatius, at USF, many years ago, in which a priest with a ponytail was offering holy Mass. He gave a sermon which favored homosexuality– it hurt me a lot! The worst cases I saw in the past, of liturgical abuse– was during the hippie era, in the late 1960s and early 1970s– and some very devout Catholics (in a different city) avoided Mass attendance, due to the many abuses– they stayed home and prayed the Rosary, hoping for an end to all the evil nonsense at Mass, mocking Our Lord. I and many others also signed a big petition to the local bishop, and to Pope Paul VI– and the bishop put an end to the liturgical abuses, of that time.
Well class I hope you learned that we should never, ever have another Jesuit elected Pope. The 5th column of dissent in the Church, suppress them all
I second that…………
You want to understand the Jesuits and their Papa Francisco? Read this book: The Jesuits: the Society of Jesus and the betrayal of the Catholic Church by Fr. Malachi Martin. Simon and Schuster, 1987, still in print. It is the story of how a Spanish Jesuit Superior, Pedro Arrupe, corrupted a sect that believed that the ends justify the means. A thorn on the side Catholics. We will be paying for The First Jesuit Pope for decades. He will be remembered as the Catholic Obama.
Last year at the “Jesuit Church”, St Agnes in San Francisco, as the Jesuits take us in a new direction in every way, every day, even on Holy Thursday “Liturgy”, we were treated to weird dancing, even creepier music (yes, during “Mass”: we know we are told it doesn’t happen).
Many here would deny it, if they could: but fortunately, someone caught it, at least 10 minutes of the most bizarre part, and posted it on youtube.com:
And this is another reason why many people are turning their backs on the “Jesuit Church” with its esoteric all-inclusive pseudo-spirituality, that seems to have left Christ, the ancient Catholic tradition, all its cult and its devotions behind.
3:30: the 3 “vestal virgins” (well, they are all in white) dance in front of the old high altar; later to be 5 women total
8:55: the incensation of the altar — by all 5 now.
On and on it went. On possibly the most solemn high Eucharist, celebrating Christ and priesthood.
Or vestal virgin-hood.
(This was in 2016, by the way, at St. Agnes Church in the Haight.)
I watched the video. Went on for a while, didn’t it? I liked the way they brought the altar clothes down the aisle and prepared the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Those who sign pray twice, while those who dance …?
By the way, I know what the rule says: no dancing during Mass. Before and after is OK. If it is not forbidden, it is permitted?
Bob One : Liturgical heretic….No its not permitted…
I love Pope Francis. He has drawn me closer to Jesus. God Bless our Holy Father.
Interesting that the Jesuits are now speaking so highly of Pope Francis. The Order shunned him beginning in the 1990’s and did not allow him to stay at their various facilities because he did not support the changes in the Order’s formation process.
Sounds like they offered him a deal he couldn’t refuse. Still, why shouldn’t they support him, he’s a Marxist social justice warrior to exclusion of almost everything else, and what better support for their perversions than the “who am I to judge” statement? The one thing I’ll give him is his frequent statements in opposition to abortion, which is not the typical Jesuit fare. Of course, he’ll never solve the abortion problem with his holistic secularized approach to human sexuality.
i once met a jesuit assigned to prison chaplaincy who loved to speak of his acumen for ‘creative liturgy’ which he set upon the good people of a southern diocese one good friday . he felt that he should tie Jesus’ imprisonment narrative of Good Friday to the iranian hostage crisis. he with began, processing in, by hurlingthe church’s antique american flag down the aisle cracking the antique pole, to the dismay of all. after the opening praying, altar boys were intructed to tie him blindfolded to the presiding chair, where he moaned simulating agony. his homily told his disgusted parishioners that he was enacting the gospel, they saw disarray and profanation while he felt he was applying the gospel in…
My favorite is some years back, with SCU students gathered at the Mission Church, on Good Friday, the late Frs. Tennant (“Tennie”) Wright,SJ and Dan Germann SJ began the “liturgy” by barging into the hushed church wearing Planet-of-the-Apes masks (no, I am not kidding you, many witnesses, but no cell phones then), one with a “club” beating the other and the “beat-ee” uttering weird ululations: Later Fr Wright appeared explaining that the mime was supposed to describe the meaning of Good Friday, which was “man’s inhumanity to man.” (Oh.)
In fact every successive year, the “Holy Week” liturgies got more and more psylocybinesque.
Ah, those Jesuit liturgists, what scholars and mystics!
drewelow, you can’t fix stupid! He obviously belongs in some kind of institution.
One Jesuit college graduate with whom the brainwashing didn’t “take” is the Arab-American comedian and lampoonist (his mother was Lebanese Catholic) Remy Munasifi. As you can see, he doesn’t buy into the “party-line”, that only socialism will save people, or “PEOPLE WILL DIE!”:
Hope this gets printed. Since the late 1960s, I have occasionally asked top Jesuit leaders, at USF– why they have departed from Catholic Faith and Morals, and traditional, solid, excellent Catholic education — betraying Our Lord, and forming many future Catholic leaders, who are actually “anti-Catholic,” similar to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, whom they support strongly. I always get the same reply— the Jesuits feared the loss of their schools, after Vatican II, and feared the collapse of their religious order, if they did not change to suit the extremely immoral, liberal agendas of the time. They say they made their decisions, “for sound business reasons.”