Jesuit Superior General Praises Castro–What has Happened to the Order?

Image result for st ignatiusSt. Ignatious of Loyola was a Spanish soldier. But you wouldn’t believe it by the way his image has been softened by many modern-day Jesuits (see: Fr. James Martin, SJ) into a sort of Catholic community organizer. His Spiritual Exercises? Merely a therapeutic self-help book.

Started in 1540, the Jesuits were considered the Pope’s missionary soldiers. They endured tremendous, often violent, hardships across the globe as they spread the Gospel and converted entire countries. They heroically defended the Catholic Church from the perils of the Reformation. They set up some of the greatest universities on the planet. Their history is amazing.  What happened?

It’s no secret that the Jesuits, as a whole, are extremely leftist in their politics and progressive in their theology and have been since before V2. However, their views are now so extreme, they are flirting with straight up heresy. It has reached such high levels of the order that the scandal they are providing is truly devastating. In almost every statement by Jesuit officials, Catholics and non-Catholics rightfully wonder if they even like the Church and what it stands for.

Now we have a new Superior General of the order, Fr. Arturo Sosa, who recently came under fire for suggesting that the teachings of Christ are relative, exposed for having signed a letter praising Fidel Castro. That’s right, the Fidel Castro who all but eradicated Christianity from what was then extremely Catholic Cuba. The man who destroyed churches, took over Catholic schools, and murdered priests in order for atheistic Communism to better strangle his island citizens.

From the Catholic Herald:

Jesuit superior general Fr Arturo Sosa allegedly signed a letter praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in 1989.

Infovaticana says that ahead of the communist leader’s visit to Venezuela that year, nearly 1,000 “intellectuals and artists” sent him a “manifesto” welcoming him to their country.

The 810th name on the list of signatories is “Arturo Sosa, S.J.,” of the Centro Gumilla, of which he was director at the time.

The letter begins: “We… wish to publicly express our respect for what you, as the main leader of the Cuban Revolution, have achieved for the dignity of your people and therefore for all Latin America.”

It goes on to say that “only ideological blindness can deny the place the process you represent occupies in the history of the liberation of our peoples.”

The letter also describes Castro’s overthrow of the Batista government as an “exemplary victory over tyranny, corruption and servitude”

Does anyone take the Jesuits seriously anymore? Apparently not because, even while embarrassing themselves trying to be popular, their numbers are plummeting. Almost no serious Catholic men who are considering the priesthood are considering becoming a Jesuit. ☩

 

 

In Defense of Beauty

It’s said that the three marks of the divine–that which is transcendent–is beauty, goodness, and truth. That which is beautiful, good, or truthful points towards God. This is why Catholic churches have traditionally been built with rich artwork and soaring architecture.

Modern society is at battle with these marks of transcendence. Not only is popular culture seeking to make goodness and truth relative, it also seeks to destroy beauty in favor of efficiency. We see examples of this with the literal destruction of beauty in Catholic churches across the country: high altars ripped down, intricate altar rails thrown away, detailed stained glass imagery replaced by abstract colors, beautiful vestments replaced by schlocky polyester sheets, and many more examples. Secular life has many examples too; most modern buildings favor high-efficiency materials to produce cookie-cutter strip malls dotting our roads, deep and meaningful music, artwork, and literature exists but seems to be harder and harder to find. Gone are the days when someone who cherished authentic beauty in society is to be regarded civilized.

1710-15_de_matteis_triumph_of_the_immaculate_anagoria

The soul’s longing for beauty may be hard to easily satisfy in today’s world but those who seek to live a counter-cultural, authentic, better and joyful life need to try. One must ask of everything surrounding their life, “does this reflect goodness, truth, or beauty”? It’s not the most efficient way of living, but it does produce better results. This point is reflected over and over by Rod Dreher in his book Crunchy Cons, “beauty is more important than efficiency”:

Appreciation of aesthetic quality–that is, beauty–is not a luxury, but key to the good life

In my now-heightened awareness of the lack of beauty plaguing both our churches and culture, I found the recent article by Paul Krause particularly edifying. He more eloquently states the same point while citing ancient thinkers such as Cicero and Platinus and their impact on classic Christian philosophy. These notions were once obvious to Christians. This unfortunately is no longer.

What’s hopeful, however, is the recent “re-renovations” of previously destroyed churches, the formation of architectural firms specializing in traditional beauty, and priests interested in offering reverent Masses (especially the TLM).

Quoting only parts from A Defense of Beauty and Excellence from the Classical Tradition (emphases mine):

There are many serious problems facing moderns, but one of the most troubling—and worrying—is the loss and degradation of beauty, not just in the arts, but in society as a whole. Classical Greek philosophy, to which Catholic philosophy largely inherited and preserved, maintained that beauty and morality were intertwined with one another. When Christianity began to spread, the Christian encounter with Greek philosophy was largely positive. However, over the last two centuries, the widening chasm between aesthetics and virtue, and the postmodern assertion that aesthetics is oppressive (and therefore needing deconstruction), has brought immeasurable harm to culture and society.

Culture means life. And for life to be truly flourishing in a teleological sense, Greek, Roman, traditional Jewish and Christian philosophy, always affirmed beauty as an integral aspect of the good life. In his masterpiece, Enneads, Plotinus opened his most famous section—on beauty—by writing, “Beauty addresses itself chiefly to sight; but there is a beauty for the hearing too, as in certain combinations of words and in all kinds of music, for melodies and cadences are beautiful; and minds that lift themselves above the realm of sense to a higher order are aware of beauty in the conduct of life, in actions, in character, in the pursuits of the intellect; and there is the beauty of the virtues. What loftier beauty there may be, yet, our argument will bring to light.”

More…

[Plotinus stated] “Then again, all the virtues are a beauty of the soul, a beauty authentic beyond any of these others.”… As Plotinus explains, the ugly lacks a proper cultivation of reason, torn by lust and discord, lashes out and destroys beauty in the process—which also destroys harmony. It is interesting to note that Plotinus associated the ugly soul with the person preoccupied with only material things.

Catholics, best of all, understand the importance of the union of aesthetics with arête. Beauty, itself, demands a value judgement. There is nothing harsh or unfair with proclaiming this truth. That which is beautiful is good, and that which is ugly, as Plotinus recognized, is neither beautiful nor good. There are natural gradations of beauty. As Augustine explained, the gradations of beauty lift one up closer to Heaven and the Supreme Beauty that is God. This follows the insights of both Plato and Plotinus who recognized that the experience of even low beauty awakens an innate desire for greater beauty that drives one to greater excellence in search for beauty.

Cicero equally noted that people in their folly, are prone to destroy things beautiful and admirable. Nihilism is the end result of anti-intellectualism and relativism, not just the mere absence of values but the abject negation—destruction—of beauty and values.

The quote above is great. Relativism of beauty, truth, and goodness has an end result of not just the simple absence of each mark but a destruction of each. What did we see bishops and priests do in the 70’s? They didn’t just simply start making ugly new churches, they quite literally destroyed the beauty of old churches. The “art” that replaced traditional sacred art in many suburban parishes are kitschy felt banners and horrendously cheesy guitar music. Gross.

It is the inheritance of the classical marriage of aesthetics and moral excellence that had historically been a cornerstone of not just Catholic philosophy, but Western philosophy more generally—inspiring all aspects of culture: art, music, engineering, and literature, to reflect the highest excellence demanded of beauty itself. And in that beauty there exists an irresistible draw for the virtuous to defend all that is beautiful. The compulsion to defend the beautiful, itself, reflects the moral excellence of the person.

…in Confessions, Augustine stated that reading Virgil and Cicero had brought him to belief in God. Beauty is the brilliance of truth, and as Augustine said, “All truth belongs to God.” And we know where that road ultimately ends.

We all should start discerning what is beautiful in our homes and lives. Then we should slowly start surrounding our minds, bodies, and souls not only with what is truthful and good but also is beautiful. ☩

An Unfortunate Graph

A recent Gallup poll highlights Americans’ current opinions on the moral acceptability of various practices. I’ll let the graph speak for itself after adding only two points

  1. 22% of Americans are registered Catholics and 71% of Americans are considered Christian…
  2. The order below is no coincidence. Widespread acceptance of artificial birth control paved the way for the two runners-up (as predicted by Bl. Paul VI, Humanae Vitae). In turn, widespread divorce and promiscuity promotes instability within society which leads to more risky or unfortunate practices.

dnfgayru7ekll5d-a9pkta

24 Hours Without an iPhone

Yesterday morning my iPhone stopped working. I was still using my 5S from 2013, trying to eek out a few more months until I could upgrade to the 8 which is supposed to be completely different from recent models.

nokia

With being at work yesterday and having things scheduled afterwards, I had no time to try to switch my cellular service over to my old 4S (from 2011!).

At first it felt odd wondering not having the ability to text or get emails immediately. But as the day went on it became an afterthought. I went to the local park in the evening for a softball game with my family. The thought of checking my phone never struck once and I made the comment how “this is like the 90s! I won’t know what’s going on until I get back home!”. It felt great not being tethered to it.

Today I have an appointment at Apple’s Genius Bar to see if my 5S is easily salvageable. If it’s not, while I’ll probably end up using the 4S, I gotta say, the idea of reverting to a “dumb phone” that flips open seems very attractive. Well…at least until the iPhone 8 comes out. Then I’ll reassess my desire for one. ☩