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Saturday, 19 January 2008

What is the core of Jesuit spirituality?

I wonder if I am the only one disturbed by this, from an Australian Jesuit publication:


A Japanese Jesuit, Father Katoaki, has recently translated and added comments on the book of the Exercises from a Japanese-Buddhist perspective. [newly elected Superior-General Father Adolfo Nicolás] says there has also been some discussion on whether the Exercises could be presented to non-Christians, and how that might occur.
‘The question is how to give the Ignatian experience to a Buddhist’, he says. ‘Not maybe formulated in Christian terms, which is what Ignatius asked, but to go to the core of the experience. What happens to a person that goes through a number of exercises that really turn a person inside-out. This is still for us a big challenge.’

How can any Jesuit, much less their Superior-General, believe that the "core" of Ignatian spirituality is something from which Christ is absent? or if there, can be removed? For how, other than His absence could it be "formulated" in any OTHER than "Christian terms"?
If it were possible to formulate a set of spiritual exercise in terms which were not Christian, would they hold such pride of place in any Christian's much less a priest's practice?
And of what use to a Christian, much less a priest, could exercises whose core could remotely possibly be formulated in anything other than Christian terms even be?
Why turn a person inside out spiritually, for any reason other than to bring him to Christ?
What does such a Jesuit see as his mission?
Surely to bring people to Christ.
SO, presenting exercises at least initially in a way that is comprehensible to non-Christian may be necessary, but to think that this non-Christian facet might be the "core" of any spiritual practice that can ultimately be of any value is terribly, terribly misguided.
A liturgical musician might as well say, "The question is how to give the square-note experience to a to a non-believer, not maybe formulated in Catholic terms, which is what Gregorian chant is, but to go to the core of the experience."
Divorced from Catholicism, why would a liturgist, (as opposed from an academic,) give a flying fig about neumes?

Perhaps there's something I don't get, feel free to explain it to me.
Perhaps it's a translation issue.


Anonymous said...

It could be the context. Would a non-Christian be more receptive to what was presented as Ignatian spirituality than Christian spirituality?

It could be that there's a misguided notion of "core." Is core the experience of God, regardless of an explicit focus on Christ? Wouldn't we understand the Second Person is present, even if the articulation of it wasn't?

Or does "core" mean the central "flavor" of the spirituality, the way it engages some aspects of the human personality?

As for your liturgy example, it is true that non-believers appreciate plainsong for non-liturgical reasons.


Anonymous said...

"it is true that non-believers appreciate plainsong for non-liturgical reasons. "

But would a believer ever think that the non-believers were somehow in touch with the essence, the "core" of the chant?
I think not.