“If we cannot love our past, we cannot accept and love ourselves and our present, because we are products of that past with all its good and bad elements.” Which, of course, is an important way of reminding us that we are the products of our past with all that was good, and all that was less than the good we had hoped for from life.”
~ William A. Barry SJ.
I’ve mentioned Jesuit priest, author, and spiritual director before. His books have been really meaningful to me at various points over the years. I most recently mentioned him in this post.
Over the first few days I’ve read his extended essay Past, Present, and Future: A Jubilarian’s Reflections on Jesuit Spirituality. It was published in September 2000 in the journal Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits.
Barry has been a Jesuit Priest for over 50-years now, and in places it’s a little dated, but nonetheless remains useful and indeed, insightful, tracking as it does the changes that have occurred in Jesuit spirituality within Western Catholicism and the USA. He starts out with a great quote from Win Blevins’ 1995 novel Stone Song: A Novel of the Life of Crazy Horse, which includes these lines:
“The old way was beautiful. We turn backward to it and in taking leave we offer it our love. Then we turn forward and walk forth blindly, offering our love. Yes, blindly.”
Barry names and expounds a little on each of what he considers the “traditional marks of Jesuit spirituality”:
- The recovery of the meaning of the fifteenth annotation, found in the “Introductory Explanation” of the Exercises.
- The variety of prayer forms
- Adaptation to the Individual
- The Role of Desires
- The Discernment of Spirits
- The Account of Conscience.
Reminding me, in parts, of Al Roxburgh, he makes these statements: “…What’s the problem [the Jesuits / Catholics / Christians in the West, are facing] our cultural maps no longer are accurate…What’s the solution? Our spirituality is a … means of finding the way of the risen Jesus in our time. What time is it? A time of crisis for our world…”
You’ll find the PDF (scanned copy of journal) here. Barry’s essay comes in at 39 pages plus the cover and some additional pages. Additionally he quotes a section of the Rule of Life of the Anglican Society of Saint John the Evangelist, which you will find online (PDF) here. It is also a useful read and something to think about at the beginning on a New Year.