Book: Jesuit Saturdays: Sharing the Ignatian Spirit with Lay Colleagues and Friends
Author: William J. Byron, S.J.
Loyola Press, Chicago, IL pp.112
Excerpt from Introduction:
This is a book of personal reflections similar to those I published as "Quadrangle Considerations" and the commencement-address chapters in "Take Your Diploma and Run: Speaking to the Next Generation." The present book is not an autobiography, although personal experience is part of the story. It is simply one Jesuit's perspective on aspects of Jesuit life that appear to be of growing interest to others, particularly lay colleagues and friends. The primary audience I have in mind is a group of committed laypeople I've met worldwide who serve as trustees, faculty, staff, and support personnel in Jesuit educational institutions, parishes, research and retreat centers, publishing operations, and other ministries. I speak to students, alumni, parishioners, retreatants, benefactors, and friends — all those people who cast their lot in one way or another with Jesuits. I hope that this book will also be helpful to young men who are in the process of discerning whether God is calling them to Jesuit life.
So many people in various partnering or associative relationships with Jesuits want to know what it is that makes us tick; they are curious about who we are and what we do. They are quite open these days in asking us to tell them more about ourselves. My students often heard me say, "You are the world's leading expert on your own opinion" when I invited expressions of opinion in the classroom or in written assignments. The only area of expertise I can claim is related to my own opinions and experiences, so I offer them here simply for what they are worth, to lay friends who want to better understand the Jesuit way, style, approach, and tradition.
Excerpt from Book:
Reflective persons are not impulsive; they are not necessarily indecisive, but they are measured and deliberate in their approach to decision making. Reflection is the environment, the atmosphere, of ethical deliberation. And ethical reflection emerges from the "inner house," from the character of the one who deliberates and must decide. That character is shaped by the Jesuit educational experience. Not surprisingly, those who provide the experience entertain the theoretical expectation of finding evidence of ethical decision making emerging over time from the characters of those in whose formation they have had a hand.
. . . . Whenever my thoughts turn to this issue, I find myself recalling the words of playwright Robert Bolt in the preface to his classic A Man for All Seasons. The play is a testimonial to the integrity and character of Thomas More. In the preface, Bolt explains his mood and his social perceptions as he wrote the play. He was troubled by the thin fabric of contemporary human character, by the tendency of the typical modern man and woman to think of himself or herself in the third person, to describe the self "in terms more appropriate to somebody seen through a window." Bolt then provides a penetrating insight amounting to a one-sentence summary of the cultural ills that beset us today: "Both socially and individually it is with us as it is with our cities — an accelerating flight to the periphery, leaving a center which is empty when the hours of business are over."
The playwright goes on to ask, "Why do I take as my hero a man who brings about his own death because he can't put his hand on an old black book and tell an ordinary lie?" He answers: For this reason: A man takes an oath only when he wants to commit himself quite exceptionally ot the statement, when he wants to make an identity between the truth of it and his own virtue; he offers himself as a guarantee. And it works. There is a special kind of shrug for a perjurer; we feel that the man has no self to commit, no guarantee to offer."
Bolt describes Thomas More as "a man with an adamantine sense of his own self. He knew where he began and left off, what area of himself he could yield to the encroachments of his enemies and what to the encroachments of those he loved." Jesuit higher education helps students gain a sense of self; they learn where they begin and where they leave off. We are concerned with filling up those empty centers when the hours of classroom and library business are over. We help students locate the presence or absence of principles in themselves. We encourage the cultivation of character, the exercise of principled judgement. We let our students know that we expect them to stand for something. . . .
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: The Man Who Was Loyola
Chapter 2: Why We Are in Higher Education
Chapter 3: Why We are in Secondary Education
Chapter 4: Jesuit "Products" Are Persons of Quality
Chapter 5: Ours Is a Spirituality of Choice
Chapter 6: Living Generously in the Service of Others
Chapter 7: The Celibate: A Crowd of One
Chapter 8: Individuarians
Chapter 9: Stewardship: The Jesuit Approach to the Use of Wealth, Power, and Talent
Chapter 10: The Standard of Christ
Chapter 11: The Harvest Is Ready