I came across an anecdote about my Jesuit hero and inspiration: Walter Ciszek, today. Apparently there was a person who was rather prominent at St. Michael's Russian Greek Catholic Church where Walter ministered in his later days. This man alienated the entire congregation by...
Getting a sex change operation--the spouse left with their children & the entire parish (priests included) refused to speak with the person out of disgust and shock. The only member of the Church to visit the person in the hospital was Walter Ciszek: he anointed and visited them.
Because of his renown, the person was accepted back into the community because nobody dared to cross a living saint. Even though he was rather conservative and had so totally taken to the Russian way of life that he couldn't fully return from it, he was a pastor and priest for...
All God's people first: wherever he found them in need. From the gulag to the post-op bed; from the torture of slave labor to the torture of social ostracism: if they needed the loving touch of God, Walter was there. Some of y'all self appointed internet prophets pretend like...
the Holy Spirit has commissioned you to cut and pasteChurch teaching from the catechism, totally out of context both within our own tradition and out of the context of an actual-loving-relationship with actual-real-living human beings, and pat yourselves on the back for doing...
A 'spiritual work of mercy'. What we don't realize is that often we do the exact opposite. Correction and teaching is INDEED an act of mercy, but it's only merciful when: 1. We have the authority to do so, 2. we are correct in what we do. Unsolicited, mean-spirited dogmatics...
Are apt for misinterpretation and misapplication... Even correction from a person that we love and that we know cares for us STINGS, let alone some total stranger on the internet who has no authority to judge us.
Like Phillip the Deacon ran after the Eunuch...
Walter ran out to make all God's children know their worth. This is what true Christian love and outreach looks like. Yes, when opportunity arises, within the context of love-hard questions/discussions arise-but we teach the truth more by living it than by speaking it...
And the goodness of our lives and authenticity of our love gives weight to difficult conversations on any range of topics concerning Christian life when they do arise. Walter loved first, may we do likewise! Walter Ciszek, Phillip the Deacon & Holy Ethiopian Eunuch, pray for us!
{This story is recounted in a wonderful book which compiles a lot of Ciszek's talks, notes, rough drafts, and letters: With God in America, compiled by Jon DeJak and Marc Lindeijer SJ (Loyola Press: 2016) p. 72. I recommend that y'all read the entire book... it's wonderful}

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More from @Chris_SmithsJ

2 Oct
My first rosary was given to me three days after the first mass I ever attended. As per usual for me, I had found something to get obsessed with and learn everything about--unlike Greek Mythology phase or Russian Tsar phase, I haven't yet exhausted Catholic phase, but I digress.
This rosary was made out of brown wooden beads with copper links. It was missing one of the first three hail maries: a casualty of its origin in the Korean Warm, carried thru the fright of gunfire and dullness of quiet far from home. My best friend's mother, a Wiccan priestess...
Gave it to me. It had been her fathers. She had worn it as jewelry when Madonna made that a thing for Anglos, but she thought that I would make a better use of it. I was mesmerized: it was my first Catholic trinket, and the most Catholic of all trinkets. I brought it home...
Read 18 tweets
14 Sep
There was a time in my life after I finished college & lost my faith, when I struggled and fell going down a dark road of self-numbing & self-medicating, I was laid off from my chemistry job, and I returned home feeling shame (although it wasn’t my fault). My father lost (1/17)
His job after having a stroke, and my mother was at her personal breaking point working full time and taking care of her mother. Tired of feeling miserable, guilty, and directionless I went to one twelve step meeting of some sort. I don’t recall which (after it I realized (2/17)
that that wasn’t the program for me & eventually when I started teaching & believing I stopped/quit, but that’s another story). After the meeting, this huge hillbilly (& I’m from Appalachia, so I can say that, and I mean it) from a holler somewhere came up to me. (3/17)
Read 17 tweets
11 Sep
"The heart of the collection is two skulls taken from among the 11,000 companion martyrs of St Ursula; these were donated by the shine of these martyrs in Cologne, Germany, to Covington’s third bishop, Camillus Paul Maes, in the 1890s." Now, full disclosure, I LOVE this church...
It is the most spectacular of any that I have ever seen, hands down. That being said...
St. Ursula and her 11,000(!!) virgin companions is a total, TOTAL, myth. A Roman cemetery was found near the Cathedral in Kohn and was said to be 'the burial place of the martyrs' which...
Was quite convenient as it was a literal relic quarry for the Middle Ages. Even back then, scholars poked holes in the ridiculous story of Ursula: everything about it is non-factual. In the 1700s and 1800s it was noted that some of the skulls of the 11,000 virgin companions...
Read 7 tweets
27 Aug
In honor of the vigil of the memorial of St. Monica, here's some of Augustine's words about this day 1634 years ago when he saw her for the last time:
"We hurried to her, and when she soon regained her senses, she looked at me and my brother as we stood by her, and said, in inquiry, "Where was I?" Then looking intently at us, dumb in our grief, she said, "Here in this place shall you bury your mother." I was silent...
and held back my tears; but my brother said something, wishing her the happier lot of dying in her own country and not abroad. When she heard this, she fixed him with her eye and an anxious countenance, because he savored of such earthly concerns. Then gazing at me she said...
Read 9 tweets
31 Jul
465 years ago today, Ignatius--racked with Malaria, afflicted with dozens of kidney, liver and bladder stones, and sweltering in the heat of the Roman summer asked his loyal secretary, Juan Polanco, to get the pope's final blessing. The doctor said that it was nonsense, and...
Polanco had hundreds of letters to write and respond to. He told Ignatius that he would go the next day. Although Ignatius pleaded with him, Ignatius didn't insist, so Polanco spent the afternoon busy with work. Early the next morning, a nurse found Ignatius unconscious...
Polanco ran to the Vatican as fast as he could. Before he arrived, or any Jesuits arose, our Holy Father Ignatius died. He was alone. He never received the pope's blessing. He never even received last rites

Polanco regretted his insensitivity+busyness for the rest of his life.
Read 6 tweets
28 Jul
On this day, 22 years ago, at about this time, 12 year old me wandered in and sat at this very pew to come to mass for the first time. For a Quaker child, the costumes, the bells, the props, the call and response; the standing, sitting, squatting. It was all an incomprehensible
Flurry. I don’t remember anything about the mass except that I felt utterly lost. What I DO remember is that after mass all the grandmas of the church rushed back to welcome me (I was the only person under 60 and I was alone). That, more than anything, taught me what was special
About this place: the communion of saints. Every single one of the people in the church this day 22 years ago is dead. Every. One. But I am a Jesuit, a seminarian, a Roman Catholic, and a Christian because they loved me into the church from the moment I set foot inside.
Read 4 tweets

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