Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Times They Are A-changin'

A few days ago Ernie received the latest edition of the alumni magazine from the small midwestern and—to protect the guilty—nameless Jesuit university where he earned his undergraduate degree and where Elizabeth received hers some forty years later. He started reading the first article, the President’s message, and within a few minutes he was harrumphing. The theme of this edition was the service being given by students of the university both in the United States and throughout the world. The examples are certainly impressive and the good father drew parallels between the students’ ministry and the Jesuit theme of cura personalis. For anyone not familiar with this phrase (and that includes me), he launched into an explanation of the concept which apparently referred originally to a Jesuit superior’s responsibility to care for the unique needs of every Jesuit. Now you should know that Jesuit formation takes up to fourteen years including extensive training in philosophy and theology and that the Society was the first order which enjoined by its very Constitutions devotion to the cause of education. So where did Fr. X go for his explanation? To St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the order? To Fr. Pedro Arrupe, or his predecessors or successors as Superior General of the Society? To the countless scholars in the order such as Avery Dulles? No, he went to Wikipedia. Harrumph indeed.

The following day, the Twist section of the Detroit Free Press profiled Sister Julie Viera of the IHM order in Monroe. When we first came to Detroit, forty years ago, it was virtually impossible to meet anyone who had not been taught by a member of this venerable order of teaching sisters. Why is Sister Julie deserving of a newspaper interview? In addition to being the youngest professed sister (she is 35 and the median age of the order is now 86), she is the author of a rather pleasant blog. This section of the interview caught my eye:

What did you give up for Lent?
I didn't give up anything this year. I wrote about it on my blog, and how one of my blogging friends talked about random acts of kindness. That was something I focused on during Lent.
Give me an example.
In the drive-through at Starbucks, I gave the cashier an extra $5 -- so you can pay for the person behind you.
Drive-through? Starbucks? I thought back to Ernie’s aunt, Sr. Marie Charlotte of the Dubuque BVMs. Back in the day, if she wanted to go somewhere she first needed permission, then she needed a companion/chaperone and they squeezed their long bombazine habits in the back of a car driven by an elderly gentleman of impeccable reputation.

What a kick she would have got from a drive-through! And how she would have loved Starbucks.

"Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis." Try looking that up in Wikipedia.

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