Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: jesuit
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 14:19

(I believe therefore) I'm moral

This series of videos explores the diversity of personal beliefs that lie under the way we declare our beliefs (or lack of beliefs). In this video we look at what role faith and religion has in the formation of our morality whether directly or indirectly, and whether or not morality goes beyond a utilitarian social contract.

Published in
Focus: My God?

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 14:14

The form of (In)divinity

This series of videos explores the diversity of personal beliefs that lie under the way we declare our beliefs (or lack of beliefs). In this video we explore the different images people have of god, and how this changes with time and with the progression of our journey through life.

Published in
Focus: My God?

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 14:09

Divine In(ter)action

This series of videos explores the diversity of personal beliefs that lie under the way we declare our beliefs (or lack of beliefs). In this video the way different people conceive of the way in which any god might interact with the world and with humans is explored as well as the different ways that people try and communicate with their god.

Published in
Focus: My God?

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 14:04

Living (Dis)belief

This series of videos explores the diversity of personal beliefs that lie under the way we declare our beliefs (or lack of beliefs). In this video the trials and doubts undergone by those who have already committed themselves to a belief or life without belief.

Published in
Focus: My God?

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 13:42

(Dis)ordered World

This series of videos explores the diversity of personal beliefs that lie under the way we declare our beliefs (or lack of beliefs). In this video we look at how different people structure their world in relation to or apart from their belief system, and the link between the two.

Published in
Focus: My God?

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 13:39

I Believe(d)

This series of videos explores the diversity of personal beliefs that lie under the way we declare our beliefs (or lack of beliefs). In this video the personal journey that people living and working in Taipei undergo to determine whether or not they have faith is examined and discussed.

Published in
Focus: My God?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013 15:27

Preaching Tenderness

When you are playing Word Association I guess that "Papacy" usually does not trigger the response "Tenderness" - neither does "Tenderness" elicit the word "Papacy"...

Still, "Tenderness" was the central word in the homely pronounced by Pope Francis at his inaugural Mass on March 19. He repeated the theme several times, saying: "We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness! Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!"

Let me say something that will sound strange to many people: I think that Francis has learnt something about tenderness not only in his family and through his whole life (which is obviously the case) but also in St Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits... Strange indeed! Most of the time, the Jesuits do not have the reputation to indulge in tenderness. Stern, rigid intellectuals – such goes the cliché even up until this day, and I must confess that sometimes the cliché is not without truth, at least in part... But I have found in many of my brothers a real, discreet and truly delicate tenderness. Let me recall here René-Claude Baud, a big, strong tower of a Jesuit whom I got to know during my noviciate in Lyons – Rene-Claude had spent most of his active life as a caregiver in the emergency room of a hospital, and the delicacy of his presence was a testimony to the humaneness he had fostered while confronted daily by the naked presence of Life and Death.

Ignatius and his first companions had not given to the Jesuits a more precise task than the one of "helping the souls" as they were fond of saying, when the Order was founded, in and around 1530-1540. Early in the history of the Jesuits, this general direction translated into tasks that have been called "ministries of consolation." "To console" was a master word for Ignatius: Console when you preach and confess, when you visit prisoners and sick people, when you reconcile enemies (those were indeed the first missions that the Jesuits embarked upon) and even – yes- when you teach...

There was a spiritual, even mystical foundation to this focus on consolation. The experience that the "Spiritual Exercises" (the spiritual guide for advancing in spiritual life) that Ignatius wanted to nurture was the one of the Consoling Christ, the one who comes to heal our most secret pains and mourning when one progressively opens up to his presence in our heart. When inviting meditation on the Resurrection, Ignatius asks the one doing the Exercises "to consider the office of consoling which Christ our Lord bears, and to compare how friends are accustomed to console friends." Deep, real, overwhelming, often unexpected consolation is indeed what the Spiritual Exercises are meant to bring to the soul. It comes with a refining and an enlargement not of our reason but rather of our emotions. Ignatius himself was a man of emotions, as testified to by his friends, who recalled him sitting on the roof of the Jesuit house in Rome at night and looking at the stars, tears rolling down his cheeks. One of his companions wrote: "From seeing a plant, foliage, a leaf, a flower, any fruit, from the consideration of a little worm or any other animal, he raised himself above the heavens." Tears of consolation were so abundant in Ignatius that he asked for the grace of not experiencing them anymore, fearing for his sight.

For sure, such an inspiration – which was actually very close to the spirit of St Francis of Assisi, a saint most dear to Ignatius – was often betrayed in the history of the Society of Jesus. But it always remained present, at times hidden like a spring under the ground. Pope Francis seems to me to have drawn from the spring, and now shares its water with the whole world. I rejoice deeply that what he is proclaiming first is nothing else than the centrality for life and faith of tenderness, and of heartfelt consolation.

Image source: Wikimedia

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 16:07

The Olive

There are many ways to tell a story. The concept for this one starts from the shelves of a supermarket, from a can of stuffed olives. This snack that makes a drink with friends more enjoyable is associated in the mind of the story teller with the country of our hero.

How trivial a beginning for a story that will bring on stage Saint Ignatius of Loyola!

Some time ago I asked a friend to design a poster for Saint Ignatius Day. He had the very good idea to draw the outline of a medieval knight and inside Jesus welcoming Ignatius still wearing his helmet as to show that his frame of mind was still the one of a knight. Leaving the vanities of the world, at the junction of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, taking seriously the call of the Lord, Ignatius is still a knight. “The Olive” tells us the story of a knight with big dreams, not only a dreamer but a fighter that against all odds decided to battle the French when the outcome of the fight was a certain defeat for the Spaniards. The bitter defeat left deep scars in our hero and that was the beginning of another story. All the vanities of our medieval knight were left behind on his sick bed. The closed world of the Middle Ages then vanished and Ignatius was thrown into spiritual warfare. In this other world, interior and spiritual, in this new era of culture with all the discoveries and openings of the Renaissance, Ignatius with the same singleness found his way. He was now led by God on a pilgrimage that brought him to the foundation of the Jesuit order. And the story is still going on. Let “The Olive” tell us what happened.

An animation written, produced and narrated by Jason Kapell of the Fairfield University Media Center.

Friday, 01 April 2011 16:17

Falling Off The Map: Global Issues from a Regional Perspective

I contend that Oceania is falling of the map because politicians and economists are pushing it off the map. Only people in academia use the word "Oceania", we use the word "Pacific" or "Asia-Pacific" but it is very unusual to use the word "Oceania".  I claim that one of the largest groups that can help to keep Oceania on the map is the Catholic Church...

Monday, 01 June 2009 20:12

A Spiritual Dialogue with Art

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'OPA’ means in Portuguese ’Prayer Through the Arts’. Originally founded in 1976 by a Jesuit from Paraguay, Fr. Iraguay, it is based in the city of Salvador (Bahia).
Visit OPA website

Monday, 23 February 2009 18:18

“Thanks be to God, we are forming people who are able to rebel!”

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A Spaniard in Taiwan Today: Fr Andres Diaz de Rabago (born in 1917)

The most well-known Spaniard in Taiwan today is probably Fr Rabago. At 92, this Jesuit priest is famous all around Taipei for his infectious laugh and the warm care he seems eager to bestow on anyone who crosses his path. Fr Rabago is also “Doctor Rabago”: he got a doctorate on medicine at a young age, specializing in the application of tomography to radiology of dorsal vertebrae. “when there were only six tomographs in the whole of Spain” he recalls. Today, he still goes running from one hospital to another, caring for his Jesuit brothers but also for many other friends. As he once taught medical ethics at Taiwan National University from 1970 to 2000 and has also been chaplain of the association of Catholic nurses, he is almost always affectionately greeted by old acquaintances during these countless hospital visits.


Family inheritance

Fr Rabago does not correspond to the bellicose model of the Spaniards who had been conquering Americas and the Philippines (and back then, Taiwan as well) in former centuries. But this does not mean that his life has been peaceful and uneventful. As a matter of fact, his story reflects many of the events and tragedies experienced by Spain and other parts of the world during the 20th century. He was born in 1917 in Galicia, an economically backward province that borders Portugal. His paternal grandfather was teaching Hebrew and sociology at a university, but was above all interested in the problem of rural poverty, trying to devise ways for the development of his beloved Galicia. Among other books, he wrote an influential essay on “rural credit.” After his death, and in inheriting the land, his youngest son (Fr Rabago's father) did not hesitate to sell the whole lot to start a fishery, hoping that this would provide work for a population suffering from chronic unemployment. He married a young woman who came from a family whose background was less intellectual but who shared similar social concerns; Fr Rabago’s maternal grandfather had started a bank by inadvertence, he had such a reputation for probity that the peasants of the neighbourhood would confide their wealths to him, and he in turn, would pay them interests. Soon enough, a family bank was created.

Similarly, Fr Rabago’s mother was active in a number of charitable causes, starting, among other projects, the construction of cheap habitation units, so as to enable poor people to become owners of their own house. She still found time to give birth to ten children, three of whom died at a young age. Andres Rabago was number seven, and his youngest sister (who also gave birth to ten children) is still alive. “My mother was restless, always taking care of one business or another, preferably of the poorer people in the area or the employees of my father’s fishery. At the same time, she loved us so much. Her love was a selfless one. When I decided to enter the Jesuits and later on to go to China, she told me not to worry for my father and for her, but just to do what I felt I had to do…”

The family was deeply rooted in the Christian faith, coupled with vanguard social concerns. So, it was little wonder that, apart from Andres Rabago, one of his elder brothers became a doctor and later on the director of a hospital. As he had publicly lamented the state of hygiene in Spanish hospitals, he was urged by the Health Minister of that time to retract himself or be dismissed, to which he accepted without hesitation. The youngest boy of the family became a Jesuit, like his brother (he would later on become a pioneer of distant learning in Spain.) But Spain during the first half of the 20th century was knowing a ceaseless political agitation, and the opposition between Right and Left was becoming more and more radical, with Catholics most often associating with the Right and Anticlericalism with the Left (though this was not the case in the Basque country, which was at the same time Republican and Catholic.) The civil war started in 1936… One of the brothers of Fr Rabago died in battle. This experience might have contributed to his choice in becoming a Jesuit after having gotten his medical diploma at the end of the Civil War. He admits that such a choice was not an easy one. Andres enters the Jesuit noviciate in 1940, in Salamanca. With this, a new chapter began…


China, Philippines, East Timor…

Even if he had chosen a religious life only after his university studies, Andres had already dreamt of being a missionary during his childhood. His dream would be fulfilled: in 1947 he arrives in Beijing – thus shifting from the Spanish civil war to the Chinese one… After a few months in Anking he goes to Shanghai where he stays from 1949 to 1952, being ordained a priest there in the last ordination of foreign priests that took place in China. “I loved China," he confides today, "and during these tormented times, the friendships you acquired had very, very deep roots…” After five years in China he had to leave, as all other monks and priests had to. Destination: the Philippines, where he accomplishes his second doctorate – a doctorate in theology this time. He subsequently taught in a university in Manila, while taking care of a dormitory. “I was so busy, there was really not time to rest", he recalls, "one task was succeeding another. And guess what? I fall in love with the Philippines as I had fallen in love with China – while not in the least forgetting China though…”

Soon, Fr Rabago has an opportunity to fall in love with another country : East Timor. He is appointed rector of the Catholic seminary there in 1961, and will stay eight years in a country that, at that time, is still a Portuguese colony and suffers from poverty, and misery. “At some point, the seminary, was the only real secondary school. We had a remarkable Portuguese bishop, who had understood that soon East Timor would be independent, and that the role of the Seminary was not only to form priests but also civic leaders who would be able to lead their country towards peace and progress.” This is indeed what happened, since the first President(1) of independent East Timor, Xanana Gusmao, and several of his Administration were former students of the Seminary. As were also the three first aboriginal Bishops. The very first one, Carlos Filippe Ximenes belo, was co-winner of the 1996 Peace Nobel price, with another outstanding Timorese, Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta(2).

These eight years in East Timor, at the contact of a very poor population, in a time of awakening and search for dignity and political independence, are certainly very important for Fr Rabago. He still laughs, filled with merriment and admiration, recalling the day when he was in the bishop’s office: “The telephone rang , and it was the military governor, asking angrily the bishop why, during a recent village insurrection, all the leaders had been formed by the Catholics. After he answered the call, the bishop turned to me and exclaimed: ‘Thanks be to God, we are forming people who are able to rebel!’ And Fr Rabago laughs again… Fr Rabago has learnt from his time in East Timor that he was meant to help people in their personal growth while deeply respecting the road that their conscience tells them to choose, even if this road does not correspond to his own options or feelings.


Falling in love with Taiwan

His experience in working with youth both in the Philippines and East Timor follows Fr Rabago as he arrives in Taiwan. It was in the year of 1969 (he is thus celebrating his fortieth year in Taiwan), and he was already 52. But he falls in love again… and this proves to be the longest love of his life since he is still around! He recalls with much gusto his teaching of ethics and Latin in Taiwan National University, but puts even more emphasis on his role as a counselor in professional schools. “I have been struck by the fact that these kids had a speedier psychological development than the ones in High School who had to prepare for the university exams.” Assisting the youth in their psychological and spiritual development seems to be the passion of Fr Rabago. “I was feeling the weight on the youth when I arrived in Taiwan and was hoping that they could lead a more normal life. Little by little, I saw a process of individualization that came to maturity and witnessed an awakening of independent thinking. During my years in Taiwan I could not help but see some similarities with what I experienced in Spain in my youth, but Taiwanese people lived this political process in a much more rational way.”

On the whole, it seems that these forty years in Taiwan have been passing very quickly for Fr Rabago, and he is happy to know and to still meet so many former students. Everything he has gone through in his life seems to be a “confirmation” that he did make the right choice when he decided to become a Jesuit. “My life has been richer and more fruitful than if I had eventually decided to marry and be a doctor. The reasons for which I decided to enter religious life are still the same ones as seventy years ago. But they have become much more real, much more concrete. My thinking was rather idealistic as a youth. Now, my wish to serve other people with love is connected with very concrete realities.” This concreteness applies to everything: “A missionary must identify with the land he is living in.’ He suddenly shudders: “If I had to leave Taiwan… that would be terrible for me!” At 92, one can be confident that he will be able to love Taiwan up to the end.



(1)The first president of East Timor was Xanana Guzmao, former student of Father Rabago

(2)He was 2nd President of East Timor


Monday, 08 October 2007 00:00

A day with Catalan sculptor Cinto Casanova

This is the story of a day spent with Cinto Casanova, a Jesuit and sculptor from Catalonia, in July 2002. He had generously opened the doors of his workshop, and introduced me to the different stages of his work. Now, more than five years later, I still remember how impressive it was to listen to his stories and to discover his personality, whose strength appears through his creations. Cinto has his own oven, where he burns the bronze he uses for his works. In a certain way, his sculptures tell me that we have to dominate the fire that burns within ourselves, so as to melt into a whole the many facets of our identity – as it happens for a sculpture…



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