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Jesuit Terms T

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre (1881-1955)

French Jesuit; paleontologist; one of the great minds of the 20th century

Paleontologist and proponent of a poetic synthesis of the evolutionary perspective of modern science with the Christian worldview. Precursor of today's ecologists in their respect and love for the Earth.

Exiled to China in 1923 (he was there for the better part of 23 years) to prevent his teaching and lecturing on evolution, he could not have gone to a better place. There, along with participating in scientific expeditions in Central Asia, India, and Burma, he was a member of the team that discovered Peking Man, another link of evidence in the chain of human evolution.

The last years of his life, Teilhard lived in New York elaborating a kind of new anthropology. Most of his nontechnical writings were kept from publication and only appeared, without church approval, after his death. The Human Phenomenon (new translation by Sarah Appleton-Weber 1999), The Future of Man (1959), The Divine Milieu (1960), and other works called forth an extraordinary response from many quarters; they also engendered much controversy.

In these nontechnical works, he used scientific data, but the method was not science. Rather it was poetic and visionary.

See the superb biography by Ursula King Spirit of Fire: The Life and Vision of Teilhard de Chardin (Orbis, 1996).

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The stages of Jesuit formation

The last phase of a Jesuit's (early) formation. It takes place only after several years of full-time ministry. The name comes from the Latin word for "third," and so this stage is sometimes called "third probation" (the first two years of probation being the novitiate years back at the beginning of Jesuit life). The tertian once again makes the 30-day Spiritual Exercises under individual guidance and often spends some time living and working among the poor. T-ship lasts anywhere from a semester to a whole academic year or, in a common contemporary adaptation, two consecutive summers. Given today's longevity, it often becomes important for a Jesuit to pursue some further formation later in life and in an ongoing way.

See also Novitiate, First Studies, Theology and Regency

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The stages of Jesuit formation

The fourth stage of a Jesuit's formation and education consisting of 3 years of theological studies and supervised ministry leading to the professional degree of Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and in a 4th year study for an advanced master's degree or further ministerial work. Ordination, for those going on to priesthood, usually takes place after the third year. In contrast to the practice before Vatican Council II, the Jesuit brother now goes through the same stages pursued by a "scholastic" (one headed to priesthood), with minimal adjustment because he won't be ordained.

See also Novitiate, First Studies, Regency and Tertianship

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The examination of the nature of God, God's relation to the world, and other religious questions. The word "theology" comes from two Greek words that combined mean "the study of God."

A Resource from the Xavier University Library
Why Study God?: The Role of Theology at a Catholic University by John Cavadini, Ph.D .

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Theology of Liberation

See "Liberation Theology".

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Traub, George (1936-2018)

American Jesuit; teacher, mentor, and author

George W. Traub, SJ, spent more than 40 years in Jesuit education and more than 30 years fostering a greater understanding of its distinctive mission. In the early 1990s he was one of the nine founders of the national network that became the Mission and Identity Conference of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU). Before retiring in October 2017, he served as Jesuit Scholar in the Center for Mission and Identity at Xavier University.

He co-authored The Desert and the City: An Interpretation of the History of Christian Spirituality (1969, 1984), served as editor of An Ignatian Spirituality Reader and A Jesuit Education Reader (2008), and authored the best-selling Do You Speak Ignatian? as well as much of the "Jesuit A to Z" collection. His final published work was The Martyrs of the University: A Virtual Pilgrim Walk (2016), a tribute to the six Jesuits and two women who were murdered at the Universidad Centroamericana in San Salvador (1989).

Click here to read more about Fr. Traub's life.

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Trent, Council of (1545-1563)

During the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and afterwards, one often heard negative reference to the Council of Trent, and that council was certainly different from Vatican II. For example, it took place not in a major city but in a northern Italian town that was part of the Holy Roman Empire; its three sessions happened over the course of 18 years; attendance by the bishops was poorout of a possible total of 700, fewer than 30 were present at the beginning of the first two sessions; at best toward the end there were 300; and the three popes who reigned during these years, though absent in Rome, regularly dictated what they wanted it to do.

But in the context of its timethe Protestant Reformation was in high gearit became a key part of the reform of the Catholic Church and set the pattern of early modern Catholicism that would last in many ways unchanged until Vatican II, 400 years later.

Trent established seminaries for the better education of a then relatively ignorant clergy and urged bishops to live in their own diocese instead of being "absentee landlords." It also put heavy emphasis on the sacraments and brought about a much tighter control over the sacrament of matrimony; fostered a devotional style that minimized the Bible; promoted a narrow intellectual life (e.g., the Index of Forbidden Books); and gave the impression that the way things were from the 16th to the 20th century was the way they had always been and the way they ought to be. With little knowledge of history, it was possible to believe that "The church does not change."

See O'Malley, Trent: What Happened at the Council (2012).

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The central Christian doctrinethat God, "within God's being, is three-in-one," is relational, is mutual self-giving love. How this can be is a mystery, true but beyond human understanding.

Appreciating this doctrine helps to understand the call in Christian ethics to self-giving love, to generosity and sharing, to community and the common good. (See Matthew 25:31-46; an ethic growing out of the doctrine of Christians [and others] as the "body of Christ.")

As mystery beyond adequate human comprehension, the Trinitarian God is easily misunderstood; words about God are always inadequate. Xavier theologian Joseph Bracken, among others, reminds us that God-language is not to be understood literally, but only "analogically" or "metaphorically." (In analogy and metaphor, only part of a term's usual meaning, the "figurative," is affirmed as true, while part is denied as false, the "literal." For example, "He is a prince" said of a man who is not literally the son of a king, but who has outstanding qualities as a human being.)

Our frequent use of the Trinitarian terms "Father" and "Son" (for example, in the words to the sign of the cross) without this theological awareness can lead us unwittingly into thinking that God is male. The orthodox truth, however, is that God is spirit; God has no gender. Here is where feminist theological discourse can aid us by inviting us to use a variety of images (and pronouns?) for God and not just masculine ones (the bible contains feminine as well as masculine and some impersonal images of God, though the masculine ones predominate).

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Two Standards (banners, flags), Two Leaders

This meditation on two leaders and their opposing strategies is the pivotal meditation of Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises. He places it in Week 2 of the Exercises as part of the preparation for making a good (or better) choice of some moment. David Fleming, SJ, in his "Contemporary Reading," gives it the title "A Meditation on Two Leaders, Two Strategies." The two leaders are Lucifer (Satan) and Jesus. Lucifer's strategy is to lead human beings from riches to honors to pride, and from there to every other vice. (A powerful presentation of this can be found in the slippery slide down into evil of the main character [the honored ophthalmologist] in Woody Allen's film Crimes and Misdemeanors.) Jesus' strategy leads from poverty [of spirit] through hardship and persecution endured for the sake of the "reign of God" to true humility and from there to all other virtues. (See the entry in "Jesuit A to Z' titled Downward Mobility)

Some Christian feminist spiritual theologians have done a revisionist critique of Ignatius' strategies and their applicability. For women, they are convinced that the riches to honors to pride scenario is not the one to be counteracted. Women already have too much poverty and relative powerlessness and sometimes even abuse in their lives. Rather they need from Jesus and the gospels positive images of women's empowerment (Luke 10:38-42) leading to a sense of hope and self-worth. (To see a schematic presentation of this position, click here.)

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JESUIT A TO Z: An expanded version of the publication "Do You Speak Ignatian?"