Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

Saint Louis Bertrand Church
Louisville, Kentucky

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Proverbs 2:4-5 If you seek (Wisdom) like silver, and like hidden treasures search her out, Then will you understand the fear of the LORD; the knowledge of God you will find.

Proverb 4: 5-7: Get wisdom, get understanding! Do not forget or turn aside from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; love her, and she will safeguard you. The beginning of wisdom is: get wisdom; whatever else you get, get understanding.

Often ignored in recent Christian experience is our Wisdom tradition. The emphasis on enthusiasm, which is sometimes confused with "The Holy Ghost," dismisses learning and its innumerable disciplines as too controlled and too traditional. Learning, experience and expertise seem to leave no room for spontaneity. American anti-intellectuals especially distrust the effete experts who have gone the extra mile to know what they’re talking about.
Ignorance breeds mediocrity at best; at worse it breeds trouble – especially in our religious traditions. “There is no cure for stupid.” Nor is there any excuse. 

Innovative people of genius work hard to develop their skills. When I was very young I supposed the Beatles were totally spontaneous creators of a whole new tradition. Only later did I discover they had studied rock and roll. Hitting the big time, they studied more intensely many forms of music. 

Brilliant surgeons, generals, scientists and philosophers learned from the masters. They will claim only to stand on the shoulders of giants as they make their astonishing advances. 

Saint Paul spent three years in intense study after his conversion before he set out on his missionary journeys. The saints Francis of Assisi and Anthony of Padua studied the scriptures and could recite them by heart. Saint Anthony, in particular, was a doctor of theology before he joined the Franciscans. 
The Church has a long, respected tradition of scholarship. When Europe was overrun by barbarians, scholars from Ireland build monasteries throughout the continent to preserve and develop learning. They often began their instruction with how to sit at a table and eat like a civilized human being. 

Long before Carl Sagan fumed about the Church's suspicion of Galileo's ideas, Franciscan friars were building universities, exploring Mongolia and China and searching for Prester John. The Renaissance is unimaginable without the impetus of Christian humanism which encouraged study of the secular sciences. 

On this feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola we especially remember the incredible contributions to learning the Society of Jesus continues to make throughout the world. It's often said, there are only three things God doesn't know: how many religious communities of women there are; how much money the Franciscans have; and how many schools the Jesuits run. (but I can assure you from personal experience the friars have little money.) 

In his parable about the treasure buried in a field, Jesus urges us to seek wisdom like silver, to get wisdom and get understanding!

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.