22 February 2018

Anti-Jesuit jokes

Unaccountably, jokes which are less than friendly towards the Society of Jesus seem currently to be in vogue. Back in the 1840s, we were widely and popularly regarded as Jesuits in disguise. So naturally, I've been wondering what more recent contributions to this genre our Anglican Patrimony can offer for the common good of all Catholics.

The Reverend Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall recorded this anecdote about Dom Gregory Dix. I gave it a run once before, in 2014, and I retain the original thread for your yet greater enjoyment.

Dix was invited, by Cardinal Gerlier of Lyons, to lecture his clergy on Spirituality. In the ensuing discussion he was asked by an unidentified priest whether the Anglican clergy were taught Ignatian spirituality. Dix replied that it was the only kind that most of them were taught, and that this was most unfortunate, as it was a type that was very unsuitable to English people, so that most of them, having tried it without success, abandoned prayer altogether.

There was a great burst of laughter and the questioner, somewhat disconcerted, sat down with the remark, "Father, that was a very Benedictine sentiment".

The Eminent chairman leaned across and whispered to Dom Gregory, "That was the Father Provincial of the Society of Jesus".


32 comments:

Pastor in Valle said...

I was once told that before he left the Jesuits, the modernist Fr George Tyrrell went around all the members of his community and asked whether Ignatian Meditation worked for each of them. In every case he received the reply; 'well no, not really. But I know it works for everyone else, so it's worth doing'.

Stephen said...

Hmmmm...I heard a Franciscan once say that Jesuits have no questions, only answers.

And there is of course the old saw that whilst the Jesuits take the vow of poverty, the diocesan priests keep it!

Melinda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jesse said...

Most amusing! Did not a good deal of Ignatian thought find its way into the Church of England through [unacknowledged borrowings therefrom by] Jeremy Taylor?

I have been thinking lately, Father, that the Ordinariates ought to be looking seriously at the work of one of Fr. Mascall's brethren in Religion: Martin Thornton, OGS. His book English Spirituality: An Outline of Ascetical Theology According to the English Pastoral Tradition (London: SPCK, 1963) ought surely to be at the centre of the curriculum in the "houses of formation" envisaged by the Apostolic Constitution (VI.5).

Thornton would very much agree with Dix.

FrereRabit said...

As an Anglican Franciscan novice in 1989 (just as the Anglo-Catholic tradition was dying out in SSF) our little group of four trusting fresh-faced brothers was sent by the Novice Master to experience Liberation Theology with the Jesuits at Loyola Hall. (A base communities workshop with a bunch of hard faced sisters from Latin America.) We all became revolutionaries and went into a doctrinal spin. I converted to the Catholic Church three years later, looking for what I had lost. Of the others, two committed suicide and the third lost his faith. Excellent work, Jesuits.

GOR said...

I’m afraid I lost interest in Ignatian spirituality when I learned that St. Ignatius was wont to confess several times a day. That to me smacked of scrupulosity…and having battled scruples successfully in the past (I am now unscrupulous…) I did not want a relapse.

But de Sanctis non est disputandum… However, I feel much closer to Saints such as Augustine and Therese of Lisieux. Keep it simple!

Woody said...

From the preface to “The Mystery of the Church” by Fr. Humbert Clerissac, OP (Eng. Trans. 1937):
“…[H]e wrote (in a letter to an Oblate of Saint Benedict): ‘St. Teresa has captivated you. That is quite natural and it is sometimes good to be reminded of the notion of acquired virtue and of positive effort by the example of the saints of the reflective age who without any doubt God raised up in order to show that whatever is good and true in individualism does not escape his Grace and issues from it; in part, also, in condescending pity for men when the simple life of the Church no longer sufficed them,--finally from vindictive justice against the infidelities of the ancient Orders who, alas! Allowed the torch in their hands to grow dim. But do not forget that you belong to the Merovingian, the feudal times,-- to the primitives. Do not forget that you must allow divine Grace to effect everything in you and to count the products of your own activity for almost nothing.’

johnf said...

I am not sure whether this is exactly to do with Ignatian spirituality, Father, but when I was 16, a devout Catholic lady in our parish, who had raised 4 boys to Oxford and Cambridge with one a priest, gave my mother a book of "Spiritual Exercises" by St Ignatius. She thought that it might be useful to her, an Anglican convert.

Opening the book, on page 1 there was a detailed blow by blow account of the decomposition of the human body after death "first the body turns yellow, then black ..." And after that how rats get into the body consuming the soft tissue. We read with horrified fascination but never got past page 2. I eventually gave this book to my friend who was sort of thinking of the priesthood. I doubt if it helped him, as all thoughts of that state vanished when he met his first girlfriend.

Henri Adam de Villiers said...

"When Jesus was born in the manger, he opened one eye and saw an ox. He opened the other eye and saw a donkey. He then said: If this is the Society of Jesus, I should have stay in heaven!"
A story told during a homily (!) by a Jesuit who later became Bishop of Seychelles...

Michael Bradley, Jr. said...

As a fan of classic Ignatian spirituality, I would like to recommend the classic work that was read, outlined and meditated up by almost every Jesuit during his novitiate, at least once a day, for several centuries throughout the whole Catholic world:

Practice of Perfection and Christian Virtues by Fr. Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J. (Spain, 1609), done into English for the first time direct from the Sapnish by Fr. Joseph Rickaby of the same Society (Great Britain, 1929).

Too bad the Jesuits abandoned this "gold standard" of formation during the 1950s,60s. Hopefully, some of their future leaders will be wise enough to reintroduce it.

Sean M. said...

Father, I have two Jesuit jokes you might enjoy:

A pious man wished to purchase a Mercedes, but lacked the funds, and so went to consult his parish priest. He asked him, "Father, is it wrong to pray a novena for a Mercedes?" The priest, unsure how to answer, referred him to a Franciscan at a neighboring parish who was renowned for his asceticism. The man went there promptly and asked the friar the same question, to which the dumbfounded friar responded, "What's a Mercedes?" Annoyed, the man decided to consult a Jesuit he knew. "He's a man of the world, surely he'll know!"
Having found the Jesuit, he asked him, "Father, Is it wrong to pray a novena for a Mercedes?" The Jesuit quickly responded, "What's a novena?"

There was a Jesuit house some years ago that wished throw a gala in honor of the 500th anniversary of St. Ignatius's birth. They spared no expense: catered food, fine china, champagne, a band. When finally the day of the gala arrived, a young novice walked into the ballroom, and marveling at all the luxuries, remarked to his companion standing next to him, "If this is poverty, I can't wait for chastity!"

Randolph Crane said...

A man walked up to a Franciscan and Jesuit and asked, "How many novenas must you say to get a Mercedes Benz?"

The Franciscan asked, "What's a Mercedes Benz?"

The Jesuit asked, "What's a novena?"



One of my favourite jokes.

William Arthurs said...

A great deal of Ignatian spirituality found its way into classic Anglicanism through the publication of translations of continental texts and with the names of the original authors removed. I found these works gave useful background:

L. L. Martz, The Poetry of Meditation: A Study in English Religious Literature of the Seventeenth Century

G. E. Veith, Reformation Spirituality: The Religion of George Herbert

I attended a funeral at St Mary's, Storrington, about a month ago, but it was only after I got home that I remembered that George Tyrrell is buried there.

Woody said...

Archbishop Lefebvre and his Holy Ghost Fathers fellow novices also read that work.

Woody said...

The recipient of the letter was Father’s spiritual directee, reputedly, Jacques Maritain.

orate fratman said...

The difference between a terrorist, an Anglican and a Jesuit? You can negotiate with an Anglican or a terrorist.

Unknown said...

How many of you who make spiteful comments about the Jesuits can say you have done anything as good as many Jesuits. Can you match in your lifetime anywhere that you can say rivals him or Francis Xavier or being english can match the tracts published by the Catholic Truth Society from the or by the Jesuits of Farm St in Mayfair. How many of the English or canadians for the matter dismiss the martyrs of the Elizabethan Times or the Jesuits among the Mohawks. The gossip who commented upon the Jesuits way of converting so many yes the asked but from my experience the kind of questioning was think about what you are asking and what about this think of it again and come and see me again. The Jesuit Fr D'arcy who converted so many and as so many of the famous writers and artists in England that Muriel Spark coined a phrase in her novel The Girls of Slender Means Muriel Spark (another convert) presents a character who – bewildered by modern life, as many people were in the twentieth century and still are today – confesses that things had come to such a critical pass that he could “never make up his mind between suicide and an equally drastic course of action known as Father D’Arcy.”
The twelve steps lauded now all over the internet as Ignatian Spirituality. The English Jesuit who turned so many of the alcoholic gin drinkers in the UK has lately been accepted in the USA after being rejected by the rabid American anti booze fanatics. I know the present day Jesuits are dreadful and Fr Paul Crane founder of the Christian Order Magazine said many times. How about one of the best catechists in the Catholic Church today Fr John Hardon who wrote on behalf St JP2 the Marian Catechism for the Missionaries of Charity. Please spare us from lack of charity so many of you are showing.

Unknown said...

Why could no Jesuit be found who was willing to be the postulator of Fr. Hardon’s cause?

Liam Ronan said...

"The Four Marks of the Church: The Contemporary Crisis in Ecclesiology" by by Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM., Cap.

http://magister.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it/2018/02/22/the-four-marks-of-the-church-the-contemporary-crisis-in-ecclesiology/

The Jesuit at issue here is no joke per the author of the above-cited piece. Great man that.

PM said...

I recall a more eirenic comment from a Dominican friar. Asked 'What do you think of the Jesuits, Father?', he stroked his chin, furrowed his brow and replied 'Mmm. Jesuits? Fine fellows, of course. But I wouldn't want my daughter to marry one.'

Joshua said...

The Dominicans were founded to combat the Albigensian heresy; the Jesuits, to combat the Protestants.

Ever met an Albigensian?

William Arthurs said...

My attention has just been drawn to the new spiritual practice of Ignatian Yoga.

Francis Clooney SJ discusses and promotes it in this short YouTube clip.

Little Black Sambo said...

@Unknown.
I was provoked by your comment into re-reading the whole discussion and could find no signs of the uncharitableness you complain of.

Pelerin said...

Unknown's comment about the CTS pamphlets took me to have another look at some thirty CTS pamphlets which I had bought some 50 years ago before taking the final step to being received into the Church. I see that two of them were written by Fr C C Martindale SJ. 'Words of Life'- (price 6d) and 'What you see in a Catholic Church'(price 4d) were very helpful and influential in my decision. In the latter pamphlet he writes that 'you will probably notice at once that the further part of the church is railed off.' Sadly this is no longer the case in so many churches today after so many beautiful wrought iron or marble altar rails were destroyed. However the information and advice given in them proved of immense value to me then and I shall definitely re- read them.

Bos Mutissimus said...

Q: What Two Things never change in a Jesuit Mass?
A: The bread and the wine....

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Unknown. Corruptio optimi pessima triggers the humor.

Pelerin said...

PS I have just googled Fr Martindale and discovered he too was a convert. Perhaps that was why I found his pamphlets so easy to read and understand.

Mark said...

"How many of you who make spiteful comments about the Jesuits can say you have done anything as good as many Jesuits."

I don't know if I have done as much good as many Jesuits, but I know I haven't done as much damage.

Joshua said...

The second and definitive suppression of the Jesuits, this time for good, would be an excellent idea, which one hopes will be among the first acts of the next pontificate. Any good Jesuits can practise humility and transfer to another order; the rest can go to their proper place!

Sue Sims said...

I belong to a Jesuit parish, and all the comments here, both pro and anti, are true. We've had wonderful priests ministering to us, and, well, not so wonderful. One of our parish priests (not the current one) abolished the 7.15 am daily Mass on the grounds that only two priests were theoretically available: he went swimming every morning at that time to keep fit, and the other one had asthma, and couldn't be relied on. On the other hand, his predecessor had visited every Catholic household in the parish twice in the six years or so he was here, and was thoroughly orthodox in every way. One of our priests had been for years attached to a base community in Brazil, and preached homilies that were almost heretical, while carefully keeping one toe on the side of the pool ("I'm not allowed to suggest that we open to priesthood to women, but you may have your own opinion"): another - a convert from Anglicanism - preached wonderful, inspirational sermons and had a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

So while it's true that many of the more, er, progressive celebrity-style priests and bishops are Jesuits, it's absolutely untrue that all Jesuits are of that ilk.

Grupo editorial said...

The classical joke is, of course, in Latin.

A red-haired Dominican friar and a Jesuit met in a train.

"Rubicundus erat Iudas", the Jesuit said, with a mischievous smile.

"Non constat", the Dominican replied, "sed constat fuisse societatis Iesu."

Robert said...

Discussing the death of far left Dan Berrigan S.J. With an an urbane Jesuit, fellow graduate of what once was a traditional Jesuit preparatory school (where the yearly retreat was as Loyola prescribed), "That man had only one shirt - as reported in the New York Times - he was at best a Franciscan".