Faith for the Heart – A “Catholic” Spirituality

[music playing]>>DEAN THOMAS STEGMAN,
S.J.: Thank you. I just came back from
visiting my parents. They’d be very surprised
to hear that my coming up would evoke so much applause. So if anyone videotaped
this, talk to me afterwards. In all seriousness, thanks
to all of you for being present tonight. You’re joining us for
the Dean’s Colloquium. And it marks a most important
moment in our school’s history in which we’re launching a
comprehensive Spirituality Studies program at the School
of Theology and Ministry. I’d like to also extend a
special welcome to our friends at Paulist Press who have made
available not only Tom’s work, but there’s another
book you might want to look at called The
Paulist Biblical Commentary. I know that’s very
shameless self-promotion, but there is a
number of fine works that you might want
to avail yourself of. Following two years of
extensive preparations, and standing ever committed
to the scholarly and pastoral excellence that is at
the heart of our mission, we are delighted to announce the
2020 opening of our Christian Spirituality Initiative. This is an initiative
that recognizes the deep spiritual
hunger so palpable in our time in both our
Church and in our world, and aims to make the
riches and the wisdom of the Christian spiritual
tradition the more known and accessible to people. This is an initiative that
seeks to contribute scholars to a significantly growing
academic field, and one that aspires to prepare ministerial
leaders in the best ways possible for substantive
spiritual formative ways of accompaniment. We do this mindful of the
need to commit ourselves as educators and
leaders to a way of life in the Spirit in accord with
Christian beliefs, values, and dispositions, recognizing
that the life in the Spirit, as the apostle
Paul knew so well, remains a journey
of transformation. I’m going to make a parenthesis,
that Pauline idea was not mine. That was actually Colleen’s
help with talking points. I just wanted you to know
that others, other than me, appreciate Paul’s
contribution here. In this initiative, we
draw upon the resources of a very strong faculty
across Bible, systematics, practical theology,
history, and ethics, who together offer a
wide array of courses yearly in spirituality. We do so as an international
theological center, grounded in the Ignatian and
Jesuit tradition, and serious about
rigorous academic inquiry, interdisciplinary study,
ecumenical dialogue, and the engagement between
faith and culture and faith in history. Our Christian Spirituality
Studies Initiative has four major components. First, we are opening full
concentrations in Spirituality Studies in all of
our advanced degrees, the Master of Theology, the
Licentiate in Sacred Theology, the Doctorate of
Sacred Theology. Advanced degree
students will study the Christian
spiritual tradition in depth with an eye toward
creative and constructive appropriation of it in ways
that contribute significantly to the Church, to the
academy, and the world. Second, we’re also initiating
three, new freestanding 18 credit certificate programs. One in the study of
Christian spirituality, one specifically in Ignatian
spirituality and Jesuit studies, and one in
spiritual and pastoral care. These may be taken for
professional and personal education and
enrichment, or to enhance one’s ministerial skills
in Christian spirituality. Third, we stand committed
to solid training and continuing education of
spiritual directors and guides. To this end, we offer a
Post-Masters Certificate in Spiritual Formation built
around the schedules of those already involved in
full-time ministry, and a Master of Theology
with a ministerial track focus in spiritual direction. And finally, grounded in
the spirituality of Ignatius of Loyola, and seeking
to prepare leaders formed in this rich tradition, we are
beginning an intensive study of and training in the spiritual
exercises in daily life, known as the 19th
Annotation retreat. This program will be open to
trained spiritual directors who have experienced the 19th
Annotation themselves. Energized and excited
about this new direction and about the possibilities for
continued growth and expansion that it promises,
we seek to stand as an outstanding
center of learning for Christian
spirituality studies. I’d like to invite your
participation with us in this endeavor in whatever
ways you’re most drawn. Thank you for marking this
new chapter in the story the STM with us. And at this point, I’d like
to present to you the Faculty Director of Spiritual Studies
at the STM, and in large part the driving force behind
these initiatives, my friend and colleague Colleen Griffith. [applause]>>DR. COLLEEN
GRIFFITH: Thanks, Tom. And I have to say that the
passion and care and wisdom that Tom has led with has
really brought us to this night. So he’s always very
gracious in his comments to others in terms
of their work, but we owe a great
deal to Tom Stegman in terms of his leadership. So many of our faculty
contribute courses to our spirituality
initiative, but I’d like to especially acknowledge
tonight the core spirituality faculty for our
spirituality programming who will carry the bulk of
the coursework involved. Colleagues, when
I call your name, please stand and remain
standing until you all have been identified. And I’m going to be calling
you in alphabetical order. So we begin with Professor
Andre Brouilette, S.J., who specializes in 16th and
17th century spiritual theology, the Carmelite tradition,
particularly Teresa of Avila, Ignatian spirituality, and
the theology and spirituality of pilgrimage. Professor Francine
Cardman, who is not with us tonight as she is
out of state today, teaches and writes in the
area of historical theology with specialization in the
early Christian period. Professor Bart
Geger, S.J., focuses on Ignatian spirituality
and related Jesuit studies and the ancient
old Christian practice of discernment. Professor Angela Harkins,
professor of New Testament, specializes in second temple
Judaism and early Christianity with strong interest in
religious experience, prayer and hymnody, emotion
studies, and gender studies. Professor Cathy Mooney
specializes in medieval history and spirituality, with focus
on saints and sanctity, prayer, and mysticism. Professor Andrew Prevot works at
the intersection of systematics and spirituality studies,
with strong focus on spiritual classic texts
and theologies of prayer. Professor Brian Robinette,
not here tonight because he is celebrating
his wife’s birthday, works at the intersection of
systematics and mysticism, with strong interest
in the doctrine of God, the mystical turn in theology,
and contemplative studies. Professor Michael Simone is
professor of Sacred Scripture, S.J., who works in
biblical spirituality, with keen interest
in the Psalter and in Wisdom literature. I myself teach in the area
of theological anthropology and spirituality,
with strong interest in classic spiritual
texts, the relationship between spirituality
and justice, and theologies and
spiritualities of the body. Please give a round of
applause to our core faculty. [applause] Thank you. [applause] I also wish to
acknowledge tonight Lisa Hastings, who is here
from the Office of Jesuit Spirituality the Northeast
Province Office, who is the Director of
Spiritual Direction Initiatives for the province. Lisa will be
coordinating our training and facilitating
the 19th Annotation. Lisa, would you stand? [applause] And please feel free during
the reception period following our lecture tonight to chat
with any of these core faculty members about areas and
spirituality studies, you might be interested in and
some of our program programming here. And before you leave
tonight, be sure to take a bookmark with you, which will
direct you to the website that will detail these programs. And so on now with
our keynote address.>>DEAN STEGMAN: Which
I’m not giving, but– [laughter] –there’s no coups
in this school. I have the pleasure of
introducing our distinguished speaker tonight. Dr. Thomas Groome is a
professor of theology and religious education
at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry. He is the former director
of Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century
Center, and for many years has directed the university’s
PhD in Theology and Education. Tom was born and grew up
in County Kildare, Ireland. It’s a country you
may have heard of. He’ll probably tell
you more about it. He’s the youngest
of ten children. He holds a Master of Arts
in Religious Education from Fordham University,
and a doctorate in theology and education
from Columbia University and Union Theological
Seminary in New York. For many years, he was the
senior faculty person and then director of Boston College’s
world-renowned Institute of Religious Education
and Pastoral Ministry, now a department within the School
of Theology and Ministry, which he’s also served as chair. Tom is an award-winning author,
having written or edited some ten books, over 200 essays,
two grade-school religion curricula, and he is
the principal creator of the Credo series, a high
school theology curriculum published by Veritas Bensinger. His best-known major works are
Christian Religious Education, 1980; Sharing Faith,
1991; Educating For Life, 2001; What Makes Us Catholic,
2003; Will There Be Faith? in 2011; and most recently,
Faith for the Heart, published by Paulist
Press this year. And copies are available at
the table at the entrance. A world-renowned scholar
of religious education, Tom lectured widely and repeatedly
throughout the United States and the world, including
Australia, Canada, Ireland, England, Scotland, Korea,
New Zealand, the Caribbean, Trinidad, Taiwan, Hong Kong,
China, Pakistan, Jamaica, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway,
Peru, Ecuador, Germany, Holland, South Africa, and Malta. Like Johnny Cash, he’s
been everywhere, man. [laughter] He has appeared on many local
and national TV channels and radio programs, and is
frequently quoted in the press. Tom has received many
awards, including Master Teacher of the Year from
Boston College’s School of Arts and Sciences. He describes his lifelong
work as encouraging people to, “bring their lives to faith
and their faith to life.” It’s my privilege and
honor to introduce to you tonight’s keynote
speaker, Dr. Tom Groome. [applause]>>DR. THOMAS GROOME:
Well, I am honored. Really, Tom, you’re
very gracious. And I’m honored
by the invitation. I’m honored by the occasion. I’m daunted by it. I said to Bart Geger
in the bathroom, this is singing for the
singers, or prophets not being welcomed in
their home country. But I think I’m just going to
take it as a kind of a home game, and hope that it’s
a friendly– that it’s a friendly crowd, as I
think it probably is. It’s a great–
it’s a great honor. It’s a great opportunity,
I think, for our school to be forwarding and full-
and fronting our spirituality resources and commitment. In many ways, it’s what
I understand our school to be about, our School
of Theology and Ministry, to be teaching
theology and scriptures and our beloved tradition in
ways that equip people to go out into the world and to mentor
the spiritual lives of people, to indeed invite people to
holiness and wholeness of life, and to be a resource. In other words, enabling
people to take their faith and put it to work in
the midst of the world. And in many ways, so in a
sense, our spiritual purpose is what defines the school, and
what should define the school. So it’s marvelous,
this new initiative, and I’m happy to
be a part of it, and indeed privileged
to be able to speak at this particular moment. When I stop and
think about it, and I especially as I heard my– as Dr. Griffith introduce
our distinguished faculty, I was saying to myself,
God, every one of these would be more qualified to
give this talk than I would. However, I had the good fortune
of writing an ideal book for the occasion. [laughter] And I think they said, well,
let’s– why don’t we talk, give a little time
to Tom’s book. And in a sense, it is
the fruit of many years of spiritual reflection, and
questing, and researching, and thinking, and talking. My emphasis, of course, is
always as a religious educator, is not so much on the theory
of spirituality, as relevant. How do we nurture the
spiritual lives of people? What’s the best way of going
about spiritual nurture and bringing their
faith to be a living faith, to be a faith
that’s alive, and lived, and life giving for themselves
and for the life of the world? So in a sense, it has– it is an opportune book. And I’m going to say
a little bit about it. Tom’s reference to me as
a world-renowned religious educator though does prompt to
tell a humiliating, a humbling question, a humbling tale,
as it were, a humbling story. I don’t do much
traveling anymore. I did for many years, as
Tom indicated with that list of places I’ve been. I do leave for Hong Kong
next Friday, but anyway. And after that, for Shanghai. But I don’t travel much anymore. [laughter] But when I do travel,
I often say to people, put me in a local inn or
in a bed and breakfast. Because as long as it’s safe
and clean, that’s my preference. Because a Marriott is a
Marriott is a Marriott. And then whether it’s Chicago
or New York or Los Angeles, it’s still a Marriott. And sure enough, people
have been doing that. Well a little while ago, I
went into a diocese called Houma Thibodaux, Louisiana. It’s way out to the
west of New Orleans. New Orleans. I almost said New Orleans. New Orleans. About 100 miles west of New
Orleans out in the bayous. And the person who picked
me up at the airport, I told them put
me in a nice inn. She was a sister and the
Director of Religious Education for the diocese. So we’re on our way out into
the bayous on a winter’s night. And she said, “Oh,
Professor, you’re going to love the
place you’re staying. We’ve booked you in
this marvelous old inn.” And I said, “Well,
that’s marvelous. Thank you, thank you, Sister.” And yes, she says, “the people
come from all over America to stay in this inn.” And I said, “Oh,
that’s marvelous. That’s wonderful.” So we drove along. I said to myself, now,
I wonder why they all come from all over America. So I said, “Sister,
why do people come from all over America
to stay at this inn?” “Oh,” she says, “it’s haunted.” [laughter] I said, “Oh, it’s haunted.” “Yeah. Yeah,” she says, “the
poltergeist fellows, they have their monthly
meeting there every month.” She says, “yeah, and in fact,”
she says, this is a true story, said “the room you’re staying in
has a freestanding wooden hand basin. And they say that
during the night that it sometimes actually
moves across the floor.” [laughter] I said, “Oh, now.” By the time we get to the
inn, I’m in a cold sweat. [laughter] I said to her, “Sister,
is there a Marriott around here anywhere?” [laughter] She said, “Professor, but you’re
this famous religious educator. You don’t believe
that stuff, do you?” I said, “Of course I
believe that stuff. I’m Irish, for God’s sake. [laughter] I’m Irish long before I’m a
famous religious educator.” [laughter] So she took me to a Marriott
and I slept well for the night. But I wouldn’t have
slept a wink all night. I’d be sitting up
waiting for the thing to go across the floor. Let’s get on with the job. When I started
working in the area– the subtitle will explain also. The subtitle, I’ll get
to that in a moment. And by the way, starting
with definitions is not a very enticing way
to begin a presentation, but I think we have to
clear the air a little bit around the point about with
definitions of what we mean by spirituality, and all
of the varied competencies that you heard referred to
in our faculty’s background, and so on. It gives you the sense that it
is an enormous field of study. It’s a great field of operation. And it’s also a practice,
that spirituality has to be practices that we have. Now, the practices I don’t think
amount to our spirituality. They don’t equate
with our spirituality. That the practices,
in a sense, are to nurture our
spirituality, to sustain our spirituality, and
especially toward lived faith. Years ago in an
old Irish seminary, I remember having a
spiritual director that we had to go see
every once a month. And the opening
question he’d always ask us was, how is
your prayer life? And I remember thinking
even at the time as a very young person, “that’s
not the right question to be asking me, Father.” I want him to ask
me about my life rather than just
about my prayer life. Now, my prayer life, the
purpose of my prayer life is to sustain my spirituality. But we can’t equate
our spiritual practices with our spirituality. Our spirituality, in a
sense, is our whole way of being in the world. It’s our whole– with a
transcendent relationship with God and how we live into
the faith that we profess. So, I found myself at the
beginning of the book needing to do some definitions. Now this is not a very
popular way to begin, but in a sense it may it
may be slightly helpful. And maybe to clarify
a little bit, when you go to the– when
you go to the literature it’s confusing. But of course, when
you go to Amazon, it’s terribly confusing. Just for fun, I
put spirituality. I brought up Amazon
this morning, I put in spirituality
into the search engine. And of the first three
books that came out, every one of them in some way
or other was about the self. About becoming an
authentic self, about becoming a healthy
self, upon drawing upon one’s own self
resources and so on. But it was spirituality
with a small “s.” There was no sense of a
capital “S” spirituality, of an ultimate, a transcendent
ground, of an ultimate horizon, as Rahner would say, that
lures us, that draws us, that reaches out to us,
that takes the initiative, that empowers our response,
what we mean by God’s grace. And so it was a very
impoverished– now, the care for the self is
a very authentic aspect of spirituality. And yet in Christian– in
Christian terms at least, and I am speaking out of a
Catholic Christian perspective obviously, but that indeed
is to care for the self but that is to love the
neighbor as oneself. And then there’s
this whole sense we have of a transcendent
realm, the God that reaches out to us, that takes the
initiative, that loves us first before we love God, and
then invites us to respond and powers our response as
well, what we mean by grace. And that God’s grace
is indeed the source of our spiritual nurture. God’s grace comes to us
to enable our response, but it does require
our– in a sense, it heightens our
responsibility, God’s initiative and love at work in
our lives and so on. So capturing some of that in a
pithy definition wasn’t easy, but I gave it a go. Let me see if you– if it might be helpful. I begin by talking about
spirituality in general, as a people’s sense
of relationality with a transcendent
ground of being. And then how this
relationship shapes how we live our daily lives. That it has to– it has to reach into
our daily lives, otherwise it’s some
kind of esoteric, perhaps a philosophy of life,
but it’s not a spirituality. Then Christian
spirituality, in particular, I talk about as a people’s
embrace of relationality with the One and
Triune God of love as the foundation
of their being, and, then empowered
by the Holy Spirit, to realize this relationship by
living as disciples of Jesus. I suppose I want that to be the
punchline, that spirituality ultimately is about coming to
live as disciples of Jesus. And how do we– what helps
us, what sustains us, what encourages us and
inspires us to do that? And then I think we always
have to emphasize this, by way of Christian
spirituality, that is within the context of
a community of disciples. That it’s not a solo– it’s not a solo
flight by any means. And the purpose of that
living is Jesus spirituality, as disciples of
Jesus, is to live for the reign of God,
which of course was the purpose of Jesus’ life in
the midst of time and place. I don’t know if that’s helpful. But in a sense, Christian
spirituality, I believe, is to be realized
as a living faith. And by a living faith I
mean a faith it’s alive, that’s vibrant, that’s indeed
gushing up to eternal life. From his conversation
with the Samaritan woman, it has to be lived. It’s not the one who
says, lord, lord, who enters the reign
of God, but the one who does the will of my
father, that living of their– of our faith. And it has to be life giving
for ourselves, and for others, and for the life of the world. Then I talk about Christian
spirituality as a– when we refer to
it as a habitus. I use that old
term from Aquinas. It’s a modus operandi
that we have, in a sense. And then it refers to all of
the stories and the symbols, the perspectives and the
practices, the prayer, the prayers and the patterns,
that graced by the Holy Spirit nurtures people to live
as disciples of Jesus for God’s reign in the world. So we need our spiritual
practices, in a sense, to realize and sustain
our spirituality. But I do try to
distinguish them. Very often I use the
word interchangeably. But one of the things I’ve
become tremendously convinced of is that we’ve an
enormously rich treasury of spiritual charism,
of spiritual practices. And especially for
a postmodern world, and perhaps it’s
our greatest asset in a sense at this point in
time, is our spirituality. In many ways Catholicism, our
Catholic faith, yes, of course it’s a religion, it’s a
church, it’s a tradition, but ultimately I think at
its heart, at its best, it’s a great
spirituality for life. And yet so seldom do we
foreground that or present it that way, or when
we do it’s misheard. And I think there’s a
particular need, especially in our postmodern, and
to our young people to enable them to
see that clearly, that it’s an enormously
life-giving, rich, extraordinary spirituality for
life that can, indeed, enable them to live life well,
and holy, and wholesome, and indeed love the neighbor
as the self, and all the other things that the
tradition will call them to do. I was in a center recently
down in the south of Ireland in New Ross. It was the Kennedy
Summer School. The Kennedy family came
originally from New Ross, and they have this
great summer school. And we were put
up in this center. It was a spirit– it was a– I suppose it was a spa
of a kind of a sort, but it was also a
spirituality center. The irony was the
Archbishop of Armagh was one of my fellow guests,
and the primate of Ireland. But as we walked around
together, all of the symbols were of Buddhas, of mandalas,
of all kinds of paraphernalia, spiritual paraphernalia. And there wasn’t a single
Christian symbol among them all. And I said to the
owner, who allegedly claimed to be a practicing
Catholic, at least that’s what he told me. I said, there isn’t a
Christian symbol any place. Why wouldn’t we be
drawing upon the richness of our own tradition? It was almost like
news to him that yeah, maybe we don’t need to go off
to India and the far and Asia. Which are wonderful
traditions, I’m not in any way disparaging them at all. But I think we have a tremendous
resource in our own backyard. And so seldom–
so often then we– I think we under rate
it, don’t promote it. But thank goodness our STM is
certainly going to do that. Then I’m trying to explain
the title of the book. The title of the book is
Faith for the Heart, and then a “Catholic” Spirituality. Let me say this very briefly. Catholic in quotes,
simply writ says, that it comes out of the
treasury of Catholic faith. And yet I tried to
write it in such a way that anyone can access
its spiritual wisdom and indeed benefit from it. It’s for the heart. Now this is going to be a
bit of a sweeping claim. Faith for the heart. And now this, as I
said, I recognize this is an exaggeration. But in many ways, for
the first 1,000 years, I think the Christian
faith appealed primarily to the heart, to human desire. And of course, Augustine
was the epitome of that. “That our hearts are restless
until they rest in God.” Now again, exaggerating, and yet
I think making a valid point. In many ways, the
second 1,000 years, our primary appeal was
to people’s reason. with Aquinas the
epitome of that. Now both are needed,
of course, the monastic and the scholastic. But I think that, at least
for our postmodern people, for the people who
have declare themselves as “none,” or young
people who have said they’re spiritual but
not religious, and on and on. I think we have to re-engage
at least to initially get their attention and to
entice, either anew or as new. I think beginning with
the heart is more likely. However, I don’t want to fall
back into a heart and head type of dichotomy. And I say very deliberately
at the beginning, that by heart I’m using
it in the biblical sense. The lave, or the
variations of that word. Or in Hebrew, or kardia,
of course in Greek. That is, the core of the person. But it’s not just the emotions. In the biblical sense, it
also includes the conscience and the intellect as well. Coming back to my
point about nurturing. How do we go about nurturing
a holistic and a living faith? What was the
appropriate pedagogy? And by pedagogy, I don’t mean
teaching techniques or methods. I mean a whole approach. How would we go about nurturing
the spirituality of people in today’s postmodern world? What’s the best way
to go about that? Which as I said, is much more
obviously my own question that I’ve been passionate
about all my life. That kind of, the how to. And it isn’t at all to
minimize the importance of the systematic theological
or the historical theological understanding of spirituality. But I suppose, my passion, and
alleged insight or expertise, is that the area of
how do we nurture it? And I think we have a
powerful clue in the praxis, the historical praxis of Jesus. And I want to spend the
rest of our time reflecting on this road to Emmaus. And I just want to begin
here, because in a sense, it reflects his whole approach
throughout his whole public ministry. And I’ll say a little bit more
about that in a few minutes. But it’s an
extraordinary example of mentoring, of spiritual
mentoring, of these two poor, lost, and distraught disciples
stumbling out of Jerusalem that Easter Sunday morning. But I wanted to begin and engage
you with Luke 24 verse 32. Because as the two disciples, as
they reflect back, in a sense, they stop and they look at
each and say, what did he do? What did he do to us? And then later we’ll
reflect on how did he do it. But they said to each
other, were not our hearts, were not our hearts
burning within us? And I suppose that’s what
I’m trying to propose. That we need to find ways to
encourage people’s hearts to be burning, to set them on fire. While he was talking with
us, I’ll come back to that. He wasn’t talking at them. He wasn’t being didactic. He was talking with them. It was in conversation. Very, very clear. He was in conversation
with them. He was a powerful
resource for them, but he was talking
with them on the road and opening the Scriptures. Not just explaining them. But in a sense, open. And that verb there
is the same one that is used when he says that
with that their eyes were open, two or three versus prior. When their eyes were opened. It’s the same verb. He was helping them
to open their eyes and to see for
themselves when he was opening the Scriptures to us. In other words, if you look
at the pedagogy that’s there, and I did see it. And you’ll see it
amplified in the full text in a little while. But he was talking with them. He was engaging their lives. He was getting them to name– my mentor, one of
my great mentors in life I was privileged to
work with, and so on, and write about was Paolo Freire. And Freire says
get people to name. Begin by getting people
to name their own reality. To speak their own word. Don’t name it for them
or presume that you know how to name it for them. But get them to name their own
realidad, as Freire would say. To name their own
traumatic story, their own shattered vision. They were hoping he was the
one who would set Israel free. But he gets them to name and
reflect upon their own story and vision. Before he begins
to introduce them to the story and vision
of the faith community. But with Moses, and
all the prophets, all the passages that
referred to himself. And explaining that the
Messiah to suffer so as to enter into his glory. So in a sense, he takes
the faith tradition and literally puts it on
the table in front of them, but then invites them
to see for themselves. Never tells them what to see. It’s extraordinary. I mean, if I was
the risen Christ, I think I’d have jumped
out and said, hey look. I’ve come back. I’ve bounced back. But never. Walks with them, accompanies
them, but never tells them. But gives them the resources,
their own resources from their own life in the world
and their traumatic experience. The resources of the
Scriptures and the tradition. And yet enables them to
come to see for themselves. And so in a sense, for
a spiritual nurture, there’s something about
engaging people’s hearts. Engaging their lives. Engaging their own stories. That’s imperative. To access then with the
best of good scholarship. So this is not either or at all. Accessing the spiritual
wisdom of Christian faith. Giving people ready
access, persuasive access. And yet not just the didactic
type of pontificating access. And then enabling people to
see for themselves, and always toward a living faith. The faith that’s alive, that’s
lived, that’s life giving. Now if I was to practice a
little of what I’m preaching, I would obviously, at
this point, at least for the next three
to four minutes, engage you in some such dynamic. Let me give it a go. Pause for a moment. And as you look into your own
good heart tonight, what would you recognize fairly
obviously and immediately as some of its most
pressing hungers? The deepest hungers
of your own heart. How would you name maybe
the deepest one of all? At least in this moment. Maybe there’s a
particular story, example that comes to mind. And as you turn to the
Scriptures, the traditions of your Christian faith, what
would come to greet you out of those rich resources? By way of at least beginning to
satisfy, to always be partial. Taylor’s great point that all
of our fulfillments of all of our desires this
side of eternity will always be only partial. And yet, there’ll
also be a promise of our complete fulfillment,
in what Taylor calls, time out of time in eternity. But even partially, what’s
the resource of your faith that you bring to bear
upon the hunger that lends a sense of hope,
of possibility, and maybe some partial satisfaction? Can I invite you for
about two minutes to say hello to your neighbor? If you don’t like talking to
your neighbor, don’t bother. OK? But the neighbor will
want to talk to you. It’s inevitable. They always want
to say something. Give it a little
moment, and if you don’t feel comfortable
articulating the desires that occurred to you, then as I
said, turn to the neighbor and see if the neighbor
perhaps recognized a desire they’re willing to share. We’ll do this just
for about two minutes. Maybe three. Give it a go. See what the neighbor
is thinking or feeling. Say hello first to the
neighbor, and off we go. Let me just delve a little. And I will invite some of
the reflections, insights that emerged a little while. About 10 minutes from now,
we’ll be back with your neighbor again. And then after that,
we’ll take some comments from the whole community. I’m just going to walk
through the table of contents and make some points. Because in a sense, just to
highlight a little of what is there. And I’ll only make
a couple of points. One of the things I try to do,
if you get through chapter one, you’ll read the
rest of the book. Chapter one is
difficult, because I’m trying to make the
argument that maybe we’re in a new moment for faith. There’s something very
fascinating going on with the postmodern authors. Modernity, in many ways, just
presumed that faith would get sucked out of society. That it would simply
be abstracted out and would blow away. That eventually, after a
little bit of enlightenment, when you got a bit
of education, we would assume that this
was just a superstition of our grandparents. And we would get rid of it. And when you look at the
architects of modernity, you know Marx, Nietzsche,
Feuerbach, Freud, they were all nonbelievers. Now there’s something
fascinating going on in post modernity,
where there seems to be a far greater
openness to faith. And even people coming to
recognize the need for faith and for spiritual grounding,
in ways that we haven’t heard from the great architects and
the great thinkers of our time in a long, long time. Until you have people, and
many of the architects of post modernity now are believers. And you think of
people like Levinas, and Kristeva, and Ricoeur,
of course, Gadamer, and even Habermas, a great
old German philosopher that I read seriously one time. And then I gave up
reading him, because he was such a relentless atheist,
and neo Marxist, and radical, and so on. Now he’s saying that,
no society really can’t function very well without
some kind of a grounding that is beyond the philosophical. Something of faith,
a reasoned faith, a spirituality to
ground, a public ethic. And it’s very difficult
to maintain a public ethic without some kind of spiritual
resource to sustain it. When you look into our
public realm at the moment, at the lack of so many highly
educated people with apparently very little moral compass. You have to say,
well, what’s missing? And there’s a title
of a set of essays that Habermas has just
recently published. What’s missing? And they’re beginning
to realize, even in very secularized
societies, like France, and Germany, the
Scandinavian countries, that maybe there’s
something we’re missing. And that we have to return. You have Francois Jullien,
the great French philosopher, saying that the European
Union may fall apart. Why? Because it has lost
its original mooring. It has lost its
original grounding in the kind of Christian
personalism of Mounier and these authors in the
aftermath of the two World Wars. That the architects
of the European Union were deeply grounded in
Christian personalism, and then if you
lose that, then why should they get together
or work together? Why can’t the radical
right take over? Why can’t the radical
left take over? So, it’s an interesting shift
in the literature that begins. And even our students
here, who very many of them will recognize say, well I’m
spiritual but not religious. But it’s a healthy sign. It’s a sign of hope,
I think, that they’re recognizing their own
innate spiritual nature. They were made in the
image and likeness of God. The breath we breathe
is the breath of God. Genesis 2:7. And so it’s innate to us
this to be spiritual beings. So there is a certain
recognition of that going on that we haven’t seen. That the postmodern authors
are trying to say and modernity is not. So that’s one of the
things I tried to do. And don’t do it probably
very persuasively, but it’s a fascinating
thing to try to recognize. The second thing I
try to do is, and it’s in chapters 3, 4,
and 5 especially, is to forefront, and
through all of the chapters, to forefront and foreground
the historical Jesus. And I want to say something
about that, because I think for Catholic spirituality, I
would say that the greatest lacuna in our spirituality,
in popular spirituality- there is a lacuna around
the historical Jesus. The Christ of faith,
the Son of God, the second person of the
blessed Trinity, and so on, indeed was central to our
faith, and to our recognizing of our faith, and
living our faith. But that carpenter
from Nazareth, I mean we weren’t part– of the early searches
for the historical Jesus were all, as I understand it,
mostly Protestant scholars. And many scholars who are
demythologizing the Scriptures. It’s amazing now, there’s
so many of the great New Testament scholars now, Crossan,
and Lohfink, and Pagola, and– help me Tom. There’s other great names,
Myers, are all Catholic. And I think it’s our
time for reclaiming the historical Jesus. Now it would take
me way too long, I say a little about in the book
about, why is this necessary? Because I think we were,
in many ways as Catholics, the historical Jesus was
not at the center and core of our faith. And some of that was
the old catechesis. All of the old catechisms
were based on the catechism of the Council of Trent. And so the Maynooth Catechism,
the Baltimore Catechism, and so on. They all based their doctrinal
presentation of our faith on the Apostles’ Creed,
seemed like a wise decision. But so they take each
article of the creed, and then catechize it in
a question answer format. Now many of you, I
grew up with that. A few of us here
grew up with it. Many of you don’t know
what I’m talking about, probably, if you
didn’t grow up with it. But nonetheless, it
had a lasting effect. Because the difficulty
with doing it that way was that the
born of the Virgin Mary, the next article is suffered
under Pontius Pilate. In other words, they
left out his life. The creed left out his life. And therefore the catechisms
left out his life. There is no word in
the Baltimore Catechism about the multiplication
of the loaves and fishes, or his healing the sick, his
restoring, his restoring people to community, his outreach
to the poor, the downtrodden. Now the stories about him
are the stories he told. The Good Samaritan,
the Prodigal Son, Lazarus at the gate last
Sunday, in the Gospel reading. We grew up without it. And then we did very
limited, a one year cycle of readings in our liturgy. And of course, as
good Catholics, we typically weren’t
reading our Bible. It was kind of a Protestant
thing to be doing. Now, of course, we’ve been doing
far better since since Vatican II and so on. But I still think there’s a huge
lacuna in Catholic spirituality that’s waiting for
and that desperately needs the historical Jesus. And in many ways, I think
this is what Ignatius did back in the 16th century. Was to turn to the
historical Jesus at a time when the Church was
obsessed with itself. And with what was
going on in the church. And understandably, in the
context of the time and so on. The revolt and the
church falling apart, it was all about the
Church in large part. But Ignatius said no. It has to be all about Jesus. And take a look at
the historical Jesus. To compose the place
and to imagine you’re there in the garden
with him seeing him sweat blood and so on. To enter into that
real historical person. Who of course, not denying
Calcedon or questioning anything. He was the Son of God, the
Second Person of the blessed Trinity, but it was God
among us as one ourselves in time and place. But that’s to be
the core, I think, of our renewed
Catholic spirituality, the historical Jesus. And including– and
again not to fall into some kind of christomonism,
as if it’s all just about me and Jesus, me and Jesus. We think christomonism is dead. No, it’s alive and well. Turn on your television
each Sunday morning and you’ll see it
there promising wealth and prosperity. So it’s not as if we’re going to
fall back just simply to Jesus, but Jesus has to be the
canon within the canon of our spirituality. Has to be the one that
says, know who God is. Whoever sees me sees the Father. The role of the Spirit
to continue God’s saving work in Jesus. The role of the
church in the world is to be the body of
Christ and to continue God’s ministry of God’s
reign in the midst of time and place, et cetera. So that there is a– I tried throughout
all of the chapters to tie-in the hunger of the
heart indeed and address that. But also with
contemporary theology, but very often with
a focus on Jesus. Years ago, I was
privileged to be having dinner one night,
about five six years ago now, with Gustavo Gutierrez. I don’t mean to
be name dropping. He’s a dear friend of ours
here at Boston College. Has taught here
many, many times. And he said to me over
dinner, he said, Tom, he says, you know we all have
to be evangelical. We have to become evangelical. The Gospel has to be the center. And I remember thinking, well
this is already, Gustavo. Don’t you think we’re
already doing that? But in a sense, he had a
point that we’ve given away the word evangelicals. And in many ways, that
people in our society we think it was
evangelical, I’m not sure. At least, I don’t
watch them very often, but it’s almost
invariably the Epistles. It’s always the Paul
is the Christ of faith would be the center of
what they’re preaching. But this character,
the carpenter walking the roads of Galilee. So I do try to fill that in. Let me bring you back
to the road to Emmaus. And I’m going to try a little
bit of an experiment here. In many ways, and I’ve
had people wonder about, well are we reading too
much into this text? And I put up this
imaging, because I’m going to ask you
to imagine yourself being there in a moment. And if it helps, that’s fine. If not, ignore it. And I like this imaging,
because it looks as if it’s a man and a woman. And of course,
that was very much the tradition of
the early Church. The corpus of John with
Mary, the wife of Clopas, in John 19:25. And then here is Cleopas
is the one who speaks. But at least in
the early Church, there was a strong tradition. There was a man and a woman
that was on that road to Emmaus. Now to make the point, though. I’m not trying to
read into this text. Although, I’m terribly capable,
I suppose, of doing that. I’m going to try to
recite it as a narrative. And I’m going to use a number
of different translations, weaving them together, and
invite you to come along. But the point that
I want to make, first, is that in many ways,
it was his whole approach, is epitomized on
the road to Emmaus. That beginning with
people’s lives, getting them to
reflect on their lives, bringing them to
the faith tradition, and to the Gospel of God’s
reign that he was preaching. In order for them
to bring it back into their lives,
that invitation, that discernment, coming
to see for themselves and deciding then
to become disciples. And so he begins by saying,
you know the reign of God is like what? People sorting
fish, people sowing seed, people looking for
workers in the vineyard, the reign of God. And begins with people’s
own realidad, as it were. As we saw and referred earlier,
began with their own life in the world. And got them to reflect upon it. Sometimes, got
them to break open a whole new consciousness,
critique their old ways. And so the Samaritan
becomes the neighbor, the prodigal is
welcomed home, Lazarus went home to get to
Abraham, et cetera. Reversing people’s
mindset and getting them to think
critically in many ways. To reflect on their life. To look at their life, to
reflect on it, but then in the midst of that
preaching, this good news of the reign of God. In order to invite them to this
to see for themselves, as he did on that road to Emmaus, and
bring them into and invite them into discipleship. It’s the dynamic
that runs through his whole public ministry. It’s the dominant approach
that you’ll recognize in his public ministry. There are times when he
even did it in one verse. And my favorite is Matthew 6:26. Where he says to people,
look at the birds of the air. Stop and look around you. Just take a look at
the birds of the air. And then, gets people
to reflect to that. They neither reap nor sow,
nor gather into barns. Look at your life,
reflect on it, and then the instruction of the faith. And yet your Heavenly
Father feeds them. And then the great
appropriating, making it your own, “seeing
for yourself” moment. He says, aren’t you of more
value than any sparrows? Life to faith to life. Let me invite you to
sit back, relax a bit, let go books or copies or
anything you might have. Papers or anything like that. Take a few deep breaths. I’m gonna stand away from
the podium for a little bit. And as I said, I’m
going to use a number of different translations. And it’s more of a
narrative of the text. The text begins by saying
that very same day. Now the reference
is to Easter Sunday. Two of them, two of the
disciples, the reference is to the disciples. Were making their way
to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles
distance from Jerusalem, discussing as they went
along all that had happened. Now let me invite you to
join them on the road, and I’ll pause for a moment
for your composition of place. Imagine yourself
joining their company. They’re a lively
exchange, of course that had to be
traumatic exchange, so just join their
company and prepare to walk along with them. And in the midst of
their lively exchange, Jesus himself approached and
began to walk along with them. That extraordinary,
active accompaniment joins their company
to walk with them. Now, take a look at him. What does he look like
to your imagination? What do you see when
you look at him? Imagine him looking at you. What does he see? And now imagine that
you exchange a look. You say something to each
other, just with your eyes. What do you say to him? What does he say to you? And now he gives you a
kind of a wink, which is to say don’t tell them. The text goes on. The text continues
with he says to them, yes, he says to them,
what are you discussing as you go upon your way? What are you talking about? What’s going on? What’s your experience? And one of them, Cleopas
by name, looking sad, turned to him and said,
are you the only one who doesn’t know the things
that went on in Jerusalem these past few days? And he says to
them, what things? Now you have to
be amazed at that. I mean, nobody knew better than
he what went on in Jerusalem these past few days. So why is he asking these
poor, distraught, traumatized disciples to name it,
what they think went on? Which they proceed to do. They said all the
things that had to do with Jesus of
Nazareth, a prophet, powerful in the eyes of
God and all the people. Our chief priest took him
and had him crucified. We had been hoping,
they’ve lost hope, we had been hoping he was the
one who would set Israel free. Besides all this, some women
of our group went to the tomb before dawn. They saw a vision of angels
who declared he is alive. Some others of our
group went to the tomb. Some of the men we presume,
but they saw nothing. They say him, they did not see. And he listens to it
all and takes it all in. And never says, oh. Well now comes a moment. He says, Ah how foolish you are. How slow of heart,
kardia, how slow of heart to believe all that the
prophets had announced. Beginning then
with Moses and all that the Messiah
had to so suffer so as to enter into his glory. And beginning the then with
Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted for them
every passage of Scripture that referred to himself. No wonder you’re on
the road all day. The text says, by now they are
near the village to which they were going. And he acts as if
he’s going on further. But they press him. They say, no, no stay with us. The day is far spent. So he went in to stay with them. And you go in as well. And when you’re all seated at
the table, he takes the bread. And it’s the exact same four
verbs as at the Last Supper. He takes it, he blesses it,
he breaks it, he gives it. And with that, their
eyes are opened. And they recognize him. And it’s epegnosan,
It’s that they were deeply bonded with him. They were united with him. They saw him, recognized
him in the very deep hearts’ core of their lives. Whereupon, he vanishes
from their sight. Then they say to each other,
the text we heard earlier, oh weren’t our hearts
burning inside of us? Really, when he talked
to us upon the road and explained the
scriptures to us. And with that, they
get up immediately. They’ve come to
see for themselves. And if that happens
in people’s lives, then you can’t
just toddle on home and say, oh it wasn’t
that interesting. In a sense, they have to
turn around and go back into Jerusalem. And re-engage the faith
community, their own faith. And when they go into the
community in Jerusalem, they’re greeted with,
the Lord has been raised. It is true. He has appeared to Simon. I love the Jerusalem Bible
translation of the last verse. It says, but then they
told their story of what had happened on the road. And how they come to know him
in the breaking of the bread. Now of course, it’s a
great liturgical passage with the liturgy
of word in the road and the liturgy of the
Eucharist at the table. But it’s a great
pedagogical passage as well. With him bringing them
to their own stories, their own shattered vision. Setting up a dielectric. They were hoping for
a political messiah who would set Israel free. He says, no the Messiah
had to so suffer so as to enter into their glory. What are they going
to do with that? How are they going to come
to see for themselves? They go back into
Jerusalem, and you’ve got to come on back
home to Boston College. Maybe bring you back
into a few questions that you might find helpful. Just very quietly
thinking to yourself. What did you come to see
on the road to Emmaus? Or indeed from any
of the comments you’ve heard so far from
Colleen, from Tom, from myself. What’s emerging for
you as a resource? And especially for your
own spiritual journey. Could be an old idea
revived, maybe a new horizon. But where are you invited,
spiritually, by our reflections this evening? I want to be the wisdom for
your own spiritual journey, or for mentoring other people
in their spiritual journey. And then, of course, if there
are any answers or questions. But let me invite you
back to the neighbor. I think time wise,
we’re doing very well. Go back to the neighbor,
have a little chat. Respond to any of these
questions if they engage you. Make up your own if they don’t. What you’re thinking. What you’re coming
to see for yourself. Give it three or four
minutes with your neighbor. And then we’ll
hear three or four minutes of general comments. And then we’ll be ready
for our reception. So turn to a neighbor for
a moment and have a chat. We’ll regather and enjoy our
nice reception very soon. Let me hear it, just for four
or five minutes, thoughts, comments, insights, reflections,
wisdoms that emerged, something you came
to see for yourself. Because I think that’s
always the clue and the key. That’s the faith
that we act upon. That’s the faith that we
go to live in the world when we come to
recognize for ourselves. Then it’s our own. That’s the
spirituality of it all. But your comments,
questions, answers, insights, wisdoms, or whatever. Brother, Brother John?>>PARTICIPANT: I think that
a little conversation that we had, it’s a question of
the interactions we have, just like Jesus did. The one on one. Or the one on two, you
know our small groups. It’s when the joy of our
faith begins to catch on and we begin to move together.>>DR. GROOME: Yes.>>PARTICIPANT: But it’s
not that we need groups. It’s gonna be in our
life interactions. The very picture
you’re talking about.>>DR. GROOME: Yes, and in
conversation very often. And because when people start
to name their own experience. Rahner’s whole
insistence that if we’re going to be Christians
in the future, we’ll have to be mystics. But what’s the source
of the mystical? How does God come
looking for us? Typically through our
own everyday lives and experiences in the world and
in community and conversation. And of course, through the
great tradition and the word, the biblical word handed
down to us and so on. And yet integral to us
coming to know for ourselves is that encounter,
that experience. And then the naming of it. And reflecting on it. And the hearing of other
stories to enrich our own. I think you’re on the
ball, Brother John. Yourself, in the pink. Good and loudly, if you could. Andrea?>>PARTICIPANT: Mary
and I were discussing–>>DR. GROOME: Good and
loudly, could you, Andrea? Yeah, we’re really
missing the microphones. Maybe stand. Thank you. [laughter]>>PARTICIPANT: Mary and I were
discussing not only can we hear people and allow them
to voice their experiences and telling their stories,
but the aspect of listening. And in a society today
cultivated by a lot of chatter. And sort of in this listening,
are we able to truly hear? How are we cultivating
our listening, but also making them spaces
for them in a faith setting?>>DR. GROOME: Wonderful. It’s a great question. Can we listen and hear,
truly hear, each other? Blessed are those who have the
ears to hear, the eyes to see. And obviously, he’s talking
about some kind of listening like you’re talking about. That it wasn’t just
physical sight or hearing. It was that listening
of the heart. And I think it has to be
a listening of the heart that we listen each other
to each other into holiness of life and into a
wholeness of life. Yourself, Joe?>>PARTICIPANT: Ever since
Vatican II, something like that has been happening to all of us. And especially to the poor.>>DR. GROOME: Yeah.>>PARTICIPANT: The
re-appropriation of the word. And as Francis calls it,
the joy of the Good News.>>DR. GROOME: Yeah.>>PARTICIPANT: And what
happened to those two disciples? They were wrecked. They hadn’t slept.>>DR. GROOME: Oh, heartbroken. Geez, their beloved
Jesus, crucified.>>PARTICIPANT: And
yet, when he vanished, up they got and
straight up the hill. [inaudible] and where do they
begin the joy of the Good News.>>DR. GROOME: Yeah. But as you said,
the poor, I mean you’ve spent a
lifetime, Father Joe, I know of over 50
years working in Peru. And the whole comunidad
is about movement. It was about this, bringing
poor, peasant people. I remember one night in a
group in Lima years ago, I was there visiting
Gustavo, and a number of men, it was clear the number
of people in the group weren’t able to read. There were certain
people who could read. And yet, how they appropriated
and interpreted the text, and took it to heart, and
brought it into their lives was extraordinary. They were seeing things in
the texts that I’d never seen.>>PARTICIPANT: The best were
the ones who couldn’t read. They had no clutter–>>DR. GROOME: Yeah, no clutter. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, good point. Another comment or two maybe? I was just thinking of Richard
Dillon, a great Scripture scholar, I’m sure I know many
of our scripture scholars know him well. I believe he wrote his doctoral
dissertation on this text. But I’ve read a wonderful
commentary by him on it some years ago. And I loved, he
asked the question, where did he disappear to? Where did he go
when he disappeared? He vanished from their sight. And Dillon says, the
only answer we can give is that he disappeared
into them, into us, into the body of Christ. That we’re the
ones now that have to go and give the witness. And be present to help
people see for themselves. But in a sense, I think
it has to be the answer. Where did he disappear? He disappeared to
another Emmaus road. Hopefully, he came to Boston
College even this evening. So there’s lots of
places, but in a sense it’s into us that they
have to keep this. And I think this
style, the approach, the way he went about it. We can’t just imitate him
slavishly or something. I’m not proposing that at all. Or to absolutize
it or something. But it’s very resonant
with the exercises. Those of us have
done the exercises and been through
the 30 day retreat. I mean, it’s basically
life to faith. To life and faith. So for our new program, that
is such an amazing moment for us to claim this. And to center this at the
heart and soul of our school is such a marvelous
moment and opportunity. But I think this is the
kind of spirituality, and the kind of style
or approach to it all that we have to be about. Let me take one more comment. Please, Carlotta, nobody
better to give the last word. [laughter]>>PARTICIPANT: Well,
I think that when you talked about
their hearts on fire, I think unless our
hearts are on fire, how will we be that
person that breaks bread with all the people
along the way?>>DR. GROOME: Yes.>>PARTICIPANT: Their
hearts were on fire. I think we have to keep
ourselves on fire–>>DR. GROOME: Here, here.>>PARTICIPANT: –to
be a witness to Jesus.>>DR. GROOME: Here, here. Very good. Wonderful, Carlotta. Thank you so much. Marvelous and a lovely
reception awaits us. Thank you. Thank you. [applause]

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