Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Could Not Accept That Rule

Terrence W. Tilley, Phd.
Terrence W. Tilley, Ph.D. (page 4) said that he first encountered the 13th of 18 rules of  the Rules  for Thinking with the Church set forth in Loyola's Spiritual Exercises while attending Brophy College Preparatory School, a Jesuit institution in Phoenix. "Scholastics and ordained—sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly—recruited me and other promising classmates for the order," he said. 
"But the scholastics told us [the 13th rule] bluntly—that if any of us thought something was white and the hierarchical church said it was black, we had to believe it was black". "Long before I accepted the philosophical dictum that our beliefs are mostly not under the direct control of our wills, I knew I could not accept that rule." 
Tilley explained that he began to appreciate the importance of the mandate in 1993, when he read a talk that Dulles gave to Jesuits at a symposium in Mexico. He said that one reason for the rule may have been to attempt to ward off charges against Ignatius that accused him of being a member of the "Illuminati."
Link (here) to the full article at the Fordham Ram 
Rule 13
That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity with the Church herself, if she shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black. For we must undoubtedly believe, that the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of the Orthodox Church His Spouse, by which Spirit we are governed and directed to Salvation, is the same;…
Link (here)


Anonymous said...

If he cannot accept that rule, then he does not accept the authority of the Magisterium, which means he does not accept Christ, who founded the Catholic Church and conferred upon its first bishops the authority to teach bindingly in his name. That is to say, if he cannot accept that rule, then he is not a good Catholic. That rule does not only bind Jesuits; a form of that rule binds all Catholics.

TonyD said...

I enjoyed Dr. Tilley’s post. It reminded me of some of the lectures we had in theology class.

As I recall, we spent quite a bit of time discussing the “disconnect” between Ignatius writings – such as the rule mentioned -- and his actual decisions and positions with respect to the Church.

In the end, I think most of the class agreed with Dr. Tilley’s point that Ignatius was writing for a particular audience, and, as Dr. Tilly says: “the rule may have been to attempt to ward off charges against Ignatius” as opposed to those who would interpret the rule as some sort of commandment that supersedes judgment.

Jack in Park Slope said...

If one is participating properly in the Spiritual Exercises. Rule Thirteen is not hard to accept, but expected.

TonyD said...

Jack in Park Slope,

Expected by who? Ignatius? The Church? God?

I you assume that the Church is infallible or that Ignatius speaks for God -- well, then you have some problems.

Ignatius had many disagreements with the Church, though you won't read about them in most official Church histories. And the Church does not claim infallibility. If you conclude that the Church is infallible then that is a judgment that rests on your shoulders.

Jack in Park Slope said...

Dear Tony D,

You have missed the point. The Spiritual Exercises are the real and supernatural communication in prayer between the exercent and Jesus himself. The Spiritual Exercises was a gift given through St. Ignatius during the mystical event at Manresa by Jesus himself. Rule 13 is not St. Ignatius guideline, its Jesus' rule 13. A man properly disposed in prayer through the Spiritual Exercises will find himself so transformed that now other explanation of rule 13 is satisfactory than the rule being read at face value.

Tony unless you have actually participated in the Spiritual Exercises in a meaningful way you are speaking of the Spiritual Exercises as an outsider and that you really do not have a grasp on Ignatian spirituality.

I am sorry to say this but it seems as though Professor Tilley has done you a great disservice and has used his position of authority to teach you a misrepresentation of St. Ignatius. I hope and pray you find your way out of it. Ignatian spirituality if applied properly will only radiate, illuminate and participate in harmony with the Church.


TonyD said...


I think you are recognizing, perhaps unintentionally, that God works with each of us where we are. As a result, the particular “transformation” will reflect that highly customized work. Thus, for some, the Spiritual Exercises will be a direct statement of the will of God, and the writings of Ignatius will represent a direct communication with Jesus. I think that you are referring to this aspect of truth.

For others, however, the Spiritual Exercises are not the end of understanding. They may be no more than a potential starting point, or perhaps even an unnecessary byway. For some, they may even be an impediment to progress. This is another aspect of truth.

But there is more to it. You see, the expectations are quite high, as are the costs. Thus, we are usually given opportunities to learn from multiple sources. As a result, some may choose to ignore the Spiritual Exercises, when that would be an important learning path. Similarly, others might ignore learning opportunities outside the Spiritual Exercises, when that would be the important learning path that God would prefer they hear.

So where does this leave us? If God has directly told you that you are to treat a particular rule as coming from Him, then you should take that advice. Otherwise, you should use your values and judgment to make the best decision that you can. But in either case, recognize that the decision is ultimately yours. Your choice to equate a Church with God and a Saint with a Prophet are ultimately yours and yours alone. Both you and I define ourselves before God when we make such decisions. I genuinely wish you only the best in your choice.

PS. I never took any courses from Dr. Tilley. I was referring to other courses that discussed both Jesuit history and Ignatius. If I only heard the "cleaned-up" Church versions of history, I would probably disagree with me too.

Jack in Park Slope said...

I guess then, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

New Yorker said...

Perhaps if you had heard the whole lecture, you might have discovered that Tilley could accept the rule as expounded by Avery Dulles in 1993. Isn't it pathetic when bloggers take things people say completely out of context in order to mislead readers or trash people?

Joseph Fromm said...

Dear New Yorker,
Thank you for your readership and participation. I encourage you to return often and share your views.

I posted some time ago about Professor Tilley and USCCB's criticism of his writings.

This is a portion.

In the Fall 2009 edition of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly,

Fr. Thomas Weinandy, O.F.M, Cap., who is executive director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of Doctrine, in an unofficial capacity criticizes an address of Fordham University theology chair Dr. Terrence Tilley, given to the Catholic Theological Society of America in June 2009.

The title of Tilley’s address was “Three Impasses in Christology.” Fr. Weinandy argues that much of the address’s

“theological argumentation was superficial and fallacious,”

and much of the address’s

“Christological content and many of its suggested proposals contain doctrinal ambiguities and even errors.” Fr. Weinandy argued, “In attempting to revive and authorize a form of adoptionism (which the Church condemned as heretical very early on), Tilley has merely raised the red-herring that the New Testament itself offers a variety of competing and even conflicting Christologies from which to choose.”

Fr. Weinandy wrote, “For Tilley, it is not consistency of argumentation that is important but rhetorical sound bites.” Towards the end of the essay he wrote,

“Those who argue in a manner similar to Tilley with regard to what is to be the content of faith also often espouse contraception, abortion, fornication, adultery, divorce and remarriage, m@sturbation, hom@sexual activity, same-s@x marriage, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, etc.”



Kristofer said...

Hello everybody.

Notwithstanding the comments above, I think there is one question which says it all about the "black is white " rule.

"- Does anybody here seriously think that Jesus Christ himself would have approved of the works of a man like Superior General fr Wlodimir Ledóchowski SJ?"

It would be interesting and hopefully enlightening to hear your replies on this matter!

TonyD said...


There is no one, and no organization, in this existence with “good” judgment. We are comparing ourselves with omniscience, and we all fail in that comparison.

Philip said...

Funny, how the premier lay theology prof at Fordham, who probably gets a 3 figure salary, can't get the Incarnation / Christmas story correct and by this fact not qualified to teach CCD to third graders, is given the responsibility of instructing future Jesuits?
Novices and scholastics beware.

Kristofer said...


That could well be. But that answer was unrelated to the works of superior general fr Wlodimir Ledóchowski SJ.

It must be very convenient to be able to practice "mental reservation" when it suits you. In that way, one does not have to answer the harder questions.


TonyD said...


God works with each of us as we are, and contradictory truths are true.

So I was trying, in a polite way, to say that your question makes no sense. Instead, it is worthwhile to try to understand why the question makes no sense. To that end, I tried to point out our own lack of understanding of this existence. While we are expected to use our values and make the best decisions that we are able, that should not be mistaken for real understanding. Humility, sacrifice, and loss of self are real expectations.

In general, the values and trade-offs are not made clear. If someone is asked to help someone, and they find that it aligns with their values, then they understand “in their heart”, even if they don’t act. If, on the other hand, someone is told the meaning of “love your neighbor”, and they instead choose another interpretation, then that is seen to align with their real values.

This has nothing to do with “mental reservation”. But you ask in good faith, so I can explain a bit more.

When God lies, it is by definition good and true. There are many scenarios that justify such understanding. Lesser evil, desire for lessons, children’s truth, and milk vs. meat, to name just a few. And that is not to say that those same lies cannot also be 100% bad and false to God. It is our childish logic that prevents our understanding. Values coexist. Trade-offs coexist.

So I will end with a rhetorical question. “How would God see someone who asks a question such as yours?” I think you’ve gotten the answer.

TonyD said...


I realize that you still do not understand. So I will try to be more simple and direct.

We are asked to become different people. We are asked to sacrifice our ego. We are asked to sacrifice our values. We are asked to sacrifice our judgment. We are asked to sacrifice our understanding of God’s values. We are asked to sacrifice our understanding of logic. We are asked to sacrifice our understanding of the Church’s values. We are asked to sacrifice our understanding of others' values.

This will not generally make us happy. This will not generally make others happy either. This will not create a world that conforms to God’s values. That is the nature of our lessons.

Such is the nature of perfecting the soul.

The irony is that some lessons require actions that go against God’s values. And, in going against God’s values, they move us closer to God’s values.

Kristofer said...


I believe that God is good, and that this is the foundation of any ethical decision or any discussion of "right" and "wrong".
In my youth I felt differently, but I was saved.
God wants us well. He wants us to be in the light, for us and others to like ourselves as we are. No matter who we are.
To be happy and at ease with our lives. He thinks we are precious, every single one of us, and would never get the idea of sacrificing a few innocents for his "greater glory".
See, he doesn't have to do that, because he's so powerful that he won't have to.
He will prove his point and get it right anyway, because he is the very definition of right. And power. The sacrificial act is always done by man himself. It is never God's work.

Also, he will choose his emissaries by himself. He doesn't need human organizations for it.

When we go against the will of God and spread suffering, decay and madness around us, we make God sad, but he will still love us. Even though we have sinned against his beloved creation in the worst thinkable ways.

One thing belief can do for us is to make us see a red line when we can't understand ourselves, and thus bring us to do God's will. I agree with you that.

But, what we have to drive ourselves to in order to be Christian, is to forgive,
turn the other cheek and help others even when we don't feel like it. To counter the logical, the beast in us. Do often make ourselves "weaker" than we are, for
his greater glory.
Such should be the nature of our sacrifice.
Not to slaughter, sacrifice other people and cause desolation
around us. The one who does that is against God. If you destroy you fellow man, you have destroyed a part of God as well.

What is good has to do with generosity in love and reconciliation.
What is evil comes from lack of forgiveness and love together with the desire to punish others for who they are or what they have done.

The world around us is built mainly by people of the second category, which is why it looks like it does today.
Divine presence and love only comes in scanty spots. Unfortunately.

Isn't one of the main things about Jesus that you don't have to fear him?

Isn't it the main thing about the Jesuit order that you have to fear it?

If I understand you right, you are of the opinion that people have to be punished and brought away from God in order to come closer to him afterwards.

I don't agree with that. I think that you bring another closer to God by offering "illogical" unconditional love. If you can. If you have the power to fold yourself over.
Even if they hate and slander you for it.

In my opinion, the story of our messiah was about exactly that.
A man of God who did that, and was crucified for it. That is why he is still among us today. Such is the power of God. A power to trust and love, not to fear.

TonyD said...


Thanks for the reply. I do wish that I could agree with you, but I can't.

And it is through beliefs such as those you expressed that you become ready for more serious understanding. There is a balance in things. One must first become capable of good and sacrifice before one can start more advanced lessons. As the Bible says - we've been given milk rather than meat.

I sincerely hope that you fare better than I did in your lessons.


Kristofer said...

Well, but the messiah was all about love and sacrifice, was he not.

And he did not fare well in this world. That is clear.

But then, that is what he represents; sacrifice for the good.

So if we want to be serious followers, we should see him as the ideal. And strive for what he did.
However paradoxical it might sound.

As I understand then, Jesuitism is "beyond" Jesus.

Which might perhaps have it's own logic, and be respectable in it's own sense.

But is it then "from" him (rethoric question)?

My intention is not to provoke, but I think we may all benefit from hearing the honest opinion of another so that we all can learn from each other.

For myself, I have chosen a simple life, and I am happy with that choice.

Thanks for your honest answers!

God bless/