Monday, November 26, 2012

Jesuits And Tobacco

A Jesuit was asked whether it was licit to smoke a cigar while praying, and his answer was an unequivocal “no.”  However, the subtle Jesuit quickly added that, while it was not licit to smoke a cigar while praying, it was perfectly licit to pray while smoking a cigar.  —St.Holger’s Cigar Club

In the 16th and 17th centuries the Jesuits developed large tobacco plantations in Central and South America and held financial interests in retaining revenues from them. Dominicans, Franciscans, and Augustinians had similar arrangements in Central America.

During this time, the Jesuits, fond of their snuff, were accused by their Protestant and secular opponents, without any evidence that I have found, of carrying poisoned snuff about their persons and offering it to those they attempted to assassinate. “Jesuit snuff,” this imaginary stuff came to be called. The fear surrounding it appears to have been most intense after tens of thousands of barrels holding fifty tons of Spanish snuff were captured from Spanish ships in Vigo Bay in 1702 by English admiral Thomas Hopsonn and found their way into the British market.

At the same time, Jesuit missionaries introduced the snuff they loved to China’s capitol during the Manchu dynasty, about 1715. For some time, Chinese converts to Catholicism were called “snuff-takers” by their countrymen and handled the manufacture and selling of snuff in Beijing. Many Tibetan Buddhist monks are still quite fond of snuff.

Text Box:  The Jesuits were not alone among the mendicant orders in their love of snuff. Laurence Sterne, author of Tristram Shandy, also wrote A Sentimental Journey throughFrance and Italy in 1768, in which he described an incident—edifying and humbling to him—of exchanging snuff boxes with a poor friar. But during the 19th century, the fashion of using nasal snuff faded away, and cigar, pipe, and then cigarette smoking replaced it. Literary sources show that taking snuff was more and more left to the old and the poor, and to certain conservative clergy who persisted with their snuff rather than switch to smoking.


TonyD said...

I realize that the quote was a joke, but let me say that:
1) It is wrong to smoke a cigar while praying.
2) It is wrong to pray while smoking a cigar.

God is forgiving, but He is also very unforgiving when He has reason. And He has reason to be unforgiving when a person is not striving to reach a much higher potential. We are trying to qualify for being in another existence, and that other existence has a much higher standard than we understand.

I hesitate to use the word "sin", because like the word "God" or the word "evil" it is a word that has become corrupted through centuries of analysis and definition.

If we expand sin to include poor judgment, we can understand why God cannot allow such people into His community.

Perhaps not here, but it is possible to have communities where everyone is trusted, and has been "vetted" to act in the best interest of everyone. Such a place has no tolerance for those who lack emotional control or those who lack good judgment.

Anonymous said...

Big Story:

ALISON CALDWELL: The inquiry also heard from SNAP's Mark Fabbro. When he was 11 he was raped in broad daylight by a Jesuit priest, Father John Byrne, on the school grounds of the prestigious Xavier College in 1971.

MARK FABBRO: It was well known that the Jesuit order has done a great job in inspiring some of the greatest minds in this country.

But what the public ought to be made aware of is the sexual assaults and brutal treatment that was dished out at Jesuit boarding schools in the 1970s. The Jesuit order is not immune from harbouring abusive priests.

TonyD said...

I'd like to expand a bit on working toward worthiness for inclusion in a community.

There are things that are difficult to communicate. In discussing Hell, we have no suitable frame of reference, and so we are forced to ask people to imagine pain and emotional suffering and then think of them multiplied by many hundreds. But that does not do justice to the actual experience.

Similarly, some here are working toward a real goal -- and it is equally hard to explain. We know what it is like to feel love and contentment - so try to imagine those continuously experienced and multiplied by many hundreds. But that does not do justice to the actual, all encompassing, experience.

We are asked to love God and love our neighbors. If you think that either is easy, you are mistaken. If anything, thinking that those are easy is proof that neither is understood. Sadly, there are very many Catholics who achieve neither -- and prove their selfishness and lack of humility daily.

So the gate is small. If you don't know where to start then begin by imagining that everyone that you meet is God. Whatever they think or say is worthy of respect -- even if it disagrees with reality. Their values are worth trying to uphold within our community -- if possible. But that is just a beginning, and lessons get much more complicated after you have changed into such a person - a person who can accept God. But God will help you if you become someone He can help.

Anonymous said...

I agree 12:25 a.m.

Don't forget John Hardon, S.J. He advised his superiors to harbor fellow Jesuits who were guilty of sexual abuse.

Anonymous said...

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