Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Jesuit Professor

As an undergraduate at Loyola University in Los Angeles (now Loyola-Marymount) in the 1950s, I took a course in classical Greek. I'll never forget one day when my Jesuit professor waxed eloquently about Socrates, comparing him to great Christian mystics like St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. There are good grounds for this view. In Plato's Symposium, we hear about Socrates' frequent "trances," in which he would stand, sometimes for twenty-four hours, rapt in contemplation, and then, when all was finished, return to normal life as if nothing had happened. Friends and acquaintances learned not to interrupt him during these events; he would simply not respond. Socrates also had a "voice" by his side from his earliest years. In Plato's Apology, the history of Socrates' trial for "corrupting the youth of Athens," Socrates revealed that he had always followed a voice he heard from childhood, which always gave warnings to keep him from evil. Aside from that limitation, it left him completely free to do as he willed. Socrates said that if there was anything evil awaiting him after death, he was certain his voice would warn him. So, asked to choose his punishment, and unwilling to leave his countrymen for exile, he chose execution. 
Link (here) to the Catholic Education Resource Center to read the full article by Marquette University Professor Howard Kainz

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