Sunday, June 7, 2009


I have something important in common with a motley assortment of people, including Alfred Hitchcock, Fidel Castro, James Joyce, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, John Donne, Bing Crosby, Joe Paterno, Tim Russert, Garry Wills, Voltaire, Diderot, Descartes, various popes and crowned heads of Europe as well as numerous U.S. members of Congress.

All of us are beneficiaries of a Jesuit education, not that all of those named seem to have been helped by such instruction or were especially grateful for it. I like to think it taught them to think and, as Hitchcock was quoted as saying, to believe that good will triumph over evil.

For me, as I state in a forthcoming article in the Jesuit magazine AMERICA, I learned to ask impossible questions about God, evil, and other mysteries and, more important, to see life from the eternal perspective. This, from my Jesuit instructors in St. Louis, has given me a respect for mystery and for the use of reason in matters of faith.

I remain grateful to have been part of a tradition of learning, now 450 years old, that is today more and more being taken over by laymen. As fewer men enter the Jesuit order, the classically-trained, metaphysically-schooled Jesuits of my youth are, sadly, becoming almost extinct.