It’s back to school time in Rome. Yes, the Roman academic calendar starts and ends about a month later than the American schedule–which is a good thing since the first couple of weeks of September were too hot to think, let alone study.
And this year, for the first time since starting Kindergarten 1985, my student days are behind me. I’ll be on the other side of the classroom this year, teaching full time at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Since I have to get to class, I thought this week I’d post an interview with my new boss, the Gregorian’s new Rector, Fr. Mark Lewis, S.J. You’ll see why I’m excited to be teaching at the Greg and to be working for Fr. Lewis. His words on the perspective history provides are particularly valuable.
My friend and Jesuit classmate Fr. Michael Rossmann has just published a book, which upon its release held the status of Amazon’s #1 book in “self-help for Catholics”. Actually, I didn’t know there was such a category (and neither did Fr. Rossmann).
Inside the snappy cover, Fr. Rossmann makes a point I think is very important today — really saying yes to something or someone means saying no to other things. Never committing in order to keep one’s options open means refusing to choose the things that matter most.
The book is called The Freedom of Missing Out and continues the long Jesuit tradition of practical help for good decision-making that goes back to St. Ignatius’s rules for discernment. In fact, the influence of Ignatius is not far below the surface, though the book is illustrated with examples from all walks of life and lots of contemporary research. While Rossmann draws on the best of the Catholic tradition, his words about commitment and freedom will ring true to people of any religion.
Last month I had an interesting discussion with Jesuit scholastic David Inczauskis about the sacraments–what they are, why we have them, how they and the theology surrounding them developed through time, what are the challenges for sacramental theology today. David produces an in-depth podcast on liberation theology, so my general introduction to sacramental theology was the lead-in to some of his reflections on liberation theology and the sacraments, which are also included in the podcast. Here’s the Apple version of the episode: