For the last couple of weeks I have been experiencing what are apparently common features of many Jesuits’ lives, namely needing to work on tasks that come up unexpectedly while still trying to do the normal tasks but for which one is not really competent.
The unexpected task came from the repeated cries of anguish from various users of our computer network, that I, as person designated to look after the computers could no longer ignore. Actually it is not as unexpected as I make out, it has been a problem for a while. Part of the reason for it dragging on is another part of the equation stated above – I am not skilled enough to accurately search for, locate, diagnose and correct these problems. That is certainly not particular to Jesuits. My observation is that this is often the case when trying to fix things, whether they be computers, photocopiers, gardens, economies or bodies. However, being able to acquire accurate information of the nature of the problem and having a reasonable idea of the sorts of remedy likely to work help greatly in reaching a solution. I have learnt a bit more about what is not the problem and one phase of the operation which concerned me was completed successfully. Nonetheless, the problems remain and we are going to call for the advice of a professional.
The work I needed to continue doing was reading a series of articles about religious life and preparing a seminar on one of them. This is for the study aspect of the novitiate which has a strong emphasis on encouraging us to think and pray about religious life in general and Jesuit life in particular, based on theory and as described by others who are further along this road.
On Monday morning we went to the funeral of Monsignor Thomas Fallon, who had been the parish priest of the Birmingham parish of St Francis in Handsworth for over thirty years. A generation of Jesuit novices met him and either did placements in the parish or at least went to midnight Mass there at Christmas. Fr Tom has moved on, but the novitiate connection with the parish continues – I started my year-long Sunday apostolate in the Handsworth parish this Sunday just passed. At first I didn’t know how to approach the funeral. I hadn’t met this man who had a profound effect on many people’s lives. After the fact, an answer is the same one I came to one evening in a put during my time at L’Arche (http://www.larchelambeth.org.uk/), before joining the Society. I found it a privilege to be with people and share a little of the journey together in the ordinary and extraordinary.