The wisdom of the saints

Monday, November 5, Jesuit Father John Kavanaugh died. A professor of philosophy at St. Louis University, he wrote many books, including Following Christ in a Consumer Society, a book I highly recommend. It is a work of liberation theology for the United States.

Father Kavanaugh wrote columns for America magazine for many years. In the 1990s he did three years of reflections on the Sunday lectionary readings. These were subsequently published by Orbis books, and which can be found on the St. Louis University liturgy site, under the section “Get to Know the Readings.” He also contributed the reflections for a book of photos of Mev Puleo, Faces of Poverty, Faces of Christ.

I have read his lectionary reflections for many years since I have found them full of wisdom – not just the practical wisdom of the philosopher but the wisdom of a person seeking to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

This quote from his reflection for All Saints Day sums up that wisdom very well:

The wisdom shared by all the saints, after all, was not about he particular talents or deficits one brought to the world. It was about the wholeheartedness of love, a willingness to give it all away. They also seemed to know that wholeheartedness was not a matter of “once and for all,” or something that would happen overnight. It was, rather, a matter of opening up their entire lives to the transforming grace of God. (The Word Encountered, p. 120)

May he rest in peace.

But I think there is probably no better prayer for him than the “In paradisum” of the Requiem liturgy:

In paradisum deducant te angeli;
in tuo adventu suscipiant martyres
et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.
Chorus angelorum suscipiant
et cum Lazaro, quondam paupere,
aeternam habeas requiem.

May the angels lead you into paradise;
may the martyrs welcome you
and lead you into the holy city Jerusalem.
May the choir of angels receive you,
and with Lazarus, who was once poor,
may you have eternal rest.

November 5, the day of his death, is also the day when the Jesuits remember all the saints and blesseds of the Company of Jesus.

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