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Jack and the Jesuits

Jack the Bulldog Near Healy

Would the spirituality of another religious community better suit Jack?

Some other religious communities are better known for their devotion to animals than the Jesuits. The Franciscans, for example, have a tradition of blessing animals on the feast day of their founder, and some communities of monks have made raising dogs part of their monastic labor.

God's Creatures

But Jesuit spirituality has its own tradition of valuing God's creatures. At the end of his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, asks the retreat participant to look with wonder at all of God’s creatures. Ignatius asked them to find in themselves the labor of God's spirit – thus the Jesuit motto of "finding God in all things."

The Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins captured well this idea of finding God in the good things of the world with his poem "Pied Beauty," which includes these lines:

"Glory be to God for dappled things -– For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-fire coal chestnut-falls; finches' wings; Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim. ...

... All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; addazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him."

Jesuit spirituality encourages people to ponder and experience a God who works personally and directly in their lives – a God who labors in big and small events, in the people and things of their daily existence.

Element of Mystery

How God works in our world always has an element of mystery to it, and so one cannot know for sure exactly how or where God is laboring in any creature.

The most that can be said about Jack the Bulldog is that he has made a real contribution to the well-being of student life at Georgetown. As one of the many cherished traditions at Georgetown, Jack helps draw Hoyas together and foster a sense of community among them. Perhaps in that small contribution by Jack to life on Hilltop, one can see a fragment of God's labor of love.

One doesn't have to be a Franciscan to love a dog like Jack.

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