“There is a desire for love that persists even as Harry Styles reveals his wounds. In his earnestness, faith, hope, and love remain in the midst of doubt, despair, and fear. The album is a tribute to these deep, pure desires, which extend beyond earthly limitations.”
(Photo from Columbia Records)
Thanks to the Jesuit Post, I’ve had the opportunity to offer my take on Harry Styles’ first solo album. Please give it a read here.
In the piece I commend the young artist for his emotional intensity and his willingness to write about the pursuit of love despite his doubts about love’s capacity to transcend futile emotions.
Let me know what you think about the album, too!!!
David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.
Reflection for Divine Mercy Sunday: April 23, 2017 A.D.
On February 22, 1931, Jesus Christ appeared to Sister Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun. She recorded the event in her diary. She writes,
“In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, ‘Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'”
Sometime later, Our Lord revealed to her the meaning of this symbol:
“The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross….Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter.”
The Divine Mercy image is intimately connected with Holy Week and Easter. Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection are the source of all grace in the Christian life. Everything comes from Holy Week. Everything leads to Holy Week.
The pale ray represents the water of baptism. This water poured out of Jesus’ heart when a Roman soldier pierced his side. This water takes people out of the darkness of original sin into the light of grace. St. Paul says to the Romans, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (6:3-4). Baptism changes everything. It radically transforms us, even now, if we let it. Do we trust in the grace of baptism?
The red ray represents the blood of Christ. Like the water, this blood poured out of Jesus’ heart when the Roman soldier pierced his side. This blood becomes the lifeblood of the people of the Church, who drink it every Sunday (if not every day). The blood of Christ courses through our veins, filling us with the divine life. Jesus preaches to the multitudes, “My blood is true drink” (John 6:55). St. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16). We have just received this gift in Communion. It has the power to radically transform us. Do we trust in the grace of the blood of Christ?
It is all about trust in God’s grace. Pope Francis says, “All is grace.” St. Ignatius says, “Find God in all things.” Everything has the possibility to become a grace for us if we trust. Trust does not mean that worldly goods will enter into our life if we merely believe. It does not mean that death or suffering will stay away. No. Trust is a simple belief that all is grace. Christ is our model. For him, even suffering, even death become graces, for he showed us his love in suffering. The greatest grace is selfless love, which often hurts. Can we let this truth into our hearts? All is grace. Are we childlike enough, humble enough to know it?
Jesus says to Saint Faustina, “Tell souls that, from the fountain of mercy, souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls.”
Are we humble? Do we trust in God? There is one way to know. There is a simple rule of thumb we can use at any time. When is the last time that we have seen God’s grace? If we answer “now,” then we are humble and trust in God. If anything else, then we do not.
Let me conclude with the prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola:
“Take, Lord, and receive all our liberty, our memory, our understanding, and our entire will, All we have and call our own. You have given all to us. To you, Lord, we return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give us only your love and your grace, that is enough for us. Amen.”
David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.
What’s been happening in 2017
(Chicago Skyline from Lincoln Park, my photo)
Here’s a rundown of what has been going on in my life this year:
I applied and got accepted to the Spanish MA Program at Loyola University Chicago, which means I’ll be studying both Spanish and philosophy for the next two years in order to receive two master’s degrees.
I wrote two articles for the Jesuit Post on Katy Perry and Lorde: https://thejesuitpost.org/author/dinczauskissj/
I wrote an article for the Catholic Herald UK on pop music and theology: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/issues/march-24th-2017/taylor-swifts-psalms-show-me-how-to-love-god/
I finished the Spiritual Direction Internship, so I’m now a certified spiritual director.
I’m in three classes: one on classical modern philosophy, one on film and metaphysics, and one on contemporary Latin American literature.
I’ve planned a trip to El Progreso, Honduras, this summer to study La Fragua, a theatre company founded by a Jesuit in the 1970s.
I’ve accepted the position of chaplain/adviser of the Loyola Students for Life, effective beginning in the fall of this year.
I’ve worked as a religion teacher at St. Procopius School and as an interfaith chaplain at a detention center for undocumented minors.
Thanks to friends, family, and others for your support. God bless you!
David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.
“The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners alone. Respectable people [can settle elsewhere].” –Oscar Wilde
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
(Me in 2011, Huehuetenango, Guatemala)
“If Jesus told his followers to sell everything they own, give the money to the poor, and follow him…why don’t we do that?”
That question was the beginning of my end. It destroyed me.
Some gave answers. “It doesn’t apply to everyone.” “It’s an exaggeration.” “If everyone sold everything, then no one would have anything.” “Don’t be so literal.”
I didn’t buy it. Christians are hypocrites. Jesus and his early followers were the most radical figures I’d ever encountered, but Christians today are generally the most normal, mediocre people I’ve ever encountered. A young idealist sees life in Jesus but often finds death in the contemporary Church.
Aspiring saints of the world, UNITE!
The saints: their stories are amazing. What trust! What poverty! Yet, when I ask people about sainthood today, they say, “Just accept yourself as you are! Don’t strive to be perfect! It’s not ‘psychologically sound.'” How often are holy desires crushed to pieces by words of complacency!
“I want a mess in the dioceses!” So says Pope Francis. I think he means, “I want saints. I am tired of lukewarm Christians. Wake up!”
In addressing the Jesuits in Rome, Pope Francis gave the example of St. Alberto Hurtado: “He was a thorn in the side of a dormant church!” Arise! “Seek ye first the kingdom of God…”
I have seen examples of sainthood, a few… There are holy catechists, there are holy teachers, there are holy Jesuits.
However, I have not seen holiness greater than what I saw in Guatemala.
The work was tireless. There was political organizing. There were long journeys out into the countryside. There was personal sacrifice. Youth were dreaming up plans for their futures. Blood, sweat, and tears. Picketing. It was a mess, but it was a sacred, beautiful, and radical mess. People went to mass on Sunday, and the mass meant something. There were all night vigils for those who had died. “Come and follow me.”
The Church in Guatemala gave me hope for a Church of the poor, for the poor.
To die young with desires for holiness is better than to die old with disillusionment.
The soul will stand for nothing less than sainthood. Give it food. Feed the flames. Pray constantly. Love patiently. Work for justice.
I am a sinner. Oh yes, I am a sinner, but I don’t want to be one. Yes, the flame has withered at times in my life, but I can’t stand it!
My prayer: God, make me a Christian, a follower of Christ. I’ll seek nothing less, and you will give me nothing less.
David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.
P.S.1. I thank the many people who have shown me what it means to be holy, to be poor, to be like Christ. Your dedicated has inspired me to follow Christ in the Jesuits.
P.S.2. The comments about “lukewarm” Christians are not in reference to anyone in particular. I find myself lukewarm at times; however, with Christ’s help we can be Christians who love, hope, and believe with radical devotion.