Friday 30 November 2018

Learning From Failure

This week has been one that has confronted me with the dark history of my Jesuit family. As you would be aware, a former Jesuit brother was convicted of abusing students while he worked here in boarding many years ago. Personally, I find the history troubling because of the lack of acknowledgment of the past and it fills me with shame that a member of my ‘family’ has used us and the people he was supposed to serve to harm them. But as troubling as this near-past history is, looking away from it, refusing to acknowledge it as a part of our history would be worse.

As human beings, we search for meaning in every single event, and often, the more awful the event, the greater our need to make sense of it. To learn from it. If we do not accept the personal and communal failings in our history, we fail to learn from it; to change, to grow, to make certain that past mistakes are not repeated. Our responsibility is a simple one: take care of human persons. But so often, the simplest things to do are the hardest things to achieve. But the hope of our faith is that we continue to strive, as individuals and as a community, to care for one another together. That’s the only way we can hope to heal old wounds, ensure that no one is harmed in the present and do the best we can to ensure future generations are safe and free to grow into the people God created them to be. That’s cura personalis, the care of the person that is at the heart of Ignatian spirituality. So, let us look at the darkness of history together and resolve to build together a community that has hope at its heart.


I love the way clouds move through a valley at dusk. Like they’re spilling over everything, wrapping the world up in a blanket. The colours here feel so subtle, so ethereal to me; just the moon looking down on the cloud tops, the tree standing watch over the valley. What’s the sublime peace you need in your world right now? Can you be patient and wait for it to rise to greet you?

Fr Jack McLain SJ