On unfinished thinking

I am currently reading My Door is Always Open, Antonio Spadaro SJ’s interview with Pope Francis. One Jesuit interviewing another (especially this one) is of obvious interest to Project SJ, and I’ll be writing a proper review in due course.

In the meantime, I am deeply struck by this phrase of Francis’ regarding discernment:

The style of the Society is not shaped by discussion, but by discernment, which of course presupposes discussion as part of the process. The mystical dimension of discernment never defines its edges and does not complete the thought. The Jesuit must be a person whose thought is incomplete, in the sense of open-ended thinking. (p. 24)

I’ve been carrying this concept about with me—the incomplete thought, the open-ended process—and I think it’s key. Not just to the interest of Jesuit perspectives and Jesuit culture “from without,” but to the very real usefulness of the Spiritual Exercises in combating scrupulosity, absolutism and the allure of the too-hasty decision.

What do you think? (“I don’t know yet” is a more than acceptable answer.) Is there a particular phrase, idea or image that says “Jesuit” to you? Leave a comment and let me know.



  1. I have found Jesuits to be the most valuable Confessors. They are always listening and asking questions, and do not as readily jump to conclusions. Jesuits seem to have a great respect for psychology. They want the penitent to look into him/herself and determine the cause of the sin so as not to repeat it. This has been, for me, a very valuable exercise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your comment, Fariba. I’ve found that too. I was terrified of confession (I didn’t really know what it entailed, being new) but, done well, it is so useful.


  3. “Why?”. Many moons ago, I had a friend who eventually became a Jesuit and he had the most irritating habit of always asking “Why?”. He never accepted anything at face value … and as a result, I’ve acquired the same irritating habit.

    Liked by 2 people

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