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How to Understand the New Jesuit Pope

(Article Published in the March 21,2013 issue of Business Mirror)

       One way of guessing what we can expect from our new Jesuit Pope Francis is to scan the jokes about Jesuits that have recently cropped up overnight just like the Polish jokes that mushroomed as soon as a Pole, Karol Jozef Wojtyla, became Pope in August 1978. The most insightful ones come from Atty. Joey Benedicto, one of my partners at the Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles Law Office. With his permission and with due respect for his disclaimer that he is not author of any, I share some hereunder, with some personal intercalations and annotations, inspired by eleven years of formation (some say, indoctrination) by the Jesuits.

       Jesuits are good at asking questions. A Franciscan and a Jesuit were friends; both were smokers who found it difficult to pray for the long periods of time without lighting a stick. They decided to get dispensation from their Superiors. When they met up again, the Franciscan moaned, “I asked my Father Superior if I could smoke while I prayed, and Father Superior said “No.”. The Jesuit with a smile said, “I asked mine if I could pray while I smoked, and he said, ‘Of course’”.

       Another: A Jesuit, a Dominican and a Franciscan were walking along an old road wrestling with the question of which of their Orders was the greatest. Suddenly, they were confronted with an apparition of the Holy Family, the baby Jesus in the manger, Mary and Joseph praying over him. The Franciscan, struck by the sight of God born in poverty, fell on his face. The Dominican, awed by the prayerful stance of Mary and Joseph, himself fell to knees in worship. The Jesuit walked up to Joseph and, putting his arm around Joseph’s shoulders, asked, “So, have you thought about where to send him to school?”

       A third: A Franciscan, a Dominican, and a Jesuit were out playing golf one day at the Country Club, their caddy fees, green fees and insurance sponsored by my senior partner, Jose F. Buenaventura. Before long, they got stuck behind a flight that was taking so long and, at the same time, refusing to let those behind them play through. Very much annoyed, they went to the Club Manager to complain. The Club Manager asked them to be extra understanding and patient, because the flight was composed of blind golfers.

       The Franciscan, mortified, got down on his knees and begged God’s forgiveness for his irritation. The Dominican was most repentant and vowed to exert more effort than before in helping the poor and the disabled. The Jesuit asked the Club Manager, “why don’t you ask them to play at night?”.

       Jesuits are also good at giving answers. A Jesuit and a Franciscan sat down to dinner after which they were served two pieces of pie for desert. One piece was larger than the other. Without any hesitation, the Jesuit took the bigger piece. The Franciscan remarked, “St. Francis always taught us to take the meaner (i.e. smaller) piece.” To which the Jesuit responded, “And so you have it.”

       This charism the Jesuits keep until they breath their last. A Dominican, a Franciscan and a Jesuit were in the same hospice, all near death. One evening, they were visited by the Angel of Death who told them that each could have a final request before crossing over to the great beyond. The Dominican asked to gaze upon the face of the Savior. Instantly, the face of Christ appeared before him. “Now, I can die,” said the Dominican. The Franciscan asked to touch the wounds of Jesus the Crucified. And Christ appeared and willingly allowed the Franciscan, as He had asked the Doubting Thomas, to feel His wounds. The dying Franciscan did and, like Simeon, prayed, the “Nunc Dimittis Servum Tuum, Domine”. Finally, it was the turn of the Jesuit. The Jesuit said, “I’d like a second opinion.”

       But more than by their asking and answering, Jesuits are marked by what they do. A Franciscan got a haircut from a barber who refused to charge for his service. The following day, the barber received a big basket of fresh bread from the Franciscan kitchen. An Augustinian followed the Franciscan and, after he too was not charged, sent the barber a nice bottle of wine from the Augustinian cellar. A Jesuit also was not charged for his haircut by the worthy barber. The next day the barber, at the start of business hours, found twelve other Jesuits waiting for him.

       What explains this Jesuit way of being? A mother went to her pastor to seek advice as to what order her son, who wanted to become a priest, ought to join. The pastor said, “If he wants to be a diocesan priest, he’ll have to study for eight years; a Franciscan, for ten years, and a Jesuit, for fourteen years.” “I tell him to be a Jesuit then, Father,” replied the mother, “He is a little slow.”

       Happy Easter, everyone.