Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Last Jesuit

Fr. Blake reflects upon the passing of Fr. Hugh Thwaites, S.J.
Father Hugh Thwaites SJ has died: pray for him, may he rest in peace. Quite fitting he should leave this world during the Octave of the Assumption and on the eve of the feast of his beloved Queen and Mother. Someone once described him as the last of the English Jesuits, some thought of him as a living saint, some of his Jesuit confreres would just roll their eyes at the mention of his name. He was wonderfully eccentric, I remember a balding friend of mine being told by him to get a scrubbing brush and to vigorously scrub his scalp everyday, my friend thought it was advice to stop hair loss, but just maybe it had something to do with asceticism.

When the English Jesuits became austerely rational and embraced everything modern Fr Hugh in a very Jesuit agere contra way seemed to go to the other extreme. I only met him occasionally but he was an important influence on many mutual friends, he taught people to live by faith. I remember a terrifying experience of being driven by him in a dreadful battered patched car, I think one of the wings and a door were a different colour to the rest, he said it had been given to him a by a drug dealer, when I expressed surprise, he said, "He is not a very wealthy drug dealer but he is repentant".

I am told that his course for converts was basically teaching people to say the Rosary. He would come out with extraordinary statements like, "Creation: I suppose God did it to please Our Lady". Which on one level is pietistic and yet really is deeply profound, it fits into his vision of the absolutely generous God who for the sake of one poor sinner, let alone his Mother, would create a world and pour out grace upon grace upon grace. (Read entire post.)

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