Sharing the Experience of the Congregation
David Schultenover, S.J.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


<< previous entry ....... next entry >>

Dave Schultenover, S.J. is a delegate to the Congregation from the Wisconsin Province, in the US Assistancy.

He is a Consultor to the Provincial of the Wisconsin Province and a professor of historical theology at Marquette University.

He is the editor in chief of THEOLOGICAL STUDIES, A Jesuit Sponsored Journal of Theology.


February 7, 2008
Chinese Lunar New Year
The Year of the Rat

It turns out that our new Father General Adolfo Nicolás was born in the Year of the Rat and so is considered to be a Rat person. Mardi Gras at the general congregation merged with a celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year (anticipated). Our brothers from the East Asian/Oceania Assistancy organized a typical (catered) evening dinner. When Father General arrived — he’s from that Assistancy — those who knew him when proceeded to “roast” him by reminding him of the characteristics traditionally associated with one born in the Year of the Rat. From Wikipedia:

"Being the first sign of the Chinese zodiac, rats are leaders, pioneers, and conquerors. They are charming, passionate, charismatic, practical, and hardworking. Rat people are endowed with great leadership skills and are the most highly organized, meticulous, and systematic of the twelve signs. Intelligent and cunning at the same time, rats are highly ambitious and strong-willed people who are keen and unapologetic promoters of their own agendas, which often include money and power. They are energetic and versatile and can usually find their way around obstacles, and adapt to various environments easily. A rat's natural charm and sharp demeanor make it an appealing friend for almost anyone, but rats are usually highly exclusive and selective when choosing friends and so often have only a few very close friends whom they trust.

Behind the smiles and charm, rats can be terribly obstinate and controlling, insisting on having things their way no matter what the cost. These people tend to have immense control of their emotions, which they may use as a tool to manipulate and exploit others, both emotionally and mentally. Rats are masters of mind games and can be very dangerous, calculating, and downright cruel if the need arises. Quick-tempered and aggressive, they will not think twice about exacting revenge on those that hurt them in any way. Rats need to learn to relax sometimes, as they can be quite obsessed with detail, intolerant, and strict, demanding order, obedience, and perfection.

Rats consider others before themselves, at least sometimes, and avoid forcing their ideas onto others. Rats are fair in their dealings and expect the same from others in return, and can be deeply affronted if they feel they have been deceived or that their trust has been abused. Sometimes they set their targets too high, whether in relation to their friends or in their career. But as the years pass, they will become more idealistic and tolerant. If they can develop their sense of self and realize it leaves room for others in their life as well, Rats can find true happiness.

According to tradition, Rats often carry heavy karma and at some point in life may face an identity crisis or some kind of feeling of guilt. Rats are said to often have to work very long and hard for everything they may earn or have in life. However, a Rat born during the day is said to have things a bit easier than those who are born at night. Traditionally, Rats born during the night may face extreme hardships and suffering throughout life. Rats in general should guard themselves against hedonism, as it may lead to self-destruction.
Professions include espionage, psychiatry, psychology, writing, politics, law, engineering, accounting, detective work, acting, and pathology."

Being superior general of the Society of Jesus could correspond to all these fields, but surely, at least, pathology. The list read before the Father General was briefer but did not shy away from the shadow characteristics. Needless to say, the reading was punctuated with loud laughter as Father General’s eyebrows ascended or descended at this or that point. Needless also to say, the list differs markedly from the list Ignatius included in his Constitutions, which one wag summed up as “the qualities of Jesus on a good day.”

We continue in the slogging part of the congregation, working assiduously on documents in both small and large groups, and hearing reports on documents in plenary sessions. These reports have been uniformly crisp (not always so with subsequent questions and interventions), usually with the assistance of PowerPoint, sometimes with amusing background images, such as one used by a certain man from the East Asian Assistancy: a sandy beach with inflated ball and child’s pail and shovel. The work is intense and the hours long, so when we hit the aula, we are generally dying for a laugh. Fortunately on this, at least, we all agree.

Send Your Sharing About the Congregation

Back to the G.C. 35 Home Page | Creighton U. Online Ministries Home Page