Evening of Advent Reflection Connects Families Back to the Church

Posted December 8, 2017 / Last updated December 13, 2017

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Fr. Brown clarifies a controversial message from Pope Francis and encourages families to reconnect with the Church.

Fr. Brown clarified a controversial message from Pope Francis and encouraged families to reconnect with the Church at the annual Advent Evening of Reflection.

Alumni and their guests attended an Advent Evening of Reflection on Wednesday, Dec. 6, in the Chapel of the North American Martyrs.

The evening began with a Mass, followed by a discussion in St. Ignatius Hall with Fr. John Brown, S.J., superior of the Jesuit community. The program for the evening—Getting Past the Headlines: Pope Francis and Marriage—focused on Amoris Laetitia, a post-synodal apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis addressing the pastoral care of families. Controversies abounded as soon as the document was released, and the media particularly focused on a chapter that addressed whether or not couples who have been divorced and civilly remarried should be permitted to receive Holy Communion.

Fr. Brown tackled the media controversy head-on by first defining what marriage is in the eyes of the Church. Marriage, he said, is a vocation, a calling by God, to live in His image and likeness and to evangelize through it. It is indissoluble, sacramental, and open to new life. It is not just a lifestyle choice that can be entered into lightly. However, he said, in his exhortation Pope Francis encourages members of the clergy to show pastoral mercy—understanding in the face of exceptional situations. Priests can acknowledge that every parishioner’s situation is different and look at ways to integrate members back to the Church.

Fr. Brown concluded the evening with a prayer for families and a short Q & A.

Hailing from Eunice, Louisiana, and one of 12 children, Fr. Brown entered the Society of Jesus in 2000. He was ordained in 2011 and began his service with Jesuit shortly after. During the last phase of his formation, Fr. Brown was assigned to Dublin, Ireland, then Iraq. He returned to Jesuit in early 2017 to the delight of faculty, staff, and alumni.

This marks the third year of the Advent Evening of Reflection. The event is a response to an interest expressed by many Jesuit High School alumni to reconnect and engage in a theological dialogue about Jesuit teachings. Blue Jays are invited to these events of reflection, prayer, and discussion as an opportunity to grow in their spiritual lives. Jesuit will host two Evenings of Lenten Reflection in the Spring, one for alumni and a separate one for current parents and parents of alumni.