Fr. Jose T. Villarin, S.J.’s joke about Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits

Years ago, the Physics department had a Planning Session in one of the hotels in Marikina.  Along the way, we stopped in a restaurant and ordered some coffee and snacks.  Fr. Jose T. Villarin, S.J. and I was seated in the same table.  Fr. Jett told me a little joke:

There are three impossible things in the world: a Franciscan who is poor, a Dominican who can preach, and a Jesuit who believes in God.

I laughed.  But thinking about it now, this little joke may provide an insight on why the religious orders are dwindling today: they abandoned their original charism.  So maybe the only way for the old religious orders to increase their numbers is to return to their original charism.

The Franciscans’ charism is evangelical poverty.  St. Francis of Assisi gave up his wealth and followed Christ in poverty.  “Look at the birds in the air, they neither saw nor reap yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”  “Foxes have holes, birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  The Franciscans of the Immaculate lived this Franciscan ideal.  They begged for food and their necessities.  They use the money given to them for propagating the word of God and the devotion to the Immaculata through their magazines and websites.  They weir their mendicant habit.  And their numbers increase.

The Dominicans’ charism is preaching the Gospel.  St. Dominic preached against the heresy of the Cathars.  These are not ignorant fanatics but well-trained and cultured men.  Dominic said:

It is not by the display of power and pomp, cavalcades of retainers, and richly-houseled palfreys, or by gorgeous apparel, that the heretics win proselytes; it is by zealous preaching, by apostolic humility, by austerity, by seeming, it is true, but by seeming holiness. Zeal must be met by zeal, humility by humility, false sanctity by real sanctity, preaching falsehood by preaching truth.(Wikepedia)

In the Philippines today, we have all these sects winning new converts among Catholics: Iglesia ni Cristo, Ang Dating Daan, Born Again, Mormons, etc. It is time for the Dominicans to dust off St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae, gird themselves with the rosary, set off the streets, and wage war with heretics.

The Jesuit’s charism obedience–obedience to the Holy Father, to be more precise.  No other religious order makes a special vow of obedience to the Pope, to go where the Pope wishes them to go.  Whenever a new Jesuit superior general is elected, it is customary that he renewed in writing his obedience to the Pope, as done in 2008 by Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, S.J. to Pope Benedict XVI (Zenit).  Pope Benedict told the Jesuits what he wants them to do:

It could prove extremely useful that the General Congregation reaffirm, in the spirit of St. Ignatius, its own total adhesion to Catholic doctrine, in particular on those neuralgic points which today are strongly attacked by secular culture, as for example, the relationship between Christ and religions; some aspects of the theology of liberation; and various points of sexual morality, especially as regards the indissolubility of marriage and the pastoral care of homosexual persons. (Zenit)

Let us pray that the Jesuits obey.


About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

2 Responses to Fr. Jose T. Villarin, S.J.’s joke about Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits

  1. My boss, who is a die-hard Jesuit fan, (he would not hear Mass if the priest was not Jesuit), said “Imagine if the Jesuits were not around? The whole world would have been in shambles.” I said in reply, “Yes, sir. Back in the days when they were obedient to their Founder and to the Pope. Some of the nastiest things that happened in the world recently was because of the Jesuits.” He asked “Yeah? Like what?” “DISSIDENT THEOLOGIANS, ” I told him. He fell silent. I knew I won that exchange.

  2. Angelle Bollich says:

    Two men considering a religious vocation were having a conversation. “What is similar about the Jesuit and Dominican Orders? ” the one asked.

    The second replied, “Well, they were both founded by Spaniards — St. Dominic for the Dominicans, and St. Ignatius of Loyola for the Jesuits. They were also both founded to combat heresy — the Dominicans to fight the Albigensians, and the Jesuits to fight the Protestants.”

    “What is different about the Jesuit and Dominican Orders?”

    “Met any Albigensians lately?”

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