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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

An Interview with Father Andreas Lind, SJ

Gordon: When and why did you decide to be a Jesuit?

Father Andreas: Choosing a vocation is a complex journey that involves one’s own entirely being, rooted in who one is and is meant to be as a creature of God. In my case, my entrance into the Society of Jesus in 2005 followed my graduation in Economics and a brief professional stint in both a Bank and a Business School. However, the decision is closely connected to my choice to be baptized. This means that the conversion to Christianity and the discovery of a vocation as a Jesuit priest are intricately linked.

Actually, I wasn’t always a believer in the God of Jesus Christ, even though I would not say that I was an atheist: for me life seemed too absurd without a link to a Transcendent being. My journey towards Christianity unfolded in adulthood, and the decision was influenced by encountering Christian friends both in university and during volunteer work at a lunchtime shelter. The sisters who worked in this volunteer work with a joy that couldn’t have come from this earth alone were very important.

Witnessing this joy by doing humble works, serving soup to the needy, was a compelling factor. The testimony of these Christians played a pivotal role, as did my exploration of various charisms within the Church, meeting people associated with different movements and spiritualities. Observing the diversity within the Church was crucial. Of course, the discovery of the Spiritual Exercises was also very important. Learning how to pray with imagination, allowing the Word of God to touch my life, and listening to God’s voice through interior motions have shaped me into the priest I am today. It was through this progressive process that I realized that being a Jesuit was my calling, my rightful place in this journey of faith.

Gordon: What in your opinion is an aspect of the Jesuits that distinguishes it from other religious orders?

Father Andreas: Firstly, in terms of charism, a Jesuit is called to recognize oneself as a beloved sinner, summoned by God to collaborate in Christ’s mission. This demands a profound availability – a willingness to change roles, missions, places, and perspectives as required. Secondly, a distinctive feature is the emphasis on being rooted in the Spiritual Exercises, the major legacy left by Ignatius for the entire Church.

In this sense, Jesuits set themselves apart by cultivating a contemplative outlook on the world, seeing God in all things and maintaining hope even in challenging circumstances. Thirdly, Jesuits assume the mission of inhabit frontiers of all kinds: frontiers between the Church and those outside it, frontiers of thought, as well as navigating the borders of poverty and human dignity.

Jesuits are called to become co-workers in the Kingdom of God, embodying a commitment to spiritual and human frontiers. Lastly, a Jesuit’s distinctiveness is further underscored by their ability to engage with people from all social status and diverse cultures. In this regard, a Jesuit should strive for a strong commitment to effective communication. This means that a Jesuit is expected to communicate with everyone.

The Jesuit’s pursuit of knowledge, no matter how intricate, is intended not just for personal enrichment but for the purpose of sharing and connecting with others. This principle aligns with Saint Ignatius’ proposal, where he expressed a desire for Jesuits to take a special vow for the care of catechesis among the humble and children. This vow compels the Jesuit to work and study in connection with the issues affecting the contemporary world and the concrete persons coexisting within this historical moment.

Gordon: Where did you attend seminary, what was your favorite course, and why was it your favorite?

Father Andreas: I did my novitiate in Coimbra, a city in the center of Portugal, the country where I was born. Following two years of novitiate, during which I delved deeper into the charism of the Society of Jesus and allowed it to shape me, altering my way of being, reacting, and thinking, learning to exist more in harmony with others, I pursued philosophy as part of the typical Jesuit Formation Plan.

I ended up thoroughly enjoying the period of study and almost all the subjects it encompassed. Philosophy, much like the novitiate, assisted me in changing, transforming my perspective on things, and allowing a life that was concealed within me to flourish with greater vigor. Anthropological questions have been, and continue to be, the ones that interest me the most. I am deeply grateful for these years of formation in the Society. I am grateful for being a member of the Church through the Society.

Gordon: When did you attend Nova School of Business and Economics and what is one of your favorite memories when you were there?

Father Andreas: I attended Nova School of Business and Economics during a period that held significant personal discovery, as it marked the transition into adulthood and greater independence. One of my favorite memories from that time revolves around the friendships I formed and the opportunity to connect with committed Christians. The university years are pivotal for personal exploration, and I cherish the lasting friendships that originated during that time. I was also influenced by some excellent professors who shared a wealth of life experience connected to the highest levels of decision-making in financial and monetary institutions.

Regarding the academic aspect, I found particular enjoyment in studying the History of Economics, Public Economics, and Environmental Economics. Even then, I demonstrated a preference for courses closely tied to the history of ideas and the role of economics as a fundamental tool for contributing to the construction of a better world.

Gordon: When did you attend University of Namur, what degree did you earn, what was you most challenging course, and why was it challenging?

Father Andreas: I attended the University of Namur, pursuing a Ph.D. in Philosophy for duration of three years, concluding in 2020, supported by a scholarship from the FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia. At that moment, I found the work of Michel Henry fascinating. In Namur, I discovered a scholar specializing in French phenomenology—Sébastien Laoureux. He not only shared my interest but also collaborated with me in delving into the phenomenological interpretation of Saint Anselm’s renowned ontological argument, approached from the perspective of Michel Henry.

The most challenging aspect, as is common in doctoral research, involved experiencing periods of solitude immersed in reading and writing. But, you know, the whole experience was pretty darn rewarding. I really loved my time in Belgium, got some great memories, and made some long-lasting friendships. Additionally, serving as a priest during this period allowed me to collaborate with a Church situated in a highly secularized environment. Forming a community with authentic Christians in such a context was a grace-filled experience for me.

Gordon: When did you attend Catholic University Braga, what degree did you earn, what was your favorite course, and why was it your favorite?

Father Andreas: In Braga, I completed my Bachelor’s degree, that is, the first cycle, in Philosophy. I especially enjoyed courses in Anthropology and Metaphysics, as they delve into the profound question of the meaning of things, their foundation, and the purpose of our existence.

Gordon: Please list the parishes where you served a priest and a memory from each parish.

Father Andreas: Having been ordained a priest in 2016 and being a Jesuit whose superiors have assigned either to study or teach, my activities are not closely tied to a parish, as is typically the case for diocesan priests. Nevertheless, I must mention that in Namur, I collaborated as a kind of “Vicaire dominical” in the sector of Yvoir, where there were 1 diocesan priest, and 2 “vicaires” for 9 churches. As I mentioned, it was a time to get to know relatively small communities but with committed and engaged Christians.

Due to the shortage of priests, my collaboration naturally involved administering sacraments, especially during weekends. I also had the privilege of engaging with a palliative care hospital, Le Foyer Saint-François. Sometimes, I administered the sacrament of anointing of the sick, and it was always a beautiful experience of expressing love in the fragility of our human condition and opening up to God’s grace.

Currently, I have some, albeit limited, connection to a parish in Rome, the parish of San Saba. I am deeply appreciative of being part of a parish that brings together individuals from diverse backgrounds and age groups. In my view, the parish serves as a meeting point for the people of God, even as we are also called to be an outgoing Church.

Gordon: Tell us about your time at University of Namur.

Father Andreas: I was a doctoral student. As part of the Ph.D. program, I had to deliver a few teaching hours and collaborate in organizing academic events. It was a highly enriching experience, stepping into the role of a professor, aiming to assist students in developing their independent reading and thinking skills, all while respecting their freedom in this highly personal process, especially in philosophy.

Gordon: You are currently Professor at Facultés Loyola Paris, what courses do you teach?

Father Andreas: I have been offering short courses at the Centre Sèvres, now Facultés Loyola Paris, focusing on authors from French phenomenology, such as Michel Henry, Jean-Luc Marion, and Jean-Louis Chrétien. Given my specialization in French phenomenology, my courses predominantly revolve around this field.

Gordon: You are Professor Pontifical Gregorian University Rome, what courses do you teach?

Father Andreas: I’m starting a new phase at the Gregorian University after three years at the Portuguese Catholic University, where I was teaching Metaphysics and Philosophy of Religion. It marks the beginning of my integration into this institution here in Rome. Here, I am offering courses in the field of Philosophy of Religion, particularly Theodicy or Natural Theology, and also Phenomenology of Religion.

Gordon: Please comment on the collapse of the party system following the 2017 presidential election in Paris, and the political earthquake triggered by Macron’s radically new perspectives.

Father Andreas: Without delving into the specific situation in France, as I’m not a French citizen, it seems to me that across Europe and in the United States, the political atmosphere has become highly polarized. In this context, this is what comes to mind to say. Emerging political movements appear to have drained the traditional center parties of their strength, leaving them struggling to regain the credibility they once held.

Consequently, the political landscape becomes increasingly fragmented, with poles growing more distant. On the one hand, there is a surge in exclusionary nationalism. And in the other hand, a globalist vision that may not adequately embrace diverse cultures. This polarization reveals a divide between the far-right wing with its populist undertones, reminiscent of a totalitarian discourse, and an extreme commitment to woke culture that appears to reject a shared human nature not constructed by individuals alone.

The danger lies in the potential loss of a shared truth that could bind us together, replacing it with isolated truths for each group or ideology. This polarization can create division and violence within the same society and among nations, as we risk losing the common ground that unites us. But, as the Pope has consistently emphasized, even in the midst of a scenario of war, there is always hope in human fraternity.

Gordon: Thank you for a great interview.

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