Hi there. My name is Rinald D’Souza and I’m a Jesuit researcher from Goa, India. Now being a Jesuit could mean a lot of things to a whole lot of people, depending on what you’ve read or been told about us guys — but I shall let you discover that for yourself. (Yes, we do believe in God, apart from our books. Can we talk about Her a bit later? Gosh, you ask a lot of questions!)
My research focuses on Jesuit history in South Asia, especially in its post-restoration contexts. While we started off in the sixteenth century, they — you find out who! — thought we were a bit of trouble for their time and began disbanding us in 1759, until they realised what they were missing and so restored us in 1814. (A hint on Jesuit life: we are always getting into trouble, for innovating either at the frontiers or in the margins. We kinda like it though.) My research focuses on this later post-restoration period.
Is my writing then going to be academic? Let’s begin by saying yes. Academic writing has its merits (and accompanying nightmares) in the manner in which it organises information within a conceptual framework to bring forth new ideas or findings. It is often written with academic intent and for a select audience and hence contained within academic journals. Jesuits love to live in these spaces, and you are bound to meet them there. But their faith also makes them go beyond the academic world. And so they venture into spaces like Historia Domus, among others.
While Historia Domus has been understood as a “house history” of a specific Jesuit community, it is here reinvented for the web to reflect on Jesuit histories that could be seen as interconnected Jesuit global histories. And as far as the web remains interconnected its dynamic should enhance our interconnected engagement. Although writings on this site would eventually reveal a South Asian perspective, they make the world their domus, their home.
Moving beyond academic spaces, Historia Domus does not necessarily shift solely into the spiritual realm — though faith is a constituent part of Jesuit life and history! It rather situates itself within the dialectic of faith and reason which are at the core of Jesuit engagement with the world. A faith lived without reason amounts to blind belief, while reason not informed by faith is robbed of its insights. Together, they both enable us to transcend ourselves for a better engagement with humanity. It might seem simplistic to suggest a formula (faith + reason = action), but Jesuit action — whether it’s our preferential option for the poor or our commitment to the common good — is shaped by the intersection of faith and reason. Jesuit history reflects on these intersections.
How then do I see Historia Domus? I view Historia Domus as practice — of Jesuit history at the intersection of faith and reason. It is both, practice and practise — reflecting on the practice of Jesuit history as the object of our inquiry as well as the very practise of subjecting Jesuit history to inquiry. This practice also involves the everyday and the ordinary, where Jesuit life and mission is reinvented to its ever-changing and diverse contexts.
I also firmly believe that academics who ultimately derive their funding from ordinary taxpayers, have a commitment to translate their thought for the wider public. For a Jesuit, it is his mission to contribute to the common good.
I hope you enjoy reading Historia Domus as much as I love writing it. For the moment, I plan to write once in three weeks. So do come back to have a read, and tell me what you loved most, or what you did not. You can either visit this site, subscribe to the Facebook page (@historiadomusnet) or follow the Instagram feed (@historiadomus).
I look forward to hearing from you. Yes, we love questions and are by now used to constantly being interrogated — sometimes for no crime of our own! But do write in, and question us when needed.
Rinald D’Souza SJ