Society Men

What I Learned from the Jesuits

Lola Montez, mistress of King Ludwig I, trained her bulldog to attack Jesuits. When the pooch bit a hunk out of a theology professor, the enraged Bavarian intellectual community saw to it that Lola was imprisoned and, for the sake of exorcism, put on a diet consisting solely of raspberry juice. The right team of theatrical geniuses could probably whip up a successful musical comedy out of these ingredients; but dogs on stage are a huge headache, and nowadays there are scarcely any Jesuits left worth biting.

I understand Lola’s attitude, however, because in my youth Jesuits loomed large. I still recall the afternoon when, walking down a corridor at Marquette High School, I was jolted by a sudden loud whack and a slash of fire across my backside. I halted, gasping. Pain had caused me involuntarily to squeeze my eyes shut, and I opened them to see Fr. Jerry Boyle, SJ, saunter past me, chuckling. We didn’t exchange a syllable. Conversation wasn’t one of his strengths. He ambled on down the hallway, swinging his golf club.

It wasn’t a whole club. He’d removed the head and used the shaft as a flogging cane. Boyle’s official title, assistant principal, politely obscured his chief function—discipline. Students in need of correction would,...

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About the Author

Barry Gault is a psychiatrist in private practice in Newton, Massachusetts.