Things Jesuit

No Prayer Warrior

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 06/23/2017 - 05:30

By dotMagis Editor

Talk of “winners” and “warriors” with respect to prayer is, to me, oxymoronic. Christ told us to be willing to take the last place, and for me that’s never so much a matter of willingness as acknowledging that I’m there by default pretty much all the time. I’m no prayer warrior, or any other kind of warrior. I’m just a run-of-the-mill, deeply flawed human being who is terrified of not being loved, afraid of dying [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article No Prayer Warrior, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

A Tale of Two Churches: the Bishops and Religious Liberty

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 06/23/2017 - 02:14

Imagine you and I are debating the best way to slice bread. It shouldn’t be that controversial. Slicing bread is not difficult, and, even if we do disagree on how to do it, our difference should not engender moral judgments against each other. But somehow we find ourselves in a heated dispute over bread-slicing, a dispute that quickly becomes personal and contentious.

Halfway through the conversation, however, you realize that I mean something different then you do by the word “bread.” What I call bread you call income tax, and suddenly it makes sense why I keep insisting that bread requires extensive dialogue and careful analysis before we can really talk about how to cut it, and why I have become upset that you don’t see cutting bread as a crucially moral issue.

This is a silly scenario, but nothing is quite as common in our politics as the situation I am trying to illustrate. Everyday we have arguments about justice, freedom, rights, and equality, only we don’t mean the same thing by those words. Indeed, some of the words most fundamental to public discourse – like nature, politics, even the human person – just don’t connote the same meanings for us.

Perhaps one of the greatest examples of this dissonance is the word “freedom.” The word can mean virtually anything, from the freedom to do absolutely anything that doesn’t harm others, to the freedom to pursue one’s ends and purposes according to what is good for one. In such a welter of meanings, one person’s freedom can look like slavery to another.

And so it’s notable that the US bishops are kicking off their annual “Fortnight for Freedom” for religious liberty this week. Begun in 2012 to underline threats to religious freedom in the U.S and abroad, this year’s Fortnight is a bit different, as it features a renewed emphasis on the connection between religious liberty and immigration. The two issues are closely linked, the bishops argue:     

National and local Catholic charitable agencies around the country have long provided services to people in need, regardless of immigration status. However, several states have passed laws that forbid what state legislatures consider “harboring” of undocumented immigrants—and what the Church considers Christian charity and pastoral care to those immigrants.

This linkage is clever. Just as religious liberty has been cast as a conservative issue, care for the immigrant and refugee has sadly been presented as a boutique concern of the Left. But the bishops’ move pushes back against such ideological boundaries. Many have argued that the bishops pay more attention to religious liberty than to immigration, and implicitly that they are in the conservatives’ pocket. But the linkage between the two issues ought to show that the bishops are not just conservatives, and that they intend to challenge both the Left and the Right. In short, linking immigration to religious liberty promises to expand our vision of religious liberty beyond conventional partisan boundaries.

But will it?


One reason to think that it will not is past experience: the US bishops have linked immigration to religious liberty before, but to little effect. Perhaps those Catholics already persuaded of the need to bolster religious liberty support that message and ignore the immigration dimension, whereas those turned off by that push won’t be drawn in by the immigration angle.

After all, American Catholics are good at cherry-picking policy statements they like from the bishops, and criticizing the bishops for those they don’t like. So politically conservative Catholics quote the bishops on a series of policies called “pro-life” issues, but then dismiss them on the economy and immigration. Politically liberal Catholics similarly endorse the bishops’ stance on a menu of topics usually called “social justice” issues, while decrying their pro-life politics. For many Catholics, in other words, it must be rather confusing, if not distressing, to see the bishops agree with them on other policy issues, but not on others.

Here we need to sit with a difficult truth: the bishops are complicated political actors. Like most intelligent people, the bishops’ political views transgress partisan divisions. And unlike most people, even intelligent ones, the bishops seek to put their faith ahead of their politics. And whereas most Americans feel completely justified in speaking on any political matter they wish, no matter their level of competence (or lack thereof) on the matter, the bishops must constantly justify their statements, explaining to often suspicious audiences why in general they teach on political and social topics, and in particular why they are addressing this or that issue at hand.

All of these factors play out in the bishops’ appeal to freedom. And this is where freedom looks a lot like our bread example.

For many on the Right, religious liberty is an essential check on government authority. But if the “freedom” of religious liberty is a freedom from government, what is it a freedom for? As the GOP has become increasingly influenced by economic libertarianism, it has in general become less preoccupied with what freedom is for: the personal character and virtues that build up families, churches and communities, and have traditionally been the concern of conservatism. It then becomes difficult to explain how the freedom from governmental authority ought to be connected to a freedom to help and serve others, notably in this case immigrants. And so for many on the Right, they applaud the bishops’ emphasis on liberty, but ask that they not be told how to make use of that liberty. The bishops’ challenge thus has to show the connection between liberty and virtue.

On the Left, freedom is profoundly moral, but in a way that is deeply ambivalent about authority and truth.1 As Robert Kraynak argues, the Left often “defends dignity with doubt”: it protects personal freedom by denying that anyone can have access to the kind of truth needed to make claims about how communities should be organized.

Because of the Left’s ambivalence toward authority, it tends to worry that public interventions of organizations like the bishops’ conference are plays for power disguised as disinterested statements of truth. For the Left, then, freedom is not normally used to bolster public bodies like the Church, but to limit them. And so for many on the Left, the bishops’ language of “freedom” will not seem to be a call for authentic liberty, but cover for a power grab. And so the bishops’ challenge is to proclaim the truth in a way that moves past such skepticism about truth and suspicion of power.

This is what the bishops are up against in so provocatively linking immigration to religious liberty. The bishops are trying to address what can at times feel like two different churches, Left and Right, in the midst of a much broader culture of secularism. Can the bishops craft a message that transcends such divisions and draws Catholics and US citizens toward common ground? And can American Catholics – and all Americans of good will – respond generously to such efforts toward finding common ground?


Image courtesy Catholic News Service.

Categories: Things Jesuit

A Layover in Ramadan

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 02:14

After an exhausting 15 hour flight, all I wanted was a cold beer.

I was looking at a nine hour layover in the Middle East, and in hopes of passing the time, I sought to make friends in one of the airport’s lounges. Approaching a smiling attendant, I inquired if she had a drink list, to which she replied, “I am so sorry, sir, but it is Ramadan.”

With no explanation, she moved along, leaving me somewhat curious and with several questions. I had a limited understanding of this month for Muslims. I knew fasting was an important part of the tradition, and I knew that its observation was significant for the Muslim community. What I did not understand was why I could not order a beer.

I struck up a few conversations with some fellow patrons, asking for more clarity. One person explained that, since many consider drinking alcohol in public during the holiest month of the year highly offensive and disrespectful, alcohol is not served. In this Muslim-dominant country, most passengers in transit are faithful followers of Islam, and certain policies were adopted out of respect for those observing Ramadan.

I felt a tension… I had just gotten off this plane, dazed and disoriented from the time zone changes. But I thought the cosmopolitan, international environment of the airport would offer familiar comforts, however far I was from home.

On one hand, I had what I believed was a reasonable expectation for a weary traveller; on the other hand, I had a desire to respond respectfully to the cultural expectations of the place I was present. Responding out of sensitivity to certain cultural expectations seemed to offer a chance to break out of my bubble and recognize the realities of our multicultural world. Was drinking alcohol in public worth the display of disrespect? After conversing with my new friends and learning a little more about the policy, the invitation toward respect felt like the most natural and loving response.

Surprisingly, this mundane exchange about ordering a drink gave me an opportunity to learn more about this Abrahamic religion and its traditions. Most Muslims take the expectations of Ramadan very seriously. It is a time of fasting, prayer, community, and charity. As a traveler in transit through an international airport, growing in understanding of this religious tradition was unexpected, and it is one for which I am grateful.

As most Muslims around the world conclude Ramadan over the next few days, I hope that peace and understanding might continue to underlie our cultural encounters. And by the way, the lemon mint water was a much more refreshing option, anyway.

For more information on Ramadan, see here and here.


Image courtesy FlickrCC user Omar Chatriwala.

Categories: Things Jesuit

What Was God Calling Me to Do?

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 05:30

By Rebecca Ruiz

“Uh, Mom?” my son said, motioning towards the window of our parked car. Outside the window, uncomfortably close, stood a slight woman, her face lined with age. I rolled down the window. With nary an introduction, the words starting pouring out. Decades ago, she had come from deep in the South. She had worked in the circus, had been a barn hand, a stage hand, a waitress, and a house cleaner. She wanted to know [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article What Was God Calling Me to Do?, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Giving in to Birthdays

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 02:14

Four years ago while studying in Québec, I managed to celebrate my birthday without a single Bonne fête or cake. None of my classmates, instructors, or housemates knew — that is, until the next day, June 6th, when one of my classmates (whose Facebook friendship I forgot I ratified) blew my cover. Some friend. “Why didn’t you tell us it was your birthday?!” they all asked in rapid-fire French. I shrugged my shoulders, I didn’t know enough French yet to say why.  


This year, I pencilled June 5th into my calendar as travel day. It had to be. It was sandwiched between the celebration of my Jesuit brothers’ June 3rd ordinations, my blood brother’s June 4th high school graduation in Wisconsin, and the June 6th-10th summer camp back in South Dakota. A birthday-travel day was the price I had to pay.

11:40pm, Sunday, June 4th: Standing in line, with a bag at my feet and a bag on my back, I watch a woman take an elegant and swooping Snapchat video of herself posing with a screen-printed shirt reading, IT’S MY BIRTHDAY, BITCH.

“Today or tomorrow?” I ask.


“Well, enjoy your last twenty minutes! Mine’s tomorrow!”

I stop in shock. I just told someone it was my birthday. What’s gotten into me?

“Honey, I celebrate my birthday all month,” she said, reaching over Greyhound’s retractable queue lines to give me a hug, “Happy birthday to you.”

I just told someone it was my birthday. What’s gotten into me?


2:40am, Monday, June 5th: I wake to the sound of air brakes, flicked lights, the voice of the driver saying, “Tomah, Wisconsin: Thirty minutes here, there’s a Burger King and a gas station, make sure you’re back on the bus at 3:10.” Blinking off the quick wake-up, my first emotion is pure and unbridled joy: I slept the whole 150 minutes. I’m not always so lucky.

2:50am, Monday, June 5th: I got a small fry, played harmonica by my favorite red maple, talked to the smokers, then slept till Eau Claire.

4:45am, Monday, June 5th: Woke up in Eau Claire. Went back to sleep just as soon as I woke up.

6:00am, Monday, June 5th: Woke somewhere between the Mississippi River and Minneapolis, rubbing my eyes to cornfields and wooded hills, standing rocks and every warm shade of red, orange and yellow in the tray. Blinking to free eyelids from eyes, mind from short dreams to this glorious sunrise and my upcoming bus transfer in Minneapolis, I checked my phone. We’re on time.

We’re on time. This is notable only for its brutal alternative: if you’re not on time, you’ll miss the connection. I exhale in relief.

6:05am, Monday, June 5th: 5 miles down the road, I check my phone after sliding my earplugs and eye cover into my backpack’s side pocket. Rivaling the before-my-alarm waking surprise to the perfect sunrise, I catch messages from Indonesia west through the Middle East, Eastern Africa and into France. I take a long scroll down my homescreen, birthday notifications chasing the sun east to west through lunch breaks on the other side of the world.

All this love and nowhere to hide. I had the next 12 hours on a bus across the expansive Great Plains: just me, my companions, and all these birthday wishes against a blank canvas.The grace poured in slowly.

6:45am, Monday, June 5th: The two curly-haired Amish children wake up, climbing the chairs in front of me, peeking and smiling as they eat their packed snacks and sing songs with their parents.

I read for most of the next two (three? four?) hours until Albert Lea, Minnesota.

The children always seemed to be smiling at me when I looked up between pages.

12:10pm, Monday, June 5th: Arrive in Sioux Falls. Depart 30 minutes later after doing absolutely nothing.

12:40pm, Monday, June 5th. After 12 hours, everyone starts to talk to each other. I trade two Kazakh college students some South Dakota indigenous-colonial history for central Asian geography lessons.

…In between reading, smiling, geography, silence, and cornfields I take texts, messages and phone calls, enjoying one of the happiest birthdays I’ve ever had. Every message and call lands with the time needed to savor it. With no other distractions, I couldn’t hide from thirty years’ worth of blessings from friends and family.

6:15pm, Monday, June 5th: Clare, Maka, and Sarah find me barefooted at the park in Rapid City. I even let them take me out to dinner before catching a ride back home to Pine Ridge, another 90 minutes away.


16 of the 24 hours of my 30th birthday on a routine Greyhound bus from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Rapid City, South Dakota. In the days leading up to this trip, however, I spent at least this much time answering “Why the bus?”

Greyhound does not typically have a high reputation among travelers. Reviews online range from “not particularly pleasant” to “dreadful and “horrible,” employing words and phrases such as “cringe” “fee-ridden and unfriendly” “worst experience of my life” and “I hate it.” Most USA Jesuits only know Greyhound from their pilgrimage experience, which many would cite as the the most uncomfortable portion of their Jesuit formation and/or life. But with at least seven years and counting of practice in Greyhound apologetics, though, I’ve got my answer down pat.

Simply put, I like the person I become on the bus. I talk to strangers. More than just small talk. I lend money. I ask questions. I read books. I look out the window. I think long and hard. I do nothing. I go with the flow. I say yes. I get there when I get there. I tell people it’s my birthday. I let myself be loved a bit. But until this year, I’ve never gone so far as to celebrating a birthday on a Greyhound bus. And I’m glad I did. Sixteen hours lets in a lot of love.

Maybe next year, I’ll pencil June 5th in again as a travel day. But, maybe I don’t need to- maybe Greyhound really is changing me for good.


Image courtesy FlickrCC user SounderBruce.

Categories: Things Jesuit

TJP Video: Father 2 Father

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 02:14

Twenty-nine men (from the U.S., Canada and Haiti) were newly ordained to the Jesuit priesthood. Some of the U.S. Jesuits were caught on video taking a moment the day of their ordination to thank their fathers for making them the men they are today. This is “Father 2 Father.”

Happy Father’s Day 2017!


The Jesuit Post



Plus, make sure to read Br. Ken Homan, SJ’s piece “You’re Just Like Your Dad.”

And if you’re interested in the stories of the 29 courageous men who were just ordained to the Jesuit priesthood this summer, check out:

Special Thanks to the Interviewees (in order of appearance):

Fr. Ryan Rallanka, SJ

Fr. Phillip Sutherland, SJ

Fr. Marcus Fryer, SJ

Fr. Stephen Pitts, SJ


Video Collaboratively Recorded By:

Perry Petrich, SJ

Tucker Redding, SJ

Michael Tedone, SJ

Edited by: Michael Martinez, SJ

Music Credit: Hit the Floor (2016) by Bob Bradley (PRS) / Matt Parker (PRS) / Steve Dymond (PRS); Licensed by Audio Network Limited

Categories: Things Jesuit

Grounded Prayer

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 05:30

By Vinita Hampton Wright

I think that sometimes we make prayer difficult because we separate it from what is concrete in daily life. We develop the attitude that prayer is supposed to be something in the mind and heart, a spiritual quality hard to define and somewhat elusive to experience. Yet Jesus urged his disciples to pray, to ask God for what they wanted, and to never give up at prayer. The Gospel accounts tell of his regular excursions [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Grounded Prayer, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

“You’re just like your dad…”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 02:14

I knelt in the front pew, watching the rest of the congregation pass by to receive Communion. I had spent a majority of the Mass quietly crying off-and-on. As my dad walked by, he smiled and warmly patted me on the cheek, tears running down his own face. I felt as if the love would explode out of me. That moment at the Mass of my first vows as a Jesuit brother, with the touch of my dad’s hand against my face, felt like my own version of The Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel.

Dad and I have always been incredibly close, and I resemble him in many ways. We have the exact same laugh, tell awful jokes, and feel great pride in our handiwork. But of all the things Dad has taught me, his best lessons have been on love and a healthy masculinity.


I have a great deal of vivid memories of Dad. When I was younger and folks asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always answered “a dad.” That’s because he did such a great job of teaching me how to be a man. He taught me how to pick out dress clothes, appreciate a good craft beer, and choose flowers for a date.

Most importantly, however, Dad taught me that masculinity is not defined by characteristics like clothing, dining, or dating. Masculinity cannot be reduced to a machismo attitude: “be a man!” Too often, masculinity is rooted in a dangerous male ego, fragility, and dominance. This type of masculinity acts as a reflection of community and social structures.

But Dad taught me a different kind of masculinity: one that must always be rooted in a selfless and generous love. This same love must be willing to break down the power and oppression so regularly found in masculinity. All of the characteristics and actions – wearing a suit, drinking a craft beer, picking out flowers – were simply venues for Dad to instruct me in respect, creativity, and thoughtfulness. He took what are often tools of oppression and transformed them into opportunities for change and goodness. He continues to do so.

As I reflect on Father’s Day and the importance of Dad in my life, I am struck by the immense amount of love he has poured into the world. Whether it was telling me a corny joke or showing me how to cut a straight line with a circular saw, Dad has taught me by example how to live a masculinity rooted in loving generosity.

And Dad has taught me that this love comes with a responsibility. My responsibility as a man, in honor of my own dad, is to promote a healthy masculinity rooted in love while challenging a false masculinity of oppression and domination. I reflect on this responsibility daily in my job as a teacher and coach at an all-male school and in my vocation as a member of an all-male religious order. My dad’s example calls me to form young men in a healthy masculinity and work against systems of domination and oppression. I want to set an example of others in the way that my dad set an example for me.

To the dad who used power tools, puns, and tears of joy to teach me about love and masculinity, Happy Father’s Day.


Picture courtesy of author.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Under Fire for Faith? Tim Farron and Navigating Plural Societies

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 02:14

You probably have not heard of Tim Farron. To be honest, I’d never heard of him either, until this week when he resigned as head of the UK’s Liberal Democrats after his party received only 12% of the vote and 12 seats in the recent general election. For any party leader, that’s not good enough and most would quit after a result that miserable.

That’s not why he resigned, though. Farron decided to quit because he felt he could not continue in his present job and still live as a faithful Christian. He realized that his faith and his job were simply incompatible.

Farron, who is Evangelical, said that, “From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith. I’ve tried to answer with grace and patience… At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again – asked about matters to do with my faith. I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.” In the end, Farron decided to resign, concluding that “to be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.”

A politician blaming the media for his troubles is not striking an original note. At the same time, the Lib Dems’ campaign was hampered by consistent media questioning of Farron’s personal beliefs, rather than of his party’s proposals. Specifically, Farron was asked repeatedly if he considered abortion and same sex marriage sinful, even though he and his party affirmed the current laws allowing both and that he personally regarded neither as sinful. Rather than talking about Brexit, the economy, or the NHS, Farron was expected to be a moral theologian and was held up to scrutiny for his private beliefs rather than his policy proposals. It is worth noting that neither Theresa May, who is a practicing Anglican, nor Jeremy Corbyn, who is agnostic, were asked such questions, let alone with any kind of frequency.

While he admitted that “a better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, Farron expressed frustration that, despite a long period in public life and a long record to stand by, there seemed to be a presumption against him due to his religious affiliation that prevented him from making his voice heard and from balancing his duties as a believing Christian and as a political leader.

Farron is speaking not just of electoral difficulties but personal difficulties: how could he go on as a leader of his party and advocate for their policies when people’s opinion of his faith, which by his own admission is central to his life, prevents him from doing that task effectively? His belief – that in a liberal society, people could disagree about their personal beliefs so long as the rights and liberties of persons were affirmed and preserved – did not seem to hold with many. In the end, he found no other solution and so resigned.


It may be hard to see what this has to do with any of us. Most of us are not, nor ever will be, leaders of political parties and I suspect many of us will never have to face the sort of public scrutiny that Farron experienced over his beliefs. Yet Farron’s dilemma is different from us only in degree and not in kind. We do, after all have to live within a diverse society that compels us to live together with a certain degree of tolerance, even amidst the complications of life in our social and political moment. Every one of us is called to be a part of our particular platoon of society. In a diverse and pluralistic society, that puts us in contact every day with people who may find our beliefs on any number of subjects annoying, distasteful, and even downright abhorrent. Those people may be those closest to us.

If people cannot accept Farron’s argument that so long as we respects the basic rights of others our personal beliefs are just that, then the challenge of living in community with people who may find our simplest and sincerest beliefs genuinely uncomfortable and even threatening may be too much to bear. Family, friends, and acquaintances may be confused by what we say and what we may think about public issues. They may wonder why we believe this or that about a certain news item. They may gasp at the candidates for whom we vote. They may be indignant or even hurt at our take upon the major social questions of our time. We can be judged and found wanting, as Farron seemed to be, based on a presumption. Many of us, I think, struggle with that tension and can be convinced that it is better to play things closer to the vest and reveal as little as possible. I struggle with this temptation every week.

Confronting the awkward possibility of disagreeing with or even offending those around us for our sincere beliefs, we may feel the simple pull to disengage and to withdraw into our own bubbles. We can leave the questions of society to those who can more comfortably inhabit that tension or those who do not experience it all. We may feel safest in keeping to ourselves and hope that nobody expects much out of us.

Or, we might choose to be confrontational, demanding that what we believe must be accepted by everyone around us simply because we believe them. The legitimate opinions and feelings of others must take second place to the assertion of our own truth. We may say that true diversity will never work, so it will be better to carve up territory for our particular tribe.

And yet, there can’t be genuine encounter when these are our responses. They may be perfectly reasonable response, but those are not the lives to which Christians are called and is no path to peace in a diverse society for anyone, Christian or not. So, rather than shrink away from tension or rush towards it, we may have to admit that the Holy Spirit is calling us to live within that discomforting tension, admitting we may not have all the answers but remaining sincere in our convictions all the same. For Tim Farron, resigning as leader of his political party freed him from an unnecessary and unhelpful tensions that impacted how he could be a better disciple of Christ and a decent public servant and I admire him for doing so.

But what does that mean for the rest of us? We cannot resign from the responsibility to listen to others, to be faithful, to be hopeful, and to be loving.

Perhaps the solution is for us to admit to each other that we are flawed people, trying as best we can to make sense of our world, and that we are never bearers of perfectly integrated, perfectly rational, and perfectly acceptable systems of understanding the world, as much as we would like to think we do or as much as other people expect us to. That admission might free us to take ourselves a bit less seriously and to love others much more completely.

That won’t make the tension dissipate. It might not solve all our problems, either. But it might keep us lovingly engaged when we want to run away or draw our swords.


Image courtesy FlickrCC user Liberal Democrats.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Attitude We Should Have

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 05:30

By dotMagis Editor

As a preface to his declaration about the Incarnation in Philippians, St. Paul said, “The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had.” Wisdom is making peace with the unchangeable. We have the freedom to face the unavoidable with dignity, to understand the transformational value that attitude works on suffering. Viktor Frankl wrote that in concentration camps, “what alone remains is ‘the last of human freedoms’—the ability to choose one’s attitude in [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article The Attitude We Should Have, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

When We Can’t Have What We Want

Ignatian Spirituality - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 05:30

By Vinita Hampton Wright

You’d think that people of faith would know how to deal with basic disappointments. We have been trained to think in the long-term and welcome ordinary hardships that provide character-building opportunities. But, alas, most of us aren’t skilled at remaining calm and positive when we don’t get what we want. Those of us in first-world situations have bought into the culture of consumerism and instant gratification. We expect fast Internet service, medications that will make [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article When We Can’t Have What We Want, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

For My Father, With Love

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 02:00

He’s standing at the corner of 50th and Main waiting for the Rodriguez brothers, tight friends from his hood. As he watches cars pass by he tugs at the cuffs of his black leather coat and smiles – definitely a better choice than the gold coat he usually wears. He swipes the tip of his black leather boots, admiring their shine. And his Sansabelt pants are pressed with creases so sharp they’d cut glass.

With a comb in one hand and a slick move from the other, he smooths back his thick black hair, accentuating a clean-shaven bronze face. He dons a blue Italian knit shirt opened to his chest. And the sweet smell of Aramis underscores it all. He knows, he’s looo-king goooood!

It’s 1974. This 25-year-old man will join his gang at the nightclub they frequent. They call themselves the Midnighters. Their name alone gives the impression that they’d mix in a West Side Story dance battle against the Jets. But with their record of violence, court appearances, and prison sentences, the Midnighters are anything but choreographed dancers. They are intimidating and loud Mexican-Americans from Kansas City’s west side. And the presence of the Midnighters at this nightclub, located in a predominantly white area of town, is alarming.

Though the night has yet to begin, this man knows how it could end: in a fight, arrested, or with a lady on his arm. Little does he know, tonight on his lone walk home he’ll notice an abandoned book on the ground. He will recover the book and read the cover as if he’d never read words before, “The Good. News. Bible.”

This man’s name is Manuel. And he is my father.


I’m talking to my dad at the dining room table of his one bedroom apartment. He’s drinking his usual ice tea in a green cup, wrapped in a paper towel to catch the condensation.

“I still have that Bible I found all those years ago. And I never replaced it. Why replace it when it reads the same now as it did then?” My dad laughs at his little joke. “No, but really, that was the beginning of my life with the Lord. It took me some time to catch on. The Lord isn’t always attractive next to hanging out on the corner with your buddies. But I read that Bible from cover to cover regardless. And you know what? It was interesting! I thought to myself, hey, these Bible people are like me, always making mistakes. It took me a little bit, but I’m glad I read the Bible because it got me thinking differently. Life is worth more with God in it. And you know, some of the guys I ran around with are still banging. In their 60’s! Back in my day there were OG’s who taught you how to live the life. We looked up to them, we wanted to be like them. Some of my old buddies are OG’s now. The others, if they’re still alive, look old! They lived hard lives and you can see it in their face. But, as for me, I tell you, when the Lord wants to come into your life he doesn’t want anything else but you, and he doesn’t let go.”


If God was Kool Aid, then my dad was drinking it in gallons. His conversion moved him from street to pew. And in the 1980’s he became deeply involved with his faith through eucharistic ministry, prayer groups, and the charismatic renewal of the Catholic Church in Kansas City.

A boy and his dad.

Last week I was back in Kansas City. My dad and I were killing time before a movie. Knowing my dad likes to read the Bible, I pulled out my phone and read aloud the first scripture reading for the day. Instantly my dad said, “Okay, what is God saying to us?” And with that simple question I discovered how my dad prays. My dad – the epitome of machismo at 25, the guy who could get any woman he wanted, the guy who wasn’t afraid to punch his way out of anything. The guy who, for some unknown reason, picked up a Bible and changed his life. The guy now, at 68, who continues to mourn the loss of his beloved wife. Who took a plane for the first time last month to see his son graduate with a Master’s degree, who always wants to give me money, even when he doesn’t have it.

Though the expression of my dad’s faith has changed over the years, he remains faithful to his nightly prayers. He goes up to his room, rests himself on his bed, opens the very same Good News Bible he found all those years ago, and prays. And then he thanks God for the opportunity to sit with him. It’s a simple prayer, but it’s the prayer of my father.


The cover image, from Flickr user Ben Salter, can be found here. The embedded image is provided courtesy of Manuel Botello.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Finding God at the Shrine of St. Gianna

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 05:30

By Cara Callbeck

A key concept of Ignatian spirituality is finding God in all things. Learning to find God in the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the uplifting and the painful is indeed an important part of deepening our relationship with Jesus. However, every once in a while, it seems like God flashes a spotlight on his presence, painting the most glorious picture right before our eyes such that we simply couldn’t miss God [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Finding God at the Shrine of St. Gianna, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Loving a Liar: The Mercy of Dear Evan Hansen

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 02:00
Embed from Getty Images

The new Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hanson, deservedly snatched up six Tony Awards on Sunday night, including best new musical, best score, best actor and best featured actress. Evan, the show’s lead character, is a socially awkward high school student who doesn’t fit in anywhere. Following the suicide of a schoolmate who bullies him, he get tangles in web of lies which spreads beyond his control over social media over a letter that he wrote, which was never never meant to be seen. How is it that a story about a liar wins over the hearts of audiences and critics for such a sweeping victory? We rarely have sympathy for deceivers, as Stephen Colbert pointed out during the award ceremony, about the “production” happening in Washington D.C., with its unbelievable character who has bad hair and makeup.

Evan has no friends and his hardworking, single mother struggles to be present with to him. He hates social interactions, he tells his mom that he doesn’t even like ordering pizza because he has to have a face to face encounter with the delivery person. Evan is brought to life by Ben Platt, and through his marvelous performance, Evan’s fears, insecurities and anxiety are completely palpable. There are moments in the musical where you should look away from him–what’s going on is too painful to behold–but because his performance is so gripping you simply can’t.

Right from the beginning, we know Evan is a misfit and he is in therapy. He’s not happy with the state of his life. He knows that he goes unnoticed, and he feels invisible to the world around him. Believing that he lives in complete isolation he sings a heart wrenching:

On the outside, always looking in

Will I ever be more than I’ve alway been?

‘Cause I’m tap, tap, tapping on the glass

I’m waving through a window

As an exercise to boost his self confidence, Evan’s therapist asked him to write a letter to himself that begins:

“Dear Evan Hansen,
                       Today is going to be a great day and here’s why…”

Evan reluctantly completes this task which mentions a girl he’s smitten over. A bully, Connor Murphy, is another teenager who has no friends. He intercepts the letter in the school’s computer lab and is angered because the girl Evan writes about is Connor’s sister. Later that night Connor commits suicide and his parent’s discover the “Dear Evan Hansen” letter on his person. His parent think that it’s suicide letter written by Connor to Evan. Evan sees how devastated Connor’s family is, and they are especially grievous because they believe their son died friendless. Evan doesn’t have the heart to tell Connor’s parents that Connor was no friend to him at all, he allows them to believe that they were friends makes up details about their friendship out of compassion and goodwill.  

Because of these lies, Connor’s family takes a liking to Evan and he’s welcomed into to the family as the good son they never had. Being a part of a good family helps him get over his social anxiety and we learn that he no longer needs his prescription medication.  One lie leads to another, and another, and another until the truth comes out, yet we never feel a scrap of disdain for this well-intentioned liar. With his lies, he’s managed to comfort a grieving family. And we totally understand why he does he does it and we don’t judge him for it. This song of lament, “Words Fail” is an eruption of everything that our dear Evan Hansen had pent up in him all along.

While it might seem that this show may disregard the immorality of lying and maybe even promote it, it is in his lying that he ultimately finds who he truly is, gets over his awkwardness and completely accepts himself as enough. It is true that we grow from our brokenness and we learn from our mistakes. These are good things that come out of the bad things on life.  Still, the show in no way presents lies as a long-term solution.  They cannot be sustained forever, and we watch Evan carry the burden of lies as it eats away at him. His lies drew him closer to people, but it also began to alienate the people he got close to as he continually lied.

People lie out of desperation, and Evan is a character who, frankly, is desperate. He wanted to be found and he wanted to matter so much, that he lied to get what he wanted and it only made matters worse. Dear Evan Hansen, doesn’t promote lying.  In demonstrating lies and their consequences in the extreme, what it actually shows is how desperation can drive us to do some crazy things.  And seeing what lengths a person–in this case a particularly likable one– will go to comfort others and themselves, we can’t but feel compassion and mercy for the desperate people around us.  More importantly, it points to our need to be included and hopefully, it makes us less blind to search out those who need to be found as the song “You Will Be Found” suggests.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Ignatian Adventure in Oklahoma City

Ignatian Spirituality - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 05:30

By Sophie Lorenzo

On February 17, 2017, hundreds of faithful in Oklahoma participated in a spiritual enrichment day titled “The Graces of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.” The day was hosted by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral. Fr. Kevin O’Brien, SJ, led participants in a reflection on the “Grace of the Incarnation,” based on his popular, award-winning book The Ignatian Adventure, published by Loyola Press. The Roots of [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article The Ignatian Adventure in Oklahoma City, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Five Ways to Create a Good Space for Prayer

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 05:30

By Vinita Hampton Wright

Taking inventory of the various spaces in your life probably gave you some ideas—it may have inspired you, which is good, because now you’re going to create some space just for prayer. Here are five basic steps to help you start. I’m sure that by the time you’re at step 3, you’ll have generated various additional steps that work for you. Step 1: Choose indoors or outdoors. If you’re like me and many other people, [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Five Ways to Create a Good Space for Prayer, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Praying When Your Routine Changes

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 05:30

By Becky Eldredge

Summer’s here! As a mom, I love summer because of the slower routine in the morning, the lack of homework and projects, and a pause in my kids’ extracurricular activities. With summer, though, comes a change in routine that can often impact my prayer life. While I hate to admit it, the routine change can sometimes cause my prayer life to be rather bumpy until the desolation that crops up serves as a reminder from [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Praying When Your Routine Changes, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Wonder Woman: A Story of Female Bondage or Liberation?

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 03:38

It’s the skirt and costume that get me.

See, I want to believe… I desperately want to believe that Wonder Woman (WW) empowers women. I want to believe that she inspires women, showing that they are truly powerful, independent, and heroes. I want to believe that Wonder Woman is not simply a female superhero, but a character who communicates womanhood with all of its complexity, challenges, and possibility.

She certainly has the qualifications. She is as strong as Superman, nearly as fast as the Flash, and as smart as Batman. Wonder Woman is royalty, possessing the poise and power to command. She holds weapons of a different sort, including lasso which wields truth itself. She comes from a world separate; instead of being tied to a nationalist movement, she offers insights into humanity. She moves beyond the values of “truth, justice, and the American Way,” often encapsulating a sort of utopian hope in a perfect world—a world in which people are inherently good and capable of more than even they can image. Wonder Woman, at her core, is a better hero than any of her male counterparts. And, let’s be honest here, she was the only thing saving the Batman VS. Superman movie…

But then, I see the skirt and the costume. At which point, my eyebrow lifts and inevitably think something like, “Yeah… Pro-woman? Right. Sure…” Wonder Woman holds the potential to be pro-woman, but so often seems tied down with the tropes of her male counterparts, or subverted with anti-woman imagery and characterization. If only she were set free to be fully (Wonder) woman.

I’m torn, but that tension is exactly the tension in which Wonder Woman exists and was born.

Wonder Woman from the Super Friends cartoon (Tim Simpson/flickr)

An Origin Stranger Than a Long-Lost Amazonian Island:

Wonder Woman’s comic book origin begins from somewhere strange—an island far removed and alien—but her actual origin is nearly as fantastic. On the surface, she was born in response to the negative attention and critiques of comic books like Batman and Superman. But deeper, she was born from the first wave of feminism and from an author with his own agenda.

Comic books may have appeared before WWII, but they gained wide popularity in the immediate context of the war. Superman, Batman, Captain America all appear during this time. With their rise though, critics quickly began to express their concern over:  the ‘super’ nature of these characters, the vigilante justice, the violence, the overt masculinity and sexism, and even the horrors of the villains. As strange as it sounds today, there were groups and associations founded to “protect the youth” from these dangerous things. And then, Wonder Woman came to save the day! Sort of.

Wonder Woman Comics #12 (Tom Simpson/flickr)

William Moulton Marston created the character of Wonder Woman as a response to the negative criticism, but also to promote his own quasi-feminist agenda. Marston’s background was bizarre; he earned a law degree and a PhD in psychology from Harvard. He worked his way through school writing screenplays for silent movies, but failed to later hold a job in Hollywood. He also considered himself a psychological researcher, and he possibly has a claim to creating one of the earliest “lie detector” tests—which maybe was the inspiration for Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth.1 He worked for army intelligence during WWI, and he taught at various universities though promoting his research and theories always came first. Marston’s experiences weave into the character of WW, making her likely the only superhero born from scholarship and academia.

But even more interesting than his background, Marston was an avid feminist, sort of. He was immersed in the front lines of the women’s suffrage movement. His mistress was the niece of Margaret Sanger. He even advocated for a “free love” type of existence long before the second wave began in the 1960s. In fact, Jill Lepore’s biography, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, argues that Wonder Woman could be a bridge between first and second wave feminism. WW presents a continuity moving from the suffrage & rights of the first to the power & independence of the second. Marston himself claims that Wonder Woman was meant as a vision for the future of women:

Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world. –William Moulton Marston, March 1943.2

All of this is to say that Marston wrote WW intentionally to promote his vision of empowered women.

Princess Diana could break ropes like that at the age of three. (Tom Simpson/flickr)

This history might lead me to believe that Wonder Woman was in fact pro-woman, but I’m still torn—Marston and Wonder Woman are much more complicated. Marston’s personal history, particularly his love life, is strange. He lived in a semi-polyamorous relationship with two wives who may or may not have had a romantic relationship with one another. One wife had a career, and the other raised the four children. Additionally, his experiments—which were based on theories he attempted to promote within the Wonder Woman comics—were highly sensual in nature and, quite frankly, often just odd and weird. His theories of submission creep into Wonder Woman depicting WW often chained or being subjugated, for which he and the early comics received quite a bit of criticism.

But again, the costume? Well, here again my head tilts, and I simply can’t say that it’s pro-woman. Marston designed WW’s costume specifically after the “Vargas girls”3 which appeared in Esquire. It objectifies the female body more than empower the woman, and it seems that the artwork was more for male viewership than for female empowerment or liberation.

An Alberto Vargas-drawn advertisement (Isabel Santos Pilot/flickr)

But, Marston did create a different sort of superhero with Wonder Woman. She is much more compassionate and caring as a hero. She often finds her agenda or mission in assisting women, children, and the vulnerable. WW was less violent than her contemporary male counterparts, and she is much more optimistic and hopeful concerning humanity. Also, many of her plots take place on a college campus—often promoting women’s higher education. She is simply better than her counterpart superheros—that is of course, when she is left to be Wonder Woman rather bottled for male consumption. What Marston did right was to construct her differently than her male counterparts—she much more than just a female superhero. What he did wrong, at times, was to tailor her and her feminism too much for men, undercutting her power as a woman. Marston wasn’t alone in this failing.

Marston died only a few years after creating Wonder Woman. While his wife volunteered to continue the WW comics—rightly claiming that she understood the woman and character—Wonder Women was handed over to the control of men. Marston’s legacy, his version of Wonder Woman as a better hero, quickly faded away. She simply became a female version of Superman: just as violent, less compassionate, less unique. There was even a bit of time during the “Diana Prince years” where Wonder Woman lost all her powers and became a secretary and a wife. Her role in those comics: to promote a domestic ideal of a woman.

Wonder Woman’s history struggles with the tension between being Pro- or Anti- woman. At her best, she empowers; at her worst, she undercuts. But, where does the newest incarnation of Wonder Woman fall in the Pro- vs. Anti- debate?

Wonder Woman: A Different, Better Hero:

I’m no stranger to superheroes and superhero movies, and, frankly, Wonder Woman is my favorite movie and hero. Gal Godot’s WW is an empowered woman, whom I admire much more than Superman or Batman. She not only represents a better superhero, but she represents a different sort of character than what we usually see in superheroes.

The movie opens with Wonder Woman walking into the Louvre in Paris. Gal Godot’s WW is elegant in nearly every way, but further she’s obviously brilliant. Seeing her in the Louvre, the viewer must assume that she is at the top of her field—and the ornamentation of her office confirms it. Our first view of WW is of a woman, radiant, graceful, and academic.

Gal Gadot as Greek-Goddess Wonder Woman (Warner Bros.)

Wonder Woman’s costume still reveals, but does so differently. As opposed to the Vargas Girls or pin-ups, this costume mirrors the uniforms of ancient Greek warriors. In a scene wherein Wonder Woman must choose a “plain clothes” costume in order to blend into the world, she obviously favors some combination of beauty and practicality. She tears a dress, asking “how do you fight in this?”  What she eventually chooses not only highlights Godot’s beauty, but it allows for her movement and even allows her the ability to hide her weapons and WW costume below. What’s notable about the scene is that the choice of uniform rests completely with WW. What does she does with that choice? She chooses her own balance of elegance and power, rather than allowing someone to dictate it for her.

Gadot’s character possesses a sort of naivety and innocence. Instead of this being off putting, it demonstrates a conviction simply better than other heroes. Wonder Woman in the movie believes that all people are naturally good. Her view of humanity even drives the plot where she believes that if she simply defeats Ares all will be well—humans will return to a utopian world of love. Naïve? No—magnificent. Her interactions with Steve Trevor (her love interest played by Chris Pine) reveal her idealized love; she holds a hope which heroes and even humans have lost. She believes in humans. She, in fact, rejoices in them and celebrates them. Further, of all the superheroes, she seems genuinely to love them.

We see this love in two powerful scenes in the movie. In one, as she and Steve make travel arrangements, they meet wounded soldiers from the front of WWI. Wonder Woman is noticeably disturbed by the suffering and the pain. Unlike other (male) superheroes who turn this into a sort rage and revenge motivation, she openly reflects at the horror of it all. Godot’s performance communicates compassion and care in ways we do not see in Batman or Superman. It’s not a “feminine” moment though—as in, this isn’t simply a stereotyped emotional response—but her response is “better” than her peer heroes. Unlike the others who hold themselves separate, she encounters the pain, suffering, and reality of people.

That genuine encounter drives Wonder Woman with an ideological certitude: she knows and feels what’s right. She chastises the commanders of the British in WWI claiming they have no courage or understanding. When she meets a refugee in a trench, she immediately crosses the no-man’s land to save the woman’s village. Where jaded Batman would subvert the system and work in the shadows to fix the problem….where alien Superman would be the messiah offering a model for humans to immolate… Wonder Woman instead encounters and empowers the people to see the truth and to love.

Gadot’s Wonder Woman represents the best of us, not simply the best of women or the best of superheroes. She loves, she hopes, and she acts with those traits as her motivation.

Sensation Comics #11 (1942) cover by H. G. Peter (Tim Simpson/flickr)

Which leads me to the question: Is Wonder Woman Pro- or Anti- Woman?

Certainly, Wonder Woman has a complicated origin. She was written to be a different sort of hero, but has often existed in a tension. While she could empower women and humanity, many of her incarnations either undercut women’s empowerment or lack any distinction from their male counterparts. Thankfully, Wonder Woman succeeds where her predecessors have failed. The women behind the Wonder Woman movie deserve recognition: Director Patty Jenkins’s for her leadership and insight, and Gal Gadot for her depiction of interwoven grace, beauty, power, and compassion.

Maybe, finally, Wonder Woman has been freed to be Wonder Woman. At last she’s free to be more than simply a female hero. At last she’s free to show us a better hero. At last, WW is free to show the power of woman—representing the best not just of women but of all humanity.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Forced Stillness

Ignatian Spirituality - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 05:30

By dotMagis Editor

Jesuit Volunteer Grace Ogihara was forced into stillness because of neck and back pain one weekend. She writes: Though I otherwise would’ve been outside traipsing about Minnesota wilderness, I recognized my weekend being injured as sacred and precious time I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’m counting it as a blessing after the fact. It was like God was literally making me be still, so that I might know Him better, just like the verse, “Be [...] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Forced Stillness, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Devotion to Mary: An Unsafe Path?

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 02:00

Is devotion to the Virgin Mary an unsafe path?

If your answer to that question is yes, don’t worry: so is mine. I know this from experience.

It all started when I was 21 years old and doing a year of full-time retreat youth ministry. It was a year that changed everything for me because I was surrounded by peers who were authentic and fully alive. We shared daily contact with God in prayer, which sparked in me a curiosity about Jesus and what it would be like to have an intimate relationship with him. I wouldn’t have been able to describe it this way back then, but I wanted to follow Jesus. A path was opening before me like a shady trail that leads around a bend: you can see just enough to make you curious about where it leads, but not enough to predict where the trail will lead you. I was looking down the path and, like Jesus’ first disciples, hearing him say “come and see,” (John 1:39). I sensed that around the bend there was something mysterious and special waiting for me. In short, I was beginning to believe that following Jesus was the way to address the desires for love and wholeness that were being stirred up in me.

Despite this blossoming curiosity, I was also intimidated by the potential difficulties that I feared were around the bend. Because of my distorted image of God and sense of inadequacy, I was afraid that I would be exposed as a fraud if Jesus demanded too much of me. I was also afraid that I would come to a fork in the road, one leading toward happiness and the other toward Jesus. I think part of my intuition was correct: following Jesus is not easy or safe. This is something Mary knows a little bit about.

If you are like me, then you often forget what Mary hazarded by agreeing to bear Jesus. She risked alienating her fiancée, being stoned death, and lifelong stigma for apparently being pregnant out of wedlock. She endured an arduous trip in the late stages of pregnancy and gave birth in the unsanitary conditions of a stable; not to mention a king was hell-bent on murdering her infant son, forcing her and Joseph into exile. And let’s not forget about her having to witness the horrific torture and execution of Jesus as an adult. Mary is no stranger to the difficulties of following Jesus.

Toward the end of that year, several of my peers were introduced to Marian devotion and they were eager to share it with the rest of us. This approach to Marian devotion emphasizes entrustment. This means that we entrust ourselves to Mary the same way that God the Father entrusted Jesus to Mary. Jesus, as son, depended on Mary for everything, that’s why we follow his example when we depend on Mary as her spiritual children. Devotion to Mary is like devotion to your own mother or mother figure who mentors and nurtures you: you can entrust yourself to her similarly to the way you trust and entrust yourself to the maternal figure in your life.

A trusting relationship was exactly what I needed. In fact, I don’t think I would have been able to give myself over to following Jesus without Mary as my “in”. Despite the apparent dangers, I trusted that she, as my mother, would protect me and be understanding of my weakness and fear; after all, she, more than most, knows the challenges of following Jesus. I was more confident with her as my companion on the path because, out of the abundance of her own experience, I trusted she would help guide me. Also, I came to believe that by entrusting myself to her I was just following Jesus’ example.

It was my trust in Mary’s motherly care that gave me the courage to start on the path. But my intuition was correct, it’s not been a safe journey. I haven’t had to face physical danger or social exclusion like her, but I am facing my sense of inadequacy, particularly in my Jesuit vocation. I fear that I don’t have what it takes to follow Jesus as a Jesuit. Despite how calm and capable I may appear on the outside, I fear that sooner or later people will see the real me, the disappointment. I’m being formed to be a public leader in the Church, yet, on the inside, I’m crumbling from insecurity.

Often to my surprise, my insecurities have assisted me in my vocation to walk the path with people who feel like their life is falling apart, like the man in the ER suffering from a panic attack. Through tears and trembling voice, he lamented being reduced to this state after feeling “invincible” in his youth. There was no room in me to judge him. I could easily see myself on that table, feeling like everything that held my world together was disintegrating before me. I felt a deep empathy for him that I don’t think would have been possible without my personal struggle. Like that man, my absolute emotional vulnerability has cracked me open. This openness has allowed me to see Jesus’ desires for me.

On the path I’m discovering that Jesus actually wants me to be happy. He knows me inside and out, including my insecurities. And he doesn’t find me a disappointment, even in my weakness. In fact, his heart is bursting with life for me in the areas that I’m weak – because it’s especially there that I need his love.

Indeed, devotion to Mary is not safe. She wants us to follow Christ, whose path is the way of suffering and death of the cross. But the cross is also a path, mysteriously leading to a life where Christ gives us the fullness of his joy (John 15:11). With Mary as your spiritual mother, I invite you to “come and see” what Jesus has in store for you on the path that follows after him.

Image courtesy FlickrCC user Emil Manolov.

Categories: Things Jesuit