Things Jesuit

The Best of What I Read in 2017

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 12/28/2017 - 02:00

No longer wanting to be that guy who can’t look up from his phone and acknowledge the existence of a fellow human being on the sidewalk, I made a vow to myself that I would no longer walk and read at the same time.

But that just meant squeezing reading into other nooks and crannies of the day. Pocket, which gloriously feeds my addiction to reading articles, recently informed me that I read the equivalent of 110 books on their app in 2017.

As far as addictions go, it could be worse. Reading is great, and we live in a seems-too-good-to-be-true world where great writing is available at our fingertips for free.

Years ago, I started sharing with family and friends a list of my favorite articles from the past year. More recently, I’ve shared my lists with The Jesuit Post in 2016, 2015, and 2014.

Here are my faves from 2017 in no particular order:

1) Can Our Democracy Survive Tribalism?, Andrew Sullivan, New York

This was the article I found myself talking about most at the dinner table (apologies to my community!). Sullivan is on my best-of list almost every year. This is another masterpiece. Sullivan comes out swinging at our self-contradictions, and few – on any point along the political spectrum – can read this without feeling personally challenged:

So many severe critics of George W. Bush’s surveillance policies became oddly muted when Obama adopted most of them; Democrats looked the other way as Obama ramped up deportations to levels higher than Trump’s rate so far. Republicans, in turn, were obsessed with the national debt when Obama was in office, despite the deepest recession in decades. But the minute Trump came to power, they couldn’t be more enthusiastic about a tax package that could add trillions of dollars to it. No tribe was more federalist when it came to marijuana laws than liberals; and no tribe was less federalist when it came to abortion. Reverse that for conservatives. For the right-tribe, everything is genetic except homosexuality; for the left-tribe, nothing is genetic except homosexuality.

2) My Family’s Slave, Alex Tizon, The Atlantic

Readers online spent more time reading this essay than any other article online in 2017. It is incredible. If you have contributed to the 58,000,000 minutes readers have engaged this essay, I highly recommend it. It’s tragic. It’s honest. It’s simply great writing.1

3) Christ in the Garden of Endless Breadsticks, Helen Rosner, Eater

The first two articles on my list are pretty heavy. This is not. But it’s solid, and I love that title. It creatively integrates the two most famous olive gardens – Gethsemane and the restaurant chain – in a thoughtful reflection on nostalgia, non-places, and comfort food. Rosner writes:

Olive Garden is a machine of memory. You go to Olive Garden because you’ve always gone there. You bring your children there, and they grow up having always gone there. It is a restaurant that’s good at some things, a few of them on the menu, more of them about price and convenience and a general exhausted tolerance for unruly children and arguing couples. It is extraordinarily good at being a non-place. It’s uncannily good at being itself: A restaurant that calls on Italy without ever looking at Italy, that promises family without community, that is — in its ubiquity — nowhere, and is better for it. Every time it strays from itself, the collective force of memory intervenes, and it returns.

4) He’s 22. She’s 81. Their Friendship Is Melting Hearts. Daniel Victor, New York Times

This article will make you feel better about humanity. A 22-year-old rapper from Harlem and an 81-year-old retired woman from Florida are an unlikely pair, but their friendship forged from playing Words With Friends makes 2017 seem just a little more hopeful.

5) United Airlines Isn’t the Problem – It’s Good People Doing Nothing, Ryan Holiday, Observer

Ryan Holiday makes me feel bad about myself in that he is younger than I am but ten times as wise. He has written extensively about Stoicism, and this article is a modern-day application of Marcus Aurelius’s maxim, “Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” During the unity-in-outrage over the doctor who was dragged off the United flight, Holiday wrote:

The world doesn’t need another person talking on social media about what needs to be done. It needs more people doing it. Nothing major even. Just the little stuff: Being nice. Stepping in. Lending a hand. Drawing a line. Standing up.

6) Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, New York Times

I love anything that Taffy Brodesser-Akner touches. Her essay on the church of Justin Bieber was on my best-of list in 2015, and this essay is even better. I find myself learning about the human experience through her thoughtful, confessional writing.

7) The Coddling of the American Mind, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Atlantic

Trigger warning: This essay lambasts trigger warnings. This essay opened my eyes – and raised my alarms – to how college campuses have changed in the ten years since I graduated. Lukianoff and Haidt write:

Rather than trying to protect students from words and ideas that they will inevitably encounter, colleges should do all they can to equip students to thrive in a world full of words and ideas that they cannot control.

Haidt has written a number of articles in recent years expressing similar concerns. His recent essay on younger kids with Lenore Skenazy, “The Fragile Generation,” is just as thought-provoking.

8) Don’t Let Facebook Make You Miserable, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, New York Times

“Compare and despair.” If we compare our imperfections with the way others can appear on social media, it is all too easy to feel terrible about ourselves. This article is immensely helpful – and hilarious. Stephens-Davidowitz contrasts what people post on social media with what they (anonymously) search for on Google. It turns out that we’re all a mess. He writes:

Any time you are feeling down about your life after lurking on Facebook, go to Google and start typing stuff into the search box. Google’s autocomplete will tell you the searches other people are making. Type in “I always…” and you may see the suggestion, based on other people’s searches, ‘I always feel tired” or “I always have diarrhea.” This can offer a stark contrast to social media, where everybody “always” seems to be on a Caribbean vacation.

9) I spent a week with 8,000 worshippers of the fake, fantastical cult of zumba, Amy Wang, Quartz

I was once persuaded to “ditch the workout, join the party” and participate in a Zumba class. It involved more hip-shaking than a Shakira video, and I haven’t had the courage to go back. Still, I find the massive growth of Zumba to be fascinating – and something that the church could learn from. This “party” is clearly connecting with people today. Wang writes:

If going to church called for sweatbands instead of prayer books, salsa music in the place of scripture, and a near-insane amount of neon, it might look something like this.

For another article that highlights the ways a workout craze has parallels with religion, check out “The Church of CrossFit.”

10) Darwin Was a Slacker and You Should Be Too, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Nautilus

I have always loved power naps. After this article – and Pang’s book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less – I no longer feel guilty about taking them. Pang’s work made a more positive difference on my life than anything else I read this year. The “deliberate rest” that Pang describes, especially when coupled with deep work, was a recipe for success when writing my thesis.

Those are some of my favorites from 2017. What about you? Please share your own recommendations. And happy reading!

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Cover image courtesy FlickrCC user jwyg, found here.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Return Home

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 12/27/2017 - 05:30

By Mary Ellen Smajo

That Christmas, when we were in love, he gave me a watercolor he’d done some years before of the Holy Family’s return from Egypt. He explained that, while he was painting it, he knew it was to be given away, but he didn’t then know to whom. As he painted, he was thinking about what it would be like to be really at home, to be in the place where you belong for all time. [...]

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Categories: Things Jesuit

The Shepherd Girl’s Experience

Ignatian Spirituality - Sun, 12/24/2017 - 05:30

By dotMagis Editor

“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8). I try to imagine night in an ancient land and myself in it, millennia before the mechanical hum of machines and motors entered the world. I try to think of the most natural quiet I have ever known, maybe after a fresh nighttime snow. Maybe the expectant hush that falls over the crowd as the houselights [...]

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Categories: Things Jesuit

One-Minute Homily: “God’s Christmas Plans”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sat, 12/23/2017 - 22:00

How are you being called to bring Jesus into the world? Tucker Redding explores the plans of Mary and Joseph in this Christmas edition of the One-Minute Homily. Based on the readings for the 4th Sunday of Advent (http://bit.ly/2BAqmV8) and Christmas (http://bit.ly/2zgV1AD).

Categories: Things Jesuit

Simply Advent: Simple Celebrations

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 12/22/2017 - 05:30

By Vinita Hampton Wright

We’re approaching the end of Advent, and even though you probably have your Christmas plans set, here are a few ideas for simple celebrations. First, consider making some adjustments to grand-scale plans, and then, savor the here and now. Make a Few Adjustments Is there a simple way to celebrate Advent and Christmas? Every time I consider inviting people over, this machine turns on in my head, and it churns out these huge events with [...]

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Categories: Things Jesuit

“Lighting a Fire With Beauty”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 12/21/2017 - 22:59

What motivates us more: the threat of danger, or the promise of beauty?

For most of us, danger only motivates us enough to escape the threat. The promise of beauty—of a truly wonderful experience of the whole big picture — will constantly draw us, and can even be the project of a lifetime. Older methods of preaching tended to highlight danger: convert or risk Hell. Instead of showing why we should run away from everything else, Bishop Robert Barron’s basic approach in presenting Catholicism is to show why it is worth running towards: to highlight its beauty. This approach comes out clearly in his new book To Light a Fire on the Earth.

The book itself is a combination of biography and interview put together by Catholic journalist John Allen. Barron wants “to change the conversation about the faith—to start not with secondary aspects of Catholicism but with its beating heart” (pp. 3-4). Allen respects that desire, and so the book is not going to beat you over the head with details and petty rules, but pulls back to give a sense of the whole picture of Catholicism. How everything connects to everything else, and comes together to form one beautiful whole, is Barron’s main interest.

Barron is not one to shy away from controversy, as many of his YouTube videos attest. When the New Atheist movement charges that religion is not only mistaken, but harms people, Barron will happily answer their criticisms and questions—be they on the problem of suffering, points of morality, or even God’s existence.

But with groups like the New Atheists, Barron thinks that “the problem is that atheists drop their questions just when they get truly interesting” (p. 7). Barron’s complaint is not that they are asking too many questions, but too few—and that the questions are not big enough.

Barron encourages people to ask bigger questions: By all means, talk about evolution, but then ask why there is life to evolve at all. Marvel at the beauty and vastness of the cosmos, but then ask why there is a cosmos to marvel at, or humans to do the marveling. There is a bigger picture that we need to step back and appreciate, admiring how it all fits together–admiring the beauty of the whole.

“The whole” is where Barron wants to begin doing theology. Barron wants to begin with beauty and why Catholicism as a whole is attractive, then appreciate the goodness of Catholicism and how it can help us live better lives, then understand the truth of Catholicism and why it’s claims make intellectual sense. From beauty to goodness to truth, a method Barron picked up from reading the works of the great Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. Marvel at the whole, and then start to appreciate and think about the parts. Barron is happy to talk about the particulars of Catholicism at any point, but in a great mosaic like Catholicism, it is easy to focus on a few tiles and miss the gorgeous picture.

Barron is a baseball fanatic, and likes to give the analogy of the infield fly rule. He says that “it’s a good rule, and I love it […] but there’s no way I would have been drawn into the splendor of the game through that rule” (p. 43). Likewise, we need to “feel Catholicism, to know the essential stuff” or else “it will just seem like arbitrary rules” (44). Asking about the rules can be good, but there are more questions, and more important questions, that we can talk about in Catholicism.

While Barron acknowledges that he can be seen as being somewhat conservative, while Francis is usually seen as being liberal (although Barron also sees both terms as being limiting), he also sees himself as being very much on board with Francis—and Francis probably thought so, too, since he was the one who named Barron to be a bishop. Barron thinks that “the genius of Francis” is getting us back to the big picture questions (p. 133).

In Barron’s mind, Francis’s image of the Church as a field hospital highlights not only the need to get at the important questions, but shows that these are the big questions because they are the questions that matter to a hurting people in an unjust world. Asking the big questions, the questions of wholeness and beauty, can help focus our energies in the right places and see what the important fights for justice are, so that we can bring the beauty Barron sees in Catholicism out into the rest of the world.

In the end, Barron wants people to fall in love with Catholicism. Like any real love story, it is not always easy, and it is rarely saccharine, but it is always beautiful. That is the heart of Barron’s message, one which comes out so well over the course of this book: start with the beauty of Jesus, the beauty of Catholicism, and the rest will follow.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Sam Smith’s Homosexuality and the Catholic Church

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 23:01

Sam Smith took the world by storm in 2014 with his stunning voice and passionate autobiographical songwriting in his first album “In the Lonely Hour” featuring his Grammy winning track “Stay with Me.” He made even larger waves when he came out as gay prior to this album’s release, and has since brought the public conversation about LGBT individuals into even greater light. Now three years later, he has released another brilliant and even more personal album titled “The Thrill of it All” (which I have listened to at least a hundred times already).

His new album is musically outstanding, but what really caught my attention were several songs with explicitly religious themes related to his sexuality. As I listened to the album more closely a picture emerged of a person whose relationship with God has caused him suffering, confusion, and frustration.

Smith attended Catholic school in his small town as the only openly gay student. He came out when he was quite young, was lovingly accepted by his family, and it seems that he was able to get along in school fairly well. That being said, he was still made fun of for his sexuality, and was even more self-conscious about his weight. He did not meet another gay man until he moved to London when he was 18. Despite support from others, he was in many ways alone in his experience as a gay person growing up in a Catholic school.

Speaking of his Catholic influenced upbringing and his sexuality, Smith commented

“From what I can remember, they [Catholics] believe that you can be homosexual, but you just can’t practice it, which is ridiculous…I would just say, ‘I am proof that it’s genetic. It has to be, because it wasn’t a choice.’ And that’s it. That’s my only argument, you know? You love who you love, and I can’t help that I like guys.”

What strikes me most about this comment is that after growing up in a Catholic environment for most of his childhood, the message from the Church that stuck with him as a gay person was not one of love, care, dialogue, or support. He mentions nothing about coming to know a God who loves him, or about experiencing a personal encounter with Christ. Instead, to him Catholicism represented a conglomeration of “no’s” with little of value to offer him.

Smith provides an even deeper look into his faith in his new album particularly addressing the relationship of his gay identity to God. In “HIM”, a song which is a play on two narrative themes of prayer and coming out to one’s family, he sings:

“Holy Father, we need to talk
I have a secret that I can’t keep
I’m not the boy that you thought you wanted
please don’t get angry
have faith in me”

“I’m not the boy that you thought you wanted,” he utters, with a note of twisted apology about not meeting expectations mixed with a chosen acceptance of his own identity as a gay man.

In “Pray” Smith pleads with God:

“I have never believed in You, no
But I’m gonna pray
…I am still your disciple.
I’m begging You, please.
I’m broken, alone and afraid.

“I’m not a saint
I’m more of a sinner

“Maybe I’ll pray
Pray for a glimmer of hope.”

Who is God to Sam Smith? God is one who looks down in judgement on his romantically loving other men. God is a God that does not understand, and must be told what Sam’s experience is. God is one who places burdens. God is not one who is the source of life, fulfillment, and love in his life. God is not patient, kind, slow to anger, a place to rest.

But what is perhaps most remarkable, and tragic is that Smith still calls out for God. Despite all of his struggles, he does not cast God aside. He prays that God will understand, that he can find a “glimmer of hope” in whatever he is going through. He feels alone and afraid, and is literally begging God to be with him. Yet, God feels distant, and Sam’s faith is filled with tension and ambivalence because he feels that God is judging him, especially because of how he is living out his sexuality.

In short, Sam Smith did not encounter a God in the Catholic Church that he felt truly loved by. He may have heard that God loves him, but did not experience it. He did not meet the person of Jesus who called tax collectors, poor people, and sinners. He did not meet a Jesus who called his disciples knowing they would abandon him. He did not meet a Jesus who met people where they were, loved them, and then led them on a path of following him, which did indeed demand conversion and sacrifice, but sacrifice with him, out of love, patiently, with grace and in community.

Perhaps Sam Smith’s story can invite us to suspend judgement for a moment and put ourselves in his shoes or in the shoes of innumerable other LGBT Catholics who struggle with many of the same things, and often worse. What might happen if we imagine what it would be like to feel this kind of anxiety in one’s faith? Or if we imagine those young people who – unlike Smith – are not even accepted by their families? How can we as a Church be a place of welcome and refuge for them, and what kind of vision of life and love can we offer? And even more, how is Christ present in them, in their expressions of love, in their suffering, and in their gifts?

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The cover photo is featured courtesy of Kmeron of the Flickr Creative Commons. 

 

 

Categories: Things Jesuit

Gratitude and Solidarity

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 05:30

By Tim Muldoon

Last week I was in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) to learn about the damage wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. These two category 5 storms devastated the islands, leaving them entirely denuded of foliage and causing massive structural damage to buildings and infrastructure. Yet in light of the disasters that affected Texas, Puerto Rico, California, and Mexico—to name only those in our hemisphere—many have forgotten the USVI, and some are feeling abandoned. I was [...]

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So, It’s Not About Food?

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 12/20/2017 - 02:01

Shortly after Christmas, I’ll travel down from Saint Louis to Louisiana to visit my family. The entire month before the trip, I’ve been preparing.

         Packing? … No.
         Christmas shopping? … No.
         Planning a list of activities? … No.
         Checking flights or transportation? … No.

         If I’m not doing the obvious preparations, what am I doing?
         Eating: junk food, desserts, and plenty of second servings.
         Anything, for a couple extra pounds.

***

A beautiful routine awaits my arrival home.

I’ll drive down my quiet street, slowly keeping an eye on children who might appear crossing the road. The kids who used to live there when I lived there have all grown up; their children now fill the street with bikes, random toys, and mayhem.

When I arrive at the house I grew up in, I’ll see the single line of glimmering blue bulbs which decorate the roof. I’ll imagine that the angel with a horn, which has hung for a decade of Christmases from the roof, will announce my arrival—all in glowing Christmas lights. Though, I know she’s there to announce something greater.

I’ll park in the same place I used to park in high school. It’s the same place I parked when I’d visit from college. I’ll make a mental note to remind my parents to be careful if they have to move their cars—as my parking space almost, but not quite, blocks the driveway.

I’ll open the car door and step out, looking over the old chain-link fence at the backyard. Inevitably, the grass will be recently trimmed—it’s both my father’s hobby and his way of preparing the house for my return. The expanse of the back yard will inescapably feel smaller than it did when I was younger. “Of course,” I’ll think, “I was smaller at 7 years old.”

I’ll turn from the backyard to the carport, walking carefully towards the front door. Depending upon the weather, the screen door may be the only thing separating me from the kitchen and my parents.

As I open the door, my mom will appear, usually pretending to be busy though we both know that she’s been watching the driveway for quite a while. My dad will emerge from either the back porch or his favorite chair in the living room.

There will smiles and some sort of comment about the drive—Was it long? How was traffic? Was the weather OK? Then, I’ll hug my parents.

My dad’s hug will be firm and tight. In that moment, I’ll know how happy he is to see me.

My mom’s hug will squeeze me down to my bones… and that’s the point. It’s a trap. I know what comes next: “Are they feeding you? Have you eaten? Are you hungry?”

***

A couple years ago, at a lovely little restaurant in New Orleans, I sat down with two of my friends who were recently married. We laughed about the oddities of newly married life, about the shenanigans that happened at their wedding, and about their new house. Hopes, joys, and friendship filled the time.

A pause punctuated one of the bouts of laughter. Chris looked up at me and smiled, “Hey… I was wondering.” He stopped for a moment. “I was wondering… What do you eat?”

My head tilted; the question didn’t quite register: “What do you mean?”

“Like do you all, do you all have dinners or… ?”

And, it hit me. He wanted to know what I eat—or if I eat—while living in a house full of Jesuits. I laughed and explained to him that, yes, I do in fact eat. Three meals daily, actually—though, I confessed coffee counts as breakfast most days. We laughed, he nodded, and we continued visiting over lunch.

***

I’m Cajun, sure, so food is part of my culture and perhaps one of my favorite pastimes. I love to eat. I love to talk about eating. In fact, I often love to talk about eating—while I’m eating.

I’m a runner, sure. I run a lot—if I had my way, I’d probably run even more than I already do. I’m slim, sure, but I’m not scrawny, emaciated, or skin and bones. So why are my friends and family so obsessed over whether or not I’m eating?

Unless, it’s not about the food at all.

Maybe the strange questions from friends are subtle hints. Maybe the tight hug from my mom—which tries to feel for my ribs—is actually her way of communicating something more than food: maybe it’s a reminder that I’m loved.

***

Of course, my mom is still my mom. No matter how much I try to convince her otherwise, she swears I’m starving and whittling away to nothing. That only goes to show how much she loves me.

And, of course, I’m still going to try to make her happy by putting on a few pounds before my trip south. So the preparation continues…

         Seconds? … Yes, please.
         Christmas Cookies? … Of course, I’ll have a few.
         Late night snacks and desserts? … Sure, why not.
         A couple extra holiday pounds? … Yep, that’s the hope.

 

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Categories: Things Jesuit

Facing the Brokenness of the Manger

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Mon, 12/18/2017 - 22:59

Imagine it – a cozy creche with the shepherds, magi, and animals all in awe of the newborn baby. A joyful mother and father look tenderly upon their new son, Jesus. The star above shines brightly, welcoming the Christ. “Oh Holy Night” rises softly out of the reverent silence.

I’m struck by how often we romanticize the manger scene. This romanticization can easily make it more palatable and more comfortable, which also makes my prayer easier. But this romanticized version does not reflect the reality.

While I love the peacefulness and ease of the scene, I’m also uncomfortable about how it glosses over reality. Jesus was born into an incredibly broken situation – a mother who would be spurned for accused sexual immorality, a political leader who wanted Jesus dead, and the poor showing up front and center at the birth. I’m left wondering – what does it mean to have a real Christmas story? A Christmas story that is not romanticized, but speaks to this reality.

****

Here are several stories that speak to that Christmas reality:

  • “Every day I live in fear.” My student was teaching the class about immigration and immigrant justice. “Every day I worry that I’ll come home and find only my sister there and learn that they’ve taken my parents. I worry that my sister, because she’s so young, will never get to love my parents.”
  • So many women have shared their #MeToo narratives. “They’re just doing it for attention.” Students were in the fitness center discussing the #MeToo movement. “Sometimes we as men just can’t help ourselves.” I cannot fathom the number of women who have been told to brush off their hurt and their pain, told that their stories are invalid.
  • Wade was waiting outside Walgreens, asking for spare change. Not having cash, I told him to come inside and grab a sandwich while I picked up some eggs. Wade shared about being from Orlando and how much easier winters were there, but how his desperation to find better work compelled him to move to chilly Milwaukee. He felt sad for not being able to better support his family.

Each of these stories points to different aspects of the true Christmas story: students who are afraid of losing their families to government officials; women whose stories go ignored; people in poverty trying to provide for their families. These are the Christmas stories I so often ignore out of convenience because they don’t fit my sanitized narrative. But I must reconcile myself to these stories and the people that live them.

****

Last year, the worldwide Jesuits gathered in a General Congregation. One of their main documents was “Decree 1: Companions in a Mission of Reconciliation and Justice.” The document spoke very directly to me: “Those who have all the necessities of life and live far from poverty also need the message of hope and reconciliation.” It further states that we must recognize the “call to share God’s work of reconciliation in our broken world.”

There are three types of reconciliation – with God, with community, and with creation. The first is a call to more fully experience the Gospel and life of Christ. In the second, “we hear Christ summon us anew to a ministry of justice and peace, serving the poor and the excluded and helping build peace.” In the third, we see that our “current economic system with its predatory orientation discards natural resources as well as people.”

 

 

Towards #Christmas.

“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2, 12).#refugees pic.twitter.com/dWrONdyhdM

— Valerio De Cesaris (@ValerioDeC) December 15, 2017

This reconciliation calls for incredible depth, reflection, and a willingness to go beyond our own stories. It requires discomfort and an open heart. As we reach the end of Advent and start of Christmas, my desire for reconciliation forces me to abandon the comfortable and romanticized manger and to accompany those facing modern Christmas stories.

****

It can be easy to romanticize the Nativity, to sing “Little Drummer Boy” and imagine myself as a shepherd standing off to the side. The real story of Christmas, however, reveals the brokenness and heartache of our world. It reveals Jesus who came not to the powerful, but rather called the powerful to realize their need for reconciliation. The Nativity is a story that demands I reconcile myself to Christ, to the poor and oppressed, and to creation. Ultimately, Christ became incarnate to enable this reconciliation, destroy death, and establish justice in our world.

***

Image courtesy of pixabay.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Jesus Asked Me to Pray He Gets a Home

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 12/18/2017 - 05:30

By Loretta Pehanich

I blasted out of my office with a broken heart and crestfallen face. I needed a break to calm my agitated spirit. As I took off down the street, a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk said something to me. I stopped and bent closer. “I’m sorry; I didn’t hear you,” I said. He asked if I had any prayer needs, because he would pray for me. Have you ever had a homeless person offer [...]

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Categories: Things Jesuit

Faith, Hope, and ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 12/17/2017 - 23:10

**Note: This article dives into some of the details of the recent movie—which I highly recommend—but that also means it’s full of spoilers. So, read on, but be warned! **

 

“We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down to the ground.”
—Poe Dameron—

At the end of The Force Awakens (VII), Rey’s outstretched hand holds a glimmer of hope and a lightsaber out to Luke Skywalker. That faint twinkle of hope carries us into The Last Jedi (VIII), but quickly all expectations are dashed and the characters’ very faith is shaken. They find themselves questioning: Can we hold onto that spark of hope when all seems lost?

The outstretched hand of Rey delivers the lightsaber to Luke Skywalker, and in response he takes the lightsaber and throws it over his shoulder and walks away. After persistence, Rey convinces him to teach her, but Luke agrees to teach her only three lessons designed to convince her that: “It’s time for the Jedi… to end.”  But still we hold out hope, however faint, that Rey can convince him to rejoin their cause. In the end, she leaves him alone in his exile; alone, she goes to face the Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren.

Kylo Ren offers us echoes of hope. For much of the narrative, he seems torn wrestling with both his darkness and his light. He kills Supreme Leader Snoke, and for a single moment hope burns brightly. Yet, in this moment, Kylo Ren turns to Rey and asks her to turn to the darkness and rule the galaxy with him. In response, she asks him to turn to the light, but he refuses. What was hope, falls apart. Kylo Ren was never good—we soon realize his action was motivated not by the light, but his own selfish desire for power.

Throughout the movie, the Resistance is outgunned and on the run. It’s a desperate chase, with the Resistance using every ounce of their fuel to stay just out of reach of the First Order. As they run, they lose—piece by piece—the entirety of their fleet. They move in numbers from thousands, to a couple hundred, to only a dozen.  

The floundering Resistance calls for help, yet no allies arrive. As the impending doom seems knocking, Leia hangs her head and says: “We fought until the end, but the galaxy lost all its hope. The spark is out.”

In that darkest moment, Luke Skywalker shows up… In the battle that ensues, he throws every last bit of himself into tricking the First Order and Kylo Ren, in order to provide the rebels an escape. The power and the strain kill him. And with that, the last Jedi dies… Only, that’s not quite the case.

The spark remains. Hope remains. Rey remains. She understands in that moment, that she is a Jedi, that she is the hope, that spark remains within her. She accepts the role, and she and Poe Dameron lead what’s left of the Resistance to safety. Luke Skywalker’s words echo in their hearts, “The rebellion is reborn today. The war is just beginning. And, I will not be the last Jedi.”

There is a faith that drives the hope, protecting it and carrying it through even the hardest of moments. A faith in the Force, in something more than oneself, and also in each other. A reassurance that even when surrounded by darkness, there is light still. The movie’s plot is a narrative spiral into an abyss of darkness; every expectation and hope that the rebels have, fails them. Yet, still they continue on.

It’s that faith and hope they hold onto to which makes them strong—it brings them through even the darkest moments into the light. Even if it fails their expectations, they hold onto it—trusting that it’ll bring them through it all.

It’s that same faith and hope that we need to carry us through our darkest moments and greatest challenges. The moments where our expectations are not realized, and we have to rethink what is possible. Even in the darkest of moments, we are neither alone nor ever completely in the dark.

-//-

The cover photo is featured courtesy of Wikimedia.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Simply Advent: Simple Practices

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 12/15/2017 - 05:30

By Vinita Hampton Wright

We continue trying to keep things simple this Advent with suggestions for simple practices this season. Linger with the Nativity Story This seems simple enough, but why not be quite intentional about taking in, once more, the story of Jesus’ birth? Read it in Scripture. Read a children’s book version of the story. Watch a film about it, such as The Nativity Story or Jesus of Nazareth (first part). Read about it in poetry form. [...]

IgnatianSpirituality.com ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Simply Advent: Simple Practices, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Solidaridad con Honduras

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 07:18

Click here for English.

[Nota del Editor: Se realizaron las elecciones presidenciales en Honduras el 26 de noviembre. Los resultados de las elecciones han sido cuestionados por varios fuentes locales e internacionales, y no se ha nombrado a ningún ganador oficial. P. Ismael Moreno, S.J., más conocido como Padre Melo, es sacerdote jesuita hondureño que se desempeña como Director de un canal de radio nacional (Radio Progreso) y su organización de investigación social llamada “ERIC” (Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación). La siguiente es una carta que revela bastante de la convulsionada realidad política hondureña. El Padre Melo pide solidaridad, ayuda para contactar a los políticos y apoyo financiero.]

Queridos amigos y amigas:

En la madrugada del día domingo 10 de diciembre –día Internacional de los Derechos Humanos–, Radio Progreso salió abruptamente del aire en la zona central de su cobertura que se corresponde a la capital de la República y lugares adyacentes.

El día viernes 8 de diciembre dos supuestos técnicos de CONATEL (Comisionado Nacional para las Telecomunicaciones) se presentaron en la sede de Radio Progreso en Tegucigalpa para hacer solicitar informaciones sobre una frecuencia AM que solo funciona en la zona del Valle de Sula a unos 200 kilómetros de la capital. Era una inspección de rutina en un lugar que no correspondía a la frecuencia solicitada. Sin embargo, cuando se pidió que firmaran la visita, los supuestos empleados estatales se negaron a hacerlo.

De acuerdo a informes que hemos recibido de nuestro equipo técnico, la interrupción de la programación se debió al derribo provocado y deliberado de la torre y de la antena de transmisión ubicada en uno de los cerros en las inmediaciones de la ciudad capital. Se trató sin duda de un sabotaje a la transmisión de la Radio Progreso en un contexto político de alta polarización y confrontación tras las elecciones generales celebradas el día 26 de noviembre pasado, y cuyos resultados no han dado todavía a un ganador a la presidencia, aunque es de amplio manejo de que los resultados favorecieron al candidato de la oposición al actual presidente Juan Orlando Hernández quien a su vez propuso su candidatura pasando por encima de la Constitución de la República que prohíbe que bajo ninguna circunstancia un presidente puede aspirar a un segundo mandato.

Radio Progreso ha sostenido una línea editorial en contra de la ilegalidad de la reelección y ha cuestionado los resultados electorales en la misma línea como lo ha hecho la Misión de la Organización de los Estados Americanos (OEA) la cual establece que el proceso electoral fue muy irregular, con muchos errores y problemas sistémicos. Además nuestra Radio Progreso ha cubierto las diversas manifestaciones y ha llevado las voces que desde la academia y la investigación cuestionan el proceso electoral, al que califican de fraudulento.

Padre Melo

Nuestro temor es que este sabotaje sea el inicio de un plan orientado a acallar la voz de Radio Progreso, como lo hemos venido analizando a lo largo del presente año. Tenemos temor de otros sabotajes a las otras antenas que tenemos en el interior del país, y tememos por la integridad física de los miembros del equipo humano de nuestra Radio y del ERIC. Valoramos que esta acción de sabotaje se inserta en la violación creciente a los derechos humanos y a la libertad de expresión a través de la represión y uso de la fuerza desproporcionada en contra de la población que sale a las calles a manifestar su repudio al fraude electoral y en demanda del respeto a la voluntad popular expresada en las urnas.

Hacemos un llamamiento internacional a tener puesta la vista en nuestro país porque prevemos que las siguientes semanas y meses serán muy agotadores, y las amenazas a defensoras y defensores, periodistas independientes y dirigentes sociales y comunitarios seguirán en aumento. Es necesario tener la mirada puesta en nuestra radio puesto que tenemos la convicción de proseguir con nuestra misión de informar, analizar y denunciar con seriedad y profundidad lo que va sucediendo, y desde el equipo del ERIC y la Radio aportar en la búsqueda de propuestas que conduzcan a salir de esta crisis.

Pedimos que nos ayuden con la denuncia de las violaciones a los derechos humanos que el gobierno a través de las fuerzas represivas comete contra las personas que se manifiestan en las calles en contra del fraude electoral y exigiendo que se respete la voluntad popular expresada en las urnas. Es necesario que se hagan llegar cartas a la Embajada del gobierno de los Estados Unidos en Honduras por avalar, primero la reelección ilegal del presidente Juan Orlando Hernández, y segundo, callar las violaciones a los derechos humanos y avalar el fraude electoral.

Nuestra propuesta es, junto con otras instancias nacionales, demandar la anulación de las elecciones celebradas el 26 de noviembre, e invocar la carta democrática de la OEA para convocar a nuevas elecciones en un próximo futuro. Lo peor que le puede ocurrir a nuestro país es la continuación del actual gobierno de Juan Orlando Hernández por su compromiso con reducidas élites, el control personal de los diversos poderes del Estado, el encubrimiento de personas de renombre vinculadas con el crimen organizado y la estigmatización, discriminación, represión y eventualmente eliminación de personas y organizaciones que no se someten a sus arbitrarias decisiones. En este abanico de amenazas se encuentra nuestra Radio Progreso y el ERIC.

Si esta mirada de solidaridad se concreta en apoyo económico, por pequeño que sea, para restablecer nuestros equipos y para proseguir nuestra misión en esta situación de emergencia, lo agradeceremos profundamente.

Con mi abrazo y oración.

Padre Melo, S.J.

Director

Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación ERIC-SJ

Radio Progreso

Honduras

Categories: Things Jesuit

Solidarity with Honduras

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 12/14/2017 - 07:17

Haga clic aquí para español.

[Editor’s Note: A general election was held in Honduras on November 26th. The results of the election have been called into question by numerous local and international sources, and no official winner has been named. Ismael Moreno, S.J., more commonly known as Padre Melo, is a Honduran Jesuit priest who serves as the Director for a nationally broadcast radio station (Radio Progreso) and its social research organization called “ERIC” (which is an acronym in Spanish for “Reflection, Research, and Communication Team”). The following is a letter casts light on the tumultuous political situation unfolding in Honduras. Padre Melo asks for solidarity, assistance in contacting politicians and financial support.]

 

Dear friends and colleagues:

In the early hours of Sunday, December 10th – International Human Rights Day – Radio Progreso went off the air abruptly in the central area of its coverage, which covers the capital of the Republic of Honduras and its surrounding areas.

On Friday, December 8th, two men claiming to be technicians from CONATEL (the National Telecommunications Commission), appeared at the Radio Progreso office in Tegucigalpa to request information about an AM frequency that only operates in the Sula Valley region, some two hundred kilometres from the capital; it was a routine inspection in a location that did not broadcast at the frequency requested.  However, when they were asked to sign in, the two supposed state employees refused to do this.

In accordance with reports that we have received from our technical team, the interruption in programming was caused by the intentional and deliberate demolition of the transmission tower and antenna located on one of the hills on the outskirts of the capital city.  It is being regarded as an act of sabotage aimed at Radio Progreso’s broadcasting, considering the highly polarized and confrontational political context following the general election on November 26th, which has still not produced a President, although it is widely known that the results favored the current President, Juan Orlando Hernández.  His candidacy overrides and contravenes the terms of the Constitution of the Republic which prohibits a President from being able to run for a second term under any circumstances.

Radio Progreso has upheld an editorial line against the illegality of the re-election and has questioned the electoral results, just as the Organization of American States (OAS) Mission has done, stating that the electoral process was irregular, with many systemic problems and mistakes.  Furthermore, Radio Progreso has broadcast coverage of the various demonstrations and has given voice to those from academic and research circles that are questioning the electoral process they view as fraudulent.

Our fear is that this act of sabotage is the start of a plan aimed at silencing the voice of Radio Progreso, as we have been seeing over the course of this year.  We are afraid of other acts of sabotage against other antennas that we have in the country, and we fear for the physical security of the human team members of our radio and of ERIC.  We consider this act of sabotage to be part of the growing abuse of human rights and freedom of expression, through the repression of, and use of disproportionate force against, the population demonstrating against electoral fraud and calling for the will of the people expressed at the polls to be respected.

Padre Melo with demonstrators.

We make an appeal to the international community to look to the future of our country, because we foresee that the coming weeks and months will be very difficult, and the threats to human rights defenders, independent journalists, and social and community leaders will continue to increase.  It is necessary to look to our radio since we have the conviction to carry on with our mission to inform, analyse and report what is happening with depth and integrity, and for the ERIC and radio teams to support the search for proposals to lead us out of this crisis.

We ask that you help us through the condemnation of the human rights violations which the government, through the forces of repression, is committing against those people that are protesting against electoral fraud and demanding that the popular will expressed at the polls be respected.  It is necessary that letters reach the Embassy of the United States in Honduras which, firstly, endorse the illegal re-election of President Juan Orlando Hernández, and secondly, conceal human rights violations and endorse electoral fraud.

Our proposal, together with other national bodies, is to demand the annulment of the elections on November 26th and invoke the Democratic Charter of the OAS to call a new round of elections.  The worst thing that could happen to our country is the continuation of the current government of Juan Orlando Hernández, due to his close relationship with a small number of elites, personal control of various branches of government, the cover-up of links between well-known figures and organized crime, and the stigmatization, discrimination, repression and, eventually, the elimination of those people and organizations who do not comply with his arbitrary decisions.  The threats that Radio Progreso and ERIC have received fall within this remit.

We would be profoundly grateful if this vision of solidarity could be realized through economic support, however small it might be, in order to re-establish our teams and continue with our mission in this emergency situation.

Sending my best wishes and prayers.

Rev. Ismael Moreno, S.J.

Director

Reflection, Research and Communication Team, ERIC-SJ

Radio Progreso

Honduras

Categories: Things Jesuit

How Do We Wait?

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 05:30

By Marina McCoy

Advent is a time of awaiting the Lord. But there are many ways in which we can wait. Zechariah awaited the fulfillment of the angel’s words with confusion and doubt. Yet the Lord delivered on his promise. Elizabeth awaited expectantly and greeted Mary with hope. And the infant leapt in her womb. Mary awaited faithfully, pondering and trusting in the angel’s reassurance not to be afraid. And the Lord was with her and within her. [...]

IgnatianSpirituality.com ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article How Do We Wait?, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Cristo Rey, Guadalupe Reina

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 01:53

It’s 7:45 am at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. The onslaught of students crossing over into the main building from the cafeteria has begun. They hustle to their lockers, swapping out textbooks and jamming class binders into their swollen book bags. Some retie their ties. Some stare intently into the doors of their lockers, presumably doing one last mirror-check before heading to class. Some relish every last second with their earbuds in. God forbid they get their phones confiscated when the clock strikes 8:00!

The students that are slightly more awake chit-chat. The roar of head-tilting laughs jolt me as I open my classroom from the inside and flip down the door stand with my foot.

“Yo, Mr. Hanson – were we supposed to turn in our uniforms?” Carlos asks.

I’ve been barraging my student-athletes non-stop about turning in their soccer uniforms for days. Carlos isn’t the only one on my list. “Yeeees!!!! Last week!” I say exasperatedly, sweeping by him on a mission to the faculty printers.

“Yeah, well what if I don’t wanna turn it in?” he says softly, sheepish about the truth but desiring to express it. I turn around and shake my head, walking backwards for a couple of steps. Inside, though, I’m grateful that my suspicion about the number of missing uniforms has been confirmed: they love their school and everything it represents.

***

It’s the 22nd year of the original school of the Cristo Rey Network – the “OG school,” some call it. Spanish proficiency is an admission requirement, and the students weave in and out of the language as they weave through the hallways. In November, the school is filled with altars for Dia de los Muertos. School masses are bilingual and the daily announcements have elements of Spanglish in them. Signs on bulletin boards encourage events like the “Traditional México” Homecoming Dance, where students will dance to cumbia, banda, tamborazo, bachata, and more. Real fútbol dominates our sports scene, and championship banners hang proudly in the gym. Everything at this school celebrates who they are.

But nothing as much as the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass.

La Virgencita embodies them. She shares their skin color. She shares their roots. Devotion to her has migrated all over the world, enriching the lives of all who draw near to her, much like these students’ ancestors. And nobody can articulate what she means to them quite like my students and their immediate relatives.

***

Her gaze is a mix of tenderness, peace, love, consolation, and understanding. You sincerely think that you are, above all, her favorite child. And she’s with you, right there with you, by your side. You close your eyes and feel her powerful presence, her essence.
-Mother of I.M.

My mom deposited all her trust and love in her after losing my dad. She was her strength and consolation. My mother, a widow with eleven children and without a source of income never lost her faith.
-Mother of A.V.

When I crossed the border, she miraculously covered me with her cloak when Immigration (officers) were in front of me.
Mother of P.P.

“She is my guide and helps my faith remain firm and solid.” My aunt, who says this, says it with such passion, such love, that it even lights up her eyes!
-J.J.

[When he woke up from a dream in which Guadalupe appeared to him] he was soaked in sweat. He saw his drugs on the table and wanted to grab them, but he heard a voice that told him to remember what he had promised in his dream…he never consumed them again.
-I.P.

[While migrating] my grandmother was sick. She wouldn’t eat or drink and was very weak because she was pregnant with my mother…She arrived at the Basilica [in Mexico City] on her knees. With much faith she prayed not to lose her baby. La Virgen was very generous and granted her prayer, and she crossed [the border] safely.
-E.L.

***

“Are you crying, Mr. Hanson?!” A few students look over as we sit on the bleachers during a dramatic recreation of the Juan Diego – Guadalupe story.

“Of course!” I say shamelessly.

“I have many messengers, Juan Dieguito, but I have chosen you. You, my poor, little, helpless one,” La Virgencita says to her hijo as he struggles to convince the ones in power of the divine message.

Juan Diego reveres Guadalupe

After the Mass, the whole community devours tamales and conchas, chasing them down with champurrado. We listen to the mariachi band play and chit-chat with one another. Large gestures and head-tilting laughs abound.

“So…what’d you think?” a fellow faculty member asks.

“Amazing.”

“As we approach final exams and teachers and students get restless for the break, nothing quite reminds us of why we’re here like this story.”

Indeed. They are still chosen today, like Juan Diego all those years ago. Their identity is embodied in the story, and their mission is clear: to bring a message that the powerful of the world are afraid to hear. God will do great things in them, and La Virgencita is their strength and consolation.

-//-

The cover image, from Flickr user Paul Sableman, can be found here.

Categories: Things Jesuit

test

Ignatian Spirituality - Tue, 12/12/2017 - 15:22

By Tim Muldoon

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IgnatianSpirituality.com ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

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

Categories: Things Jesuit

Acoger al Forastero: la Campaña de Hospitalidad

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:13

Click here for English.

¿Cómo acogemos al forastero?

Miles de personas que viven en los Estados Unidos no se sienten acogidas en este momento. Los estudiantes de secundaria y universitarios que se benefician de la Ley de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA, por su sigla en inglés) enfrentan un futuro incierto en este país. Los refugiados que han huido de desastres naturales y han recibido protección del Estatus de Protección Temporal (TPS) ven que su bienvenida se expira. Se construye un muro.

Esta no es la forma de acoger al forastero. Esta no es la manera de responder al llamado de Dios. Estamos inequívocamente llamados a recibir al forastero.

El Antiguo Testamento destaca esta obligación: “No maltratarás, ni oprimirás a los extranjeros, ya que también ustedes fueron extranjeros en tierra de Egipto” (Éx 22:20). Jesús tampoco deja dudas: “porque yo era forastero y me recibiste” (Mt 25:35)

La enseñaza de la Iglesia nos instruye a “socorrer en sus sufrimientos a los refugiados dispersos por todo el mundo o de ayudar a los migrantes y a sus familias.” Además el Papa Francisco nos dice: “A la globalización del fenómeno migratorio hay que responder con la globalización de la caridad y de la cooperación, para que se humanicen las condiciones de los emigrantes.”

Nuestro sentido de amor y caridad es suficiente para obligarnos a actuar cuando nos encontramos con personas necesitadas. No podemos pensar en los refugiados y los migrantes simplemente como amenazas a nuestro trabajo o estadísticas alarmantes. Tenemos que verlos como las personas que son. Tenemos que conocerlos, colaborar con ellos y escuchar sus historias.

La Virgen María puede ser nuestra guía. Hoy es la Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, que celebra la aparición de la Virgen María en el Cerro de Tepeyac en la Ciudad de México como una joven indígena que habló con Juan Diego en su lengua nativa de Náhuatl. Ella se encontró con Juan Diego como él era y así nos ofrece un modelo de encuentro con los demás con dignidad y respeto. Se declaró a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe como la Patrona de las Américas. Desde entonces, ha sido considerada como una defensora de los migrantes y las poblaciones vulnerables.

Mientras celebramos su fiesta, reflexionemos sobre nuestras naciones vecinas, los refugiados y los migrantes que huyen de sus países de origen y sobre cómo podemos poner en práctica el llamado evangélico de la hospitalidad. Y tomemos medidas.

*****

Al enfrentarnos con los problemas de nuestro mundo, frecuentemente nos sentimos paralizados en la inacción. Incluso cuando sabemos que necesitamos impulsar un cambio, nos quedamos estancados al preguntar: “¿pero cómo?” Cuando se trata del llamado de acoger al forastero y extender la hospitalidad a los refugiados y los migrantes, aquí algunos consejos para ayudarte.

Inspirada en los esfuerzos de otras partes del mundo, la Conferencia Jesuita de Canadá y los EEUU lanzaron la “Campaña de Hospitalidad” a principios de este año. Coordinada por la Red de Solidaridad Ignaciana, esta campaña busca involucrar a las personas a través del encuentro, entendimiento y acción.

Se puede participar en la campaña como escuela, parroquia o individuo. Al participar, se compromete a llevar a cabo al menos tres iniciativas por año. Algunos ejemplos de iniciativas incluyen:

  • Colaborar como voluntario en un albergue para migrantes.
  • Contactar a los Congresistas a favor del Dream Act o para extender el TPS.
  • Participar en una campaña de redes sociales.

Una de esas campañas de redes sociales se lleva a cabo hoy, para la Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Muchos jesuitas, incluyendo el personal y los escritores de The Jesuit Post (TJP), participarán con otros de la Red de Solidaridad Ignaciana para publicar fotos. Busca las fotos en Instagram, Facebook y Twitter bajo la etiqueta #CforH (la Campaña de Hospitalidad).

¿Quieres participar? Usa esta imagen de Guadalupe con el mensaje: “Rezo para que personas que migran sean tratadas con respeto y dignidad.” Toma una foto de ti mismo con otros mostrando la imagen y etiquetalo con #CforH y mándanos saludos @thejesuitpost and @IGsolidarityNET.

*****

La Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los EEUU (USCCB) junto con sus organizaciones asociadas Catholic Charities USA y Catholic Relief Services (CRS) también han lanzado una iniciativa llamada “Compartiendo el Viaje” (“Share the Journey”). Su sitio web ofrece una variedad de consejos útiles para abordar el tema de la migración. Es un buen sitio para aprender más y tomar medidas.

Si hoy participas en la campaña de redes sociales, también puedes añadir la etiqueta #ShareTheJourney.

*****

Mientras nos acercamos a la Navidad, recordemos la historia de una María embarazada y su esposo José cuando viajaban a Belén. Tocando puerta tras puerta, estaban buscando una bienvenida. Pero nadie los recibió.

Entonces sucedió que nuestro Señor y Salvador nació no en la calidez de un hogar ni la comodidad de una posada, sino en un establo humilde.

Hay un llamado a nuestra puerta. ¿Cómo acogeremos al forastero?

Podemos comenzar abriendo la puerta para conocer a la persona del otro lado. Dejará de ser un extraño. Y si miramos de cerca, veremos el rostro de Jesús en ellos.

Mientras continuamos en esta temporada de Adviento, abramos la puerta, conozcamos al extraño y mostremos nuestra hospitalidad.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Welcoming the Stranger: The Campaign for Hospitality

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 22:59

Haga clic aquí para español.

How do we welcome the stranger?

Thousands of people living in the United States feel unwelcome right now. High school and college students benefiting from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legislation (DACA) are facing an uncertain future in this country. Refugees who have fled natural disasters and received protection from Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are seeing their welcome expire. A wall is being built.

This is not the way to welcome the stranger. This is not the way to respond to God’s call. We are unambiguously called to welcome the stranger.

The Old Testament makes this obligation clear: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Ex 22:20). Jesus also leaves no doubt: “for I was a stranger, and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35).

Church teaching instructs us to “alleviate the distressing conditions of refugees…and assist migrants and their families.” Pope Francis further tells us, “It is necessary to respond to the globalization of migration with the globalization of charity and cooperation, in such a way as to make the conditions for migrants more humane.”

Our sense of love and charity alone compel us to action as we witness fellow humans in need. We cannot think of refugees and migrants simply as threats to our jobs or alarming statistics. We have to see them as the people they are. We have to meet them, work with them, and hear their stories.

The Virgin Mary can be our guide. Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which celebrates an apparition of the Virgin Mary on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City as a young indigenous woman who spoke to Juan Diego in his native Nahuatl tongue. She encountered Juan Diego as he was and thus offers us a model of encountering others with dignity and respect. Our Lady of Guadalupe was later declared the Patroness of the Americas. Since then, she has come to be seen as an advocate for migrants and vulnerable populations.

As we celebrate her feast, let us take this day to reflect on our neighboring nations, the refugees and migrants who flee their home countries, and how we can live out the Gospel call of hospitality. And let’s take action.

*****

Confronted with the problems of our world, we can often feel paralyzed into inaction. Even when we know we need to create change, we get stuck asking, “but how?” When it comes to the call to welcome the stranger and extend hospitality to refugees and migrants, here are some resources to help you out.

Inspired by efforts elsewhere in the world, the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States launched the “Campaign for Hospitality” earlier this year. Coordinated by the Ignatian Solidarity Network, this campaign seeks to engage people through encounter, understanding and action.

You can join the campaign as a school, parish or individual. By joining, you commit to participate in at least three initiatives per year. Examples of initiatives include:

  • Volunteering at a migrant shelter.
  • Contacting members of Congress in favor of the Dream Act or extending TPS.
  • Participating in a social media campaign.

One such social media campaign is taking place today, on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Jesuits from around the world, including TJP staff and writers, will be joining others from the Ignatian Solidarity Network in posting photos. Look for the photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter under the hashtag #CforH (Campaign for Hospitality).

Want to participate? Use this image of Guadalupe with the message “I pray that people who migrate are treated with respect and dignity.” Take a photo of yourself and others holding up the sign and tag it with #CforH and give a shout out @thejesuitpost and @IGsolidarityNET.

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The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) along with partner organizations Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Relief Services has also launched an initiative called “Share the Journey.” Their website offers a variety of helpful resources for engaging the issue of migration. It is a great place to learn more and take action.

If you participate in today’s social media campaign, you can also add the tag #ShareTheJourney.

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As we approach Christmas, let us recall the story of a pregnant Mary and her husband Joseph as they traveled to Bethlehem. Knocking on door after door, they were looking for a welcome. But they received none.

So it came to be that our Lord and Savior was born not in the warmth of a home or even within the comfort of an inn, but instead in a humble stable.

There is a knocking on our door. How will we welcome the stranger?

We can start by opening the door and meeting the person on the other side. They will cease to be a stranger anymore. And if we look closely, we will even see the face of Jesus in them.

As we continue in this Advent season, let us open the door, meet the stranger, and show our hospitality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

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