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Cardinal Newman’s Three Reminders

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 10/16/2019 - 23:01

John Henry Newman was canonized by Pope Francis on October 13, the anniversary of his famous conversion to Catholicism. The saint would undoubtedly have been amused by the reception of his works after his death. In his own life, Newman found himself criticized by people on every side of opinion: by conservatives and liberals, by believers and agnostics, and by Catholics and Protestants. That he is presently quoted favorably by all of those groups would have brought an ironic smile to his famously Victorian visage.

In that spirit of irony, I will focus on three phrases key to understanding and appreciating Newman, none of which come from his published works and none of which are written in English. If we allow ourselves to be moved by these words, we may find essential guidance for our own times.

 

Cor ad cor loquitur 

When Newman was created a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII, he chose cor ad cor loquitur as his motto: heart speaks unto heart. Newman is not talking about Hallmark sentiment here. Rather, in speaking of the words of love spoken from heart to heart, Newman is talking about the intimate love between God and God’s beloved. 

The poet Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote that the world is truly charged with the grandeur of God. Newman, who welcomed Hopkins into the Church after a long correspondence, agreed that the world is completely saturated with God’s love and believed that this love is most surely experienced and responded to in the depths of the human heart. Those who are seized by the love of God and respond in love live the most profound communication: the heart of God speaking to the heart of man – cor ad cor loquitur.  

 

Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem 

On Newman’s tomb, he had inscribed the phrase ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem: out of shadows and phantasms into the truth. Nothing better could describe how Newman understood his own life’s journey. In the Apologia Pro Vita Sua, Newman’s intellectual autobiography (or, as Bishop Barron describes it, the biography of Newman’s brain), Newman describes his long and slow journey from one of the great minds of Protestant theology finally home to Roman Catholicism. Throughout the Apologia, Newman demonstrates his constant quest for the truth. It was not enough for an idea to be satisfactory for him to accept: for Newman, it had to be true. 

When Newman converted to Catholicism,  he lost his entire social world, including his life at Oxford. His leadership of the Oxford Movement, the intellectual project of his life, fell apart because he no longer believed it to be true. Newman staked everything he had on the truth he had come to grasp and, at times in his life, Newman must have thought that decision a serious mistake. From our position (and from his own in the Communion of Saints), we can judge the success of his venture. 

More than a century later, may we embrace the same journey: out of the shadows and phantasms into the truth. 

 

Amare nesciri 

After Newman became Catholic, he found inspiration in the life and thought of Saint Philip Neri, the founder of the Oratorians. Neri, a friend of Saint Ignatius and well known for his good humor, famously counseled his many followers that the way to holiness is through humility. To be humble for Neri was to love to be unknown: amare nesciri. So it was for Newman.

This of all Newman’s reminders may be the most difficult to accept. For us, an inescapable element of love is being known: when I am truly seen, when I am understood, when I am known by another, then I can be loved for who I am (or perhaps, despite who I am). When I am known in love, I can return love in kind; when I give myself in love, I am known. 

Newman reminds us that the greatest danger in a desire to be known is that love for another can be mistaken for and subsumed into self-absorption and self-obsession. Far greater, then, is the love that gives without expecting a return, the love that wills to be forgotten for the sake of the beloved. If we are to truly be free to love completely, then we must learn this lesson: amare nesciri. 

These precepts of Newman are not solely intellectual. Rather, they bear directly on our relationship to God, neighbor, and ourselves. They are not handy word arrows for us to use in our interminable battles over politics, culture, and religion, but rather calls to conversion. To appreciate Newman the theologian, we must understand Newman the convert, a conversion that did not begin or end with his conversion to Catholicism but encompassed his whole life on the journey to sanctity.

 

Saint John Henry Newman, pray for us and for our conversion.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Hearing God’s Voice in the Busyness

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 10/16/2019 - 05:30

On a recent retreat I facilitated, a woman approached me at the break and asked, “How do I hear God’s voice when the world is so loud and busy these days?” Knowing the challenge of hearing God’s voice in the busyness of life all too well myself, I chuckled and asked her, “Well, how much […]

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

Not sure what to do? Ask St. Ignatius. Read Discovering Your Dream by Gerald M. Fagin, SJ.

Click through to read the full article Hearing God’s Voice in the Busyness, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

St. Ignatius Never Took Sick Days

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 10/16/2019 - 02:33

Jesuits have always ventured in places others avoid. Ignatius ministered to prostitutes in Rome. Francis Xavier sailed to India and Japan. As Archbishop, Pope Francis famously visited Buenos Aires’ shantytowns.

Eager to live up to my forebears, I jumped at the opportunity to visit Honduras. My grandfather expressed serious concerns, backed up with receipts from the New York Times. But fellow Jesuits assured me that my particular destination was safe from gang violence. Two of my Jesuit brothers, Conan and David, would be accompanying me. Best of all, I’d have the opportunity to work at a theater, one of my passions.

I had barely deplaned before being brought into the theater. I spent my whole first day with actors, absorbing the rehearsal in an abandoned United Fruit Company storehouse. Despite my mediocre Spanish, I picked up most of the story after just a few run-thrus. I ached to return the next day.

Literally.

I woke up on the second day unable to eat breakfast. I forced down some delicious eggs and beans and found myself running to the dingy bathroom as the eggs and beans forced themselves back up. Spiritually, I fell into an embarrassed despair. 

“You can’t even make it through two days without getting sick?” This Evil Spirit asked me with the tone of a particularly sarcastic childhood bully. “Francis Xavier took a boat from Spain to Japan, and you can’t make the ten-minute drive to the theater? They’re all going to think you’re weak. Conan’s already been here ten days and he’s fine.”

As my stomach wrestled with the little I’d eaten, my soul tried to fight against this equally violent movement of the Evil Spirit. “You’re wrong,” I shot back incredulously. “I’m just getting used to the climate and the food. I can miss one day!”

Bedridden by my GI tract and busy quieting the Evil Spirit, I stayed home for the day. Between bouts with the toilet, I rested.

When the tropical birds woke me up the next morning, I felt fine. In contrast to Evil Spirit’s predictions, no one questioned my character, instead, they seemed surprised I made it back to the theater so quickly. I wrote down how the Evil Spirit had tricked me in my journal.

A few weeks later, that same unpleasant feeling returned over a similarly lovely plate of eggs and beans. This time I had learned how to respond so the Evil Spirit didn’t stand a chance. “I need to stay home today,” I told my companions, “I feel like I’ve lost control of my stomach again.” I rested more easily that day although the toilet got ample use.

Woken up again by the morning birds, I got back to the theater and started again. The actors welcomed me warmly, including a few knowing looks about the state of my toilet.

When I woke up with the usual warning signs again a few days later, I ignored them. Sure, I felt tired, but I had been up late the night before! Sure, I felt really hot, but it was a blistering day! Sure, my bathroom trips were getting ever more numerous, but that was just a holdover from the last time. Ignatius wouldn’t have bailed on the prostitutes with just a few days left.

But everyone else could tell I was ill. The actors asked me, “are you alright?” “Do you need to go home?” “Do you want to take a break?”

I resisted their offers of assistance, forcing myself to accompany them as they walked around the dusty town selling tickets. I sweltered in the blazing heat. After an hour in the sun I collapsed upon returning to rehearsal.

The director rushed me home where I assured my fellow Jesuits that I could heal myself without them. “All I need is a big glass of water and some time in bed,” I explained. “I’m fine.” The Evil Spirit was back, taunting me with grand ideas about how Pope Francis had never been such a burden to his companions. “Are you that weak? They’ll never invite YOU back!”

After twenty minutes, I wasn’t fine. My temperature was stuck at 104ºF despite ice packs cooling my face and air conditioning bathing my body. I finally relented and let my companions rush me to the medical clinic.

In the Emergency Room, they started to run tests for Dengue Fever among other serious tropical diseases. Contrary to my self-assessment, I was legitimately sick. We waited anxiously for the test results to come back.

The minutes lingered as I reflected on how I had gotten to this plain hospital room in a provincial town in Honduras. I saw all the faces of the people–the director, the actors, my brother Jesuits–who had wanted to help me in a time of genuine need. I reflected on my response, desperately avoiding looking weak among all these people who loved me. Why was I blind to their care?

After what felt like hours but was probably only minutes, the doctor returned. Conan held my hand as we braced for the news. The doctor’s serious fears were assuaged, I just had a run-of-the-mill parasite that had gotten out of control in the heat. I’d be released in a few hours with a regimen of antibiotics.

Gripping Conan’s hand more tightly, the dam of my resistance broke. The doctor’s external confirmation of my physical weakness allowed me to acknowledge it. 

It’s ok for me to get sick. I’m a human being and human beings get sick. Francis Xavier surely got seasick a few times on the long boat ride. Jesus, who took on our human condition except for sin, certainly experienced food poisoning or else he’d have chosen to come to Earth after the invention of refrigeration. Ignatius’ whole conversion story centers around him being in a sick bed for nine months!

I wept tears of relief as I imagined Ignatius, Francis Xavier, and Jesus smiling down on me admitting, at last, my frail humanity.

-//-

Photo/“Ede-mom” by eeskaatt

Categories: Things Jesuit

Intro to the Spiritual Exercise: The Third and Fourth Week

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Tue, 10/15/2019 - 02:00

The Third and Fourth Weeks of the Spiritual Exercises has us reflect on the great pain of the death of Jesus and the joy in his resurrection. The common thread is that both of these events express the great love of God. This week Br. Mark Mackey, SJ, takes us through the end of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

Just as we imagined Jesus’ life in the Second Week, so now in the Third Week we imagine his death.

I’m Br. Mark Mackey and I’m going to take you through the end of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

What were the final hours of Jesus’ life like? 

He had a Last Supper with his friends, he agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane over his impending death, he faced an unjust trial in which his own people called for his torture. He carried his cross, died, and was buried.

We sit with each one of these events in prayer to let them sink in. They become more real than just a passing line in scripture.

We don’t try to change or soften what Jesus experienced. Rather, we draw close to him and feel the gravity of his Passion. Then we wait expectantly alongside Jesus in the tomb.

With the coming of the Fourth Week, however, there’s a drastic shift.

SPOILER ALERT! He lives! The tomb is empty. Jesus rises from the dead.

Curiously, Ignatius has us contemplate something that does not appear in the Bible: the resurrected Jesus first appears to Mary, his mother. We imagine the immense joy of a mother who, having lost her son, finds him living again.

We move to scripture: Jesus surprises Mary Magdalene, his disciple, two disaffected followers on the road to Emmaus, and, of course, doubting Thomas.

All of this leads us to the pinnacle of the Spiritual Exercises: The Contemplation to Obtain Divine Love. Behind Jesus’ death and resurrection is the love of God. He died to save us and he rose to give us hope. With himself he lifts us up to share in the divine life of the family of God. Just as in creation God made everything in an outpouring of love, so too in the resurrection he redeems everything out of love. 

God is a great giver of gifts. He gave us our life, our blessings, and, above all, his only Son. What can we do for God in response but give back to him in love what he has given to us?

And so Ignatius finishes the Exercises with the famous original prayer, the Suscipe:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will, 
all I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Teach Me to Serve You as You Deserve

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 10/14/2019 - 05:30

We’ve invited our dotMagis bloggers to reflect on the individual lines of the Prayer for Generosity, attributed to St. Ignatius. If we think of service as optional, something we do because we want to, then our service will depend on our emotions, rationale, and will. I serve God because I’m feeling happy or grateful. I […]

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

Not sure what to do? Ask St. Ignatius. Read Discovering Your Dream by Gerald M. Fagin, SJ.

Click through to read the full article Teach Me to Serve You as You Deserve, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Moodle 3.8 Quality Assurance testing

Latest Moodle News - Mon, 10/14/2019 - 03:37
by Helen Foster.  

Moodle 3.8 is scheduled for release on Monday 11 November 2019, and so once again we’re running a Quality Assurance (QA) testing cycle. The list of over 570 tests includes tests covering new features and improvements in Moodle 3.8.

If you can spare any time and would like to volunteer to help, please see the discussion Help needed with Moodle 3.8 QA testing for details of how you can be involved.

Thanks in advance for your help with our next version of Moodle!

One-Minute Homily: “St. John Henry Newman, Pray for Us”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 02:00

Today John Henry Newman was canonized as a Saint of the Catholic Church. Fr. Joe Simmons, SJ, reflects on how “outsiders” can help us recognize the beauty of what’s right in front of us. Based on the readings for Sunday, October 13, 2019.

“Growth,” Cardinal Newman wrote, “is the only sure sign of life.”  How have you been pushed to grow in your life of faith?  Hi, I’m Father Joe Simmons, and this is my one-minute homily.  Earlier today in Rome Pope Francis canonized John Henry Newman a saint of the Catholic Church.  He studied here in Oxford at Trinity College, and was later a fellow at Oriel College, and he preached right here at University Church.

Although he was Anglican, John Henry Newman did not accept easy stereotypes about Catholics; he studied history and theology, and became fully aware of all the Church’s imperfections. And yet on October 9, 1845, he converted to Catholicism and was received into the Church.

Cardinal Newman wrote, “We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.” In today’s Gospel, there are ten lepers healed by Jesus; but only one of them, an outsider, comes back to thank him for the gift of healing.  Converts to our faith remind us Cradle-Catholics of the great gift that we possess, and that it is something to be lived out and deepened every day.

On this great day, let us not settle for despair or easy indifference, but draw strength to grow deeper in our own lives of faith. St. John Henry Newman, pray for us!

Categories: Things Jesuit

Perceive More Than the Weather

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 05:30

As we settle into autumn, consider these reflection points on Luke 12:54–59, excerpted from Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2020 by the Irish Jesuits. A glance at the sky or a whiff of the wind, and you can have a good guess what the weather will be like. So, Jesus asks the crowds, why they […]

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

Not sure what to do? Ask St. Ignatius. Read Discovering Your Dream by Gerald M. Fagin, SJ.

Click through to read the full article Perceive More Than the Weather, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Should A Catholic Support Immigration Reform?

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 10/11/2019 - 01:00

[This is a response to an article written by Daniel Mascarenhas, S.J. on September 30th titled “Should A Catholic Support the Border Wall?”]

Should a Catholic support the border wall? If all we are talking about is a border wall, we are missing the main problem.

The fundamental problem on the U.S.-Mexico border is not the border wall. We already have one covering the most populated sections of the border. Ask border patrol agents: there are more pressing issues than expanding the wall. 

The fundamental problem is not a border wall. It’s immigration policy: the rules that govern who can cross our border.

A common misconception from those who support a bigger, taller, longer border wall is that pro-immigration groups want the border completely removed. “Open borders,” right?? No- this is a dangerously misleading caricature. That’s not what pro-immigration groups are arguing for. Most people can agree that regulation on the border, including some form of barrier, is important and sensible. That’s why we already have one.

So if that’s the case, why all the fuss about “Build the Wall”? The reason that people have gotten so fired up about this rhetoric is not because people believe we shouldn’t have any fencing or security on the border. It’s because the mantra has become a rallying cry directed against migrants, especially Latinos. The phrase has come to mean: you are not welcome. It is used in ways that are degrading to their human dignity. And it has become the source of an acute sense of pain and fear for many members of the Latino population in the U.S., regardless of their immigration status.

Even with a wall, there are ways to be welcoming. There are ways to respect the human dignity of migrants. That’s where immigration policy comes into play.

Let me respond to Daniel Mascarenhas’s use of the metaphor of locks on doors. For your private residence, you have locks on your doors, as he points out. That’s totally sensible to protect the well-being of you and your family. If we lock the doors of our house, Mascarenhas reflects, we should regulate our border. Right?

Agreed! But keep in mind: all borders/doors are porous. They regulate passage, and often prevent it. But they also permit passage. You lock your door, but you also unlock it for all sorts of people. Friends, family, neighbors, even the Amazon delivery person.

The locks on your door are sensible. But you don’t always leave them locked.

And even with locks, people might get into your house. Let’s just say, for example, you awake one morning to find a mother and child have gotten into your house through a window, even though the door was locked. You find them huddled in the corner of your living room, hungry and scared. How would you respond? 

You might ask them what they were doing (and how the heck they got in your house!). You might ask them if there is someone that you could call to help them get somewhere safe.

Would you, say, lock the child in a cage and bring the mother to a separate room for interrogation? Eesh- I suspect not.

This is obviously taking the metaphor to the extreme.1 I just use it to highlight some of the differences between having a lock on your door (= border wall) and the treatment of people who come to your house (= immigration policy). Where do you strike a balance between safety and hospitality?

The fundamental question regarding our border is: who (or what) is permitted to cross it?

Let’s start with “what” we permit to cross the border. Money, for example, is permitted to cross the border fairly easily, with some regulations. For trade, we import and export a tremendous amount of goods across the border daily, with very structured rules and tariffs. Guns and drugs are very heavily regulated, but these cross illegally anyway. Guns move south from the U.S. to Mexico, and cash and drugs make their way north into the U.S. Frankly, the wall doesn’t seem to be helping much with this.

What about people? Who is permitted to cross our border? Some people are permitted to cross our border very easily: returning citizens, people with visas, etc. We let them through without any problems. “Come on in!”

But many, many people are essentially barred from ever crossing that border. I’m not just talking about “bad hombres,” but also honest, decent hardworking men and women. Economically disadvantaged Mexicans and Central Americans have almost no way to enter the U.S. legally with documentation. None!

“Get in line!” is often a rallying cry for people who speak out again undocumented migration. What line? The fact is, for millions and millions of people, there is no line to get in. None! They are not welcome.

There is no “economically disadvantaged” visa that a poor Mexican or Central American could apply for. Shouldn’t there be? If we want people to get in line, shouldn’t we have a line for them to get in?

Daniel writes about the motives for migration, and he points to financial reasons as the most cited reason for migrating. Fair enough. Economic motives are a significant push factor driving migration. But it is dangerous to isolate the factors that drive migration, as if there are only single discrete factors that drive migrants. In so many cases, migrants are looking for economic opportunities while also fleeing situations of violence. Even if they are not directly under personal threat, their economic situation is severely worsened by the atmosphere of violence. 

Whether their primary motives are economic or security-driven or some combination of both, how do they get into the country legally? One of the only ways a poor Mexican or Central American can enter the U.S. is with a valid asylum claim, which requires the threat of violence in their home country. And so, many people come to our country making these claims. Given that El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras consistently rank among the most violent countries in the entire world, should these claims really surprise us?

Our system does not make asylum claims easy. I met a man who was detained in Arizona for months while awaiting the trial for his asylum claim. He had voice messages of death threats against him on his cell phone because he had turned in members of a local gang to the police. “We can’t verify these,” the judge said. “Can you get us video footage of the person making these threats?”

Does the judge realize how ridiculous that request is?

Speaking of the violence in our southern neighbors, it’s also not much of a stretch to say that the U.S. has contributed to and exacerbated this problem. We blame the local governments, but we’ve influenced their elections. We exported gang members from our prison systems who have created the gangs ravaging those countries today. Our drug habits continue to fuel their underground economies, arm their gangs, and fund the violence.

“Deal with your problems at home and you won’t have to come here!” some Americans say. “You created these problems and make them worse every year!” our neighbors respond. “Let us in! Let us work! We’ll send money home to provide for our families and build for the future!”2

Yet we continue to make it extremely difficult for people to come here. Just being poor isn’t enough to get you into the U.S. Not by a long shot. There is no line. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Wait, never mind, change that: “Give me your wealthy and educated, give me those who are marrying an American or spending lots of tourist dollars. There are visas for you! Come on in! (…but no one else!)”

What are our criteria for who should be permitted to cross the border? If we think it is a question of safety, we are lying to ourselves. The wealthy, educated, and connected have easy paths of entry. It’s not a matter of safety.

There are thousands of people eager to come and fill open jobs in our country. Have you noticed all the “Help Wanted” signs around these days? Good, hardworking, honest people want these jobs. The problem? They are poor. They have no money, no advanced degrees, and no connections. There is no line for them.

Could we develop better criteria for legal entry into the U.S.? Perhaps one that is guided by a Christian ethic, for example? One that welcomes the stranger and looks at a migrant with eyes of compassion?

There has to be a better way.

Daniel struggles with the tension between his head and his heart when considering how to handle our border. I don’t see the tension.

Our head tells us that regulation is necessary at the border. A border wall is sensible. Thankfully we already have one where it matters.

Our heart should tell us that the economically disadvantaged should be among those permitted to cross. In fact, our Christian faith encourages us to give them priority (the “preferential option” for the poor). They should be at the front of the line! But we haven’t even made a line for them yet.

Our head and our heart do not need to be in conflict. The solution is sensible. We do not need to invest billions in expanding the border wall into unpopulated desert regions. Instead, we need to invest in immigration policy reform that creates pathways to legal entry for those most in need. If we do that, we might just find that the wall will become obsolete.

It’s the right thing to do. It’s what we Catholics should support.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Trust in the Poor Jesus

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 10/09/2019 - 05:30

Jesus’ poverty is central for Ignatius’s Christology; it is at the heart of his being “Eternal King” and “Lord of all the world.” In the meditation on the “two Standards,” riches are the allurement of “the enemy.” One stands with Jesus by one’s willingness to share his poverty. Recall here from his memoirs how determined […]

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

Not sure what to do? Ask St. Ignatius. Read Discovering Your Dream by Gerald M. Fagin, SJ.

Click through to read the full article Trust in the Poor Jesus, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

At El Comedor

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 10/09/2019 - 02:33

Migrants from many different places come to the desert in Nogales, Arizona looking for a way to provide for their families. They come running away from their beloved homeland because crime, unemployment, and lack of opportunities have made their lives unbearable. Many of them talk with great joy of the things they left behind, like relatives, beautiful landscapes, and, of course, they also talk about tamales, black beans, and pupusas. They fondly remember when they could just be outside of their homes, enjoying the company of their neighbors and watching their kids play among their friends. Those times have changed, and unfortunately these are only memories that are shared with great hope and melancholy. 

The current reality is that they come to El Comedor at the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) looking for food and water, medical assistance, information on the asylum process, and shelter. The current Comedor is about 40 ft. by 30 ft. and is able to hold about 130 migrants and volunteers at a time. The place is quiet before 9 a.m., but as soon as the doors open work becomes intense and non-stop for a couple of hours. The place becomes hot, suffocating, and crowded. Everyone is bumping into each other while at the same time many voices ask for water and tortillas. Such a setting can be overwhelming for many. At least it was overwhelming for me.

Volunteering at El Comedor helps me to imagine the apostles distributing food in passages like the multiplication of loaves when Jesus said: “you give them something to eat.” I can see the apostles in shock after hearing Jesus’ command in front of thousands of people. Similarly many volunteers at KBI also feel overwhelmed when they see many migrants in need and hear in their hearts the same command. Nevertheless, the outcome has been the same: Jesus continues to feed and take care of his people.

The miracle of the multiplication of loaves is still happening today, but in a different way. This time God is using many generous volunteers to provide El Comedor with sustenance, medicine, monetary donations, among many other things. There is always food available, and when it seems about to run low, new donations roll in. Although seeing how contributions arrive out of nowhere is not as spectacular as seeing the bread multiplying, it is very moving to see how generosity is sparked after having an encounter with God. This encounter happens through both the migrants and the tireless staff, and the natural response is generosity.

I met Marcos whose mother language is Mixteco (indigenous language of Central and Southern Mexico), and who also speaks Spanish and English. He spoke to me with a big and joyful smile about how his daughter, a U.S. born citizen, is trying to earn good grades. 

Then there was a single mother with two small children. Their living conditions are creating huge amounts of stress, which in turn is worsening her health. With a silent hope, a melancholic smile, and watery eyes, she hopes to meet her oldest son in the U.S. realizing that there is no place for her and her family in her own country. The only thing she can do is wait for an asylum interview. And for the volunteers, the only thing we can do is to lend our hearts and ears. Our listening allows guests at El Comedor to unload their heavy burdens that weigh upon their hearts and minds. It is when they feel cared for and listened to that a smile of hope and relief cuts through the middle of their difficult reality. Listening is a powerful act of generosity at El Comedor. 

One of my strongest encounters happened through Keith, a volunteer with whom I had the pleasure to work. Keith and his wife, Judy, who live in New Mexico, volunteer each summer. Keith also has Parkinson’s disease. One time, while experiencing anxiety due to the rush of migrants, I saw him struggling to keep his balance in a tiny space between two tables, carrying a big jar of water with shaking hands. I was reminded of the scripture passage where the poor widow in the temple gave two coins as her offering. Probably Jesus felt the same awe at seeing such selfless generosity as I witnessed in Keith that day. Sometimes these two coins look like Keith serving water. Other times they look like students trying to understand the migrants. At other times these coins resemble Juan, another volunteer, moving massive tables and mopping the floor with a big smile after a very long day of hard work. 

Volunteering at El Comedor for the summer allowed me a glimpse into the challenges that migrants face. And, it provided me the opportunity to do something about it. Day in and day out, the experiences made my heart grow larger, inviting me to give of myself more and more, regardless of the heat or the crowded space. Just knowing that I could potentially ease the lives of the migrants for one day was enough for me to give my best. 

Many of the staff and long-term volunteers are able to work at KBI for long periods of time only after having lived similar experiences. Also, all visitors leave the same way I left: encountering an intimate and personal God, with a heart on fire, and the desire to advocate compassion towards the migrants and the challenges they face. We may not have the flexibility to volunteer for months on end, like Keith and Judy, or for a few months in the summer, like I did. We also may not have the resources to alleviate major needs for KBI. But, one thing we all can do is pray.

Please pray for the Kino Border Initiative so their work continues to help those most in need. Please pray for the staff and volunteers so their hearts remain strong. And, pray for the migrants, so they may see their hopes and dreams come to fruition. 

-//-

CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec

Categories: Things Jesuit

Intro to the Spiritual Exercises: The Second Week

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Tue, 10/08/2019 - 02:00

The Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises is all about getting to know Jesus. Br. Mark Mackey, SJ, guides us through how we get to know Jesus as a role model and a friend in this week’s episode of the Intro to the Spiritual Exercises.

Who’s somebody that you would follow? Ariana Grande? Cristiano Ronaldo? Bernie Sanders? Oprah? Voldemort?

I’m Brother Mark Mackey, and I’m going to speak about the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises.

St. Ignatius begins this set of prayers by asking us to consider one of our role models. It could be a political figure, a celebrity, a loved one, or any other person who brings out the best in us. For me that happens to be John Denver.

What do we feel when we reflect on this person and our desire to follow them? What aspirations does this person bring out of us? 

Then, we apply the same meditation to Jesus, the perfect role model. He came to earth to lead us, to show us the way. If we have great hopes to follow a merely human role model in our lives, how much more should we deeply desire to follow Jesus, who was not only man but also God!

We may want to follow Jesus, but it might not be clear exactly how we might follow him. That’s the heart of the Second Week: to get to know Jesus when he was a human being so that we might follow in his path. 

The grace we seek at this time is captured in a prayer often repeated by Jesuits: “Lord, grant that I may see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly.” 

Specifically, to get to know Jesus, we contemplate the Gospels, which are stories about his life. We read passages, use our imaginations to think about what it would have been like to be there, and consider how we ourselves might have responded to Jesus’ actions and words. 

We see Jesus fishing with his friends, we see Jesus working in his woodshed, and we see Jesus praying alone in the wilderness.

After entering into these stories, we talk to Jesus about what we felt when we were imagining everything. We have an intimate conversation rooted in what we just experienced in our meditation on the Gospels. St. Ignatius calls this free-flowing dialogue a “colloquy.” 

By the end of the Second Week, we’ve accumulated a treasure of prayer experiences about Jesus’ life on earth. 

We find that we see him clearly–that is, we truly know him.

We love him dearly–we have fallen in love with God.

We follow him nearly–we commit ourselves to journey with him, wherever he may lead us.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Lord Jesus, Teach Me to Be Generous

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 10/07/2019 - 05:30

We’ve invited our dotMagis bloggers to reflect on the individual lines of the Prayer for Generosity, attributed to St. Ignatius. Teach me not to be stingy, God. Instruct me in ways that avoid greed. Jesus, you know how hard it is for me to pray this. I have so much, and I like my stuff. […]

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

In God Finds Us, Jim Manney shares his experiences of making the Spiritual Exercises in a down-to-earth, accessible narrative.

Click through to read the full article Lord Jesus, Teach Me to Be Generous, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

New location for registered Moodle site statistics

Latest Moodle News - Mon, 10/07/2019 - 04:55
by Helen Foster.  

Our registered Moodle site listings and statistics are shortly being moved to a new location at stats.moodle.org.

Please note that it will not be possible to register or update your site registration during the move, which is expected to be completed within 24 hours from now. Further information on timings will be posted to Moodle Site Status @moodlesites on Twitter.

If you’ve not yet registered your Moodle site, we encourage you to do so after the move is complete. For details, see the documentation Site registration.

The reason for moving registered Moodle site statistics to a new location is so that the moodle.net URL can be used by the new MoodleNet open social media platform for educators.

The Synod is about the People of the Amazon

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 10/06/2019 - 23:01

Every morning as the sun begins to rise over the Kanuku Mountains just east of St. Ignatius Mission, twenty or so indigenous Guyanese faithful, from infants to elders, sit in their usual pews praying quietly. They all stand as Auntie Eva strikes the rusty metal cylinder that serves as a church bell. As Uncle Osmond begins to strum his guitar for the opening hymn, Father Edwin processes in, flanked by barefoot altar servers. These days it seems that these shy Amerindians might just be the Church’s newest inspiration for heresy.

At least, that is the impression you get if you have spent any time following the media coverage in anticipation of the Pan-Amazonian Synod. A vocal minority of prelates foment fears that an emphasis on inculturation and integral ecology in the synod’s working document represents the Church’s covert acceptance of pantheism, “eco-tribalism,” and a variety of other post-modern heresies. Still others worry that the secret purpose of the Synod is to ordain married men

Whether you find yourself responding to these possibilities with worry or welcome, you have already missed the point. Though the issues surrounding the ordination of so-called viri probati are significant, they are not, as Pope Francis has made clear, the primary theme of the Amazon Synod. Neither is pantheism. So, what then – or rather whom – is the Synod about? The cacophony of  ideological crusaders in the global North? Or the voices of the poor and indigenous in the global South? 

At its very heart, the Synod is about the people of the Amazon: “It is the peoples of the Amazon, especially the poor and culturally different, who are the main interlocutors and protagonists of the dialogue” (Instrumentum laboris (IL), 38). It is about faithful Catholics, people just like those whom I encountered at St. Ignatius Mission and throughout Guyana. During my three months working alongside Jesuit missionaries there, I listened to the stories and concerns of indigenous elders who see their cherished languages and cultures disappearing as their grandchildren are consumed by the latest Marvel movie on their smartphones. I met fishermen who, because of mercury contamination by mining companies, are now afraid to eat what they catch. One parishioner of St. Ignatius told me with a disheartened sigh how the entire village used to meet down at the river each day to wash their clothes, bathe, and collect drinking water. Now trash and the allure of new technologies keep people away.  I worshiped with communities who see a priest only a few times per year yet still faithfully gather every Sunday to pray together. I listened to young people who, desperate for work, leave behind the familiarity of their native villages for foreign cities. These represent just a sampling of the daily concerns of Amazon residents as the forces of globalization and environmental degradation rattle their lives and their faith.

 If the people of the Amazon are the key voices of the synod, then discernment is the modus operandi. As a Jesuit, Pope Francis knows this well and recognizes that, for good discernment to happen, the Church must listen. He has made this evident in his emphasis on a more synodal approach: “The Synod of Bishops must increasingly become a privileged instrument for listening to the People of God: ‘For the Synod Fathers we ask the Holy Spirit first of all for the gift of listening: to listen to God, that with him we may hear the cry of the people; to listen to the people until breathing in the desire to which God calls us.” Addressing the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, Pope Francis said, “It is good that now you are the ones who define yourselves and show us your identity. We need to listen to you.” When we listen to one another, we sense the movements of the Holy Spirit at work in the Body of Christ.      

This intentional listening requires bringing those who are on the periphery to the core of our discourse. We have an aversion, however, to listening. After five centuries of colonialism, it is not surprising that North Americans and Europeans fail to listen humbly to our brothers and sisters in the Amazon. The interaction between North and South has been wrought with exploitation and dehumanization of the periphery by those who live comfortably at the core. 

In contrast, dialogue will break down this system that is shaped by “lack of listening and imposition that prevents us from meeting, communicating and, therefore, living together,” (IL, 36). With the synod, the Church “has the historic opportunity to differentiate itself clearly from the new colonizing powers by listening to the Amazon peoples,” (IL, 7.) By amplifying the voices of the Church in the Amazon, the synod seeks to transform “historical relationships marked by exclusion and discrimination” (IL, 35) into bonds of true human solidarity, a recognition that as St. John Paul II wrote, “we are all really responsible for all.” 

If we shift our attention to the voices of those on the margins, only then we will start to recognize who they are and the possibility for something greater. Instead, we have fixated on our own concerns; we have made the synod about us, the residents of the global North. But it should be about a different us: the Body of Christ. St. Paul tells us:

Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. (1 Cor. 12:23-26). 

Each morning the same sun rises over the Kanuku Mountains just east of St. Ignatius Mission, and the faithful gather again to share in the one Body. I left Guyana and its people months ago, yet I still hear their voices and know their faces in the Body of Christ that we all share. Although I said that the Synod is about the Church in the Pan-Amazon region, that was not the whole truth. It is about us: all of us.

Categories: Things Jesuit

One-Minute Homily: “Believe in Yourself?”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 10/06/2019 - 02:00

Jesus never actually told us to believe in ourselves, but to believe in something, someone much greater than ourselves. Uli Covarrubias, SJ, reminds us how we truly achieve greatness in this week’s One-Minute Homily. Based on the readings for October 6, 2019.

“You can do it! Just believe in yourself!”…things Jesus never said.

Hi, I’m Uli Covarrubias and this is my one-minute reflection.

Not only does Jesus never say, “believe in yourself,” in today’s gospel, he also tells us not to expect a reward for doing everything we are called to do.

This may sound a little harsh at first, but there’s a deeper message of love in his words.

Jesus frees us from the lonely prison that believing in ourselves can become.

It’s true. We all need a healthy dose of self-confidence, but sometimes it’s our inabilities, our weaknesses, our wounds that seem more real than anything else.

Christ invites us to turn to him as we are and to believe, to have faith in something much greater than ourselves, in a love that heals us and compels us to share it with others.

We might not uproot trees and plant them in the sea, but a little bit of faith will give us strength where there was once weakness, hope where there was once despair, courage where there was once fear.

We will see and do incredible things, and that is reward enough.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Shining in Their Smiles

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 10/04/2019 - 05:30

I consider one of the greatest blessings I have right now to be watching my three little boys grow up. And it is a blessing I take for granted more often than not, I’m afraid. It is so easy to do when schedules are crazy, especially this time of year. It is the beginning of […]

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

In God Finds Us, Jim Manney shares his experiences of making the Spiritual Exercises in a down-to-earth, accessible narrative.

Click through to read the full article Shining in Their Smiles, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Amazon Synod: Laudato si’ in Action

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 10/03/2019 - 23:01

Back in July, I tried to excavate the part of the Pan-Amazonian Synod working document that seems to cause the most anxiety for some: the ordination of married men. While this and other concerns about the agenda have been circulating, they are in large part distractions. 

Now, I want to address the heart of the coming synod: what does it mean to have a conversion so that the Church might fully preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Amazon?

The working document called an Instrumentum Laboris (hereafter IL) deals with a wide range of themes, from culture and interculturality to migration and corruption, from liturgy and missions to urban life and communications. The life of the Church in the Amazon can’t be distilled down into any single issue. However, an overarching theme in the document is this: the land  and human life are so intertwined in the Amazon that aggression against the earth in the Amazon is also an aggression against human life, culture, and spirituality. For that reason, “the current situation urgently demands an integral ecological conversion” of the same kind that Francis proposes in Laudato si’ (IL 44).  

Francis’ teaching for the universal Church is now being expressed in one of the most delicate and threatened environments in the world. 

Extracting Resources — and People

The Amazon is an immense region. At over 2.3 million square miles, it touches almost every country of South America: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela, and Suriname.  

As the IL describes, extractive industries are a major problem: for the region, for its biodiversity, and for the people who live there. 

“Illegal gold mining is at epidemic proportions in the Amazon,” Dom Phillips reports for The Guardian

It’s a disruptive process, especially in Brazil, where it involves invading indigenous lands — be they registered or not — murdering leaders, and taking over entire villages with machine guns as people flee. 

At the same time that illegal industries threaten indigenous peoples, the same industries compel the migration of young people from other regions.

Young men and women from the southern Andes are known to migrate to get their cut in illegal mining. Exposed to dangerous chemicals, they wager their health to earn good money extracting gold, ripping up the forests and polluting the rivers with mercury in the process.

Besides threatening other industries, illegal mining activities brings along human trafficking: “10,000s of child workers, prostitution, sexual exploitation of minors, and indications of forced labour, among other horrors.”

The level of deforestation is staggering. It’s all visible to satellites, drones, and radar. 

Meanwhile, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, encourages such invasions with his rhetoric, and calls reports on deforestation “lies.” 

Brazil’s National Space Research Institute, which measures deforestation, claims that, “more than 1,000 sq km (400 sq miles) of the rainforest had been cleared in the first 15 days of July – an increase of 68% from the entire month of July 2018.” And the agency says it’s data is 95% accurate.

The threat to indigenous peoples is not just a threat, but a reality of heightened attacks and weakened government protections. This summer, the general impulse to displace indigenous populations took the form of the intentional lighting of forest fires on indigenous lands in both Brazil and Bolivia. 

The Catholic clergy and laity who walk with these peoples have often put themselves on the line. “The Pan-Amazonian Synod will denounce these sins, but will there be conversion?”, Bishop Robert Flock of San Ignacio de Velasco in the Bolivian Amazon, asks. The synod may well be an attempt to work out the Church’s response to the overlapping disasters in the Amazon, but it also means higher visibility for region and its problems.

An Integral Ecology

For the Catholics of the region, what does conversion look like? It demands a profound recognition of the relationships that constitute human life — material and spiritual. It is relationship not just with other people, but also with the environment that sustains us. 

The proper response to these sins is to restore our understanding of God’s creation. That requires both an adequate understanding of the human person and of creation’s value not for our use, but as God’s creation in and of itself. 

To quote Laudato si’, “There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology” (118). 

Those relationships are felt strongly by Amazonian Catholic communities consulted in the preparation for the synod (IL 47). But the Church falls short of defending this relationship day-to-day. 

At its core, the synod seeks to convert the Amazon from an ecclesial backwater into “a privileged interlocutor” (IL 2). The “process of ecological and pastoral conversion” to authentically reach out to “geographical and existential peripheries” can’t happen without real input from the people of the region and what they’re experiencing (IL 3).

In a way, this synod has two functions: to help the Church in the Amazon to serve more faithfully in the midst of great challenges and great suffering. But also to “Amazonize” (“amazonizar” in Spanish) the Church and the world, sharing the joy and truth of people who have never forgotten that they rely entirely on the goodness of God’s creation.

The synod is discernment — not a conspiracy to undermine Church tradition, as some believe. The details are important, but it’s not just about the details. The synod is a choice to find a way to respond that expresses God’s own will for his people in the Amazon.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Uh-Oh!

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 10/02/2019 - 05:30

When my grandson was just learning to communicate, “Uh-oh!” was one of his standby phrases. This is pretty common for young children, but what struck me was that he didn’t utter it only when something “bad” happened. Whenever there was any transition, such as going from one room to the next or getting in and […]

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

In God Finds Us, Jim Manney shares his experiences of making the Spiritual Exercises in a down-to-earth, accessible narrative.

Click through to read the full article Uh-Oh!, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Intro to the Spiritual Exercises: The First Week

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Tue, 10/01/2019 - 02:00

The First Week of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius can be intense. We are reminded that we are sinners…but this is to remind us of the great love and mercy of God. Join Br. Mark Mackey, SJ, as we continue to explore the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

It can be tempting to put a filter on our lives and make them seem a little prettier than they actually are. But the truth is our lives might not be as nice as we’d like to think that they are. 

The world is broken. So many live in poverty. The environment is on the brink of collapse. There is discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and other identities. Violence fills the pages of newspapers and the airtime segments of major news networks. Evil and sin are real.

This brokenness enters into our personal lives, too. Though God has loved us with the greatest love, we do not respond as we should. We avoid prayer. We are not grateful. 

Our words and deeds, our inaction and indifference also hurt others. We can be selfish with our time and money. We do not give to those in need. We do not work for political and economic justice. We harm our common home. 

In the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to reflect on the fact that we are sinners in a fallen world. He has us first look at our personal history and then human history to meditate on our brokenness. 

Then we ask ourselves the questions, “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I do for Christ?” We inevitably see that we have fallen short of fulfilling our holy desires for love. Christ has given us so much, but we have not made a sufficient return. We express our sorrow to God, sharing our sins and the sins of the world with him before a cross.

What we find, however, is that God’s love for us remains even though we have sinned. When we share our faults with God, God forgives us. Though our love for God may waver, God’s love for us never changes. That’s part of the reason why God sent Jesus to the world: to show us that he wants to be close to us even though we are weak and sinful. We see that we are loved sinners, that God wants to be with us no matter what. 

Join us next time as we enter into Jesus’ life and ministry

Categories: Things Jesuit

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