Things Jesuit

Remember Other Pilgrims

Ignatian Spirituality - 8 hours 10 min ago

You’re not the only pilgrim on this path. So, when toils and troubles become overwhelming, find a spot at the roadside, and sit for a while and remember those other pilgrims. Enjoy this video excerpt from my Small Simple Ways: An Ignatian Daybook for Healthy Spiritual Living. ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

The Scripture, prayers, and reflections in Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2021 will inspire you to a richer daily spiritual experience throughout the liturgical year and invite you to develop a closer relationship with God.

Click through to read the full article Remember Other Pilgrims, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Did You Know? Boring Prayer is Good Prayer.

Latest from the Jesuit Post - 11 hours 7 min ago

St. John of the Cross defines contemplation as “nothing but a hidden, peaceful, loving inflow of God.”1 John’s insight that prayer is so often a hidden or secret process is something we are reticent to accept or believe. That our prayer is kept secret, even from us, seems almost illogical. Wouldn’t it be beneficial for our growth towards God to know how God is flowing into us, relating and communicating with us? 

I am far from the only person who has ever been frustrated by prayer in which “nothing happens.” In fact, I hear this quite regularly from people sharing their spiritual lives. We want to experience our prayer as we do almost everything else: productively. We wish to finish a time in prayer feeling that we have accomplished something, learned something, moved forward, or used our time well. 

These desires are left unsatisfied when the fruits of prayer are hidden from us. It is very easy, however, to invent them or derive accomplishments, lessons, or feelings of productivity in order to distract ourselves from the chilling conclusion that God has been silent with us. 

It is important to clarify that John provides this definition of contemplation in his book Night, in which he is describing the painful experience of God’s absence. This complete hiddenness and secret nature of prayer is especially felt within this specific season of the spiritual life. There are of course times when God, through our opening of ourselves to God’s activity, inflames our hearts with Faith, Hope, and Love and we are aware of this. This is what St. Ignatius refers to as consolation. 

However, it still stands that much more of our contemplation than we would perhaps like is an inflow of God that is hidden from us. And this is why we can fall so easily into thinking of prayer or discernment as functional rather than relational, results-based rather than love-based. 

One other reason our prayer is so often kept hidden from us is that the fruit we are expecting to see is rarely the fruit we are looking for. Frequently we are hoping for answers, for sounds, signs, images, words or feelings that will help us make sense of this or that. We turn to prayer as we would a compass, to show us the way. 

We also turn to prayer for assurance or affirmation. We want to feel God’s presence in order to know we are on the right path. And this, though it is a very natural and human longing, is not necessarily the fruit that prayer will provide. 

In a letter to a friend, Sister Wendy Beckett wrote of this very natural tendency and common approach to prayer. Her words strike to the root of where our longings for productivity, learning, or drama in our prayer come from. She writes, 

God “comes in ‘life’, just as it is. The as-it-isness is precisely how God comes. If we look for God in certain patterns or forms, we only receive a fraction. Now for you, the natural tendency is to romanticize the way of God’s coming. Your self wants that, at least: at least that glory, the glory of holiness. And God says, No, I can’t give myself, not fully, in any way that gives self a foothold. Nothing romantic or beautiful or in any way dramatic; nothing to get hold of, in one sense, because it must be God that does the getting hold.” 

Sister Wendy’s guidance compliments John of the Cross’s definition of contemplation and speaks to our anxieties for drama, extravagance or simply something concrete to point to in our prayer. 

According to Sister Wendy, this desire cannot be fulfilled by our prayer. Rather, we must learn to accept the coming of God to us in the “as-it-isness” which is where God has chosen to hide himself. The invitation is to surrender to this “as-it-isness,” to be content with the boring, hidden silence which makes up the great majority of prayer. “A true gift will feel like no gift at all,” as Fr. Iain Matthew writes. 

My spiritual director once told me, boring prayer is good prayer. It is hard for our egos to find a foothold in boring prayer and this, as Sister Wendy explains, is exactly why we are invited to be content with it. 

God’s silence and prayer in which “nothing happens” can indeed feel painful and confusing. There is, however, great peace that can come from giving up on looking for results or going to prayer with expectations of productivity. 

As you let God, slowly but surely God will take hold of you. 


Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris / Unsplash

Categories: Things Jesuit

Prayers Before Zoom School

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 09/21/2020 - 05:30

My children, like so many in COVID times, are in Zoom school. Each morning we take our laptops to separate parts of the house to work, but before that we have what I like to call “Casa G Academy Morning Assembly.” We meet in the living room 10 minutes before their school check-in. I make […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

The Scripture, prayers, and reflections in Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2021 will inspire you to a richer daily spiritual experience throughout the liturgical year and invite you to develop a closer relationship with God.

Click through to read the full article Prayers Before Zoom School, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

At The Mercy of ICE: Alex García’s Story

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Mon, 09/21/2020 - 03:02

“We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes,” said Pastor Rebecca Turner, echoing Ella’s Song by Sweet Honey in the Rock. It was another beautiful Sunday morning at Christ Church in Maplewood, Missouri. But for Alex García, this wasn’t just any Sunday. For him, it was the 1,094th day of living in sanctuary at Christ Church. 

Three years ago, Alex took sanctuary in Christ Church becoming one of 40+ immigrants living in sanctuary across the United States. He has been battling a threat of deportation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since 2015. He refuses to be separated from his family and is determined to stay at home in Missouri, where he belongs. 

In 2000, René Alexander García Maldonado, or Alex, as he is known by friends, left his birth country of Honduras at 19 years old in order to flee violence and extreme poverty. That same year, after a challenging road North, he was captured and deported to Honduras. A few years later, he re-entered the U.S., settling in Poplar Bluff, Missouri with the help of local residents. There, he worked as a construction worker, educated himself in English, mowed the lawns of elderly folks for free and won the respect and friendship of many in town. In 2007, he met Carly and they married in 2010. The couple raises five children together.

Alex alongside his wife, Carly. They married in 2010 and raise five children together. Photo Provided by IFCLA.

After 11 years of building a life and family in the U.S. and living as a responsible member of society, everything changed in 2015 when Alex was detained by ICE. His sister had recently moved to the U.S. to keep her son safe from gang recruitment in Honduras and Alex accompanied her to request asylum status at an immigration facility in Kansas City. While accompanying her, Alex was approached by ICE agents who, upon realizing his illegal status, detained him in order to deport him again. 

Alex’s attorney was able to get a stay of removal, a temporary permit to avoid deportation that needed to be renewed annually. But after the Trump administration adopted a  “zero-tolerance” policy in 2017 for immigrants who have committed crimes, Alex’s plea to renew his stay of removal was denied. 

Threatened with imminent deportation and permanent separation from his family, his options were scarce. Just two years earlier, his brother-in-law had been murdered in his home village, and his 4-year-old nephew was also shot. Moving back to Honduras was not an option. It was then he decided: he would move to a church. 

For some time, ICE has respected a policy of not making arrests in places of worship. The congregation of Christ Church, United Church of Christ, in Maplewood received Alex with open arms. While the community made adaptations to their church building so Alex could live there, he was supported by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Illinois, an order of Catholic sisters. When the construction was completed, Alex moved to Christ Church and has been unable to leave the grounds ever since.

Since September 2017, Alex, his family, and supporters have been fighting for a permanent solution. They received immense support from people of all races and ideologies in Poplar Bluff and throughout Missouri; hundreds of people have signed petitions, written letters and attended vigils in his support. U.S. Representative Wm. Lacy Clay, Jr. (D-St Louis), introduced a private bill in Congress last year and St. Louis Alderwoman Annie Rice, Alderwoman Megan Ellia Green, and Maplewood’s Mayor Barry Greenberg have voiced support for his case. 

But ICE has remained immovable. 

The experience has been very trying for Alex’s family. Carly Garcia has been relentless in the defense of her husband. She now works as the operations manager of the St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA), an organization that has had a leading role in supporting Alex. 

Alex with his children. Photo provided by IFCLA.

The García children have also had their share of pain and struggle. Carly’s son Caleb wrote to his congressman, “I want [my dad] to stay because he is my favorite dad in the whole wide world. I am 11 years old. He is the only person I trust.”

Alex’s oldest son has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, and relies heavily on his relationship with his father for his support and wellbeing.

IFCLA and others have attempted to submit an application to delay Alex’s deportation several times, but have faced obstacles at every turn. In the meantime, the community of Christ Church continues to be a source of hope for Alex and his family. When addressing her parishioners this past Sunday, Pastor Rebecca Turner said, “We will not grow weary of loving Alex and Carly and her kids…We will not grow weary of being on the right side of history.”

In the eyes of ICE, since Alex continues to avoid deportation, he is a fugitive. Although he is married to Carly, a U.S. citizen, he doesn’t qualify for green card status because of his deportation in 2000. 

Alex’s case is not unique. In 2013, 83 percent of the people deported from the US were not given a hearing before a judge. The fate of families like the Garcías will not change, unless immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers are seen as people that need compassion.

Multiple organizations are participating in a virtual Week of Action until September 25. Yesterday, there was a morning service offered by Christ Church and an evening vigil. Other events include social media support, a sneak preview of a documentary about Alex’s story, discussions on present and future strategies, among other things. 

More information on the Week of Action can be found here

Let us not forget Jesus’s words in the Gospel of Matthew, Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Or, in the words of Christ Church’s Pastor Rebecca Turner, “Let us, church, keep on answering the door, keep on answering that phone, and keep on welcoming Christ to come in.”

Categories: Things Jesuit

Workers in the Vineyard: Generosity and Envy | One-Minute Homily

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 09/20/2020 - 02:00

In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, the landowner asks, “Are you envious because I am generous?” Jason Quino McCreery, SJ, reflects on the times when our envy prevents us from seeing the gifts that God has given to us. Based on the readings for Sunday, September 20, 2020.

God beholds each of us with mercy. Can we do the same?

Hi, I’m Jason Quino McCreery, and this is my One-Minute Reflection.

If I can be honest right now, I must admit that the end of today’s parable haunts me. The landowner says to the laborers, “are you envious because I am generous?” I have to admit, “Yes, I sometimes am.”

I can see the good things God has given to other people, and I will think, “why not me? Why am I not as patient as my brother Jesuit? Why did you give to my married friends happiness, but to me loneliness?” But I know those thoughts do not come from God. Because I, like the laborers, become envious of God’s generosity to someone else. But when I do that, I become blind to God’s mercy for me.

I have received far more than what I think is deserved to me. Isaiah says, “let the wicked [forsake] his thoughts; let him turn to the Lord for mercy.” It is beyond me to understand why. But I do know that my own envy is quite limited, and God’s generosity is boundless.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Pandemic Blessings for the Church

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 09/18/2020 - 05:30

“We’re driving the car while building it,” the old saying goes. It’s true of our pandemic times. We’re teaching one another how to use video chats, learning to share screens, and choosing virtual backgrounds in order to participate in sharing groups and meetings online. We’re donning masks, shopping in new ways, and offering air hugs […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

The Scripture, prayers, and reflections in Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2021 will inspire you to a richer daily spiritual experience throughout the liturgical year and invite you to develop a closer relationship with God.

Click through to read the full article Pandemic Blessings for the Church, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Run the (Virtual) Race so as to Win

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 09/18/2020 - 01:53

About two months ago, I received an email from the Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon staff which told me that, due to continued uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the race was canceled.  The message was disappointing but entirely understandable.  They did say, however, that I could choose to run the full race virtually: on my own without a crowd or pacers.  Still, after months of training, I can’t help but ask myself if the level of preparation necessary is really worth it.

This experience is not unique to me.  Runners set to race in Chicago, Boston, San Diego, New York, or San Francisco, just to name a few, have received similar messages. And I’m sure they might be asking themselves the same question. Is it worth it?

 After all, The greatest joy of running a race,  whether that is a 5K,  a full marathon, or even an ultra-marathon (yes, that’s even longer than 26.2 miles),  is the thrill of the crowd surrounding us. I always feel a rush of adrenaline as I run past family, friends, and random onlookers cheering me on to the finish line where I immediately receive a finisher’s medal.

But we don’t just run for the medal.  Yes, the medal and the crowds make the physically demanding event easier to complete.  Many of us run for the sense of accomplishment; I ran my first race in 2016 because I had always wanted to complete a marathon. That race day got me hooked.

Training runs are hard and long.  Most marathoners run at least one 20-mile run before race day to make sure they’re able to handle the grueling course, not to mention the many shorter training days leading up to the event. We runners push ourselves in training runs, often done solo or in small groups.  They are not glamorous, nor are they recognized by the wider public. It is a test of will, and runners need to face that test day in and day out.   We can think of these virtual races as just one more training run, done without the fanfare of a crowd.  But I think there’s something a bit more uplifting about the way we can deal with these circumstances.

This new way of running the race is both flexible and creative. Runners do not need to get up at the crack of dawn and wait at a starting corral for at least an hour to start running.  We don’t need to worry about whether or not we’re going to have to use a porta potty after we cross the starting line. The route we run is adaptable and we can choose not to have as many hills as the original race. We can decide how often we need water or food along the route to keep going.  We can ask people to station themselves at certain points along the route where we need their support most.  We might even allow them to run alongside us to continue to give that support, something that would not be possible during a normal marathon.

Above all, I keep running because I know that, even though my race is virtual, I run alongside that great cloud of running witnesses that inspired me to start running or encouraged me when I could barely go more than three miles.  I run in spirit alongside those that will follow in my footsteps, and here I think most especially of the young cross country runners I coach here in Detroit.

And, at the same time, isn’t that just like our lives of faith?  We run the race of life, the race of faith inspired of family and friends who taught us and continue to act as guides.  We run it imitating the examples of the saints who have shown us a glimpse of the love of God.  We’re not alone in the race, but we do have to choose to run it, day in and day out.  And, like St. Paul says, we run so as to win; we don’t run the race of faith without preparation, support, and a plan, just like we don’t run long races without training.

Running has always been about the community for me.  I learned to break distance records with other people, and their example pushes me to keep running.  We take all times, all levels of ability, because we know it’s hard work to keep running—hard work that is worth celebrating.

Whether there is a cheering crowd, tape to break, or the wonderful signs along the route, we still run, just like we live out our faith.  Good as these are, we don’t live our faith for the praise of others, just like we don’t just run races for the medals and the crowds.  We live our faith because it is good and we recognize there is a lot of hard work that goes into living it well.  Our running too is hard, but it’s never impossible.

So, to all the people participating in virtual races, know that I run alongside you in spirit too.  May we run this race so as to win, regardless of who is watching.

Photo by Andrea Leopardi

Categories: Things Jesuit

La Havas Made the Best Music You Haven’t Heard Yet

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 09/17/2020 - 01:12

Because COVID hit in March, Lianne La Havas’s self-titled eponymous album sounds like a spring that never came. The English singer released the album in July, only her second studio effort in the last five years. La Havas peaked at 21 on the Billboard charts, but only stayed a week—and it’s the best music of the summer you haven’t heard yet.

The genre is neo-soul. La Havas cites Joni Mitchell, Al Green, and Destiny’s Child as major inspirations. The album chronicles the stages of a relationship, from getting together to breaking up. Recorded in the fall of 2019, the album might at first blush sound like the product of a more innocent, less relevant time. Global  pandemics and national uprisings aren’t exactly romantic muses. But, according to La Havas, the album’s love story is meant also to reflect the life cycle of nature. Hers is the sound of hope and quiet resilience in the face of pain and heartbreak. With her at once sweet and powerful voice, La Havas weaves together solitude and desire in a way that takes on contemplative resonance in the time of quarantine. It’s a cosmic lullaby for a world in anguish. She sings us the love story we forgot we were in.

“Bittersweet” is the lead-off single; true to cyclical form, the album starts and ends with it (the first track is full-length, the last isn’t). The opening kick drum hits, overlaid by reverbed piano tinkling, wobble slow enough that the wheels might fall off. If we’re going to hop on board with La Havas, we need to take it down a notch. Soul is in full effect once the guitar, bass, and keyboard join in, La Havas crooning sweetly over wistful rises. The payoff is in the chorus. The kick drum returns and heartbeats us into this feeling-fertile hollow, where La Havas is standing, under bittersweet summer rain/I’m born again. Maybe it’s a song about falling in love, maybe it’s a song about falling in, period. The yes to life that’s been required of us this summer—at home alone, at work (alone?), on the streets—is a kind of diving purposefully into life, a kind of love. In recent months, its bitterness has been obvious; La Havas reminds us of the sweetness. We only brace ourselves for heartbreak when we know we are in love.

La Havas loves deep enough that God gets involved. On “Paper Thin,” La Havas consoles her lover: God only knows the pain you’re in/But the future’s bright/You’ve got God on your side, he’s listening. A verse from “Read My Mind” is worth quoting in full:

Oh, no, you’re everywhere that I go

In my head again, oh, stuck in my head again

A full force, nature taking her course

No need for hide-and-seek I’ll let you find me

Loving like personified

I’m so into him, oh, I hope God is listening

These lovers are star-crossed, but they’re not alone in the universe. La Havas has already clued us in that her story starts like summer rain; it’s part of a natural cycle much larger than herself. So of course God is here, lurking benevolently around the edges. Like all great love stories, feeling and desire transcend the individual and, in the most rapturous moments, enamor us of what Thomas Merton called “Absolute Person.” Or, in La Havas’s terms, loving, like, personified.

Also like all good love stories, there are the erotic bits, too. To a celibate, “Green Papaya” might just as well be about a fruit stand. La Havas does soul right in balladizing love in all its forms. While the sexier stuff may not be in the Jesuit wheelhouse, there’s undeniable power there for every kind of lover. When La Havas invites her partner, Take me home, she’s articulating a desire that passionately includes this one person, but extends beyond them, too. The journey home is one she’s making throughout the album. When the romance has finally run its course and she’s picked up the pieces on “Courage,” La Havas sings, If you ever need me, I’ll be home, home/If you ever need me, I’ll be home. “Green Papaya” is a moment of sensual beauty on a much longer road to consummation.

Why now? Why a neo-soul album now? The easy answer is that we could all use a distraction. A deeper answer is that we need reminding, now more than ever, of what it’s all about: love. And love in a way that feels integrated with a larger force and a larger will than the all-too-painful paroxysms of the present moment. La Havas’s album is a conceptual victory on that score, but an aesthetic one, too. Her story is richly told over funky instrumentation, with a voice that can soar to smash windows or whisper with tenderness. In a summer of survival, La Havas  released a piece of art that reminds us that beauty, and the passionate love of it, makes life worth living.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Anchor into Hope

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 05:30

My grandmother reminded me often, “One thing we can always count on in life is change.” As a child, I never quite understood what she meant. Hearing this as an adult, it sometimes exasperated me. As much as I did not want to hear her words at times, I knew they were true. Life changes. […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

In Ignatian Discernment of Spirits in Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Care, Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ, offers fresh insight into discernment through innovative approaches and applications for varied spiritual experiences and challenges.

Click through to read the full article Anchor into Hope, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

What I Missed the Most in Quarantine

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 02:33

I’m a list guy.

Most evenings before I go to bed, or mornings while I have my coffee, I write out the tasks of the day: “pray, go to class, exercise, read, write a thank you note, send a birthday card.” Sometimes the items get more esoteric: “call T-Mobile about their special rates for missionaries” has appeared on my list more than once. 

While I’ve learned to forgive myself for not completing a day’s tasks, I’ve always drawn comfort from knowing I could turn to my list when life seemed chaotic, or unmanageable, or exhausting. “Don’t worry about doing everything,” I’ve said to myself, “just do the next thing on the list.”

And so when the world entered a chaotic, unmanageable, exhausting period earlier this year, I knew how I’d cope. My early days of sheltering-in-place involved crafting a new list suited to pandemic life. “Pray, log onto Zoom theology class, read Don Quixote (three chapters), work out (in my room), earn 100 points on DuoLingo, pick a movie for our Jesuit house to watch.” Those frightening days seemed a little less scary if I distracted myself with the quotidian.

A couple of times, my sheltering in place has turned into a more intense quarantine. My ever-reliable list got me through the anxiety and tedium of these even more isolated days. In moments of panic, I could turn to my list and thank my former self for providing me with such effective distractions.

That changed during my most recent quarantine. During a trip to visit family, I was directly exposed to a person with COVID-19. In the interest of everyone’s health, I entered a strict quarantine upon return to my Jesuit community. I expected my list to carry me through the fourteen days. Just a few days in, though, I realized it wasn’t sustaining me the way it had before. I continued to pray every morning, and rack up DuoLingo points, and catch up on Netflix. What had changed?

What had changed was that after my direct exposure, it was no longer safe for me to go to Mass with my Jesuit brothers. One of the benefits of being a Jesuit in quarantine is that I’ve always been in a “family pod” with priests. During one of my periods of isolation, a young Jesuit priest from Indonesia even volunteered to be locked up with me!

But in my most recent quarantine, I finally experienced what millions of Catholics around the world have been going through since March. I was locked away from the “source and summit of the Christian life.”1 I joined the rest of the Catholic world by logging onto livestreamed liturgies, but something was missing, even when I tuned in to Masses from the most inspirational priests I know. For two weeks, I experienced the inevitable distraction that friends had reported feeling while watching Mass on Facebook Live. I got a taste of what they’ve been missing because I missed it, too.

I missed the daily connection I had with my Jesuit brothers. Despite working in disparate ministries on irregular schedules, our daily gathering around the altar unites us.

I missed the opportunity to make petitions during the prayers of the faithful. I hadn’t realized how much I’d treasured naming people on their birthdays, holding them up in sickness, and asking for their peaceful repose after death. 

I missed that feeling of connection with the Church around the world that is unique to the Eucharistic table. At every Mass, I feel a profound sense of reconnection to all those friends in the Lord to whom I’ve had to say goodbye.

For years, I’ve looked to scribbled lists on scrap paper as a way to ease my mind when the world gets too crazy or too unwieldy or too tiring. Locked up in quarantine, I realized the thing that was easing my anxiety was not the rote completion of mundane tasks. All the distractions that 21st century technology could offer simply didn’t sustain me.

My solitary confinement revealed to me that, maybe without my realizing, I’ve been offering up that worry and stress and exhaustion to Jesus everyday at Mass. I’ve asked Him to take my troubles, my embarrassments, my successes, and transform them. My ability to get through each day was not the result of missions accomplished but of the grace foisted upon me at Mass.

And so, after the requisite time in isolation, I returned to my simple, daily community Mass. On my first evening back, we heard in the Gospel about Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law and dining in her house. In the homily, the presider mused about transformations that might have taken place around her table. I rejoiced to be able to join in with that transformation again. I pray fervently for the day when we’ll all gather to be transformed again, maskless and closer than six feet apart.


Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels
Categories: Things Jesuit

Coloring as Prayer

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 05:30

Today is National Coloring Day, so it’s a good day to try a bit of creativity in prayer. Download a beautiful page from God’s Wonderful Word, a transfer sticker and coloring book from Loyola Press. The page includes Scripture to ponder set against a delightful nature scene. Let your mind dwell in the images of […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

In Ignatian Discernment of Spirits in Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Care, Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ, offers fresh insight into discernment through innovative approaches and applications for varied spiritual experiences and challenges.

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

Categories: Things Jesuit

Wearing a Mask is an Act of Love and Justice

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 00:02

I enjoy cycling for exercise and relaxation. A couple of weeks ago, I skipped my bike ride because I couldn’t find my helmet; I won’t risk riding without one. I wear a helmet to protect myself when I am biking. In contrast, I wear a mask to protect others when I am in public. 

A face mask is nothing more than a small barrier against airborne droplets, which can contain and transfer a virus from one individual to another. Today, a mask is the best-known barrier against the Coronavirus known as COVID-19, which at last count has killed more than 190,000 of the nearly 6.5 million people infected in the US alone. 

During this pandemic, wearing a face mask is a civil obligation and a Christian vocation: we are all called to protect one another. As created beings and Christian Catholics, this is a fundamental duty. 

After more than seven months of dealing with this pandemic, I never thought that I would have to write about the importance of wearing a mask in public. Yet, I am. I did not foresee this pre-election political climate changing how much we care for each other. Yet, it seems to. I didn’t think that political ambitions could trump people’s health. Yet, they do. 

After seeing what happened recently at the South Lawn of the White House, where a big group of people gathered without wearing masks, I asked myself “Have we forgotten our responsibility of caring for each other as a nation?” Could wearing a mask be an act of justice?

The justice of wearing a mask means being in the right relationships with each other. As it states in paragraph 1939 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The principle of solidarity, also articulated in terms of ‘friendship’ or ‘social charity.’ Is a direct demand of human and Christian brotherhood.” Therefore, it is a moral obligation for Christian Catholics to wear a face mask in public as an act of social charity.

Recently, a TV newscast showed a group protesting against the restrictions geared to help curtail COVID-19’s spread. The signs read: “My body, my choice,” “Freedom is essential,” and even, humorously, “Jesus is my vaccine.” I could not help but think, “Really?” While there is a kernel of truth to each of these statements, the Catholic tradition easily refutes the argument behind each. 

 My body, my choice.” Setting aside the obvious association of this slogan with pro-abortion activists, the sentiment reflects an exhaltation of the autonomous individual over the common good that is whole foreign to the Catholic tradition. I also think that upon serious reflection, those resistant to wearing masks might recognize that it stems not from a reasoned decision but stubborn selfishness born of frustration. 

For example, recently, at the entrance to a store, I overheard a couple’s conversation: “Oh, I don’t have my mask,” one said. The other replied, “No one can tell me what to do. This is my life.” And they entered the store without facemasks. A James Baldwin quote came to mind: “There are so many ways of being despicable, it quite makes one’s head spin. But the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people’s pain.”  

We all have an obligation to care for each other. This obligation is more important than any minor inconveniences of wearing a mask. As a responsible citizen, the best way I can protect myself is by protecting others. To quote the apostle Matthew: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you” (Mt.7:12.) 

 “Freedom is essential.” More than ever, COVID-19 challenges one of our core American values: freedom. While some misinterpret freedom as individual autonomy, it actually means being held accountable to our existence.  Freedom is a call for Ubuntu: states our responsibility toward each other as a community of love and Justice. Freedom is not a license to do whatever we want. We Catholics should proclaim more loudly our understanding of freedom as countercultural. As the catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraph 1738: “Freedom is exercised in relations between human beings.” It continues: “The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes.” The act of wearing a mask is an act of communal well being.

 Jesus is my vaccine.” Certainly, I would never advocate moving away from Jesus, but Jesus does not free us from our obligations in community. Jesus gives us a responsibility, a moral obligation, to our community. Praying for the end of the pandemic is important, but it does not take the place of taking reasonable precautions. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield says, “Cloth face covering is one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the [COVID-19] virus. ” I believe Jesus would support that.

Wearing a mask in America might be difficult for some with health conditions and impossible for others due to their jobs. However, we can protect those people by wearing our own masks. As Christian Catholics, we answer God’s call to maintain the common good by playing our part with love and justice. Although we are members of a free society, we balance our individual freedoms with what is “right” and “just” for the community. It is just to stay home if possible, practice social distancing, and view wearing a mask as a “pro-life” duty. 

COVID-19 social restrictions can feel oppressive, and many of us are frustrated, confused, and sad. However, we are strong citizens of the land of the free and true Christians living by hope. We can pray for God to grant us the grace of patience to wear a mask.  This small sacrifice can lead us to freedom and keep us together.

A few days after I had to skip my bike ride, a good friend loaned me a helmet. That friend demonstrated his concern for my well-being by making sure my head is protected. Similarly, I show concern for the safety of others by wearing my mask.

Categories: Things Jesuit

How to Forgive 77 Times: Love and Mercy | One-Minute Homily

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 09/13/2020 - 02:00

Jesus tells Peter that he must be willing to forgive 77 times. That seems like a lot…until we think about how merciful God has been to us. Fr. David Romero, SJ, reflects on the boundless love and mercy of Jesus and how we need to be transformed by it in this week’s One-Minute Homily. Based on the readings for Sunday, September 13, 2020.

You want me to forgive them 7 times—wait, 77 times?! Psssst—man!

Hi, I’m David Romero, and this is my One-Minute Homily.

Jesus gives us one of those hard sayings. His parable is pretty clear. The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. And forgiveness is at the heart of being Christ-like. But 77 times? That’s a lot!

And yet, it doesn’t take long for my heart to reveal its need for mercy. As well as the many experiences of mercy in my life. How many times did God forgive me, embrace me, trusts me, and call me, again and again?

I’m also reminded how often I forget Christ’s mercy, like the debtor in the Gospel. My heart hardens and becomes stingy. I can’t wrap my head around the boundless mercy shown to me. It can take a while for my head to catch up to my heart.

Today’s call is to allow Jesus to deeply transform me, so that the forgiveness I receive isn’t something that just happens to me, but also changes the way I see myself, others and the world.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Third Method of Prayer

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 09/11/2020 - 05:30

Ignatian prayer is not one kind of prayer; in fact, Ignatius recommends a variety of ways to pray, along with the better-known imaginative prayer. For example, Ignatius recommends conversational prayer with Jesus in the course of our days, the Examen, or a colloquy with a figure such as Mary after a longer time of imaginative […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

In Ignatian Discernment of Spirits in Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Care, Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ, offers fresh insight into discernment through innovative approaches and applications for varied spiritual experiences and challenges.

Click through to read the full article The Third Method of Prayer, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

“The Boys” and the Fight for Love

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 09/11/2020 - 02:32

This article contains minor spoilers for the TV series, The Boys.

What do you get when you add superheroes to American life as we know it today? Creator and show-runner of The Boys, Eric Kripke, answers with a mixture of the charisma of movie stars, the lethality of military-grade weapons, and the soullessness of a multibillion-dollar corporation. Superheroes (or ‘Supes’) are brands, often more concerned with their public image (and making money from endorsements) than actually saving lives. The Seven, the premier supes of the U.S., are pitted against the Boys, four men (and later, one woman) who are committed to taking them down.

But where The Boys could’ve stayed with the superficial explosions and gunfights, it keeps returning to the broken humanity of all the people involved. Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), one of the Seven, puts it succinctly: “Everyone always asks, what’s our special weakness? … Our weakness is the same as anyone’s. It’s people. The people we care about.”

The supes, most of whom are physically impervious, live their lives without too much concern for the people around them (though plenty are scared of more-powerful supes). They are almost all managed by Vought International, the Disney-esque company that controls the branding, marketing, and cover-ups. When timid Hughie (Jack Quaid) sees his girlfriend killed in a horrific accident caused by a supe, a Vought lawyer shows up trying to pay him off to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Hughie refuses, and is approached by Billy Butcher (the effortlessly charismatic Karl Urban) who wants Hughie’s help to expose Vought’s corruption. And over the rest of the season as we are introduced to the two sides, the Supes and the Boys, we find that every person carries wounds, every person is somehow broken, and every person hurts those around them.

Hughie, the point-of-view character whom we follow into this world of glamor and gore, meets and falls for the newest member of the Seven, Starlight (Erin Moriarty). And as she falls for him as well, they begin their secret romance. Both of them feel like they have to ‘put on a face’ to the rest of the world, and only feel comfortable dropping the masks around each other. But shared secrets are not true intimacy, and they both avoid working on a deeper relationship. Hughie lies to Starlight again and again as he tries to infiltrate Vought, even as his feelings for her deepen. Starlight, disillusioned by the insincerity of both Hughie and her own mother, pushes away her weaknesses – the people she cares about.

Hughie’s and Starlight’s flights from love are foreshadowed in the leaders of the Boys and the Supes, Billy Butcher and Homelander (Antony Starr). The two men close themselves off from love. They both carry deep wounds , and neither really knows how to heal. So they lash out. They murder those who go against them. They refuse to find love in new places. As Maeve said, they consider people to be weaknesses, and try to remove every potential weakness in their lives. They use the people who trust them, exploiting that trust to further their agendas. Further, Butcher and Homelander try to make Hughie and Starlight in their own image: powerful, bitter and vengeful.

Despite these lessons against vulnerability, two side characters insist on the need for love. Frenchie (Tomer Capon) and Maeve both fight for love, even as they are hurt by that fight. Frenchie tries to befriend the scared and abused ‘Female’ (Karen Fukuhara). Frenchie is by no means a gentle soul (we are introduced to him as the gun-brandishing superhero-killer), but recognizes his own past in the Female. Even though she continues to run, endangering Frenchie and the other Boys, he refuses to use violence against her. Butcher tries to assert his image of invulnerability upon Frenchie, but the latter seems to understand something deeper about how relationships grow. He is no starry-eyed Hughie; his love is tempered by the pain of the world. Where Hughie is often overwhelmed by his fear and Butcher is driven by ruthless vengeance, Frenchie commits himself to follow a vulnerable love.

Whereas Frenchie fights for a new love in his life, Maeve tries to rebuild a past love. One of the oldest of the Seven, she seems burnt out from dealing with Homelander’s hate. In the above quote, when she tells Starlight about how people we care about are our weakness, she ends the scene with, “So I say, cut ‘em loose.” But despite this rhetoric, she keeps trying to rekindle her relationship with an old lover (Nicola Correia-Damude). What is most striking about Maeve is that she isn’t some paragon. Even though not as morally bankrupt as Homelander, she falls in line behind him rather than risk his anger. She rebuffs Starlight’s attempts to try to fight for justice. She isn’t perfect. But how many of us are?

In a show filled with almost gleeful amounts of gore, Maeve is one of the few people who is genuinely disgusted by her own complicitness. Maeve, like all of us, desperately wants to be vulnerable in a world that prizes her imperviousness. She tries to do the ‘right thing,’ even though she doesn’t really know what the right thing is anymore. She seeks forgiveness, even as she doesn’t know how to ask for it. She fights for love, even though she doesn’t really know if that love is worth the pain it would bring. Because Maeve realizes that fighting for love isn’t about just making yourself happy; the fight itself makes the world a little bit better.

The Boys is available for streaming on Amazon Prime. Season 2 is currently airing on Fridays.

Categories: Things Jesuit

A Prayer Exercise: Imagination

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 09/09/2020 - 05:30

What is the most imaginative thing you’ve ever done? Who is the most imaginative person you know, and how would you describe that person’s life and work?  . . . What are your deep desires today? Or, what is your deep dissatisfaction? Imagination is at the root of creation. What kind of world would you […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

In Lord, You Called Me: Discerning Your Path in Life , Brother Ricardo Grzona, FRP, offers 21 lectio divina encounters with God’s Word.

Click through to read the full article A Prayer Exercise: Imagination, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

One Moment for One Thing: Learning to Discern Your Emotions

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 09/09/2020 - 02:33

“I love the feeling of the fresh air on my face and the wind blowing through my hair.” (Evel Knievel)

The primary somatosensory cortex and the brainstem nuclei are important regions in our brain that help us generate feelings and emotions. The brain’s complexity should help us increase our faith in God! 

Feeling screening is a technique used in psychoanalysis, and it helps people get in touch with their deepest self through their feelings. This can be seen as an experience of rediscovery and a cognitive journey of self-exploration. St. Ignatius of Loyola always invites individuals to pay attention to their deepest spiritual movements and feel what is going on within themselves. This method can help us uncover God’s voice or presence through our passions, desires, gifts, and even our shortcomings. Feeling screening can aid in pointing us towards the road to freedom. 

Let us discover how to engage what we feel while screening ourselves to more clearly experience the greater glory of God in our lives and in the world around us. Take a moment and to screen your feelings and recognize God in the deep recesses of your soul. Close your eyes and relax as best you can and ask yourself: 

  1. What am I feeling now?
  2. Is there a significance to that feeling?
  3. Using your senses, what is the smell, the touch, or the sound of your feeling?
  4. Does it conger up a memory, an idea, a moment, a sentiment, an emotion?
  5. Consider what God might be saying to you or inviting you to look more closely.
  6. Give thanks to God for the gift of feelings. 


Video Production by Matthew Bjorklund, SJ

Front page photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

Categories: Things Jesuit

An Updated Resource: the TJP Curriculum Guide

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Tue, 09/08/2020 - 01:00

Since 2012, The Jesuit Post has offered a Jesuit, Catholic perspective on the contemporary world. Our team is comprised of young Jesuits seeking God in all things. Our work focuses on both sacred and secular issues because we are convinced that God’s does too. Over the years, we have received lots of feedback from educators and ministers who use our content in the classroom, on retreats, and for faculty formation.

In the Spring of 2020, we created a new resource to share: the TJP Curriculum Guide. This guide includes articles and videos published by TJP, organized around twenty different themes, with hyperlinks to the content. Today, we are releasing an updated version which includes articles and videos published between March-August 2020.

We added the theme of “Coronavirus Pandemic and Response,” along with links to many articles written on racial justice since the murder of George Floyd, plus links to the 12-part video series Know Justice, Know Peace: A Jesuit Antiracism Retreat.

The list of themes includes all of the following (* indicates new content added):

  • Addiction
  • Climate Change and the Environment*
  • Church Teaching*
  • Coronavirus Pandemic and Response*
  • Education
  • Ignatian Spirituality*
  • Immigrants and Refugees*
  • Mental Health*
  • Race and Racism*
  • Politics*
  • Pop Culture*
  • Post-College Life
  • Prayer*
  • Sexuality
  • Social Justice*
  • Spirituality*
  • Sports*
  • Technology*
  • Women in the Church
  • Vocations

You can view and download the TJP Curriculum Guide here. We hope you find this content helpful in your work and ministry. It will be updated periodically, so be sure to check back at the start of a new semester.

Submit your email address to this Google Form if you are using this in your work or ministry to let us know how it’s been helpful and how we could make it better. On the form, you’ll find an option to receive a direct copy when we update the TJP Curriculum Guide every 3-6 months with new content.

If you want to stay in the loop about updates and get connected to others who are using TJP as a resource, you can also send us an email at

Categories: Things Jesuit

In the Eye of the Storm

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 09/07/2020 - 05:30

In Louisiana, we have five seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall, and hurricane. I’ve lived through many hurricanes, some minor, some catastrophic. One characteristic of hurricanes is the eye. The wind and rain spiral in a counterclockwise direction until ultimately an area of clear weather forms near the center of the circulation. It’s all chaos in […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

In Lord, You Called Me: Discerning Your Path in Life , Brother Ricardo Grzona, FRP, offers 21 lectio divina encounters with God’s Word.

Click through to read the full article In the Eye of the Storm, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Not Even in a War Zone: Police Brutality, Armed Conflict, and the Use of Violence

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 09/06/2020 - 23:10

There is a tendency among some commentators to defend the police officers who commit acts of violence against unarmed black people by describing what is suspicious about the victim. 

“George Floyd was a felon and intoxicated at the time of his death.” 

“Jacob Blake had a knife in his car.” 

“This or that person was non-compliant, etc….” Such statements are intended to justify police actions and discredit the protesters.    

The innocence, or lack thereof, of the slain suspects is irrelevant to the issue at hand. 

As a former Air Force officer, it disturbs me when I hear people making excuses for police violence. For the sake of argument, let us momentarily overlook the racial overtones of this violence and focus on just one aspect of the crisis: the extrajudicial killing of civilians. In that other arm of government that exercises violence, there are specific criteria that govern the legitimate use of force. The Law of Armed Conflict and Rules of Engagement will shed light on the trigger-happy culture of many police departments as compared to the standard that the US military tries to observe in war zones. 

Military personnel have an inherent right to self-defense. This principle informs the criteria under which force may be used against a person, be they civilian, terrorist, or otherwise. Deadly force is authorized only against a person who has been positively identified as hostile by legal declaration (e.g., known member of ISIS), by committing a hostile act (e.g., firing upon friendly forces), and/or unequivocally displaying hostile intent (e.g., pointing a weapon at friendly forces). A hostile person, in other words, demonstrates an unambiguous threat. 

Admittedly, many of the incidents of fatal police actions involve non-compliant suspects. It must be noted, though, that according to military standards mere non-compliance does not constitute a threat and does not warrant deadly force. To kill a suspected (not positively identified as hostile) insurgent under such circumstances would constitute a war crime. 

Police may say that they thought a suspect might have been reaching for a weapon. For the military, the simple possibility or fear of a threat, however, is not enough to determine either a hostile act or hostile intent. If a suspect is perhaps reaching for a knife in his car, he has yet to be positively identified as hostile. Even the visible possession of a weapon is not sufficient to identify a person as hostile. In fact, many innocent civilians in Afghanistan have weapons (much like in the United States). To engage a suspected insurgent in such a situation would be a war crime.

But what about suspects who are not only non-compliant but even resistant?  Would the military be allowed to use force in such situations?  Only within the bounds of military necessity and proportionality. Military Necessity is the principle of the Law of Armed Conflict which forbids the unnecessary use of violence outside of “the fight.”  Proportionality is the principle that violence, when authorized, cannot be excessive and cause damage to life or property disproportionate to the military advantage gained. In other words, the use of deadly force when there is no established threat of deadly force from the other is a war crime.

Those who rush to the defense of the police officers involved in the extrajudicial killing of people of color must consider this fact: the forces of government violence are slower to use deadly force in a war zone then they are within the United States. This is a dehumanizing reality felt by people of color. It is yet another example of systemic racism that law enforcement is quicker to engage black civilians than the military is to engage suspected insurgents in a war zone. This is in no way to suggest that combat restrictions should be loosened, but to urge that some such restrictions should be placed on all agents of government violence, including law enforcement.


In the Gospel story of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus prevents the extrajudicial killing of what seems to clearly be a guilty party, saying “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (Jn 8:10-11). Jesus disapproved of the proposed killing regardless of her guilt. If the woman had been noncompliant and resistant (a natural response to a murderous mob), Jesus’ merciful response would not have been any different.  Murder was not acceptable then, nor is it acceptable today, especially by the police.

Categories: Things Jesuit