Things Jesuit

Storing Consolations Like the Flowers

Ignatian Spirituality - 5 hours 44 min ago

By Marina Berzins McCoy

St. Ignatius offers us a key principle for how to navigate the ups and downs of life: use the gifts of consolation wisely. He counsels that in times of desolation, we ought to remember times of consolation. Then, in times of consolation, store up these experiences for later when we might need them, as in […]

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

In The Way to Manresa , Brendan McManus, SJ, travels along the Ignatian Camino pilgrimage trail to Manresa, where St. Ignatius penned his Spiritual Exercises. This walk takes McManus on a physical and spiritual journey that will lead him down a path of deep discernment.

Click through to read the full article Storing Consolations Like the Flowers, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Leaping into Puddles

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 05:30

By Gretchen Crowder

When was the last time you jumped into a puddle? I don’t mean walking into one, gingerly hoping your socks stay somewhat dry. I mean starting about 10 feet back so you can gain some momentum and then leaping full-bodied into the air. There are distinct feelings associated both with the moment of leap and […]

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

In The Way to Manresa , Brendan McManus, SJ, travels along the Ignatian Camino pilgrimage trail to Manresa, where St. Ignatius penned his Spiritual Exercises. This walk takes McManus on a physical and spiritual journey that will lead him down a path of deep discernment.

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

Categories: Things Jesuit

Screen Time and St. Ignatius

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 05/10/2021 - 05:30

By Shemaiah Gonzalez

It’s happened again. I have spent 30… 45… 60 minutes on social media. I’m not sure why I do it. I logged on to see how my old friend from high school was doing, and then I remembered my Kindergarten teacher and wanted to see how she was, and then before I knew it, I […]

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

In The Way to Manresa , Brendan McManus, SJ, travels along the Ignatian Camino pilgrimage trail to Manresa, where St. Ignatius penned his Spiritual Exercises. This walk takes McManus on a physical and spiritual journey that will lead him down a path of deep discernment.

Click through to read the full article Screen Time and St. Ignatius, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

I Want to Know What Love Is | One-Minute Homily

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 05/09/2021 - 01:00

Jesus commanded us to love one another, but do we really know how to do that? Fr. Matt Stewart, SJ, reflects on the love of God that we are meant to embrace and share. Based on the readings for Sunday, May 9, 2021.

I love my niece and nephews. I love buffalo wings. I love…lamp?

I’m Father Matt Stewart, and this is my One Minute Homily. 

The word “love” gets used in so many ways that it can be hard to figure out what Jesus means when he commands us to love one another. He tells us if we want to know how to love one another, then look at how he loves us, and how the Father loves him. 

The love that Jesus has for us leads him to wash our feet, to feed us with his body and blood, and to lay down his life for us. The love of the Father for Jesus unites them in the beautiful and intimate dance of generous self-gift we see in the prologue of John’s gospel. 

So loving one another involves sacrifice, care, intimacy, and generosity. 

Jesus reassures us that when we love each other in this way we will experience complete joy because we open the door to true friendship with Jesus and remain in God’s love.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Encountering the Spirit in the House of Cornelius

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 05/07/2021 - 05:30

By Loretta Pehanich

This story is inspired by Acts 10:30–49. Let me introduce myself: I’m a centurion who was in Cornelius’s house when the Holy Spirit poured down upon us. What does the Holy Spirit feel like? It was as if a breeze of warm air permeated my soul, and my fears disappeared. The shame over my previous […]

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

In The Way to Manresa , Brendan McManus, SJ, travels along the Ignatian Camino pilgrimage trail to Manresa, where St. Ignatius penned his Spiritual Exercises. This walk takes McManus on a physical and spiritual journey that will lead him down a path of deep discernment.

Click through to read the full article Encountering the Spirit in the House of Cornelius, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

William Barry, SJ: Life, Legacy, and the Ignatian Year

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 05:30

By dotMagis Editor

To kick off the Ignatian Year, Loyola Press is bringing together some of the great minds of Ignatian spirituality to reflect on and discuss the works of William A. Barry, SJ. Many readers of dotMagis will be familiar with Fr. Barry, a veteran spiritual director and prolific writer on Ignatian spirituality, who died in December […]

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

In The Way to Manresa , Brendan McManus, SJ, travels along the Ignatian Camino pilgrimage trail to Manresa, where St. Ignatius penned his Spiritual Exercises. This walk takes McManus on a physical and spiritual journey that will lead him down a path of deep discernment.

Click through to read the full article William Barry, SJ: Life, Legacy, and the Ignatian Year, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Listening to “Others,” or What I Learned From a Language Exchange

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 02:33

“To be honest,” Yunji told me, “I hardly ever speak English. I don’t have to because at the restaurant all the workers are Korean and at home, I speak Korean with my family.” 

This is how our Friday morning language exchanges began. Yunji is the aunt of the leader of the Korean American Young Adult Catholics of Chicago organization, which I’ve gotten to know. Unlike some of the younger Korean Americans who were born in the United States, Yunji spent most of her life in Korea. This is her story as much as it is mine, and I could not have told it without her.  

We would meet on Zoom with our coffee in hand. I would correct her writing and look for the right preposition to make her sentences sound more natural. Then I would belt out long vowels, discerning the distinctions between deo, do, and dyo. Seriously, why does Korean have so many vowels? I got used to being called Susaniim, a title given to religious people; the equivalent to Brother. People in Korea use a lot of titles: teachers are called “Teacher,” directors are called “Mr. Director,” and even waiters are frequently called “Boss.” In the beginning of our sessions, we kept it pretty basic, partly because of my limited language. “What color do you like?” Yunji would ask. “I like red,” I would reply, “but I like green more.”  

She would share details about her life. This included a trip to LA to visit friends and also do a clandestine job interview with a restaurant that would sponsor her green card. We talked about our favorite foods. I sent her pictures of our house’s celebration of the lunar new year, which is celebrated across many different Asian countries. We had delicious Indonesian curry, Vietnamese noodles, and Korean rice cakes. Yunji sent back a picture of a pizza. Her family had decided to get Chicago deep dish that night, which made us both laugh. Other times were challenging.  

“Everything is hard,” she wrote down for one of our writing exercises, “I feel like I am always not understanding things.” 

I thought back to my own experiences as an expat in Korea, and how I tended to stick to my own English-speaking communities, because it was easier. I prayed for her at mass that night. A verbal intention. Something audible. Something defined.  

One evening, I got a message on my phone: “Susaniim, I know it’s late, but please pray for me.” She told me about her frustrations trying to get a state ID card, and the lines she had to wait in and the hours she had to spend. She confided in me about wanting to go back to Korea but also the worries about what awaited her there. I was surprised, but I was also consoled to be the person from whom she wanted prayers. Another time, she asked me: “Why do you want to be a Susaniim? Why did you want to become a Jesuit?” I struggled to find the words in a language that was not my own. “I … together … God … want. People … also … together … every day… with God … is….”  

My grammar was lacking. 

Resources the author uses for the language exchange with his friend, Yunji. The text in the photograph reads, “Jesus.”

The Korean language also has levels of formality, a source of frustration for the causal learner. However, for me the levels of formality proved to be a source of consolation. In one session, Yunji said to me: “You don’t have to speak to me with formal language. We are kind of like friends, so you can use informal language, susaniim.” Had I gotten to know this stranger so well in just a few months? It was one of those moments that made me appreciate the kind of experience these Friday morning sessions allowed me to have. 

After the March shooting in Atlanta where eight people including six women of Asian descent were killed, we didn’t talk about it. I did not know if Yunji wanted to talk about it. I didn’t know if it was on her mind as much as the news suggested. It seemed to be a watershed, throwing light on years of anti-Asian discrimination and violence. It is a violence that is ongoing, as we learned last month when Yao Pan Ma, a 61-year-old Asian immigrant living in New York was assaulted and left on a ventilator and in a coma. 

For my part, the March shooting and ongoing violence was not surprising. As I traveled from New York City to rural Pennsylvania last summer, I heard conservative attack ads on the TV and radio making disparaging and racist remarks towards Asians. And I felt paralyzed. I did not know what to do. I didn’t even know if it was my place to do something. “Just stand by our side,” was what one Vietnamese American Jesuit brother told me, that way we can feel supported. And that got me thinking that while I may not know what Asian Americans are going through. I can still be an advocate. I can still work towards making their voices heard.  

“I want to write a blog post about you. About our exchange,” I said to Yunji during one of our Friday sessions, “if it’s okay.” 

“It’s okay,” she said.  

And we talked. We talked about her favorite aspects of American culture. No one asks you about your age. We talked about what scared her. People can buy guns so easily. We talked about her favorite ice cream flavor. Chocolate, but really, I like them all. I asked Yunji what she thought about all the incidents of anti-Asian violence. First, I was so scared and sad, but then I got angry. Honestly, I think those people who attack are just ignorant of Asian history. I asked her about living in Chicago. As you know, Chicago has a high rate of gun related crimes. So, I feel a little bit of danger. However, the racism in the United States is quite similar to the racism in Korea. Korea can also be racist against other Asians and Black people. I asked her how she felt as a woman, and she said she never thought of that before.  I messaged her what she would change about the world if she could and what her hopes were for the future. I would like to change the Amazon rainforest back to how it was 100 years ago. And as far as the future, I really just want to find my way. Susaniim, please pray for me.

I did pray for her, that she would find her way some day. What I learned from my language exchange has been more than words and sentences. It has been more than grammar and pronunciation. I have learned how to talk to someone, someone with different life experiences. It’s something I continue to learn, how to speak and how to listen. Prayer is also like this. We learn to speak to God, and we learn to listen to God. However, we cannot go into the dialogue with our preconceived notions, with our own scripts. We cannot dictate how the conversation will go. Sometimes God just may surprise you, just like Yunji did when she asked me to pray for her and invited me into this friendship that transcends language and cultural divides.

-//-

Photo by chahn chance on Unsplash

Categories: Things Jesuit

Ignatius at University: Finding His Tribe

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 05/03/2021 - 05:30

By Vinita Hampton Wright

Each of us grows up and goes searching for our tribe. Our tribe is the group of people with whom we most easily relate. I could call this “community,” but “tribe” is more specific. We share passions, goals, and even personality traits. Often, we share a life mission. God is working through the years to […]

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

Finding God in the Mess by Jim Deeds and Brendan McManus, SJ, is the perfect tool to help us learn to pause, to take time to be with God, to contemplate our lives, and to recognize God’s presence in all of it, especially the hard times.

Click through to read the full article Ignatius at University: Finding His Tribe, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Freedom to Change | One-Minute Homily

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 05/02/2021 - 02:06

Before St. Paul became a great preacher and apostle, he was known for persecuting Christians. Christopher Alt, SJ, reflects on second chances and the need to give people the freedom to change. Based on the readings for Sunday, May 2, 2021.

Change – even good change – is often difficult and unsettling. 

Hi, I’m Christopher Alt and this is my One-Minute Reflection. 

In today’s first reading, Saul tries to join the disciples. And out of fear, they say “NO WAY! Saul, we know exactly who you are and what you’ve done!”

But the disciples eventually do lean in. They listen to Saul’s story. They try trust; they risk relationship. Thank God they did. Otherwise, Saul may never have become Paul and the Christian community would have lost a great apostle. 

Today, we can ask: What good is it to stereotype and typecast and hold people’s past against them? Why do we fall into familiar patterns and force each other and ourselves into rigid roles, even when we know they’re dysfunctional, and divisive, and will leave us feeling stuck? 

Today, God is still building up the community. Becoming something new is a part of God’s plan. The question is: Can we allow others the freedom to change? And will we extend that same grace to ourselves?

Categories: Things Jesuit

On May Day: The Enduring Importance of Labor Unions

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sat, 05/01/2021 - 01:00

“Unions used to be important, but they’re not necessary anymore.” It’s a line many of us have heard. We often associate unions with particular images of the past—steelworkers, auto manufacturing, coal miners, and railroad workers facing brutal conditions and low wages. These workers literally battled for protections and pay. With the decline of these types of jobs, many have a feeling that unions aren’t really necessary for protection. Yet, a dramatically increasing number of non-union workers have stated that they would join a union if they could.

So why don’t they? 

The United States has not seriously updated its labor law in decades. Companies have the upperhand in almost every way to prevent unionization. Workplace protections receive little funding or enforcement. Frankly, workers don’t join unions because our system has made it as difficult as possible to do so. We need to change that. Let’s look at the current state of labor, the challenges faced, and how to address them headon.

The industries in which Americans work has changed drastically over the last 100 years, and even in the last several decades. In 1900, over 40% of Americans worked in agriculture. Today, that number is down to 1.4%. From 1900 to 1960, building trades and manufacturing made up 25-30% of jobs; today it is about 13%. By contrast, the service industry has grown to over 80% of the workforce. If one strictly associates unions with steel, then it is no surprise we may see their role as diminished.

Unions, however, have never been merely about safety harnesses and hardhats. They are primarily about justice.

One of the biggest challenges workers face today is job insecurity. COVID has thrown this insecurity into sharp relief. Workers increasingly rely on multiple jobs, especially gig jobs like driving for ride shares or delivering food. Under current federal law, workers who drive for these sorts of companies can be labeled “independent contractors” so that the company avoids paying all of the associated benefits and taxes. We might laud these tech companies as innovative, but really they’re simply following the worker-abuse playbook of generations past.

When workers do try to organize, companies have a clear advantage in breaking unionization efforts. For example, companies often mandate that workers attend meetings in which they are bombarded with anti-union propaganda. During their recent campaign for a union, Amazon workers were harassed with meetings, texts, and fliers in bathrooms with anti-union messages. Amazon actually hired more seasonal workers to throw off the votes. One might say, “But Amazon pays $15 and hour, so why a union?” Amazon workers face a myriad of injustices: urinating in water bottles because they aren’t allowed breaks; a lack of protections from the pandemic; and unbearable warehouse conditions.

Workers have only minuscule recourse for these challenges. Workplace protection agencies are often understaffed; corporations bust unions with impunity; workplaces fire workers who stand up for dignity and justice; and even when workers successfully unionize, the company often stalls bargaining in an attempt to break the unionizers’ will.

Amidst all of these challenges, economic inequality and injustice have spiraled out of control. From March to November last year, 647 billionaires got $960 billion richer. That’s a hard number to fathom, so put another way: they received $40,591 every second. Put another away again, the ultrarich got a welder’s annual salary richer every second. 

In the last week, 18 million adults reported not having enough food in their household. Billionaires could give each of them $53,000 and have the same amount of money they had before the pandemic. That is not only unjust, it is vile. 

Unions have historically been some of the most important institutions for leveling the playing field. They raise real wages, invest in communities, and ensure not only worker justice, but justice for the whole community. That’s because unions are workers, not some far off distant entity. They are the true and honest workers we encounter every day.

So how do we make them stronger?

One of the best ways to strengthen labor unions is updated labor legislation, specifically by passing the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act. The act addresses numerous loopholes in outdated and outmoded labor law. For example, under current law, the IRS uses a series of twenty questions to determine whether someone is an employee or independent contractor. The PRO Act simplifies this into faster, more straightforward, more just ABC test. Doing so prevents rideshare companies, fast food franchises, and even universities from purposefully misclassifying workers.

The act additionally prohibits many of the union busting practices seen at Amazon. It specifically outlaws captive audience anti-union meetings, eases access to collective bargaining, and overturns “right-to-work” laws. Once workers do form a union, the law further prevents businesses from intentionally stalling bargaining. As a whole, the PRO Act is one of the most important pieces of pro-worker legislation currently in play.

While this legislation is important, it is not the sole fix for workers or inequality. A colleague recently pointed out to me that workers don’t just join unions, they form unions. Unions are a bond of solidarity between workers and their communities. If we really want worker and economic justice, we have to get involved.

Many unions participate in what’s known as common good or social justice unionism. This unionism ties together worker justice, community well-being, racial justice, and student groups into an effort to strengthen the community as a whole. It recognizes that worker justice is by definition tied to healthcare, housing, education, and more because workers are fundamentally community members. In Chicago, for example, teachers won and continue to fight for students of immigrant families, combat structural racism, and create healthier school buildings.

This kind of unionism demands something of you though. It means we recognize that workers are more than just someone who provides us with a good or service. They are our neighbors, and we work alongside each other for the good of our communities.

Pope Benedict XVI sums it all up in Caritas in Veritate

What is meant by the word “decent” in regard to work? It means work that expresses the essential dignity of every man and woman in the context of their particular society: work that is freely chosen, effectively associating workers, both men and women, with the development of their community; work that enables the worker to be respected and free from any form of discrimination; work that makes it possible for families to meet their needs and provide schooling for their children, without the children themselves being forced into labour; work that permits the workers to organize themselves freely, and to make their voices heard; work that leaves enough room for rediscovering one’s roots at a personal, familial and spiritual level; work that guarantees those who have retired a decent standard of living.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Ignatian Way for the Ignatian Year

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 05:30

By dotMagis Editor

Soon we’ll begin an Ignatian Year for the Society of Jesus and all who follow the ways of Ignatian spirituality. May 20, 2021, the starting date for the year, is the 500th anniversary of St. Ignatius Loyola’s injury during the Battle of Pamplona, which ultimately led to his conversion from soldier to saint. We here […]

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

Finding God in the Mess by Jim Deeds and Brendan McManus, SJ, is the perfect tool to help us learn to pause, to take time to be with God, to contemplate our lives, and to recognize God’s presence in all of it, especially the hard times.

Click through to read the full article The Ignatian Way for the Ignatian Year, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

“The Point” of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 04/29/2021 - 02:17

Some stories have so entered the public consciousness that we feel as if we know them even if we have never actually read them. Such is the case with Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The main twist- that the seemingly respectable Dr. Henry Jekyll and the criminal Mr. Edward Hyde are, in fact, the same person – is widely known. We even use the term “Jekyll-and-Hyde” to describe someone who has a darker side that is usually hidden from others.

If the ending, the point, of a story is known, why read it? 

The answer, of course, is that the point is not really known at all. A story (a good one, anyway) is not contained in the ending. There is not “one point” which can be taken away as a piece of knowledge to be filed until needed. Each story worth reading contains a world, and just like the one that we all live in, that world is filled with meanings and mysteries. 

When we do discover something so important as to be called “the point,” in stories as in life, it is not something that we know as complete and done. The most important things demand attention and repetition and contemplation. If we neglect to offer our time and our hearts to those points we find important…well, we miss the point.

With this in mind, I return again and again to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (it is, after all, a short read). Each time I do, I find something else, another nuance, a slightly larger gap in the curtain. Here are some of the ways Stevenson’s great mystery has kept me exploring both the story and my faith. 

Others Care For Us, Even When We Do Not See It.

The story opens with a man named Utterson taking a walk with his cousin, Enfield. Enfield shares about a chance encounter he had with an odious man named Mr. Hyde, who had entered one of the doors he and Utterson had just passed on their walk. Utterson is somewhat unsettled by this story, as he recognizes the door as being the back entrance to the house of his friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll.

Much of the action which follows is driven by Utterson as he reaches out to Jekyll in an attempt to help him. In the process, he connects with Dr. Lanyon, a mutual friend of his and Jekyll’s, who has had a falling out with the secretive doctor. Utterson works to bring the increasingly reclusive Jekyll back into contact with Lanyon and their group of friends, and is ultimately the one trusted by Jekyll’s butler to help when the situation grows more dire.

As Utterson criss-crosses London attempting to unravel the mystery and help his friend, I am struck by how Jekyll has no way of knowing the extent of Utterson’s efforts. Even if he could have some idea of how much work his friend puts in to helping him, Jekyll is consumed with self-interest and (except, perhaps, in the end) incapable of recognizing it. 

Do I take the time to be grateful for what others do for me? For the efforts taken in order to help me, even when I do not see them, or falsely think I do not need them?

When It Comes To Good Works, What We Do Matters Far More Than What Others Do.

The most popular image of transformation in the story is of Jekyll mixing up a potion and drinking it down in order to take on the body of Hyde. As the story progresses, however, Jekyll finds that he does not have control over the transformations – sometimes the potion works, sometimes not. Hyde’s crimes grow increasingly violent and, realizing he cannot trust himself to remain in control the more he relies on the potion, Jekyll resolves to stop his experiment all together and live only as himself.

Jekyll feels remorse for the crimes of Hyde, and he seeks to make amends by supporting local charities around London. After several months of this, however, he begins to think back to his times as Hyde, enjoying the memories of his past crimes. When he begins to feel guilty about enjoying these memories, he comforts himself by thinking that he is so much better than other people because of how much money he has donated. As soon as this prideful thought enters his mind, however, he immediately turns into Hyde – no potion needed.

It is not a question of the facts: it is certainly believable that Jekyll, being quite wealthy, did indeed financially support more good works than the majority of other people. But, again, Jekyll’s own selfishness acts against him. He gives out of guilt, not concern, and thinks himself righteous for doing so. 

Am I more concerned with the question of how much others are doing, than how much I am? Am I more ready to excuse myself than to excuse others?

It Is Not That One Man Is Two, But That What Seems To Be Two Men Is One.

It is Jekyll’s view that each human being is really a combination of two (or more) different personalities which leads him to create his potion. This view is a desperate one for him because he is tormented with conflicting desires: he wishes to do whatever he wants, without concern for others, yet he wants others to think well of him. 

As the story’s mystery is revealed, however, it becomes clear that Jekyll’s hypothesis is not correct. The body may change, but Jekyll and Hyde are in reality the same man. The clash of desires within him is not resolved by the creation of Hyde. The same conflicted Jekyll who first concocted the potion is present after Hyde has committed his acts. Giving in to temptation does not make it go away.

Jekyll is not alone in wishing to push all of his undesirable traits and desires onto a different personality. It is a tempting thought, to consider that the only parts of me which exist are the positive ones and that the negative belong to “somebody else.” 

But this is not the reality – and good thing too! After all, when we consider ourselves in relation to God (something which, for all his trials, Jekyll never did) we may recall the really important point: God loves us, not some person we think we ought to be. Once we recognize this, we can begin to work with Him to grow into being truly and wholly ourselves.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Can I Really Tell God How I Feel?

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 04/28/2021 - 05:30

By Rebecca Ruiz

I was talking with a friend the other day, and she said, “I am so sad and angry and disappointed that I just can’t pray! I feel too much negativity right now. I’ve got to get myself together before I can pray again.” The situation my friend is dealing with is difficult. I understand that […]

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

Finding God in the Mess by Jim Deeds and Brendan McManus, SJ, is the perfect tool to help us learn to pause, to take time to be with God, to contemplate our lives, and to recognize God’s presence in all of it, especially the hard times.

Click through to read the full article Can I Really Tell God How I Feel?, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Going Back to Normal Can’t Be Going Back to How Things Were

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 04/28/2021 - 02:33

When I was in grade school, I used to love that day at the start of a quarter when my teachers would give us a new seating chart (I didn’t know then that my teachers were actually strategizing the best arrangement for their sanity).

There were so many possibilities – would I be seated close to my friends or not? Would I be relegated to the front row, stuck in the middle of the action, or find new ways not to pay attention from the back? Was I close to the pencil sharpener or bubbler? Was I near the map on the wall, such that I could stare at brightly colored states or countries all day, and not the chalkboard? 

We would gather at the front of the classroom, anxious and buzzing in our baby blue polos, and my teachers would walk the rows, pointing at each desk and calling out a student’s name. Slowly, our new arrangement took shape, and we’d be that way for the next few months.

What always struck me most about this process was that when I finally took my new seat, the whole world of that classroom looked different. Sitting in one place for months on end puts a sort of glaze over the eyes. It’s like when I lived on the shore of Lake Michigan for three years – at some point, I almost forgot the lake was there. But with a new seat? Everything was new, hopeful. My mind was charged. My focus returned. I was ready to learn.

***

The gift of new perspective still invigorates me. In fact, I rearranged my bedroom just the other day. The two most used objects – the desk and the bed – switched places. Other objects – bookshelf, chair, dresser – stayed relatively put. A few things – lamp, laundry basket, small table – still search for a new spot. Whereas before, a window was behind me at my desk, now there’s a built-in bookshelf filled with photos and a smattering of sacred chotchkies – a drawing of young Frieda Kahlo riding a bike and a glass globe paperweight among them. When I’m on Zoom for class or meetings, people ask where I am. Everything looks different. As I type, I feel somewhere between the delight of getting the feel of a new car and the dread of unpacking a box of recently moved kitchen knick-knacks. Everything is saturated with a familiar unknown, and nothing has its place just yet. I need to be alert, to note how this newness feels, to take advantage of the ensuing energy.

I am a creature. I have habits. I like certain things to be predictable. But sometimes, seeing the world in a new way is just what I need, and just what is necessary.

***

We’re in the midst of newness. After over a year of necessary pandemic caution, a friend of mine went to the movies the other day. Inside a theatre! Another stopped on the way home and had a beer. Inside the bar! More and more vaccines go out each and every day.

We’ve got a new president who is coming to 100 days in office with decent approval ratings, and we’ve got an old president I don’t think about everyday anymore.

We’ve gotten verdicts in Derek Chauvin’s trial, the latest in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and months of demonstrations that followed.

When I chat with most people about this summer, the language often used is that we’re getting back to normal. But I don’t think getting back to normal is the right way to consider what we’re headed for. Back to normal suggests we’re going back to things as they once were – to the old seating arrangement or bed location. Back to normal suggests we forget that people have died by the hundreds of thousands. Back to normal suggests that we’ll let our political leaders waste time and money on grandstanding that helps very few people. Back to normal suggests that we’ll go right back to old structures of injustice and white supremacy. That’s not the normal that I want.

I’m remembering the feeling of that new seating chart and I’m relishing in a new room. In theory, things could go back to normal – to the way they were – but they never did in school, and I’m sure not going to drag my desk across the floor again.

Things will never be the same after what we’ve seen and experienced. We cannot forget numbers of cases climbing, small red circles on tracking maps swelling, photos of hospitals overflowing, a man on his stomach dying as his neck is bent by the knee of a man on top of him, thousands gathered signs proclaiming that Black Lives Matter, election debates and results. We can’t forget these images. We can’t go back to normal, because for too long, the norm hurt people. 

Everything must look different. My laundry basket can’t sit in the middle of my room forever, and people are still dying at the hands of disease, guns, poverty, and brutality. But, in this new arrangement, perhaps the energy and curiosity that accompany new perspectives may sustain us and generate change. Perhaps we will usher in something new entirely. I can only hope and do my part.

-//-

Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

Categories: Things Jesuit

Five Steps to Transform Negativity Through Prayer

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 04/26/2021 - 05:30

By Brendan McManus, SJ

St. Ignatius, who initially knew life as a vain soldier and courtier, was able to turn his superficial life around by attending to his inner life of thoughts, desires, and feelings. Ignatius offers us some helpful tips from his Spiritual Exercises that help us understand our humanity and make it work for our advantage in […]

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

Experiencing God in the Ordinary by William A. Barry, SJ, nurtures our hope that God is always present and can be found in an ordinary day.

Click through to read the full article Five Steps to Transform Negativity Through Prayer, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Fishing Industry Has Rendered Most Mass Fish Consumption Unethical

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Mon, 04/26/2021 - 01:00

Growing up on India’s west coast, family trips to the beach were a highlight of my summer vacations. After a day of playing in the surf, we would sit on the beach, eating ice cream and watching fishing boats bob on the horizon against the backdrop of a crimson sunset. Occasionally, a boat would come ashore with nets filled with all kinds of fish. The fishermen would quickly sort the agitated dying fish into various bins and send them off to the market.

I was nine or ten when I first connected the agonizing tossing and turning of the netted fish to the delicious fish curry my mom frequently cooked for us. Previously, I had imagined that fish came from the market, already lifeless and unmoving. I remember feeling a pang of pain as I watched life slowly drain from the fish in a crowded net on the shore. 

I also remember my mom looking sadly at the measly catch and reminiscing how the fish catch had declined significantly over the past few decades, how boats had to go further away from the shore to make a catch sufficient for a living.

Recently, I came back to these memories as my Jesuit brothers were discussing Fish Fries in various Catholic parishes in Saint Louis. As my brothers discussed the merits of tilapia over catfish and fried fish over grilled fish, I remembered the dying fish in the nets and pondered on our moral obligation to the creatures of the sea. 

“What about fish?” is a common response to my stance against participating in animal cruelty by consuming factory-farmed animal products. Fish is often considered an acceptable option by those who avoid meat out of concern for the environment and animal welfare. Pescatarians believe that, in such situations, fish is a cleaner alternative to meat. However, the same issues of environmental degradation and animal suffering crop up with the fish industry. 

We eat fish for pleasure or cultural reasons. We do not need to eat fish or any animal product for our survival and flourishing. We can get all the necessary nutrients from plant food. 

It is true that Jesus ate fish. It is also true that for some indigenous cultures, fish is an essential part of their diets. In both of these cases, however, I agree with Christian ethicist Charles Camosy’s view that consuming fish is acceptable when alternative protein sources are either non-existent or in short supply. Indigenous populations tend to live in areas where the land is insufficiently fertile for large scale plant based agriculture.

However, the vast majority of fish consumption is based not in necessity, but preference. It would be a mistake to believe that our place in God’s creation means that our preferences have priority over the lives of other creatures. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2418) says, “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.” 

In the words of the documentary A Prayer for Compassion, “For a few moments, in which we are enjoying what is just a palette preference, we are taking what is most essential to animals, their very lives.” Eating fish in 21st century America is a palette preference, and nothing more. Killing fish through suffocation cannot be justified simply because we like the taste of their flesh.

Additionally, both our sources of fish, wild and farmed, have serious environmental issues. A recent New York Times article suggested that bottom trawling, besides damaging reefs, may release as much carbon as the aviation industry. 

Furthermore, wild fish stocks have declined significantly due to overfishing in recent decades. My mom was right when she claimed that there used to be a lot more fish. The collapse of fish populations is not just a tragedy in its own right—it often means the poor go hungry first. 

Indigenous and traditional fishermen are left high and dry because they do not have the means to fish in deeper waters, and they do not have alternative sources of food or income. Finally, catching wild fish is wasteful because many undesirable species of fish are also caught alongside the prized fish species. This bycatch is usually just tossed away, perpetuating our throwaway culture.

Aquaculture, while abating the problem of overfishing and wasteful bycatches, has its drawbacks. For example, on a weight basis, farmed shrimp meat is even more polluting than beef. In addition, these fish farms can cause tremendous water pollution due to the discharge of untreated waste. 

The New Yorker recently carried a story of how a Chinese fish meal factory in Gambia had destroyed the coastline and local fish stocks to manufacture feed for fish farms in China and Norway. According to the author, “Gambia exports much of its fish meal to China and Norway, where it fuels an abundant and inexpensive supply of farmed salmon for European and American consumption. Meanwhile, the fish that Gambians themselves rely on are rapidly disappearing.” Unfortunately, farmed fish is no silver bullet to the environmental degradation associated with harvesting fish for our consumption.

Our ancestors ate fish and the Catholic Church has celebrated Fish Fridays for centuries. However, reexamining this practice because of the development of a fish industry that has devastating effects on our common home would be prudent. The oceans are not limitless as once imagined. Furthermore, today we have access to a plethora of plant protein meal options that generations before us did not have. These range from meals based in lentils, beans, and nuts, to fake meats and non dairy milks. 

Jesus exhorts us to compassion and kindness towards our neighbor. Can I imagine compassion to include compassion for indigenous people whose livelihoods are challenged by overfishing? Can my kindness include kindness towards non-human animals, who are voiceless and powerless in the face of insatiable human desires for pleasure? 

In the book of Genesis, God invites us to establish dominion over all creatures (Genesis 1:26). Can our dominion over non-human animals resemble God’s dominion over humans, a dominion built on love, care, and mercy? 

I pray that our Catholic faith will open our hearts and widen our horizons to include all of God’s creatures in our web of neighborly love. Let us tread lightly on the earth and float gently on the ocean as we make our way to spending eternity with God.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Good Shepherd and His Flock | One-Minute Homily

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 04/25/2021 - 02:24

Jesus is the Good Shepherd that lays down his life for his sheep. Josef Rodriguez, SJ, reflects on the love of our shepherd and the love that we must show others. Based on the readings for Sunday, April 25, 2021.

I’m Josef Rodriguez, and this is my one-minute reflection.

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. In John’s Gospel, we hear Jesus call himself the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. Any first century–or even current–bystander who heard that would stare at the speaker cross-eyed. “This guy would DIE for a SHEEP? Crazy!” But that is precisely the crazy amount of love that Jesus has for YOU!

Many of us know too well that there are those we follow or look up to that have disappointed us, hurt us, or abandoned us. But Jesus is the Shepherd, the Teacher, the Master who would never do that to us. We rarely hear about some social icon or political leader dying for their followers. But Jesus never withheld the cost of his life because he found each of us to be INVALUABLE. Now, if I’m surrounded by other persons whom Jesus sees in this way, shouldn’t I treat them with that same dignity?

Categories: Things Jesuit

Listening as a Spiritual Practice

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 05:30

By dotMagis Editor

“Try to increase the amount of listening you do each day,” suggests Spiritual Practices for the Brain author Anne Kertz Kernion in this brief video. By listening intently, we’ll feel happier and live more fully in the present moment.

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

Experiencing God in the Ordinary by William A. Barry, SJ, nurtures our hope that God is always present and can be found in an ordinary day.

Click through to read the full article Listening as a Spiritual Practice, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Do the Oscars Matter Any More?

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 04/23/2021 - 02:08

These days, when opening the morning paper, it sometimes seems that movie news belongs in the Obituary section. 

Like last week, when we learned the Arclight chain of theaters, including the Los Angeles location with its iconic Cinerama Dome, shuttered even as the city was reporting record low numbers from the pandemic. In the very first line of his article, Los Angeles Times staff writer Ryan Faughnder reporter decried that the closure “sent local moviegoers and filmmakers into mourning.” 

If the Arclight’s closure feels like a certain kind of death for movie theaters, it’s certainly not unexpected. Movies have been sick for some time. And the pandemic is more late-stage symptom than root cause.

Gross ticket sales have been falling for 17 years, and some are raising the question that when (if?) life gets back to normal, whether people will return to theaters at all. 

And yet here we are, only two days from the Oscars. The prototype of all award shows, the Oscars has given us everything from joyful acceptances:

 

To overcoming the one-inch barrier of subtitles to make history:

‘Parasite’ is the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture at the #Oscars. See the complete list of winners here: https://t.co/73K5SP5IZ5 pic.twitter.com/H7i8gl7SsO

— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) February 10, 2020

To what-the-heck-is-happening right now?!?!?

What actually happened backstage at the Oscars during the “La La Land”/”Moonlight” mixup https://t.co/N7SX3xE8uO pic.twitter.com/sHINFqUXEn

— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) February 27, 2017

Still, we may wonder: with moviegoing in rapid decline, do the Oscars even matter any more? In a nod to nominee Aaron’s Sorkin predilection for a good courtroom drama, let’s consider the evidence:

The Case for the Prosecution: Why the Oscars Don’t Matter

Movies are a thing of the past. Think back to the last time you were in a movie theater- if you can even remember back that far! And before you get too nostalgic about the smell of movie popcorn, think about how much more comfortable you would have been watching from your big screen at home. No sticky floors. No need for your knees to be jammed up against the chair in front of you. Need to take a bathroom break? Just hit pause. And for goodness sakes, take your time. You’re not going to miss anything.

If we’re going to have an award show, it should be relevant to our culture. According to Conviva’s 2020 State of Streaming report, worldwide streaming rose 44% in the last three months of 2020. The average consumer now pays for five streaming subscriptions. And 86% percent of us report we intend to maintain or increase our subscriptions into the new year.

And what is a movie anymore, anyway? Maybe we should ask Steve McQueen- the director, that is. 

This one:   

Happy Birthday to the BAFTA-winning director, Steve McQueen! pic.twitter.com/mPKICBOehB

— BAFTA (@BAFTA) October 9, 2014

 

Not this one

McQueen won the prize for Best Picture in 2014 for his film 12 Years a Slave. But that was back when movies still mattered. This year, he did something arguably more impressive with Small Axe (available to Amazon Prime members for free), a five-part anthology series telling the stories of West Indian immigrants in London from the 1960s to the 1980s. 

The first installment, Mangrove, is an immersive experience into London’s Notting Hill neighborhood told through the eyes of a Jamaican restaurateur. It is basically a much better made, far fresher version of Trial of the Chicago Seven, one of this year’s Best Picture nominees. The second, Lovers Rock, is a thrilling fusion of music and dance and storytelling. The Rotten Tomatoes synopsis says it all: “A singular viewing experience that perfectly captures a moment in time, Lovers Rock is a lovingly-crafted ode to Black joy.”

Watch any of these five pieces and they may well be the best thing you see all year. And here’s the kicker: they’re considered to be TV, and therefore not even eligible for an Oscar!

Speaking of eligibility, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, who votes for the films, hardly represents filmgoers at large. For all the talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion in Hollywood, the Academy is 84% white. 68% male, and a majority of its members are over 50.

 

Small wonder that the Academy hasn’t rewarded the stuff most people actually are watching. With the exception of Black Panther, the Marvel universe hasn’t been recognized by the Academy, nor has Star Wars or Harry Potter or the Fast and the Furious

You want us to tune in for 3+ hours on a Sunday night to watch people handing out awards for movies most of us haven’t even seen?  By a voting body we don’t even know, and who doesn’t represent most of us? Hard pass.

The Case for the Defendant: Why the Oscars Do Matter

We get it- moviegoing isn’t as popular as it used to be. But that doesn’t mean that movies themselves are. 17% of Americans watched a movie every day in 2020 and another 29% watched several per week. What matters is the art form itself, not the manner it’s being delivered. Capturing an entire story in the span of 90-150 minutes takes precision, craftsmanship, and creativity. 

The Oscars is all about recognizing excellence in the craft.  Even earning an nomination can have huge implications for filmmakers and get people to experience art they would otherwise never watch. The “Oscars bump” is real: nominations for Netflix titles Crip Camp (466%), Mank (702%), and a Love Song for Latasha (1802%!!) increased traffic significantly.

Just think about how many more people will check out Best Picture favorite Nomadland if it takes home the big prize on Sunday. That many more people will have an opportunity to engage feelings of grief, loss, and hope at a time when those are so pervasive in our lives. If Chloe Zhao wins Best Director, maybe folks will learn about her usage of real people as actors, and be blown away by her film The Rider. 

Relevance is not the same thing as value. Just because the days of the summer blockbuster are a thing of the past does not mean that movies themselves don’t matter. Streaming has allowed the opportunity for more diverse voices to be heard and their art to be seen by more people. That’s a good thing. And while it’s true that the Oscars have been painfully slow to celebrate the films of women and people of color, that is finally starting to change.

It’s almost a guarantee that this year’s Oscars are going to have the lowest ratings ever. Heck, they’ve been sliced in half over the last decade. But maybe that’s just what the Oscars needs to innovate and improve the production. They hired Steven Soderbergh (the guy who made Ocean’s 11!)  as producer, and he’s promised to shake things up.

“The most exciting thing about this show is that it is going to feel like a film,” Soderbergh told Vanity Fair. “Every nominee, every person that gives an award, will feel like characters in a film. What we want to do is have this three-hour movie in which some awards are given out. And part of that, I think, is for all of us to remember how much we love movies.”

Sign me up. 

The Verdict

There’s no question that the Oscars don’t capture the zeitgeist of our time the way they once did. Movies aren’t at the center of popular culture any more, and the trends clearly show that they don’t project to be. The Oscars, in particular, clearly do not grip our collective imaginations the way it used to. Prepare yourself for the Monday headline decrying the lowest television ratings in Oscars history.

But that doesn’t mean the Oscars don’t matter. Films will be recognized and elevated to prime positions on our favorite streaming services. We’ll have our attention drawn to some great pieces of art, and have the opportunity to watch from the comfort of our homes and share our experiences with friends and family.

And the television production itself promises to be the most interesting in recent memory. Soderbergh has promised there will be no Zoom involved, and nominees will gather safely in person in Los Angeles’ Union Station and in a couple international locations. 

So if you’ve got some time Sunday evening, tune in, to see what these folks come up with. If nothing else, given how much stress we’ve all been under in the past year, it’s worth celebrating for a moment how much we love movies.

Categories: Things Jesuit

See you down the road: Nomadland, Easter, and Finding a way through Grief

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 02:33

Warning: mild spoilers below 

Do you remember what travel is like? I think I’ve forgotten after more than a year of pandemic living. Although the dream of going to see other people and places might be slowly reappearing, it is still not a reality for most. It was in this spirit of missing traveling and seeing people that I watched Nomadland.

The film, based on a novel by Jessica Bruder, portrays modern-day day American nomads who travel the country, living out of vans, and working odd jobs to make ends meet. The film follows Fern (Frances McDormand), a widow from Empire, Nevada. She set out on the road after the plant where she and her husband had worked closed. But, Nomadland is about so much more than just an itinerant lifestyle. Fern’s story is one of loss, and we follow her as she continues to cope after the passing of her husband, the loss of her job, and the shuttering of the whole town in which she had lived.

Grief and loss are certainly significant elements running throughout the film. As we slowly discover, Fern and many of the other nomads, although traveling light in their vans, carry heavy emotional and psychological weight with them in the form of trauma, hardship, and grief. Many of them find themselves marginalized because of age, health, or poverty. But, in their journeys and relationships with their fellow nomads, they are able to find a new approach to life. They find support in one another in the midst of grief and loss. We see this especially in the community Fern joins called  the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, a gathering for vandwellers established in Arizona by real-life nomad Bob Wells, who plays himself in the film. 

Although she is initially reluctant to join, Fern eventually does for a time and seems pleasantly surprised to be among people with a similar approach to life. In one powerful scene, a group of nomads gathered around a campfire share the grief and loss that led them to choose van dwelling. One man is a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD; he feels like being out and away from city life helps him to be at peace. One woman has been van dwelling for the past two and a half years after the death of her father and grandfather. Another woman recounts how a friend and co-worker died just days before retiring, leaving behind an unused sailboat in his driveway. He is the one who encouraged her to not waste any time– not to leave her metaphorical sailboat in the driveway. In the wake of loss, either of loved ones or a way of life, these people chose to step away and find a new way of living, a more meaningful way of spending their time.

When I began Nomadland, I was struck by its bleakness. The scenery is stark, and the stories and struggles of Fern and the other nomads are the same. Many of these people have been pushed to the margins by a variety of factors, many of which are only multiplied in this time of pandemic. Yet, within that bleakness, there is a real beauty. And that beauty is embodied in the film’s wisdom figure, Bob Wells. Like the nomads around the campfire, they share with one another the struggles and losses that have led them to choose this different way of life. Fern shares the grief of losing her husband, her job, her home, her way of life. She has been trying to live in a way that keeps Bo’s memory alive.

Bob shares his own traumatic loss, of a son who died by suicide a few years prior. He recalls how he struggled to understand how to make sense of living on without him. In that struggle, he  realized that he can honor his son by helping and serving people, especially this van dwelling population. It is this service, and these relationships, which return purpose to his life. He recognizes that so many of the vandwellers, especially since they are older, have experienced grief and loss. Bob takes comfort in that fact that in the van dwelling life there is no final goodbye. Instead, the farewell they always give is: “See you down the road.” Bob extends this even to the dead. He is certain he’ll see his son down the road and that Fern will see her husband. 

So, despite the bleakness of these stories, I see Nomadland as an Easter movie. Our experience as Christians of moving through Lent and Holy Week and into Easter is one of confronting the tragedies of life with Christian hope. In that hope, we believe that tragedy and grief aren’t the end of the story.

Grief and loss are central themes in Nomadland. These, however, are not unique to the van dwelling population. They’re a part of the human experience. Grief is a particularly familiar reality in our lives at the moment. We have lost so many to COVID, and it is rare to find someone who has not mourned a friend or loved one in the past year. I know that I mourn not only the passing of some loved ones, including fellow Jesuits, but also the many changes we’ve   experienced in our lives during the pandemic. We have spent so much time apart in the past year, whether that be loved ones we just haven’t seen in a while, or those who have passed away in the midst of this crisis. With its compelling characters and powerful words on grief, it’s easy for me to understand why Nomadland has been nominated for six Academy Awards. It speaks so powerfully to the experiences of tragedy that have been present to so many of us in this past year. Too, the wisdom of our Christian tradition harmonizes well with what Bob Wells shares that he has learned from his own experiences. There are no final goodbyes here; there is hope for restoration. 

In one of the prefaces used at Masses for the dead, we are reminded that “life is changed, not ended.” Perhaps this is another way to describe the hopeful message of this film. It is true of those who have passed into death, but also for the way of life we might mourn having changed in these past months. Nomadland reminds us that there is reason for hope, even as we continue down what can be a difficult road. Those people we haven’t seen in a while, even those who we won’t see again this side of heaven, we look forward to a day we meet them face to face. This is the Christian hope we celebrate in this Easter season, the hope we are called to live and witness to. As Easter people, we can say with faith to God, our friends, and loved ones: see you down the road.

Categories: Things Jesuit

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