Things Jesuit

One-Minute Homily: “The Names of the Poor”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 09/29/2019 - 02:00

Jesus gives us a warning not to neglect the poor through the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Br. Ken Homan, SJ, reminds us to keep this in mind with migrants and refugees in this week’s One-Minute Homily. Prepared for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees and based on the readings for Sunday, September 29, 2019.

God knows the names of the poor – do you? Hi, I’m Br. Ken, and this is my One-Minute Reflection.

In today’s Gospel, we know the name Lazarus. But we don’t know the name of the rich man. Jesus essentially warns the crowds, “Ignore the poor at your own risk.” The Gospel condemns building wealth while shunning the poor. The consequences are terrible. The first reading is just as harsh.

Today, the Church celebrates the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Migrants and refugees face incredible hardships like xenophobia and poverty. We might reframe the Gospel question. Do we know the names of and care for migrants and refugees in our communities? The readings, Pope Francis, and the Church encourage us to know and serve migrants. Thankfully, the Psalms tells us exactly how: feed the hungry, set the captives free, raise up the bowed down, and protect strangers.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Mystery and Imagination

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 09/27/2019 - 05:30

Indeed, the past is present in us now. All of us in our identity are constituted by all the experiences we have ever had. Most of us forget many of these experiences, so they are not available to us. But it is different with the risen Jesus. As Son of God, filled uniquely with the […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Experience the goodness of God with your five senses with help from Taste and See by Ginny Kubitz Moyer.

Click through to read the full article Mystery and Imagination, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Remake or Repetition: Link’s Awakening

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 09/27/2019 - 01:18

The Legend of Zelda series has entranced people for nearly thirty-five years since the original game released on the NES.  Last Friday, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was released on the Nintendo Switch.  A remake of the original 1993 Gameboy game of the same name, this new rendition takes the original concept and recasts it for a new audience and time.

When I saw the news, I was excited but questioned why Nintendo would remake this game.  Why take this obscure Zelda title and its strange concept and bring it back today?

Many remakes keep the same art style and update the graphics, but this remake changes the pixel art of the original into a toybox design.  Instead of looking like real people, the characters look like handcrafted dolls, bursting with life and charm. This change speaks to one of the key aspects of the original story—that it’s not supposed to be realistic.

Near the end of the original game, players learned that the entire narrative had taken place inside of a dream.  Throughout the game, a few oddities suggested that something was out of order. Characters from the Super Mario Brothers world would appear out of nowhere (from the player’s perspective) and the residents of the world treated them as if they had always been there.

What works well with that plot device is that the game did not throw it in at the last second.  Instead, the developers leaned into the surreal nature of a dream, ending with a nightmarish final boss that could change shapes and become more fearsome as the battle continued.

The original Link’s Awakening was an important step for the franchise.  It marked the first time a Legend of Zelda games was released on a portable console.  It also introduced features like jumping and the opportunity to fish, both of which have become standard elements of the games in the following years.  All of these proved that the series was viable and could continue to grow.  

Such advancements are important and game-makers should take time to revisit them.  Whenever we achieve some milestone in our own lives, we should revisit these moments and see what strikes us about the events and go deeper into them.

When making the Spiritual Exercises, a retreatant is prompted to do a repetition of prayer in order to look at how they prayed with a particular story. What was important?  What needed a little more time? Where was one’s heart moved? In doing so, the retreatant is able to see more deeply into the experience.

In the world of video games, these sorts of moments are done most authentically by remaking the games themselves.  But unlike other remakes, this one seems to get the idea of a repetition down. The essence of the game is the same, but the appearance is better suited for the dreamworld environment therein.  A new customizing feature, which enables the player to create bonus levels, speaks to the creativity present in our own dreams and imaginations. Those praying through the Spiritual Exercises are invited to use this creative power in prayer by imagining scenes from Scripture.

Many times, when I am praying with a story, the first time through I get caught up in the plot and the actions taking place that I can miss the emotions Jesus and the people with whom he is interacting.  One instance that comes to mind is one time I prayed through the passage in which Jesus learned of the death of John the Baptist (Mt 14:13-21), but only when I revisited this experience with my spiritual director was I able to name that Jesus was in mourning.  When I returned to that passage again in prayer, I had a much richer understanding of what he did.

By going back to games like this one and viewing them from a different angle (and at a different time in our lives), we see more of the depth that is present in it. 1  We can more easily come to know the characters and hone in on their emotions which color how we read a scene, amid other tells and cues we might have missed before.

Above all, this new game allows its audience to experience the original story on a deeper level.  For those of us who enjoyed the original, we are treated to a richer experience of what came before.  For those who are new, the deeper reflection on the source material on the part of the developers will hopefully allow for a vivid experience and understanding of why this game was worth coming back to.

Is it not the same with our faith? Again and again, we return to the life of Jesus. In prayer, we can reimagine the countless ways Jesus spoke and act. Sacred Scripture contains an endless depth which we are invited to explore. Which story will you revisit today?

Image courtesy of flickr user James

Categories: Things Jesuit

Finding Infinity Within

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 09/25/2019 - 05:30

What makes us human is precisely our experience of the infinite, the fact that we are never satisfied. We are the subjects of unlimited longing, finding infinity not outside ourselves but within. We ask questions about totality and ultimate meaning, and by so doing find that we are asking the question about God. God and […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

In Always Discerning, Joseph A. Tetlow, SJ, shares how we can implement discernment into not only life’s big decisions but also into the everyday, more mundane choices we constantly have to make.

Click through to read the full article Finding Infinity Within, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The First Principle and Foundation

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Tue, 09/24/2019 - 02:00

St. Ignatius knew that we have to build ourselves on a firm foundation. This week Br. Mark Mackey, SJ, helps us to understand St. Ignatius’ First Principle and Foundation.

You know, a lot of us learn from a relatively young age the importance of building on a solid foundation.

Hi, I’m Brother Mark Mackey, and I want to talk to you about the First Principle and Foundation of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

It’s simple really. At the outset of the Exercises, St. Ignatius wants to make it abundantly clear that the focus is on God.

He wants us to see the reality that all is for God, and all is gift.

The purpose of our lives is to live in love with God and others, both here now on earth and in heaven forever.

And God made everything else, from fidget spinners and memes to nature and romance, to move us closer towards his love.

This is Ignatius’ principle insight: if something is promoting love, let it stand, but, if something is getting in the way of love, knock it down.

Let’s let the Principle and Foundation create the lens through which we progress into our next video as we officially enter the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Making Friends

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 09/23/2019 - 05:30

My son began attending a new school this month. As we pulled up to the front entrance, he was wondering aloud whom he would sit with at lunch. While he has a couple of friends who attend his new school, they have a different lunch schedule. He stepped out of the car—excited, hopeful, and a […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

In Always Discerning, Joseph A. Tetlow, SJ, shares how we can implement discernment into not only life’s big decisions but also into the everyday, more mundane choices we constantly have to make.

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

Categories: Things Jesuit

One-Minute Homily: “Admit and Amend”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 02:00

We can all be like the dishonest steward from time to time. Juan Ruiz, SJ, reminds us that we are always called to admit and amend our mistakes in this week’s One-Minute Homily. Based on the readings for Sunday, September 22, 2019.

Jesus always admires us when we have the courage to admit and amend our mistakes.

Hello – my name is Juan Ruiz and this is my one-minute reflection.

In today’s Gospel reading we hear about the dishonest steward who is later strangely commended by the master.

Imagine a student who is caught cheating on a test and gets a zero. They’ve lost all trust from their teacher. But even then there is hope.

That student comes in a week later and tells the teacher, “I have spoken to my companions, I have corrected every question on the test, I have reviewed the homework assignments, and the quizzes we did previously. I am ready for this the next time we need to do it again.”

Jesus always admires us when we have the courage to admit and amend our mistakes. It’s hard not to want to beat ourselves up because we feel we deserve that. But he doesn’t want that.

He wants us to admit them and amend them.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Faith as a Lamp

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 09/20/2019 - 05:30

Download free mini-posters with this and other inspiring quotes from On Faith by Pope Francis. ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

In Always Discerning, Joseph A. Tetlow, SJ, shares how we can implement discernment into not only life’s big decisions but also into the everyday, more mundane choices we constantly have to make.

Click through to read the full article Faith as a Lamp, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Lumineers’ New Album III Is Horribly Depressing, and That’s Okay

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 09/20/2019 - 01:01

If you’re looking to curl up on a lonely Saturday night with a cup of tea, a warm blanket, and some headphones, then the Lumineers’ newly released III is perfect for you. Even the “happy” songs are sad. 

Innovative in its form, the album is comprised of three divisions that recount three generations of a family plagued by addiction, adultery, and violence. A series of ten stunningly tear-jerking music videos accompanies the tracks. There you won’t find the band playing, dancing, or singing. The clips are more like short films than music videos. The common thread uniting the audio and visuals is familial suffering. 

III’s dark world is painful. It is emotionally taxing to listen to the album in one sitting. “Donna” gets things started. The chug of a slow train rolls in the background, foreboding the family’s achingly slow self-destruction. It’s one of those songs with lyrics at once surprisingly simple and emotionally evocative. A voice enters, “It’s not the words you say, but how you say it.” The wounds run deep as the artist recalls the tone of an anguishing mother who drinks away her misfortunes. 

This matriarch’s addictive patterns continue in the life of the second generation’s protagonist–or perhaps auto-antagonist–Jimmy. In the music video for “Leader of the Landslide,” the Lumineers’ portray him as the “aftermath” of his mother’s “broken glass.” Whereas his mother would mostly drink alone, Jimmy throws raging house parties at which an ample selection of narcotics abound. His son looks on the scene with derision, aware that his father is using drugs to deal with the pain of losing his wife. 

The end of the album expands on the image of a broken family as a metaphor for a hypocritical and decadent nation. The lyrics point not only to an individual’s psychological imprisonment but also to the issue of criminal incarceration: “Jimmy believed in the American way. / A prison guard, he worked hard and made the minimum wage. / He found his freedom lockin’ men in a cage, oh.” It’s the irony of a system that ensures the economic independence of some at the cost of the captivity of others. The social criticism continues later in the song. Jimmy takes out a loan after gambling away his money in an effort to pay for his son’s medical bills, but he can’t pay it back. The sharks find him and kick him out of his car onto a bitterly cold street in the middle of the winter. Expensive healthcare drives the family further into the ground. Jimmy, who once counseled his son to stay away from the homeless because it’s either “us or them,” now finds himself among those who are sleeping in the streets and asking for a dime. 

Frankly, the Lumineers’ dismal depiction of family and society is simply a depiction of reality, so I am glad that they have done it. An opioid epidemic is sweeping the nation. Suicide is on the rise. Divorce is rampant. Armed massacres recur with baffling frequency. The Lumineers have firmly decided to direct their music towards this sad state of things. They pull out the personal and emotional implications of a drugged, hyper-sexualized, and bellicose nation. 

Mainstream pop often tells a different tale. Adultery, drugs, and violence are stripped of their human context and consequences. Sexual promiscuity is fun. Nevermind that adultery tears families apart. Cocaine is an “experience.” Nevermind that lows follow highs. Violence is a sign of strength. Nevermind that real people suffer from the quick pull of a trigger. There’s no need to deny it. Most of the songs on today’s pop playlists are superficial. 

Something else is happening in III. The old motto for problem solving counsels us to “observe, judge, and act.” The Lumineers’ latest album may just be the first step in our familial and national healing process. Before we make any decisions about how to leave this valley in which we collectively find ourselves, we have to take a long, sobering look at our present state. We need to let it sink in. We need to confront it. When we listen to III in this light, its impenetrable sadness becomes more understandable. The album is a dramatized narrative of our current affairs, and we are, in a word, depressed.

However, The Lumineers are not inducing our sadness through their music for the sake of bringing us down. They tell this dark tale, but they offer hints of light, as one might expect from the band’s name. A ray emerges in “Democracy,” one of those rare bonus tracks that is clearly more than an afterthought. Amidst the count of a slow but firm battalion drum, a voice hopefully cries, “I’m junk, but I’m still holding up this little wild bouquet. / Democracy is coming to, to the USA.” A trickle of light shines in the darkness. A hint of beauty illuminates the black, broken recesses of our lives. The sure sound of the drum’s beat in “Democracy” tells us that, though we may be in the thick of a nationwide overdose, our collective heart is still beating. 

It’s as if we are walking on the shards of a broken mirror in the middle of the night, and our eyes catch the reflection of a twinkling star. Somehow, light breaks in. The Lumineers in III are prophets of this light.

Categories: Things Jesuit

A School of Discipleship

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 09/18/2019 - 05:30

The Second Week [of the Spiritual Exercises] is a school of discipleship. In discipleship you enter into a relationship that leads you deeply into the sentiments, thoughts, and values of another person. This school requires patience, fueled by a great desire to know the other person. Though discipleship provides many values in itself, it is […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

What might happen if you gave just one percent of your day to God? Transform your life with The 15-Minute Prayer Solution by Gary Jansen.

Click through to read the full article A School of Discipleship, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Despair’s Elixir

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 09/18/2019 - 02:33

A confession: If, when it is all over, when all is said and done, and I am six feet under, dead and buried, the last clump of dirt is cast over my simple, pine coffin, and I somehow come to find out that there is no God after all, I am going to be royally pissed. 

Would you be one of those people to tell me that religious life was still a noble enterprise and needed institution despite the minor detail about, you know, there being no God? If so, I would respond: that’s cute, but no thank you.

There are a lot of other paths I’d have pursued, and a variety of other ways I would have arranged my weekends. Those Saturday evenings many of us Catholics customarily gather to celebrate the Eucharist? Well, they would look a lot different. The wine could stay. 

I’ve been a practicing Catholic my entire life and less than a year ago I professed perpetual vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience in the Society of Jesus. I placed my life in the hands of an obscure God, made a free choice and said Yes to this Jesus guy, in faith. FOREVER. These vows are meant to counsel and help Jesuits receive consolation through life’s journey. St. Ignatius once articulated a phenomenon he called consolation without previous cause” – a gratuitous rush of peace that moves one toward God with no external happening to explain its how or wherefore. But nowhere, as far as I know, did Ignatius account for its devilish twin: desolation without previous cause. I know it as an out-of-the-blue vacuous sensation, a kind of existential sucker punch that leaves me languid, somatic symptoms included: an ache in the pit of my stomach as if I’d just gorged myself sick on fistfuls of packing foam. The Yes I gave during vows – no shield is it against the sometimes ferocious struggle concerning the question of belief and unbelief. I know what unbelief can do to a person, or a group of people for that matter. 

Fifteen years ago, I was gifted a series of audio lectures from the popular Christian author Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI. Through a folksy, Canadian accent he explained that so many of our sins are committed not out of pride or malice. Rather most of our sins are sins of despair. It struck me as one of the truest things I’d ever heard.

I shared my confession along with Rolheiser’s insight to my Jesuit brothers in a reflection I gave on the fourth Friday of Lent. Passages from the Book of Wisdom and the seventh chapter of John were docketed. 

Wisdom opens to a drama of a group of “wickeds” rolling their eyes and declaring the “righteous one” obnoxious. Things escalate quickly. From eye-rolling to name calling, to testing to torturing. Before the wickeds condemn the righteous one to a shameful death, they pause to query: Let us see whether the righteous one’s words be true; let us find out what will happen to him, if God will protect him (Wisdom 2:17). In the passage from John, Jesus’ disciples prod him to perform public acts. Let the world see who you are, they insist (John 7:4).

What accounts for the wickeds’ plotting and the disciple’s pleading? Rolheiser’s insight suggests an answer. Each party is compelled by unbelief born of a creeping despair. And so, each group schemes reassurance: Does this righteousness business really pay off? Could such a holiness vindicating God even exist? Is Jesus really who he says he is, his promises trustworthy? 

I know what it’s like to scheme reassurance. There are times when after 30, 40, 50 minutes of prayer I find that all I’ve been doing is staring into the nothingness of my own room. I sit back in my chair, glaring in contempt at the Jesus who’s not there and whisper:

You S.O.B. You who raised people from the dead and lift up bread to become your very body. Show yourself. Now! Respecting my free will, are you? Well, in freedom, I invite you to make the lights flicker. Tear the wooden beams from the roof. Levitation will suffice. 

Like those wickeds, like Jesus’ disciples, I desperately proffer demands for signs. And I wait. 

But it never happens. So? 

In those moments I’ve reckoned myself bereft of God, I have to recall something else I’ve confided in others over the years. Less exciting to tell because it doesn’t have the same emotional smack as its counter, is that somehow when I lean in and engage the People of God, they always have a way of bringing me back to belief and to hope. The mechanics of it are dim, but I have come to see that all the constant pressing for signs and obsessive intellectualizing about God’s existence has not diminished my unbelief and despair but enhanced it. Conversely, an elixir to these solipsistic wanderings has been to let my body lead, to hand myself over in loving service to the suffering and tossed aside. It’s a derivative and ironic phenomenon: when I forget my own incessant demands for reassurance and immerse myself in the needs of others, glimpses of the divine break through. It’s as if the puzzle piece that is me experiences the joy only a puzzle piece could when its jagged contours meet the rough-edged grooves of another. It makes sense since the living Christ I seek is the one with hunks of flesh missing from his side and the God I so desperately want to encounter is, first and last, relationship.

Now in my better moments I pray God would break open my heart and then place me with others whose hearts are broken. Because, as holy scripture says, that is where God is. In those queasy, empty moments of despair, I have to live the psalm that accompanied the readings for that fourth Friday of Lent, nestled as all psalms are in the crack between the two readings, obvious, and thus easily skimmed over (like grace itself): The Lord is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).


Photo by Isabella Mariana from Pexels

Categories: Things Jesuit

Intro to the Spiritual Exercises: Freedom

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Tue, 09/17/2019 - 02:00

What does is it mean to truly be free? Br. Mark Mackey, SJ, continues to lead us through an introduction to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, in which Ignatius calls for us to shed from ourselves the things that hold us down.

What’s keeping you from peace and joy in your life?

I’m Br. Mark Mackey, and I’d like to talk to you about freedom in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. 

Certain things imprison us and keep us from the happiness we seek. We’ve all been there, and some of us may be there now: toxic relationships, bad habits, addictions, physical and emotional wounds that just don’t seem to heal. 

There are also some more subtle barriers: a perfectionism that becomes obsessive, a fear of getting hurt that inhibits deep relationships, a laziness that stagnates our plans and our dreams, and a selfishness that leaves no room for love.

To really enjoy life, we need freedom from these attachments that hold us back. We must ask God to show us a way out of this prison–even if it takes a lot of time and trust to make that happen.

Freeing ourselves from these attachments, we begin to see a new sort of freedom, freedom for love: love of God, of others, of our earth and of ourselves. 

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are the handbook that takes us through this movement from attachments to freedom for love. Join us in future episodes as we take you along this journey to freedom, peace, and love.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Creativity and the Ignatian Spirit

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 05:30

Years before I’d ever heard of St. Ignatius Loyola and his Spiritual Exercises, I was learning spiritual principles through creative writing. I had been writing stories, poems, and songs since my early teens, and when I got serious about learning how to write, decades later, I discovered that creativity is in fact a spiritual function. […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

What might happen if you gave just one percent of your day to God? Transform your life with The 15-Minute Prayer Solution by Gary Jansen.

Click through to read the full article Creativity and the Ignatian Spirit, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

One-Minute Homily: “Nobody is Perfect”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 09/15/2019 - 02:00

Are you perfect? Then this may not be the reflection for you. Brian Strassburger, SJ, reminds us that God’s perfect mercy is Jesus’ answer to our imperfections. Based on the readings for Sunday, September 15, 2019, which you can read here:

So tell me, are you perfect?…

Hello?? Of course not! None of us is perfect!

Hi, I’m Brian Strassburger and this is my one-minute reflection.

We hear from St. Paul today: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost.” That’s right: the great St. Paul the Apostle considered himself the foremost of all sinners. He knew that he wasn’t perfect.

But St. Paul also recognized the greatness of God’s mercy. Jesus didn’t come to save the perfect, he came to save sinners, like you and me. Even with all our imperfections, God constantly invites us to turn our hearts back to God.

Where do you need God’s mercy in your life today? Have you placed false idols, like wealth and success, above God? Have you damaged relationships with family or friends? Have you been caught in a cycle of sinful habits?

Bring your sinfulness to God. Go to the Sacrament of Confession, even if it’s been a while. Let yourself feel God’s compassion and loving embrace.

Doesn’t that sound perfect?

Categories: Things Jesuit

Retreat and Healing Forgiveness

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 09/13/2019 - 05:30

Each summer I embark on an eight-day silent retreat at a retreat center. It is one of my favorite parts of the year, as it is a chance to reconnect more deeply with God in a slower, more intensive way. This year, I came to retreat in the midst of a powerful conflict with a […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

What might happen if you gave just one percent of your day to God? Transform your life with The 15-Minute Prayer Solution by Gary Jansen.

Click through to read the full article Retreat and Healing Forgiveness, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Joyful Scenes Inspired by the Joyful Mysteries

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 09/11/2019 - 05:30

As an on-call shelter volunteer, I spent some evening hours in a mother-baby unit with a woman whose child was less than a day old. Her family was too far to be physically present; we volunteers offered round-the-clock patient advocacy and, most importantly, motherly love. I sat from 8 until 10 p.m. while mom nursed, […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

For all who sense that there is a missing peace in their lives, Busy Lives & Restless Souls by Becky Eldredge will help them find it—right where they are.

Click through to read the full article Joyful Scenes Inspired by the Joyful Mysteries, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Stephen Colbert, Solanus Casey, and Walter Ciszek on Gratitude

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 09/11/2019 - 02:33

A few years ago, a Jesuit friend of mine bought me a holy card of Blessed Solanus Casey and put it under my door during a silent retreat. On the back of the holy card was a quotation from the Capuchin friar from Detroit that read: 

“Worry is a weakness from which very few of us are entirely free. We must be on guard against this most insidious enemy of our peace of soul. Instead, let us foster confidence in God, and thank Him ahead of time for whatever He chooses to send us.”

I was struck by how such profound and simple words seemed to honestly explain the deep peace issuing from the smile and stature of Blessed Solanus on the holy card. I was challenged, however, because the words seemed overly simple and Pollyanna. Thanking God ahead of time as an antidote to the problem of worry sounded at once both overly saccharine and deeply wise. 

Taking time to sincerely thank God ahead of time for whatever he would send me in the future would be a bold act of confidence in God and a sign of great trust in his Providence. That is not Pollyanna or saccharine, that is the theological virtue of faith. 

And that is what made me uncomfortable with an initial hesitancy toward his words: did I lack confidence in God? 

The only reasonable reticence towards such a practice would be a lack of confidence in God or the notion that I wouldn’t be grateful for whatever God gave me in the future. That is an uncomfortable realization to confront within one’s self: that there are parts of me that struggle to place trust in God and thus believe that whatever he sends me will be to my benefit.  


In a recent interview, Anderson Cooper asked Stephen Colbert some questions about his faith and how it has influenced the way he has dealt with tragedy in his life. In it, Cooper says, “You [once] said, ‘What punishment of God’s are not gifts?’ Do you really believe that?”

Waiting for a moment, and then with tears in his eyes, Colbert replied, “Yes. It’s a gift to exist and with existence comes suffering. There’s no escaping that.”

Referring then to the tragic loss of his father and brothers at a young age, he said, “I don’t want it to have happened. I want it to not have happened. But if you’re grateful for your life — and I’m not always — then you have to be grateful for all of it.”

Watching the video, there is a clear sense that Colbert is speaking from a deep faith. He speaks, to use Blessed Solanus’s language, with a confidence in God. Such confidence plainly spoken of can be displacing and deeply attractive at the same time. It sounds true, good and beautiful.

It also sounds hard. 

Perhaps that is why Cooper had to clarify, “Do you really believe that?” 

Walter Ciszek, the Jesuit priest who spent 20 years imprisoned by the Soviet Union, said that even in his darkest moments, this simple faith is what helped him survive: 

“The circumstances of each day of our lives, of every moment of every day, are provided for us by him. Let the theologians argue about how this is so, let the philosophers and sophisticates of this world question and doubt whether it can be so; the revealed truth we have received on God’s own word simply says that it is so. But maybe we are all just a little afraid to accept it in all its shattering simplicity, for its consequences in our lives are both terrible and wonderful.” 

In the last few months, I have begun the simple practice of ‘thanking God ahead of time’ as a way of fostering confidence in God and trying to see the circumstances of each day as gift. It has had the exact effect that Blessed Solanus said it would: inviting me into a deeper surrender, a relinquishing of control, and a more childlike trust in God. 

Worry, at least for me, is predicated upon the spiritually dangerous idea that I am in control of things. Making a daily act of confidence, a daily reminder that things are in fact not in my control, has helped me receive the future with much more openness, seeing the joys and struggles, triumphs and failures, all in light of God’s generous providence. 

On seeing the circumstances of each day as provided by God, Ciszek continued, saying, “If it all seems too simple, you have only to try to find how difficult it is. But you have only to try it to find out as well the joy and the peace and the happiness it can bring. For what can ultimately trouble the soul that accepts every moment of everyday as a gift from the hands of God and strives always to do his will?” 

If I had thanked God for whatever he chose to send me, I then had to discover the goodness and the opportunity in the situations that arose in my life, even when they included trial or sadness. This has brought with it a peace and a joy. 

It is not as if I’m coming to know why God allows each moment or even that he plans each moment. Rather, I am finding that he gifts each moment. And though it may be mysterious, I think we’re called to be grateful for the moment, regardless of what it entails. 

Like Colbert said, after sharing about his mother’s consolation in identifying with Mary after the loss of her son, “We’re asked to accept the world God gives us, and accept it with love.”  

Such acceptance, though perhaps simple, does not come easily. So, let us try and foster trust by thanking Him ahead of time for whatever he chooses to send us.


Stephen Colbert: CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters

Solanus Casey: CNS photo/The Michigan Catholic

Walter Ciszek: Courtesy of The Father Walter Ciszek Prayer League

Categories: Things Jesuit

Quick Look at the Spiritual Exercises: Introduction

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Tue, 09/10/2019 - 09:35

It’s good to exercise the bodies, but what about the soul? We’ve got just the thing for you: the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Join us in the next several weeks as we give a quick overview of this great gift of Ignatius of Loyola.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Let’s Talk About Dreams

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 09/09/2019 - 05:30

When I speak of dreams here, I don’t mean the mind’s journeys while you’re sleeping. I refer to dreams—visions, imaginings—you have for yourself, for those you love, for your larger community. Dreams do make a difference, but how exactly? When has a dream sent your life in a different direction? When has a dream given […] ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

For all who sense that there is a missing peace in their lives, Busy Lives & Restless Souls by Becky Eldredge will help them find it—right where they are.

Click through to read the full article Let’s Talk About Dreams, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

One-Minute Homily: “Where We Come From”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 09/08/2019 - 02:00

Do we acknowledge where the gift of our faith comes from? Today would normally be the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, so Fr. Joe Simmons, SJ, decided to explore the importance of remembering those who passed on the faith in this week’s One-Minute Homily.

What are the names of your grandparents?  How about your great-grandparents?  How about your great-great-grandparents?

Hi, I’m Father Joe Simmons, and this is my One-Minute Homily.

A number of years ago I lived with a Jesuit who suffered declining health and loss of vision.  Before he totally lost his vision, though, he wanted to memorize all of the gospels, so that he could recite them from memory, every time he preached.

Eventually, we came to today’s Gospel, on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Our Gospel recounts the many generations that led from Abraham to King David to the Babylonian Captivity, ultimately to Jesus Christ.

I thought, “surely, Fr. Pat wouldn’t be able to memorize fourteen generations, and fourteen generations, and fourteen generations!”   But memorize them he did, because it was important for him to remember where Jesus came from.

It was important for the early Christians to know where they came from.  And it’s important for us too to remember the gift of our own faith. One this birthday of Mary, perhaps we can give thanks to God for all of our ancestors who passed on the faith from generation to generation.

Categories: Things Jesuit