Things Jesuit

How to Build in Time to Pray

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 08/11/2021 - 05:30

By Marina Berzins McCoy

For me, late August means back to school and a more rigorous schedule than in the summer. While I work over the summer, late August means the resumption of classes, meetings with teachers and colleagues, and the rest of my family’s schedule also picking up the pace. I will be holding office hours with students […]

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

In Ignatian Spirituality A to Z, Jim Manney provides a brief, informative, and entertaining guide to key concepts of Ignatian spirituality and essential characters and events in Jesuit history.

Click through to read the full article How to Build in Time to Pray, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

God’s Voice Between the Static / El Voz de Dios Entre la Estática

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 08/11/2021 - 01:00

Author’s note: I wrote this reflection while doing a month-long Spanish immersion in Puerto Rico. It is common for Jesuits of the United States in formation to spend their summers improving their Spanish. As such, I decided to write this piece using as much Spanish as possible.  

Nota del autor: escribí esta reflexión mientras hacía una inmersión en español de un mes en Puerto Rico. Es común que los jesuitas de los Estados Unidos en formación pasen los veranos mejorando su español. Como tal, decidí escribir este artículo usando la mayor cantidad de español posible.

My friend calls me as I am laying in the un-air conditioned room of this Capuchin Monastery at the top of this mountain in Puerto Rico. As the fan drones on and the coquis, those little frogs native to the island, fill the night with their croaking, I listen to my friend. It is serious. Something has happened. There was a bar. There were friends. Words were spoken. She is younger than me, and uncertain about her future. She is hopeful. She is passionate. She wants a good career and a meaningful life. But this fight has shaken her confidence. “Maybe I shouldn’t interview for this counseling job. How can I help others when I can’t even help myself?” That’s what I heard over and over again as I listened. In many ways, she reminds me of myself. 

Mi amiga me llama por teléfono mientras estoy acostado en mi dormitorio sin aire acondicionado, de este Monasterio Capuchino en la cima de esta montaña en Puerto Rico. Mientras el ventilador zumba y los coquíes, esas ranitas nativas de la isla, llenan la noche con su croar, escucho a mi amiga. Esto es serio. Algo ha pasado. Había un bar. Hubo amigos. Se hablaron palabras. Había menos amigos. Es más joven que yo y no está segura de su futuro. Ella tiene esperanzas. Ella es apasionada. Quiere una buena carrera y una vida significativa. Pero esta pelea ha sacudido su confianza. “Quizás no debería entrevistarme para este trabajo de consejera. ¿Cómo puedo ayudar a los demás cuando ni siquiera puedo ayudarme a mí misma?” Eso es lo que escuché una y otra vez mientras escuchaba. En muchos sentidos, me recuerda a mí misma.

And with the tropical trees and the spanish music playing from the houses near our guesthouse, I return to Honduras. I arrived in San Pedro Sula in 2014 planning to teach at a bilingual high school. At the airport, a man with a wide, toothy smile greeted me. He held a makeshift cardboard sign haphazardly, grabbing my bags. All around I could see warm colors against the plastered walls. I ate, my hands full of warm flour tortillas. The taste of hand-prepared beans lingering on my tongue. I could feel God’s presence close to the people around me. They gave of themselves freely. I walked around the street and found a church filled to the brim of life. Green vines. Vibrant flowers. I had never seen a sanctuary more filled with plants. Then, birds began to sing as if to block out the violence and noise of San Pedro Sula. 

Y con los árboles tropicales y la música española que suena en las casas cercanas a nuestra casa de huéspedes, regreso a Honduras. Llegué a San Pedro Sula en 2014 con la intención de enseñar en una escuela secundaria bilingüe. En el aeropuerto, un hombre con una amplia sonrisa llena de dientes me saludó. Sostenía un letrero de cartón improvisado al azar, agarrando mis maletas. A mi alrededor podía ver colores cálidos contra las paredes enlucidas. Comí con las manos llenas de tortillas calientes de harina . El sabor de los frijoles preparados a mano persistía en mi lengua. Podía sentir la presencia de Dios cerca de las personas que me rodeaban. Se dieron a sí mismas libremente. Caminé por la calle y encontré una iglesia llena de vida. Vides verdes. Flores vibrantes. Nunca había visto un santuario más lleno de plantas. Luego, los pájaros comenzaron a cantar como para opacar la violencia y el ruido de San Pedro Sula.

After a day, we left the capital city for the highschool where we would work. It was far in the countryside in a town near the Guatemalan border. When I arrived in the small barrio outside of this small town I could see how far away I was from the life I was used to living. There was an insidious voice who hovered around my shoulder telling me that I wouldn’t make it. It got louder little by little. I took my newly bought clothes to wash at the pila, those stone sinks outside the house, and I heard the voice. It got louder as I scrubbed and scrubbed and couldn’t quite get my clothes as clean as I could back home. I sat through a four hour church service where I couldn’t understand a word, and I heard the voice. I thought of my bank account shrinking and shrinking while I pursued this extended gap year, and I heard the voice. You’ll never make it. Broken down and desolate after two weeks of tribulation and doubt I decided to leave. I would go home. 

Después de un día, dejamos la ciudad capital hacia la escuela secundaria donde trabajaríamos. Estaba lejos, en el campo, en un pueblo cerca de la frontera con Guatemala. Cuando llegué al pequeño barrio en las afueras de este pequeño pueblo, pude ver lo lejos que estaba de la vida a la que estaba acostumbrado. Había una voz insidiosa que se cernía alrededor de mi hombro diciéndome que no lo lograría. Se hizo más fuerte poco a poco. Tomé mi ropa recién comprada para lavarla en la pila, esos lavabos de piedra afuera de la casa, y escuché la voz. Se hizo más fuerte mientras fregaba y fregaba y no podía dejar mi ropa tan limpia como podía en casa. Me senté durante un servicio de cuatro horas de la iglesia  en el que no pude entender una palabra y escuché la voz. Pensé en mi cuenta bancaria encogiéndose y encogiéndose mientras perseguía este año sabático extendido, y escuché la voz. “Nunca lo lograrás.” Al final, abatido y desolado después de dos semanas de tribulación y dudas, decidí irme. Me iría a casa.

Yet, leaving wasn’t the hardest part. Making that decision while I was depressed and unsure was easy. It was living with the decision that was hard. Because, it was when I decided to listen to that insidious voice that it got louder. I sat for a week on a couch, filling myself up with junk food.

Sin embargo, irse no fue la parte más difícil. Tomar esa decisión mientras estaba deprimido e inseguro fue fácil. Vivir con la decisión fue difícil. Porque fue cuando decidí escuchar esa voz insidiosa que se hizo más fuerte. Me senté durante una semana en un sofá, llenándome de comida chatarra.

Here I am talking to my friend. I wait on the phone. I wait to hear my friend speak. I wait to hear her say “maybe” … one more time before trailing off. 

Aquí estoy hablando con mi amiga. Espero en el teléfono. Espero oír hablar a mi amiga. Espero escucharla decir “tal vez” … una vez más antes de apagarse.

It took me a long time to heal from that decision. It took friends and distance both in time and space. I had to forgive myself for not being able to handle what I thought I should. I had to turn to God and feel His love. I had to feel it through the hugs from friends who cared for me when I didn’t care for myself. I had to feel it through long nights and phone conversations filled with static. Just like I am doing now. Letting the static linger. 

Me tomó mucho tiempo recuperarme de esa decisión. Se necesitaron amigos y distancia tanto en el tiempo como en el espacio. Tuve que perdonarme a mí mismo por no poder manejar lo que pensé que debería. Tuve que volverme a Dios y sentir su amor. Tuve que sentirlo a través de los abrazos de amigos que se preocupaban por mí cuando yo no me cuidaba a mí mismo. Tuve que sentirlo durante largas noches y conversaciones telefónicas llenas de estática. Como lo estoy haciendo ahora. Dejando que la estática se demore.

I am in Puerto Rico. It is hot. I am tired and cranky from a long day. I am frustrated at the people I am staying with. I am too exhausted to pray. I am not okay. 

Yo estoy en Puerto Rico. Hace calor. Estoy cansado y de mal humor por un largo día. Estoy frustrado con la gente con la que me estoy quedando. Estoy demasiado agotado para rezar. No estoy bien.

Yet, as I have grown in this spiritual life I have grown more comfortable with not being okay. There have been weeks of frustration, where I would have rather been anywhere else in the world. I would have rather been doing anything else than what I was doing. There have been times where I have doubted my ability to do my job even when my job was as simple as listening. And I heard that voice, the voice that says I can’t do it and that I am not good enough. I have even heard it during this month-long experience in Puerto Rico. I’ve learned that that voice is not from God. I’ve also learned that not being okay doesn’t last forever. 

Sin embargo, a medida que he crecido en esta vida espiritual, me he sentido más cómodo con no estar bien. Ha habido semanas de frustración, en las que hubiera preferido estar en cualquier otro lugar del mundo. Hubiera preferido hacer cualquier otra cosa a lo que estaba haciendo. Ha habido momentos en los que he dudado de mi capacidad para hacer mi trabajo, incluso cuando mi trabajo era tan simple como escuchar. Y escuché esa voz, la voz que dice que no puedo hacerlo y que no soy lo suficientemente bueno. Incluso, la he escuchado durante esta experiencia de un mes en Puerto Rico. Aprendí que esa voz no es de Dios. También aprendí que no estar bien no dura para siempre.

In Puerto Rico there is a saying which translates to “longer than the hope of a poor man.” It is used when a person can’t see an end to something. It is both tragic, highlighting the poverty that people find themselves in, and also hopeful that in the end the situation will get better. I learned this phrase in my Spanish class, and I want to tell her this folk wisdom. I want to tell her that she is loved. I want to tell her that she is enough. However, I just wait on the phone listening to the silence in between us. 

En Puerto Rico hay un dicho que se traduce como “más larga que la esperanza de un pobre”. Se usa cuando una persona no puede ver el final de algo. Es a la vez trágico, pues pone de relieve la pobreza en la que se encuentran las personas, y también la esperanza de que al final la situación mejorará. Aprendí esta frase en mi clase de español y quiero contarle este dato. Quiero decirle que es amada. Quiero decirle que es suficiente. Sin embargo, solo espero en el teléfono, escuchando el silencio entre nosotros.

Because there is another voice, too. A voice from God that is sometimes loud and sometimes as soft as a drop of water. For me, it is the voice of gratitude. The voice that points out the soft bed I am sleeping in. It points out the marvelous teachers God has given me. The voice is sometimes a laugh and sometimes a chorus channeling the tender-hearted words of the brothers I live with, the people I see on the streets and in the parish. It is a voice that evokes gratitude and strengthens me for the times I want to scream. 

Porque también hay otra voz. Una voz de Dios que a veces es fuerte y a veces tan suave como una gota de agua. Para mí, es la voz de la gratitud. La voz que señala la suave cama en la que estoy durmiendo. Señala los maravillosos maestros que Dios me ha dado. La voz a veces es una risa y a veces un coro que canaliza las palabras tiernas de los hermanos con los que vivo, la gente que veo en las calles y en la parroquia. Es una voz que evoca gratitud y me fortalece durante las veces que quiero gritar.

And that is the voice I am waiting for my friend and I to hear between the static. 

Y esa es la voz que espero que mi amiga y yo escuchemos entre la estática.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Education, Happiness, and Problem Solving

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 08/09/2021 - 05:30

By dotMagis Editor

Should education teach people how to deal with problems or how to try to be happy? My basic premise is that happiness is what human life means at its deepest level. God created us to be happy. Everything we try to do is directed towards finding the thing we call happiness and being in harmony […]

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

Discover 10 habits for a better life (and world) with Chris Lowney’s Make Today Matter.

Click through to read the full article Education, Happiness, and Problem Solving, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

I am the Bread of Life: A Call to Jesus | One-Minute Homily

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 08/08/2021 - 01:21

When Jesus proclaims that he is the bread of life, many leave him. Can we believe in the bread of life? Patrick St. Jean reflects on our call to believe in this week’s One-Minute Homily.

What is your favorite food?

Hi, my name is Patrick Saint-Jean. This is my one-minute reflection.

A friend recently asked me, what my favorite food is? I responded, “European breakfast, Caribbean lunch, and American dinner.” I would eat them every day if possible. They just satisfy me for a moment. After a couple of hours, I got hangry again.

Today, John invites us to meet God as the Bread of Life in Jesus. This is where Christ affirms that he is The Bread of life.

 Some of his disciples moved apart to try to gossip about Jesus’ affirmation. No one could believe him. 

That happens to me as well. Sometimes I just receive Jesus, just as I do my breakfast, lunch, or dinner; yet I continually forget to pray for the grace to believe that Jesus is God appearing as bread. 

May this now be my prayer: “God, help me to believe that you come to encounter me in Jesus Christ as the bread of life.”

 

 

Categories: Things Jesuit

A Gentle Saint: St. Peter Faber

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 08/06/2021 - 05:30

By Shemaiah Gonzalez

Editor’s note: We commemorate the August 2 feast day of St. Peter Faber with Faber Fridays this month, inspired by Jon M. Sweeney’s book, Peter Faber: A Saint for Turbulent Times. St. Peter Faber, companion of St. Ignatius Loyola and co-founder of the Jesuit order, is marked by the consistent description of gentle. It is […]

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Discover 10 habits for a better life (and world) with Chris Lowney’s Make Today Matter.

Click through to read the full article A Gentle Saint: St. Peter Faber, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Rare Treasures

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 08/04/2021 - 05:30

By Gretchen Crowder

The corpse flower only blooms once every three to ten years. It’s very rare. Well, actually, the plant itself is not rare, just the bloom. That’s the part people wait in line to see. One needs a lot of patience to wait for this particular plant to bloom. Once it does, it’s a don’t-blink-to-avoid-missing-it experience. […]

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

Discover 10 habits for a better life (and world) with Chris Lowney’s Make Today Matter.

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

Categories: Things Jesuit

Poem: Sacrificed Freedom

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 08/04/2021 - 01:00

Sacrificed Freedom

https://thejesuitpost.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/ChrisWilliamsPoem.m4a

(Audio recording of the author’s reading)

The paschal mystery
Has passed through
My mortal body
Chameleon-like transformation:
From pain to peace,
Broken to beautiful,
Satiation to surrender,
To love.

The pit of unhealed spirit
Had bound around
My mind tightly.
Darkness endured.
But grace
sawing, slowly, slowly,
My soul bracing
For bounding liberation.

Finally… or persistently,
Beauty breaks through.
And I, transfixed
Am sometimes unable to see
Past the last limits
of love-life being breached
Over and over and over! 

***

My parents’ Aspen tree
In the sun and breeze,
Fritters, glitters galvanizing
Heartstrings plucked and harmonizing,
Beckoning toward love uninterrupted by
The effects of the first sin:
pained labor.

A butterfly flies
With nothing to do but flourish,
resting in roses and marigolds
Sucking sweet nectar.

But this enjoyed rest
Is haunted
By soon-to-come commitments
Bearing responsibility;
A less then-ness than this now-ness.
Work, boredom, exhaustion;
Trapped in something
Other than my own preferred satisfaction. 

Why must I leave behind –
So quickly –
The beauty I now behold
After the time of torment?
Why must being faithful
Now mean choosing to live
With less than a final festivity?

Why descend from transfiguration?
Why circle back to the cave?
“Emptying [myself]…
Becoming obedient to death
Even death on a cross.”?
Why must I lose my life to save it?

Resentment, rumbling.
I see
That if I do not want to lose thee who freed me,
I must lose my freedom for thee,
And also, for a time,
Forego the final resting beauty
that freedom opened me to see.

Sometimes,
It feels like a quid-pro-quo
From someone
Who supposedly quit conditions.
For example,
I can’t sit here all day;
Coffee wafting,
Listening to the leaves
Of the Aspen tree and birdsong,
Breeze blowing on my bare feet
Blue sky, butterfly, white brushed bounty.
Why not?

Hard-won wisdom
Freedom born
And freedom producing
self-emptying love.
I have lost this wisdom,
Of surrendered self-will
In the face of privileged good graces.
Forgetting how an other-worldly hope
Necessarily redounds to this-worldly,
Sacrifice for redemption.
A new beauty born
From above,
Which sees strength in weakness,
And life in death
To make room
For an even more majestic
Glory,
hewn from fault fractured friends,
As you call us. 

Letting go of beauty and rest
For love
Is not settling for less.
Surrender finds
Suffering transcended
Death defying freedom
Forever, finally.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Can Lebanon Wake from Its Nightmare?

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Tue, 08/03/2021 - 01:00

“When is this nightmare going to end?”

This is what a Lebanese friend of mine posted on Facebook recently in response to yet another political crisis in Lebanon. The prime minister-designate, Saad Hariri, announced that he would step down from this role after more than nine months of negotiating with President Michel Aoun about the makeup of a new cabinet he could put forward to parliament. 

Political squabbles are far from the only nightmare Lebanon’s people face, however. 

In fact, these conflicts are a symptom of a leadership in crisis. Lebanon’s problems are legion: a banking crisis has led the currency to lose 90% of its value, plunging more than half of the population into sudden poverty. All manner of goods are in short supply, including gasoline and medicines, and even food has become too expensive for families to afford. Some places get as little as two hours of electricity a day, leaving even cities eerily dark. 

I contemplated this darkness recently as I walked with a friend in Beirut where I’m spending the summer doing research and volunteer work. The seafront of Beirut, called the Corniche, is normally a thriving hub of restaurants, hotels, and pedestrians milling around on a summer evening. Yet as we walked in darkness with street lights out, the huge hotels were mostly closed and few restaurants appeared to be open. People were walking, but the atmosphere was muted as those out for a leisurely stroll mixed with poor children begging for money or food. 

And, though invisible in the darkness, I knew what lay not far in front of me: towering grain silos, ripped apart by the August 4 blast at the port. After all, one of the largest human-caused explosions in history took place within walking distance of the heart of a modern capital city. 

These grain silos stand as a grim reminder of the disaster which killed over 200 people, injured 7,500, left 300,000 without homes, and damaged buildings all over the city. At least some leaders knew there were tons of ammonium nitrate stored at the port which could ignite and create an urban bomb. Yet, they managed the situation as they do best: dithering, passing the responsibility to others, or ignoring the problem entirely. I passed graffiti near downtown that charged, “You people literally blew us up.”

In the wake of the blast, the country’s leaders have continued this failure. Lebanon’s president has yet to meet with families of blast victims, members of Parliament who allegedly knew about the ammonium nitrate are vigorously trying to avoid being questioned, and the first government leader to visit the blast site was the president of France, not any Lebanese official. 

All of these leadership failures have beaten down the spirits of Lebanese people. Friends of mine seem tired, depressed, traumatized, and struggling to find any hope of a way out of an endless series of crises. Waves of unrest since October 2019, when more than a million Lebanese took to the streets calling for the downfall of the whole political elite and chanting “All of them means all of them,” have so far failed to persuade Lebanon’s leaders to undertake any kind of reform. 

The people of Lebanon, however, have shown great resilience. In the wake of the explosion, thousands of people descended on damaged parts of the city to help clean and rebuild. Civil society groups have also taken on duties the absentee organs of state are unable, or unwilling, to undertake. 

For example, at St. Joseph Church, a Jesuit-run parish that was itself badly damaged by the port explosion, everyday people gather to distribute food. The Circle of Catholic Youth runs a food bank for those who have fallen into poverty. Magali Toutoungi, the coordinator of the food bank, explained to me that the operation began slowly, with some members of the parish starting to make a little extra food each week for those who did not have enough to eat due to the explosion or the economic crisis. Now they distribute two to three hundred meals every day. “And all across Beirut there are dozens – who knows how many – places like us giving out food. That’s how great the need is,” she said. The volunteers who come to help not only assemble bags of food but make those who come feel welcome to sit, drink coffee, and share conversation. 

“They just want to be treated with respect,” Magali told me. 

Magali strongly advises prayer as well. “Jesus’ multiplication of loaves happens here [at the food bank] every day. I never know if we’ll have enough food, but we pray, and God provides. It’s simply a miracle.” Despite the difficult conditions in Lebanon, God’s providence helps give her hope: “After working here for many months, I’m not afraid of anything. The people who come here are so afraid, but I tell them not to fear, because God is sending help.”

Categories: Things Jesuit

St. Ignatius and Community

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 08/02/2021 - 05:30

By Vinita Hampton Wright

We think of Ignatius alone in his cave in Manresa, doing spiritual battle and learning to discern God’s direction for him. Ignatius was at times overcome by guilt over his life before conversion. He suffered from what we now call scrupulosity, which is an obsession over whatever sins we might have committed or rules we […]

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

Go on a personal at-home prayer retreat with An Invitation to Love by William A. Barry, SJ.

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

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Bread of Life: An Invitation to Relationship | One-Minute Homily

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 08/01/2021 - 01:00

Jesus offers of his very self when he says, “I am the bread of life.” What Jesus offers us is a relationship. Fr. Eric Sundrup, SJ, reflects on what it means to enter into this relationship with God. Based on the readings for Sunday, August 1, 2021.

There is no magic fix, there is no silver bullet!

Hi, I’m Fr. Eric Sundrup and this is my one-minute homily.

Ever caught an infomercial on TV?

Don’t you love it when they’re selling you the one magic thing you need to change everything? Your life would work, your house would be clean, your self-esteem would be perfect if you just have/do or buy this one thing

Yeah, NOPE!

In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus telling people that he’s got stuff better than the manna from heaven. And people are like yes, sign me up I’ll take one.

So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Wait, what?!?!

It’s a person… and if it’s a person, that means it’s a relationship. It’s ongoing, it’s dynamic, it’s gonna change us and challenge us.

Let’s reflect today on what it means to be in a dynamic relationship with God. Relationships take work, so let’s all get to work!

Categories: Things Jesuit

Cannonball of Love

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

By Tim Muldoon

Editor’s note: Throughout July, we’re celebrating 31 Days with St. Ignatius, a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality. In addition to the calendar of Ignatian articles found here, posts on dotMagis this month will explore cannonball moments—moments that changed the course of a life, just as getting hit by a cannonball changed the course of St. Ignatius Loyola’s life. The inspiration […]

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

Go on a personal at-home prayer retreat with An Invitation to Love by William A. Barry, SJ.

Click through to read the full article Cannonball of Love, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Jesuit Superior General’s New Book Helps Us Ask, “Where is God?”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 07/30/2021 - 01:00

About two months ago, we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the conversion of Ignatius of Loyola. This commemoration  inaugurated a period of renewal and reflection for the Society of Jesus and those with whom we collaborate that we are calling theIgnatian Year. It is in the context that the Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Arturo Sosa, has released Walking with Ignatius. The book takes the form of  a collection of interviews of Fr. Sosa with journalist Darío Menor and covers a wide-range of topics. 

The Covid-19 pandemic. The struggle of refugees and migrants around the world. Economic inequality. Climate change. Polarization. Fr. Sosa discusses all these things, though this book is not the place for easy, pre-packaged answers. Sr. Jolanta Kofka, president of the International Union of Superiors General, presents the weight of these questions in the preface she wrote for this book: there are questions “about how we should live and what we should do, about how to pray, how to build fraternity, how to be with and close to the poorest of the poor, what we should hold onto, what we should let go of, who to involve in our quest and our discoveries… Where is God?” 

“Where is God?” 

This is not a question of despair; but one of hope. The challenges we face, as individuals and as a society, are invitations to journey together as pilgrims towards a deeper life in the Kingdom. They are invitations to conversion. And conversion, Fr. Sosa reminds us, “never really happens in one fell swoop but is really a life-long process.”  

We all must remember that we are members of one humanity, called together by Christ as surely as we are each personally called. The key to keeping this in the forefront of our minds and hearts is remembering that God is with us now, in this very moment. “Our time is now, with the challenges and opportunities of today, even though we might wish the situation were different. It is in the here and now that the grace of God that sustains the mission of the Church is made manifest.”

One of the points which Fr. Sosa returns to throughout the book is that receiving the grace of God inevitably leads to movement outwards towards service of others and of the world. One way this outward movement has taken shape for Jesuits and the Ignatian family is through the “Universal Apostolic Preferences” (UAPs), a series of guiding principles which are to influence every Jesuit mission and work. Much of the second half of Walking with Ignatius is dedicated to a discussion of the UAPs and how they might help anyone (Jesuit or otherwise) live the Gospel. These guiding principles are:

1. Showing the Way to God

The first UAP provides the lens through which the others are to be understood. For Jesuits in particular, showing the way to God involves sharing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius as well as practicing and teaching the discernment of spirits. Fr. Sosa stresses that what is most important for all of us, however, is direct communication with God. This is a process of both talking and listening, and it determines everything else.  “If we are not open to God speaking to us, there is no way forward,” he writes.

2. Walking with the Poor, the World’s Outcasts

“If it is not Christian to deny God, neither is it Christian to deny the majority of people a life that is truly human,” remarks Fr. Sosa. Care for the poor is something central to the Christain life. Including it as one of the UAPs is, for Fr. Sosa, a way of stating that it is one of the “non-negotiables” of the Church’s mission.

3. Accompanying Young People in the Creation of a Hope-Filled Future

At 72 years old, Fr. Sosa recognizes that there are differences between how he approaches the world and how many young people do today. It is precisely for this reason that he encourages them especially to speak up, and for older people to take the time to listen. When asked what message he would like to communicate to young people, Fr. Sosa offers “a clear and simple one: don’t be afraid to set out on the path you feel drawn to.” 

4. Growing in Awareness of our Common Home

“No one lives in isolation, and we all depend on an environment that we continually create and transform,” he writes.  The fourth UAP rests upon the recognition that, just as we are all brothers and sisters in the Lord, so we all share one common home. Fr. Sosa stresses that questions of care for the environment and of responsible management of natural resources are intimately tied to our care for each other.

Walking with Ignatius is concerned more with the kind of conversion that leads us to new questions than to firm answers. The UAPs are one way of approaching the question posed by Sr. Kofka at the beginning: in today’s world, “where is God?” 

Each chapter ends with a series of reflection points, selections from Scripture, and points for prayer. This book could well be used for reading groups, parish communities, and classrooms. And the dialogue is, after all, the point. For Fr. Sosa, conversation, with God and with each other, is the key to conversion. 

Categories: Things Jesuit

Marvel’s “Loki” and the Quest for Glorious Purpose

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 07/29/2021 - 02:00

Warning: Spoilers for the Disney+ series, “Loki.”

“You could be whoever, whatever you want to be, even someone good.
Just in case someone ever told you different.” – Mobius to Loki

We all have an idea of what we want our lives to look like, but what happens when we don’t measure up to our own ideals or those placed on us by others? The theme of “not measuring up” is a major component of Marvel’s latest Disney+ series, Loki

If you’ve been keeping up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you know it’s getting more and more complex. You might remember that in Avengers: Endgame, a past version of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) escaped from custody with the Tessaract in hand while the Avengers were traveling through time to collect the Infinity Stones. You know, standard stuff. The Loki series begins with this scene and follows this version of Loki. Moments after escaping, he is quickly apprehended by the Time Variants Authority (TVA), a mysterious organization that monitors the flow of time. Through the TVA, we learn about the “sacred timeline,” which was supposedly established by powerful beings who dictate all events and actions throughout time. 

The TVA steps in and apprehends individuals that step off of their predetermined path. These individuals are called “variants.”  A person can become a variant for actions great and small: from starting an uprising to simply being late for work. For the most part, variants don’t even know that they are going against the sacred timeline. They make one decision and the TVA charges them and “prunes” them from existence. At first, this appears to be their complete destruction, but it turns out that it moves them to a place where they are out of the way. Variants are essentially thrown away and those that survive seem to lose all sense of purpose.

Is it possible that we are all variants?

As strange as the idea of a “sacred timeline” seemed to me at first, I realized that most of us believe in it in some way. Whether we realize it or not, we have our own idea of how things are supposed to go and who we are supposed to be. Through our hopes and dreams we create a sacred timeline for ourselves. Sometimes we judge ourselves based on these expectations and declare ourselves to be variants. Have you ever wished that you could go back in time and do something differently? Avoid a particular mistake or relationship? Do you often speak in “shoulds,” like “I should have done this or that”? If so, then in some way you have declared yourself to be a variant.

We might also act as if God has set up some sacred timeline with a very particular path that we have to follow. When we look at discernment from this point of view it can be scary or even debilitating. I spent years going back and forth on whether or not to join the Jesuits because I was worried about getting it wrong. I thought that if I discerned the wrong path, then I would be forever off course. Since then I’ve met many people who look at discernment in a similar way—they avoid making any choice at all out of fear. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe that God knows all, including our entire past and future. God also has plans and desires for us, but our path is not dictated to us. God’s primary desire is that we might be with God forever, but there can be several different routes that can bring us to that destination. We need not look at ourselves or God from such a narrow point of view.

So, how do we overcome this mindset? Look for glorious purpose.

The phrase “glorious purpose,” which was first spoken in the original Avengers movie, is used a great deal in the Loki series. Loki describes himself as being “burdened with glorious purpose” at the beginning of the first episode. He sees it as his destiny to rule—to be above those around him. But this notion of his own destiny is quickly challenged by the TVA, especially when they show him the “greatest hits” of his life, including his failures, mistakes, and his own untimely death. His sense of glorious purpose, and purpose in general, fades quickly. That doesn’t mean, however, that Loki’s “burden” goes away. He eventually meets other variants of himself and they, too, seemed burdened by the idea that they were meant for more. Of all these variants, “Classic Loki,” (Richard E. Grant) seems to be especially disillusioned by the notion of glorious purpose. He is an older version of Loki who spent much of his life in solitude after judging his own purpose to be nothing but bringing pain to others. At one point he says, “We’re broken, every version of us.” 

We too can become disillusioned with our own sense of purpose when things do not go as we planned. This is exacerbated when we only focus on our failures. When the TVA showed Loki different parts of his life, they only focused on his greatest mistakes and failures. The Ignatian Examen (different from the examination of conscience) can provide us with a different way of looking at our lives. The examen serves as a way of revisiting the moments of our day to see where God is present, including both our failures and successes. As part of the examen, we always review our past with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who can help to temper judgments on ourselves. When we do recall a time in which we did not respond as we would have hoped, we do not rush to judgment. We acknowledge these moments in order to reflect on our path forward. We also ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate those moments when we have responded to God’s call in our lives, even just in small interactions or gestures. Even though the examen involves reviewing our past, it always ends looking forward.

Moving forward with God is what our own “sacred timeline” actually looks like. Not a path in which we make no mistakes. God has greater plans for us than we can even dream of and those plans are not so easily thrown off course. We may not know or ever see the greater picture, but we can get glimpses of it through the examen. In reviewing our day, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, we can see those moments when we are closest to God and when God has worked through us. 

In the penultimate episode of Loki, Classic Loki performs an act of heroism in order to help Loki. While he does this he shouts out, “glorious purpose!” It was as if he finally realized the meaning of those words. After years of disappointment and hopelessness, he finally found purpose in an act of giving of himself to help others. We too might be disappointed in ourselves from time to time, but God doesn’t want us to think of ourselves as variants. Rather, we can look to Pope Francis’s assurance that “no one is useless in the Church.” That knowledge will help us to achieve small acts of kindness with great love–that’s a glorious purpose we all have to offer.

(For more information on the Ignatian Examen, check out our video “Praying with the Examen,” and join us for a live examen every Sunday at 4 PM ET on Facebook and YouTube.)

Categories: Things Jesuit

Sts. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus: Friends of Jesus | One-Minute Saints

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 07/29/2021 - 01:00

Today we celebrate the Feast of Sts. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. These siblings displayed close relationships with Jesus in the gospels and each of them can teach us something different about our faith.

Who do you most identify with: Martha, Mary, or Lazarus?

Hi, I’m Tucker Redding with the Jesuit Post.

Today is the feast of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, three siblings who teach us different lessons.

In the story of Martha and Mary, Mary teaches us that sometimes the best thing that we can do is slow down and pay attention to the presence of Jesus in our midst, rather than busy ourselves with endless tasks.

We learn from Martha that we can be bold with Jesus. After the death of Lazarus, Martha expresses her frustration saying her brother would still be alive if Jesus arrived sooner. She also expresses great faith and confesses that Jesus is the Messiah. One of few people in scripture to make such a confession.

We know very little about Lazarus, but we do know that Jesus wept at his tomb. We can all aspire to have such a deep connection with Jesus and that our lives might reveal the power and glory of God.

Sts. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, pray for us!

Categories: Things Jesuit

Learning to Surrender to God

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 07/28/2021 - 05:30

By Marina Berzins McCoy

Editor’s note: Throughout July, we’re celebrating 31 Days with St. Ignatius, a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality. In addition to the calendar of Ignatian articles found here, posts on dotMagis this month will explore cannonball moments—moments that changed the course of a life, just as getting hit by a cannonball changed the course of St. Ignatius Loyola’s life. The inspiration […]

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

Go on a personal at-home prayer retreat with An Invitation to Love by William A. Barry, SJ.

Click through to read the full article Learning to Surrender to God, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Joe Rogan vs the New York Times

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 07/28/2021 - 02:33

A couple weeks ago, Mr. Matthew Flegenheimer of the New York Times published an article introducing his readers to Joe Rogan. Mr. Rogan is a comedian who has earned blackbelts in three styles of martial arts and is a UFC commentator. He’s also a media personality with one of the most popular podcasts ever. In spite of Mr. Rogan’s undeniable success, Mr. Flegenheimer has a strange defensive tone throughout the article that generally dismisses Mr. Rogan’s success as a sort of flash-in-the-pan accident; all the while, failing to recognize the impact that the long-form conversation-interview podcast format is having on how people stay informed and even changing audience expectations of media distributors.

 Instead of seriously assessing this new media landscape where the number of news curators equal roughly that of the users of the internet, Mr. Flegenheimer makes a strange attempt to deplore Mr. Rogan’s level of professionalism.  He caricatures Rogan as “high school wrestling coach who commandeered the AV room,” and neuters his intelligence as someone who will “run out of things to say.” 

Mr. Flegenheimer describes Joe Rogan’s show as “effectively a series of wandering conversations, often over whiskey and weed, on topics including but not limited to comedy, cage-fighting, psychedelics, quantum mechanics and the political excesses of the left.” Because of this meandering, it is hard to script or neatly package the content into an ideological frame.  Even though the invited guests usually have a particular expertise, the diversity of topics discussed usually reveal a more complex set of values and positions. Some of those positions are well reasoned, while others are the result of emotional instinct.  Rarely, however, does a guest’s worldview fit nicely into one ideological camp. They’re human. 

Mr. Flegenheimer claims that Rogan’s podcast success “lies in making audiences feel as if they’re in on something subversive.” Taking the conversation-interview format into account, it seems authenticity is indeed subversive. The unedited yet clean presentation makes a huge difference for the tens of millions of regular per episode viewers. When podcasters interview in long-form, they allow their guests the space to give a fuller, deeper response to questions, they allow the opportunity to follow-up when guests or host may have misspoke or been unclear. There are no hard-hitting “gotcha moments,” for example, see how Tucker Carlson doggedly pursues climate-science “gotcha” with Bill Nye. Nor are there long narrative lead-ins that are meant to prime the audience to accept the testimony of the guest through a certain lens like the one employed by Rachel Maddow here. The podcast host effectively is an observer with the audience, and the audience can choose to identify with either party without feeling like their beliefs are being dismissed or misrepresented.

What’s more the audience is actively brought along the intellectual journey. Because everything is out in the open, conversation-interviews follow the 5th grade teachers’ endless requests for their math students to “show your work.” Joe Rogan, for example, walks you through his thought process about not getting vaccinated (warning: Rogan uses extensive expletives ). You witness, perhaps even share, his revelations in real time. You are on the journey to truth with the podcaster. In this sense, it doesn’t matter whether he got the facts right or wrong, he reveals his process of discernment and the values that are important when weighing bits of information. This is a radical level of transparency to which established corporate media doesn’t know how to adapt.

Corporate media’s presentation in newspapers and cable TV interviews too often rely on a variety of theatrics. From the character host with teleprompter script, to the selection of sub-par representatives of contrary views. Polished production, biting sound-bits, and jester journalists craft a product to sell – the experience of feeling informed.  It’s not surprising that Mr. Flegenheimer, and by extension the NYT editors, cannot recognize authenticity. Instead they defend their business model against “an absence of curation, or any discernible editing, as if such filtering would amount to a form of censorship, doomed to cheapen the product” without stopping for a moment to think, “Why yes!” Less  editing and filtering and selection of images and layout planning all amounts to a kind of censorship that does cheapen the product that people under 40 want: an encounter with a person and their ideas.

This is where I think the long-form podcast is finding its draw: it’s in the medium’s ability to prioritize an encounter with the guest instead of prioritizing their opinions and ideas. In the latter model of information distribution where the focus is the packaging of ideas, the reporter’s incentives become seeking the most polished representative to articulate the desired opinion, and then to find less articulate, less polished guests who take the opposing view and make a mockery of their strawman objections. This is the epitome of inauthenticity. It’s a sad joke and, in the new internet environment, a failing business model.

Encountering the individual is especially important to the youth in our postmodern, post-truth environment. Corporate media is banking on their reputation, but the reality is that reputation only belongs with the 50+ plus crowd; meanwhile, 40 and younger are, who are more influenced by the cutting criticisms of corporate media from The Daily Show with John Stewart and the Colbert Report, are searching for new figures to trust. The ideas and ideologies are second.

A remarkable encounter that seems representative of this media’s capacity for congeniality and ability to build trust is the relationship that has grown between Tech Entrepreneur and YouTube Big Fish David Rubin and the online evangelist Bishop Barron. Watch this exchange as Mr. Rubin, a married gay man, listens to Bishop Barron’s reasons for the Catholic Church’s teaching on gay-marriage. It’s obvious that there is a level of discomfort. Mr. Rubin launches into the topic with “I don’t know how much Googling you did on me, but I am gay married and you are in my house…and whatever you say I will continue this conversation,” and Bishop Barron begins acknowledging the Church’s PR failure, “if the only thing a gay person hears from the Catholic Church is ‘you are instrically disordered’ then we’ve got a serious problem on our hands.” Both men ultimately have their positions, but they are still willing to engage each other because the relationship between them is more important than the corporate media nonsense already discussed above.

This conversation was posted four years ago, and they maintain a relationship geared toward common interests to this day.  The long-form conversation interview has the capacity to demonstrate that people with opposing view-points still have greater commonalities and can get along and live together in peace. We do not all have to have the same ideologies and values in order to respect and love each other. 

The bottom line is that corporate media is losing ground and has been for a long time. The future source of news and information distribution is already here. Once upon a time people had to rely on corporate mediators to stay informed about world events and culture. But with the advent of the internet and social media, especially Twitter and YouTube, people are deciding that they don’t need the New York Times and venues like it. People can get access to similar news reporting via YouTube, and straight from the source news updates via Twitter all with a real attempt to respect what is human in the interviewer and guest alike.

What Mr Flegenheimer admits by omission, is that the New York Times cannot compete with independent podcasters and news curators. Corporate media’s product is just not as interesting or informative, or inspiring as the Joe Rogan’s, Jordan Peterson’s, or Kimi Katiti’s of the world. And these rogue personalities are networking. They appear on each other’s platforms and are creating a community that supports and cooperates with one another more than they compete. We no longer want the divisiveness and disagreeable antics.  We want to strive for something more, and the youth see in themselves the sense of common humanity and cooperation represented in this voluntary community of content creators. The long-form will be around for a while and won’t be running out of things to say any time soon.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Why I Left IT to Join the Jesuits

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 07/26/2021 - 05:30

By Brendan McManus, SJ

Editor’s note: Throughout July, we’re celebrating 31 Days with St. Ignatius, a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality. In addition to the calendar of Ignatian articles found here, posts on dotMagis this month will explore cannonball moments—moments that changed the course of a life, just as getting hit by a cannonball changed the course of St. Ignatius Loyola’s life. The inspiration […]

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

Whether reading as a novice or an expert in Ignatian spirituality, The Pilgrim’s Story by Brendan Comerford, SJ, satisfies with fresh perspective and deep insight into the life of St. Ignatius Loyola.

Click through to read the full article Why I Left IT to Join the Jesuits, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Bring Your Gifts to Jesus! | One-Minute Homily

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 07/25/2021 - 01:00

In the story of the multiplication of loaves, Jesus takes a few loaves and fish and makes them more than enough to feed 5000 people. Doug Jones, SJ, reflects on how Jesus can take whatever we bring to him and make it more than enough. Based on the readings for Sunday, July 25, 2021.

God does more than we can ask or imagine! 

Hi, I’m Doug Jones, and this is my One Minute Reflection.

When the boy in today’s Gospel brought Jesus five loaves of bread and two fish, he could never have expected what would happen next. We know, of course, because this is one of the most beloved stories in all of the New Testament: Jesus multiplies that boy’s gift so it feeds five thousand people…with plenty left over!

Jesus will do the same with our gifts, too. Our call as Christians is to bring Jesus our talents, our hopes, our desires, all that we have. No matter how meager or simple we might think they are, he will multiply them. He’ll help us do more with them than we could ever do on our own.

Like he did in today’s Gospel, Jesus will use our gifts to nourish his people. He’ll give their bodies and spirits food for the journey.

Bring your gifts to Jesus, and watch in awe at what you and he do with them!

Categories: Things Jesuit

Six Lessons from a Cannonball Diagnosis

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 07/23/2021 - 05:30

By Lisa Kelly

Editor’s note: Throughout July, we’re celebrating 31 Days with St. Ignatius, a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality. In addition to the calendar of Ignatian articles found here, posts on dotMagis this month will explore cannonball moments—moments that changed the course of a life, just as getting hit by a cannonball changed the course of St. Ignatius Loyola’s life. The inspiration […]

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

Whether reading as a novice or an expert in Ignatian spirituality, The Pilgrim’s Story by Brendan Comerford, SJ, satisfies with fresh perspective and deep insight into the life of St. Ignatius Loyola.

Click through to read the full article Six Lessons from a Cannonball Diagnosis, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

How a video game is helping me re-examine mental health issues

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 07/23/2021 - 02:33

Warning: This article addresses difficult themes including severe depression and suicide. If you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal depression, call the prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.There are also spoilers for Doki Doki Literature Club Plus.

Sometimes, a game subverts your expectations.  Team Salvato’s psychological horror video game, Doki Doki Literature Club Plus, is an expansion on their 2017 Doki Doki Literature Club, and it addresses the issues of mental health, depression, and suicide in an unsettlingly but realistic way.

The game starts out following the player as he decides to join his school’s literature club at the prompting of his friend Sayori.  The small club consists of the protagonist and four girls: Sayori (the vice president), Yuri, Natsuki, and Monika (the president).  The cutesy aesthetic sets the player up to think he’s going to make decisions to woo one of the girls and win her heart. 1 

The game’s central mechanic has the player choose words for poems to try and appeal to the different girls , which seems harmless enough.  In a first playthrough, it can be easy to miss some darker words like “suicide,” “cage,” or “trap,” and that these words interest characters you wouldn’t expect.

In my first playthrough, I went with words that appealed to me, and I found that most of my choices agreed with Sayori, so my experience followed her more closely.   After making a third poem, her character seems very down and leaves the club meeting early.  The player briefly sees her again over the weekend where a distraught Sayori confesses her love for the player, who can choose to accept it or to kindly reject it.

The next time the player sees her, regardless of whether he reciprocates Sayori’s love, she has taken her life by hanging herself.  The shocking image of Sayori’s body stays on screen for a handful of seconds as the camera fades out and the game restarts.  The horrible part is that after this the game acts as if Sayori never even existed.  

The game begins to glitch out more frequently as the player again joins the literature club and begins creating poems. The other characters start acting strangely and sometimes more aggressively towards each other and the player.  The only one who seems somewhat normal is Monika, who has been subtly dropping hints that she knows more than she’s letting on.

The game is at its best when it explores the mental state of the different characters.  Sayori’s depression is a bit of a surprise at first, because she is always upbeat, trying to help other characters have fun, especially the protagonist.  But people with depression, especially those who have lived with it for many years, can often hide it well, especially to people unaware of its symptoms.  When I played through the game again, I could see hints of her deteriorating psychological state.  

This expanded version of the game also includes a collection of six sidestories which do a solid job of developing  the characters’ backstories of how the friends came to form the club.  Sayori knows that she’s depressed, and she uses that vulnerable truth to grow closer to other characters like Monika and Natsuki.  Like with real-life depression, sometimes the only thing we can do for a loved one going through depression is to be present to them and let them know how much we care for their wellbeing.  

When a person is dealing with severe depression like Sayori, it’s important to recognize that the situation is complicated.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach.  Sayori chose to act cheerful in spite of her depression so that she wouldn’t be a burden to others around her. She also wanted to avoid the harsh judgment or repercussions that can go along with letting others know about her psychological state. And these reactions are common enough for people hiding their depression

In the end, the player’s  decision to accept or reject Sayori’s confession of love doesn’t make a difference.  The game makes a point to show that she is not in her right mind.  Right before witnessing her suicide, the player sees a poem from her that repeats the words “get out of my head” over and over again.  At the time of her suicide, she is clearly distressed and confused. 

The first time I reached this part of the story, I had to close the game and walk away to let the heaviness of the situation sink in. It was jarring, painful, and disturbing.  While I could tell myself that this was just a game, the reality of suicide isn’t.    

The year after I graduated, my high school was rocked by a suicide of a student the year below me.  As a teacher, I’ve struggled with the school community when we were faced with suicides.  I didn’t have the right words for my students or colleagues.  I wondered if I could have noticed warning signs better.  I was in shock and needed time to process what had happened.  A heavy cloud hung over the school community for a long while after each of these tragic deaths. The sad truth is that many people dealing with the after effects of suicide can be left wondering if there was something else we could have done.

Team Salvato is brave in its attempt to deal unflinchingly with the complex realities of suicidal depression. Playing it helped remind me of the need to be attentive to those around me, especially the students I’ve worked with these last few years. It encouraged me to ask myself questions like: Are the people around me hiding their pain or always putting on a good face to avoid burdening others?  Are they exhibiting other warning signs?  Am I willing to ask difficult questions to let others know I notice and I care? 

I hope more people ask themselves these sorts of questions. Because if we do, then we’ll be more attentive to the mental health of others. And that will make our world a little more loving all around. 

———

Photo courtesy of www.amenclinics.com

Categories: Things Jesuit

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