Things Jesuit

Chance the Rapper’s “We Go High”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 01:10

There is a common feature among every hero known to humanity. It shows up in the face of adversity, in a watershed moment. There is a choice to make: to cave into fear, anger, and despair or to persevere in love, joy, and hope. In this moment the weak go low, but the hero goes high. 

Chance the Rapper ventures into this pivotal decision in “We Go High,” one track of twenty-two from his expansive new album The Big Day. The title echoes Michelle Obama’s line from her 2016 speech at the Democratic National Convention: “When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.” Whereas Michelle was referring to Donald Trump’s curt, disrespectful political discourse, the enemy in Chance’s song is not another person but rather a voice within himself.

The song is about past mistakes he made with his wife Kirstin. He wasn’t faithful to her, or else he was drinking away his youth instead of caring for her and their child, and he is sorry. Sitting in and praying about these feelings, two voices emerge. There is an internal bully, his “ego,” which tells him, “There he go, prayin’ again, again, the same ol’ thang.” This voice tries to convince him that his prayer is in vain, that his relationship with God won’t make him a better person, that he will always be a good-for-nothing who can’tget his priorities straight. However, when the chorus erupts with “But he go high / And we go high / They go low, we go… / Higher higher,” the listener realizes that Chance is fighting off the devil on his shoulder and trying to choose a nobler path. He does not want to cave into despair. He wants to hope.

Chance’s desire to pursue what is good despite his failings reflects one of Pope Francis’ consistent messages. From the first year of his pontificate, he has urged people to “bet on hope.” Just as Chance feels the frequent need to repent of his errors and start again with a renewed sense of hope, Pope Francis advises, “The journey is never finished. In each of our own lives, there is always a need to restart, to rise again, to recover a sense of the goal of one’s own existence.” We fail to love, yet we are called to love. Love is the goal of our existence even if we sin against love. Our goal does not change when we negate it ourselves, in the case of Chance, or when others around us negate it, in the case of Michelle Obama. We must persevere in doing good.

Jesus is the model for this loving response to trials. Satan tempted him in the desert, yet he chose what was right. His murderers tempted him to despair, yet he forgave them from the very cross on which he was crucified. Chance recognizes Christ’s pattern of “going high.” The “he” to which he refers when he says “but he go high” is Jesus. Following this verse, he says, “And we go high.” What Jesus has done, we must do. He is the way. Whether temptations come from inside or outside, we should go high as Jesus did. Love is the goal, and nothing should take our eyes off of it.

When we realize that love is our goal and that God forgives us even when we fail to love, our natural response is joy. For this reason, the tone of the lyrics shifts considerably in the second half of the song, where he enters into straight up praise:

We give the glory to You, God

One livin’ true God, He make us booyah

And throw up the Wu like U-God

They prop up statues and stones, try to make a new God

I don’t need a EGOT, as long as I got You, God.

The measure of Chance’s life is neither EGOT (the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar or Tony awards he may win) nor the failings of his past. His relationships with God and with his family are worth more than his accomplishments. And, even though he has not cared for these relationships previously, God forgives him and gives him strength to pick himself up, made amends, and recommit to what he really loves. 

When they go low, Chance goes high. Let’s do the same.

Going high brings good out of evil, joy out ofpain, peace out of turmoil. Going high means courage, a courage that inspires us to choose what is right for ourselves and that inspires others to do the same. Let’s face it: the world is crying out for both humility and integrity. We desperately need to learn to be humble enough to admit that we are wrong and yet brave enough to never stop pursuing what is good. We can be this sort of person that Chance inspires us to be in “We Go High,” and, as we do it, we can “give the glory to…God” for saving us and lifting us up along the way.

***

Image courtesy FlickrCC user Julio Enriquez.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Alfred Delp “Wrestled with God”

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 08/14/2019 - 05:30

Seventy-five years ago on August 15, the feast of the Assumption, the Jesuit Alfred Delp was due to make his final vows in the Society of Jesus. Instead, he was enduring interrogation and torture at the hands of the Gestapo in the Moabit Prison in Berlin. “How I wrestled with God that night,” he wrote […]

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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 Alfred Delp “Wrestled with God”, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

God’s To-Do List for Me

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 08/12/2019 - 05:30

This story is inspired by Luke 10:38–42. Jesus comes into my kitchen. “How can I help you with the meal, Martha?” he asks kindly, coming over to where we stand. He places a hand on her forearm. “Jesus, I feel burdened by my to-do list,” she says, still chopping vegetables. “Some days are harder than […]

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Click through to read the full article God’s To-Do List for Me, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

One-Minute Homily: “Spiritually Prepared”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 08/11/2019 - 02:00

What would you put in a spiritual survival kit? Fr. Joe Simmons, SJ, talks about bug-out bags and the call to be prepared in this week’s One-Minute Homily. Based on the readings for Sunday, August 11, 2019, which you can find here: https://bit.ly/33sS8gD

If Jesus came tomorrow, what would he find in your spiritual ‘bug-out bag’?

Hello, I’m father Joe Simmons, and this is my one-minute homily.

Once my nephew Edmund was going around the house, putting items into his shark backpack – fig bars, empty shampoo bottles, a toy telephone – and then he set it near the back door.  We called it his ‘bug-out bag,’ in case he needed to fly the coup in the middle of the night.

A ‘bug-out bag’ comes from military usage.  In case of emergency, troops needed to carry the bare essentials to survive in the wilderness – maps, water, medicine, and a bit of food.  Anything excessive – like shampoo – had to go.

All of today’s readings focus on the need to be prepared.  Our first reading from Wisdom mentions the preparations made for the night of Passover, and the hope of salvation for the wandering Israelites.

The psalmist cries out, “our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield.”

We hear in the letter to the Hebrews how Abraham followed God’s command to leave his homeland in hope of things not yet seen.

And in today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds his disciples to lighten their loads, give alms, and gird their loins.

Today is a good time to look at all the ‘stuff’ in our life.  Do we travel lightly and give generously?

Categories: Things Jesuit

Sharing a Moment with a Stranger on Vacation

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 05:30

Entering Westminster Abbey on vacation with my 10-year-old son, I overheard a man with an American accent ask, “Can we take photos?” “No, sorry, sir,” the docent apologized. I remembered being disappointed my last visit when I realized no photos were allowed. The man wore an Ohio State T-shirt and khaki shorts. With sunglasses perched […]

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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 Sharing a Moment with a Stranger on Vacation, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

An Extraordinarily Ordinary Day

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 05:30

The season’s heat calls for a slower pace. Some of my ministries take a summer break, giving me time to catch my breath and reorganize files, get started reading that stack of books on my shelf, and enjoy the long daylight hours. Just when I thought, “This is great, just a slow, ordinary day,” God […]

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 An Extraordinarily Ordinary Day, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Introducing Vacation to My Boys—and Embracing Vacation Anew Myself

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 08/05/2019 - 05:30

A year ago, we had the unexpected gift of taking time off to go as a family to a resort hotel a little north of Houston. It was late July, and I expected it to be hot and miserable. After all, late July through September often is both hot and miserable in Texas. I was […]

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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 Introducing Vacation to My Boys—and Embracing Vacation Anew Myself, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

A Grief Observed (Without God)

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 08/04/2019 - 23:01

“Several years after leaving my religion, I felt sure I had encountered all the situations I might possibly need to get used to in my new life. What I had not prepared myself for was death. Grief without faith. Which is to say, death without hope.”

Those were the first words to “Grief Without God,” a recent New York Times Sunday Review piece. The rest of the article has no less candor. In it, Amber Scorah, the author, recounts the period of bereavement she went through after rejecting the faith she grew up with. For her, the only thing thing that ever alleviated the loss of her religion was the birth of her first child. She would then lose her son at the age of four months.  

Scorah’s point is to articulate how losing her faith made the heartbreak of losing her child all the more acute. There is the grief of losing a child, and then there is the grief that the grief will never find anything to solace it: “I will grieve my son forever. Or rather, not forever—until I die. This is the one comfort that unbelief gives you, that this life will end and the pain you carry along with it.” That’s the only hope she’s able to name.

Similarly, this year’s winner of Modern Love’s college essay contest focused on the absence of a balm for grief. In it, a student named Kyleigh Leddy walks the reader through what it’s like to mourn the disappearance of someone you love, in this case, her sister. What makes the piece so heartrending is the lack of closure and everything she does to try and find it. Leddy describes calling her sister’s phone just to hear the voicemail and scrolling through the still active Facebook profile. She continues, 

Recently I read about the development of chatbots that can imitate human speech patterns. The technology is being considered as a way to facilitate bereavement, allowing us to communicate with loved ones through text messages. Using personal data and old messages, the bots can respond like your father, grandmother or sister. They can use your loved ones’ favorite phrases and dialectic habits. They can say, “I miss you, too.”

Ultimately, she rejects this type of solution altogether. Like Scorah’s piece, the void is considered too big a gulf to seal. 

As moving as these essays are—in part for the nature of the loss, in part for the honesty in the author’s self-revelation—I couldn’t help but wonder what’s supposed to sutures these types of wounds. Where do we think we can go to unload this type of pain? 

*****

With these questions in mind, I was reminded of a Japanese film that had similar questions about what facilitates closure in grief, the Academy Award winner “The Departures” (2009).

The narrative follows a Cellist who inadvertently becomes a professional in the Japanese tradition of ritual encoffinment. The tradition is called nōkan, and the grace of the film is its depiction of the ceremony, the way it makes a liturgy out of preparing the human body for burial. All the transformations in the bereaved take place when they see the body of the one they mourn treated as if it were sacred. And it is. Not only are you, as a viewer, captivated by the precision and beauty of the rite, but you’re disarmed into a posture toward human life and death that is fundamentally reverent. And it’s breathtaking. 

The tone of the film is borderline sacramental. On screen, ritual provides a catalyst and catharsis for emotion. By letting the loss be the foreground of a communal event, something is effected in the bereaved that lets them say goodbye. 

I had a privileged experience in ministry with a similar dynamic. It happened while I was volunteering as a chaplain in a hospital. One day, as I was in the elevator, a man accompanied by his wife and two kids sees me in clerics. He asks if I would go with him to see his father. “Of course,” I reply. As we step out unto the floor, he tells me, “my dad just died. Can you just… come say a few prayers with us? The rest of my family is there, too.” 

Entering the room, I see a man’s body, untouched, in the hospital bed while the rest of the family is gathered in a semi-circle. As soon as he sees his father, the man who soberly pulled me aside audibly winces and starts to cry. I ask the family to hold hands as we pray a Hail Mary, then an Our Father, and some words asking the Lord to grant this man’s soul eternal rest, that perpetual light shine upon him. 

Standing in the presence of his father’s body, this man thanks me with an unmistakable tone of relief. There’s visible peace on his face. I remember that moment as one of the most palpable effects of prayer I’ve ever seen. All this man did, in a moment of prayer, was surrender. And that, too, was breathtaking.

My own prayer is that Scorah and Leddy find the peace that their hearts long for, even if they’ve stopped looking. Searching for hope becomes sacred the moment it’s found. Or in the words of Mary Oliver, “There are things you can’t reach. But you can reach out to them, and all day long.”

Or in the words of Christ, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Mt 5:3). 

***

Image courtesy FlickrCC user Dave_S.

Categories: Things Jesuit

One-Minute Homily: “Can’t Get Enough”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 08/04/2019 - 02:00

We always want more, but Uli Covarrubias, SJ, reminds us that there’s only one who can satisfy us. Check out this week’s One-Minute Homily, based on the readings for Sunday, August 4.

 

I should really get off my phone, but let me just check one more time to see how many likes my new picture has gotten.

Hi, I’m Uli Covarrubias and this is my One-Minute Reflection.

If the previous scenario seemed at all familiar to you, then maybe you’re a little bit like me, and we’re like the man in today’s gospel, who thought that a bountiful harvest would bring him contentment.

The harvest that we seek might not be corn or grain. It might be power, or money, or admiration. Whatever the case, we know that we could never have enough of it. We’ll always want just a little more.

We’re creatures of need, creatures of hunger. And deep inside, we have a hunger that can’t be satiated by anything or anyone but God. “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you,” says St. Augustine.

In today’s society, admitting any form of dependence can be a challenge. After all, we promote independence, self-fulfillment, and self-love.

But, perhaps the greatest expression of self-love is recognizing our utter dependence on God, in one word, our poverty.

If we live according to this truth, we will find contentment, not only in this life but in the next as well.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Words of Wisdom

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 05:30

What words of wisdom would you pass on to a younger person today? If you knew you weren’t going to be around much longer, how would that change—or would it change—what you said to others and how you said it? Which mistakes have you made that you would urge that young person not to make? […]

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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 Words of Wisdom, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Lion (Philosopher) King

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 03:42

A few weeks ago, Disney released a new version of Hamlet The Lion King. The new film is part of Disney’s live-action re-creation of beloved classics, though “live-action” is a bit of a misnomer in this case. The Lion King is still completely animated; it just has photorealistic CGI rather than hand-drawn animation cels. But as I am currently a student of philosophy, I will have to put aside the many great articles about the technical execution of the CGI film. I will instead turn to the question of politics, relying on the great philosophical adage, “That’s all well and good in practice, but what about in theory?”

The Lion King presents us with a classic hereditary monarchy: once Mufasa dies, Simba will be sovereign over “all the light touches.” The mistreated Scar (according to one fan, with the help of Zazu) has Mufasa killed and drives away Simba to usurp the throne. But everything is terrible under his rule. Only once Simba returns, and gains his rightful place as ruler over the Pride Lands, is justice restored. The moral: certain people are made to rule, and the world will only be okay if these people are put in charge. Though not made explicit in the children’s story, the theme echoes Socrates in Plato’s Republic: the kallipolis (the good city) will only be perfect when it is ruled by the philosopher-king. In both stories, we are presented with the question, “Who should rule?”, to which Socrates and Rafiki respond: the good king. In times of turmoil, when there is starvation and drought, the duty of every good citizen is to help restore the rightful (lion) king to power.

But there is danger in this vision of sovereignty. Karl Popper, in his two-volume book The Open Society and Its Enemies, summarizes the problem of the philosopher-king:

“For even those who share this assumption of Plato’s admit that political rulers are not always sufficiently ‘good’ or ‘wise’… If that is granted, then we must ask whether political thought should not face from the beginning the possibility of bad government; whether we should not prepare for the worst leaders, and hope for the best. But this leads to a new approach to the problem of politics, for it forces us to replace the question: Who should rule? by the new question: How can we so organize political institutions that bad or incompetent rulers can be prevented from doing too much damage?

Popper, writing during the rise of Hitler’s National Socialist Party, fundamentally rejects the response of Socrates and Rafiki. Instead of searching for the good ruler, maybe we should organize our government in such a way to prevent a ruler like Scar from destroying the Pride Lands. The problem, in Popper’s mind, is not that Scar is a bad leader; it is rather that Scar has absolute sovereign power over the Pride Lands. Even Sarabi, the widowed queen, can do nothing but verbally disagree with Scar’s policies.

Within circles of liberation theology, scholars have worked with the notion of “counter-hegemony” – forces that can work against sovereignty and domination by a single person or class. The Pride Lands run through hegemony; the lion king rules without any meaningful challenge to his political power or his viewpoint. Mufasa, the benevolent dictator, understands the role of the leader within the larger system of the world (cue “The Circle of Life”). However, the hegemony of his office means that it is susceptible to exploitation and abuse.

Yes, if we have a perfect leader, it is best for everyone for that leader to have complete sovereign authority. But when we’re talking about people other than the Second Person of the Trinity, we should be suspicious of unchecked power. When Mufasa is in charge, we have no problem with monarchy. Encourage it, even. But even without Scar’s betrayal, Mufasa is mortal. And if Simba is up to the task, what about his son? Good rulers, history has shown us, are often the minority. 

The ‘benefit’ of a bad ruler, like Scar, is that we can become aware of the inherent problems of hegemonic sovereignty. What a bad ruler exposes is the problems of the system itself, invisible under the guidance of the philosopher-king. The need for counter-hegemony becomes most apparent when the hegemonic voice dominates, oppresses, and silences.

There is something tantalizing simple about the philosopher-king. Even when everything is terrible, all will end well as long as we get the right ruler to become sovereign. Simba, who appropriately rejects the mantle of power at first, becomes the Savior of the Pride Lands. This is good theology: the only one who can save us, Jesus, must himself be perfect. But this is bad politics. We turn governance into a contest of force, where we root for the single person we think will fix the world. Instead of institutional reform, we keep hoping for the ‘good’ sovereign.

Counter-hegemony seeks not to simply replace one monarch with another, but rather to displace consolidation of power with a multitude of voices. Simba, in many ways, could be ready for counter-hegemony. His friendships with non-lions could help him move outside of his usual hegemonic perspectives. But without meaningful reformation of the leonine monarchy, Simba remains the gentle tyrant instead of the servant leader. 

Until Christ comes again and brings all things into reconciliation with the Godhead, we must live with human leaders. And we can be tempted to search for the ‘best’ ruler, for that one great person who will save us from ourselves. We, like Zazu, might be content to speak hateful things against those who rule poorly. We, like Nala, might search the world to find the rightful king. We, like Rafiki, might convince ourselves that it’s enough to give words of wisdom to the sovereign. But if we believe in the Great Commission, in the parting injunction of Jesus in the washing of his disciples’ feet, we must not be content in handing power over to the philosopher-king. The servant leader does not rule with absolute sovereignty but opens up the possibility for counter-hegemony. The servant leader does not demand but listens. 

There is no new ruler, king or president, that will wash away our problems. So we must not grasp onto power, deluding ourselves that our goodness can fix the evils of the world by dominating others. We must use whatever power and privilege we have to give voice to the voiceless and to protect the powerless.

 

Categories: Things Jesuit

Life Lost and Found

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 08/01/2019 - 02:00

The sun shone brightly on the green Cottonwood trees as I drove through the Wisconsin countryside. With a long drive ahead, and the radio set to gentle classical music, I found myself wanting to pray.

As I began, my mind drifted to the past week I had spent with some of my closest friends. Rummaging through these memories, I realized I had felt more alive with them than I had in months. It was as if without my friends something in me felt alone.

I was shocked by my sharp sadness. I’d left these same friends behind before, but this time the pain of doing so struck like lightning. Nobody knew me more transparently. I didn’t trust anyone else with my thoughts, my feelings, my soul, as I did with them. I had never really given myself to anyone as I did with them. I never knew friendship could be so intensely intimate and life giving, nor that it could draw me closer to God. 

Of course we would keep in touch, my friends and I, but they would no longer be right there. Nothing can substitute for actually being with someone, face to face. Tears began to well in my eyes, my breath quickened, and I tightly gripped the steering wheel. We were off to different places to live, study, and work, not just for a little while, but for years! 

As a Jesuit, I discerned and chose to let go of committing to one select group of people. I decided to be available to go where ever I’m needed to love and serve. I decided to commit myself to obedience, chastity, and poverty. I hadn’t known what this commitment would mean, but now I did, and my foundational faith in these decisions began to falter. 

I wanted what I did not have and what I thought I should have. I wanted my friends close to me, and yet here I was driving away. I started to shake. A wave of goosebumps rushed out from my chest to the rest of my body. My face flushed, as if something terrible was happening. Anger and resentment began to weave in with grief. 

I turned to God, and the dam holding everything back broke. Crying became uncontrollable sobbing. Pain and anger seethed out of my throat, my eyes, my nose, my voice, my hands on the steering wheel. 

“God, why would you give me these unbelievably wonderful friends, and then tear me away? Why does it feel like I am losing much more than I am gaining from you? What kind of God are you to not give a person you created what makes them happy and fulfilled? Why allow this loneliness and sorrow to dwell in the hearts of those who try so hard to love you? How was any of this love? Why was any of this worth it?”

It took some time for me to eventually calm down. When I did, my imagination kicked into gear. The words of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane came to me: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”

Jesus knew my suffering. He understood loss. He experienced being led away from his friends to follow where his Father was leading him. I made Jesus’ prayer my own: “If possible, Lord, please don’t let my life permeate with such pain. Please fill my emptiness and grief. Please don’t make me give up what I cherish most.” 

I recognized my inability to say, “not as I will, but as you will,” and honestly mean it. All I could do was repeat, over and over again, “Please…please…please.”

***

I think in any Christian’s life of faith there’s a certain kind of reckoning. God draws us in, woos us with gentle love and mercy. And then there is the moment of our response, to love God in return. To love God as both integral to our lives and as the ultimate horizon that encompasses us and draws us towards God. It is here that we encounter the truth: while God’s love for us may be full and pure, our love for God is not. 

God’s love impels us to place God first. This means being willing to detach from everything we are and have, and to give ourselves to a relationship with God. God invites us to let go of our attachments. We may be able to give up meat on Fridays during Lent, but what about a good job? A loving community? A romantic relationship? A family? 

I never imagined how much God loved me, or how much God called me to love. And, in God’s love, I never imagined how strongly attached I would be to the good and beautiful gifts in my life that I had to let go of and return to God.

But the good news is this: God does not ask us to overcome the challenge of letting go to follow God on our own. God knows we can’t. On my own I could not say, “not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus did. Christ loved us so deeply that he gave up everything to give us the possibility of being with him, and to love like he does.

After this intense moment in the car, I experienced a strange kind of peace. It was as if I had purged myself of something I had held back from God: admitting my inability to go where God was asking. I could now receive the grace that could only come after I expressed all of my attachment and resentment.

That grace I received was gratitude. True gratitude. And now there was nothing between God and I but clear light. It’s hard to explain, but it was a wonderful freedom of letting go. I could now see my grief was so intense because my capacity for love was so profound. I placed this love in God’s hand. I actually felt even more love for my unbelievably wonderful friends, and more freedom to love deeply. I had “lost” my life in a profound way, but now had found it. I was alive, intensely, in my depths, and God was there. God had brought me there, and now I could love with everything. 

-//-

Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

Categories: Things Jesuit

Ask Iggy: “Ignatian Discernment”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 07/31/2019 - 11:06

What is Ignatian Discernment? What does it mean to be in consolation or desolation? How does St. Ignatius advise us to make good decisions? In this episode of Ask Iggy, Brian Strassburger, SJ, and Danny Gustafson, SJ, talk about Ignatian Discernment and give some tips on how to incorporate discernment into your life.

Categories: Things Jesuit

10 Ways Ignatian Spirituality Supports a Busy Life

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 07/31/2019 - 05:30

Editor’s note: We’ve been having fun celebrating the 10th anniversary of IgnatianSpirituality.com. The fun continues throughout July with our 10th-annual 31 Days with St. Ignatius celebration. Bookmark the calendar here. And we’re still “Counting the Gifts of Ignatian Spirituality” by bringing you special content on our website and special offers from our sponsor, Loyola Press. Learn more here. There is […]

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 10 Ways Ignatian Spirituality Supports a Busy Life, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Nine Ways to Fill Your Cup When You’re Running on Empty

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 05:30

Editor’s note: We’ve been having fun celebrating the 10th anniversary of IgnatianSpirituality.com. The fun continues throughout July with our 10th-annual 31 Days with St. Ignatius celebration. Bookmark the calendar here. And we’re still “Counting the Gifts of Ignatian Spirituality” by bringing you special content on our website and special offers from our sponsor, Loyola Press. Learn more here. It can […]

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

Click through to read the full article Nine Ways to Fill Your Cup When You’re Running on Empty, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Join us July 1–31 for our 10th-annual 31 Days with St. Ignatius celebration.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Four Weekend Ways to Find God

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 05:30

At the start of each week, we invite our Ignatian Spirituality Facebook community to share where they have encountered God in the weekend days. We highlight four recent responses below. Where have you encountered God on your day off? “In reconciling with someone.” —Derick Cooper “A boy came up to me on the beach. ‘Can […]

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

Click through to read the full article Four Weekend Ways to Find God, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Join us July 1–31 for our 10th-annual 31 Days with St. Ignatius celebration.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Eight Examples of Consolation

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 07/24/2019 - 05:30

Editor’s note: We’ve been having fun celebrating the 10th anniversary of IgnatianSpirituality.com. The fun continues throughout July with our 10th-annual 31 Days with St. Ignatius celebration. Bookmark the calendar here. And we’re still “Counting the Gifts of Ignatian Spirituality” by bringing you special content on our website and special offers from our sponsor, Loyola Press. Learn more here. What do […]

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

Click through to read the full article Eight Examples of Consolation, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Join us July 1–31 for our 10th-annual 31 Days with St. Ignatius celebration.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Seven Ways to Use the Imagination in Prayer

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 07/22/2019 - 05:30

Editor’s note: We’ve been having fun celebrating the 10th anniversary of IgnatianSpirituality.com. The fun continues throughout July with our 10th-annual 31 Days with St. Ignatius celebration. Bookmark the calendar here. And we’re still “Counting the Gifts of Ignatian Spirituality” by bringing you special content on our website and special offers from our sponsor, Loyola Press. Learn more here. We are […]

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

Click through to read the full article Seven Ways to Use the Imagination in Prayer, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Join us July 1–31 for our 10th-annual 31 Days with St. Ignatius celebration.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Nine Ways to Find God in the Summertime

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 05:30

We asked Loyola Press authors and other friends of this blog to share with us how they have found God in the summertime. Enjoy their responses as we continue to celebrate 31 Days with St. Ignatius. Flowers “This year, summer has been cooler where I live, and the blossoms have lasted longer than usual. Every […]

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

Click through to read the full article Nine Ways to Find God in the Summertime, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Join us July 1–31 for our 10th-annual 31 Days with St. Ignatius celebration.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Ignatian “Summer-Soul” Workout Plan: Part 2

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 01:00

Spiritual athletes, have you been whipping your soul into shape with the first five steps of the Ignatian “summer-soul” workout plan? [Click here for Part 1 if you missed it!]

If so, awesome. Keep it up!

If not, now’s the perfect time to renew the commitment for the second half of the summer.

Here are five more connections between physical and spiritual exercise, followed by a practical spiritual workout for each point. 

As a reminder, don’t try to do them all at once. Start with one or two of the tips that you think will be most helpful for you and adapt them to your physical and spiritual needs. 

Warning: The spiritual workout journey will be difficult, but totally worth it. Trust the process! 

[Click here for Tips 1-5]

6.) Listen to the Music 

I personally prefer to run on the treadmill with some base-bumping beats in my headphones to motivate. Just as listening to a certain song might make me run faster, music can have the same effect on our “spiritual workout.” Think of music as a great supplement to both physical and spiritual workouts. It can get both the physical and spiritual heart pumping. One word of caution: just as the act of listening to music is NOT the physical workout itself. Sometimes just listening to an inspiring, moving, or religious song does not necessarily mean you’ve prayed.

Spiritual Workout Tip: Try starting your prayer with an instrumental track that sets the mood for you. Just one soothing and calming song may be enough for you to mentally and spiritually prepare to enter into prayer. In fact, don’t be afraid to play a little music in the background while you pray if it helps you concentrate.

Check out this compiled list of songs, videos and articles that might help set the scene for your prayer. Try searching “Meditation music” on YouTube or create a playlist of songs on Spotify that really get your soul on fire for God. And if Spanish music moves you (as it does for me), you can always check out Fr. Cristobal Fones, SJ’s playlist of one of his latest albums: “Tu, mi hermano” (“You, My Brother”). And the spiritual beat goes on… 

7.) Find Motivation When Times Get Tough

High school coaches often tell their athletes very fiercely: “If a day comes that you don’t want to workout or go to practice, that is precisely the day you most need to go.” I was told these exact words by my Jesuit spiritual director in high school about the practice of daily Mass. In other words, this same sentiment applies to both our athletic and spiritual life. The need for daily discipline and commitment to the team and to personal athletic development is required of any great athlete or team. Similarly, the grace of “disciplined” prayer, not done out of personal toughness or perfectionism, but out of a sense of real “commitment” to something or Someone greater than yourself is one of the greatest gifts bestowed by the practice of daily prayer. After all, love is not a feeling. Love is a choice. And that requires commitment.

Spiritual Workout Tip: Unite yourself in those moments of great resistance to prayer to the Passion of Christ. Jesus himself in the Agony in the Garden did not WANT to die on the cross, but freely chose to love at all costs.1 An older Catholic devotional I once read had a meditation where one contemplated why Jesus chose to die on the cross while in the Garden of Gethsemane. The author of this text creatively proposes that when the angel appeared to console Jesus, he saw “YOU” with him. Jesus chose to die for YOU– out of radical love for your particular soul. Think of that person, situation or purpose that will make you choose to pray or love at all costs. Is just being with God enough of a reason to pray? For some it might be, for others, they might need a little “tough love” to get them motivated. 

8.) Get Yourself a Saintly Coach

Even professional athletes respond to the orders, advice and suggestions of a coach that has their best interest in mind. Growth is only possible when we are challenged to step out of our comfort zone. The same is true in our spiritual life when we use coaches or guides to help push us to grow. So don’t be afraid to take Jesus, Mary, or any other saint as your personal trainer or life coach. In fact, since very early on in life, Jesus himself had two coaches in Mary and Joseph. Who would have taught Jesus to work, pray, and love if not his own earthly parents? If Jesus was willing to take on a life coach for himself, who are we to say in our spiritual life, “I’m good. I’m my own coach.” While human nature might settle for that, sometimes it takes that other voice to remind us: “You can be better.”

Spiritual Workout Tip: Explore the lives of the saints and see if there is any one saint you would like to learn from or whom you identify with. In fact, you might want to remind yourself of your Confirmation Saint. Whichever saint you turn to, he or she can function as a life coach for your spiritual journey. This saint can be a source of strength that teaches you to do good. 

Daily quotes from inspiring saints can provide just the right motivation needed to move beyond small personal projects and risk being part of a more universal project- building the “Kingdom of God.” Thanks for your words, Coach Iggy

9.) Share Best Practices

Going to the gym might begin as an individual practice for the purposes of greater health, a more toned physique, or just because your doctor said so. But it might take on a new purpose once you begin to see the positive benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Once you have built a repertoire of techniques, skills, tips, and workout routines that work for you, you might be more willing to help another answer questions regarding their own health. Here’s the kicker, once you start experiencing the benefits of prayer, or begin growing in a life of greater freedom and charity, then your desire to share that gift with others increases exponentially. You will want to share it with all those you encounter. This is why your spiritual fitness no longer belongs exclusively to you.

Spiritual Workout Tip:  Pray with the following Gospel passage. Jesus said to his disciples after the Sermon on the Mount: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”2 The ultimate source of the light in your life is God, NOT you. Thus, the end of prayer must always be to glorify God…and not to glorify yourself. Prayer is intimately bound to all those around us- which is why we pray for one another and have the communion of saints praying for and with all the Church. 

10.) Don’t Be Afraid to Mix It Up

Studies in exercise science constantly point to avoiding “plateauing” or “stalling.” If you only do the same kind of exercise over and over your muscles adapt to certain exercises, and muscle growth stalls. A technique known as “muscle confusion” has been promoted by physical trainers to combat this effect.3 In essence, it’s all about changing your routine to keep your body engaged. This type of technique is key not just in the physical exercise realm, but in the spiritual as well. How often have you said that prayer is boring, repetitive, or tiring? Being creative in prayer is key to keeping the soul actively engaged.

Spiritual Workout Tip: Don’t be afraid to spice up your prayer life. While the universal Church gives us a specific Gospel passage to pray with every day of the year, we can’t be afraid to introduce our imagination into the mix. For instance, instead of just reading the Gospel passage of the Last Supper and meditating on the exact words, you might want to try a spiritual exercise technique known as “imaginative contemplation.” Place yourself within the scene and imagine yourself speaking to Christ during the first Eucharistic feast. Is there something you notice about Jesus’ gaze, hand gestures, tone of voice? Encounter God through actively engaging your imagination, and you might be amazed at the results.

You can also use a variety of different prayer styles. For example, the Rosary might help you connect with God. Or another of these time-tested methods of prayer, such as Lectio Divina, Meditation, Liturgy, Spiritual Reading, etc. As a spiritual trainer, Jesus is always ready to meet us exactly where we’re at, and in total freedom. So don’t get tied down to only one way of praying.

*****

In summary, three things are certain when doing any of these or other Spiritual Exercises: 

  • There is not a single second, minute or hour spent in intentional prayer before God that will not be used by God for our growth and spiritual well-being (whether we feel it or not). 

  • Prayer is not only powerful when you “feel” it, but rather its power lies more in actually “doing” prayer- because prayer is done by God first. In other words, it is more about opening ourselves to allow God to work in us. So when it comes to prayer (and I guess Nike athletics?)… Just do it!

  • In the same way that a nutritional diet asks you to renounce consuming sugars, unsaturated fats, and bad cholesterol in exchange for a slimmer, happier and overall healthier lifestyle, the Spiritual Exercises have been described as learning to be free from”… i.e. disordered affections, sins, past, etc. in order to become free for”… i.e. doing God’s will, loving more radically, living fully alive, etc. This goal must always be at the forefront of any Spiritual Exercise.

If the goal of a “summer bod” is to get more eyes to look at our physical appearance, the goal of prayer and our “summer soul” is to allow God’s eyes to look upon our reality, creating a heart within us that resembles that of his Son, Jesus Christ. 

This is the ultimate goal of any Ignatian prayer.

Categories: Things Jesuit

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