Things Jesuit

Poem: Sacred Heart of Jesus, Help Me Live (Not Just Read) the Scriptures

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Fri, 06/25/2021 - 01:00

The significance of the heart in the Judeo-Christian scriptures cannot be overstated. The word “heart” appears 858 times in the Old Testament and 156 times in the New Testament. There is no doubt that our hearts are central to the mystery of who we are. They hold many answers — and infinitely more questions. 

I discovered one particular image that captured this insight during my 30-day Silent Retreat as a Jesuit Novice – the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Sacred Heart always began and ended all my meditations. In my imaginative contemplations, Christ would rip out his heart from his chest and extend it to me. I would then take my own heart out and extend it to Him. My prayer was spent glimpsing the process of our two hearts slowly fusing throughout the retreat. By the end of the retreat, I could no longer distinguish which part of the heart was mine and which belonged to God. While it was scary to “lose” my heart (Matthew 10:39),  it was exhilarating to “gain” Christ’s heart! (Galatians 2:20)

This poem highlights how embedded the devotion to the Sacred Heart is in the Scriptures, and expresses a longing for our own hearts, not just to read, but to live these Sacred Scriptures. 

Grace to Ask: To sync my heart with God’s own heartbeat (1 Samuel 13:14)

O Most Sacred Heart,With just one glance (John 19:37)
Your Fire (Luke 12:49)
Your Thorns (Matthew 27:29)
Your Vulnerability (Mark 15:24)
Advance a hidden process (Psalm 139:13-16)
Forming a ‘new creation’ within me (Revelations 21:5)
Even while I am unaware (2 Corinthians 4:16

O Most Sacred Heart,
The Most Holy Trinity (Matthew 17:5)
The infinite universe (Hebrews 1:3)
Dwelling (John 1:14)
In your Heart (Matthew 11:29)
Bleeding (John 19:34)
Out of overflowing love (Romans 5:5)
Faithfully (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
Beating (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
For all (1 Timothy 2:4)
Humanity and creation (Colossians 1:16)
And now for me… (Ephesians 3:16-21)

I ask for a chance to engage with your penetrating questions (Luke 2:19),
For you are greater than the most illuminated answer (John 14:6)

I ask for a trickle of your divine power (Mark 5:30),
For you are greater than the most holy Temple (Matthew 12:7)

I ask for a morsel of your unpredictable action (John 3:8),
For you are greater than the most sacred religious practice (Mark 2:27)

I ask for an atom of your way of thinking, feeling, speaking and loving (1 John 3:18-20),
For you are greater than the most inspired prophet (Luke 11:32) 

I ask for a grain of your Kingdom (Mark 4:30-34)
For you are greater than the most beloved king (Matthew 12:42)

I ask for a seed of your holiness (Mark 7:28),
For you alone are the most ‘Holy One’ (1 Samuel 2:2)

O Most Sacred Heart,
Rain torrentially (Isaiah 55:10-12)
Reign gloriously (1 Chronicles 17:11-14)
Upon my heart (Ezekiel 36:26)
Upon all hearts (1 John 4:11)
Upon the broken & healing heart of the world (Romans 12:2)
For your budding Tree of Life is greater than the most fruitful vine (Revelations 22:2

O Most Sacred Heart,
Jesus (Philippians 2:10),
I (John 13:23)
Most Radically (Matthew 5:8)
Trust (Revelations 22:20) & Act (Mark 3:35)
In You! (Matthew 11:29)

Amen (Mark 15:39

Want to deepen your relationship with the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Try our Ignatian ‘Examen’ based on the fire, thorns and vulnerability of Christ’s heart. 

Feel free to pray with many more hidden Scriptural verses alive in the fire, thorns and vulnerability of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

Dive deeper into Christ’s Fire: 

  • Psalm 39:3 – Speaking from the fire within
  • Jeremiah 20:9 – What does prophetic fire feel like?
  • Luke 24:32 – Post-Resurrection, does my heart burn?
  • Acts 2:1-13 – Are the gifts of the Holy Spirit ablaze or dormant?]

Dive Deeper into Christ’s Thorns: 

Dive Deeper into Christ’s Vulnerable Heart: 

  • Luke 17:21 – “The Kingdom of God is among and within you”, so share it! 
  • Luke 8:21 – Christ’s ‘Family’ are any and all whose will becomes ONE with God’s will  
  • John 13:23 – Jesus allowed others to be intimate with his Heart
  • Hebrew 10:22 – Only when we give our heart to God can it be healed

 

 

Categories: Things Jesuit

Answering God’s Call

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 06/23/2021 - 05:30

By dotMagis Editor

Author Barbara Lee’s new book, Answering God’s Call: A Scripture-Based Journey for Older Adults, focuses on listening for God’s call in the later years of life. Barbara says, “All of the people who are included in this book are examples of God-centered responses to the kinds of challenges that older adults have in our own […]

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

Helping Families Recover from Addiction: Coping, Growing, and Healing through 12-Step Practices and Ignatian Spirituality retells Jean Heaton’s journey “working the steps” as a family member of people with addictions.

Click through to read the full article Answering God’s Call, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Unexpected Joy of Cleaning Your Room

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 06/23/2021 - 02:33

Well, I am getting ready to travel for the summer. My luggage is open, and shirts are strewn haphazardly across my bed as I pack. I am bouncing off my walls, going to my desk where I gather old academic notes. I see a pile of books, dog-eared and worse for wear. Then, I am back to the closet to find a specific pair of chinos. Other essentials have been put into storage. The trash has been emptied. And still I continue cleaning up my room before I go, making it ready for any guests that may need a bed to rest in while I am out of town, a common routine of living in a Jesuit community. All of a sudden I am reminded of some keepsakes, and I move to take down an old drawing a student gave me. A picture that I have kept for years. A picture that spent the last two semesters neglected on the long end of the bulletin board above my desk. 

For me cleaning is hectic, but it is also a heck of a lot of fun. Joyful even! Finding old objects invokes time and place, like an engraved flask I got for being a groomsman when I was a teenager. There are also pictures of friends and receipts from meals long forgotten. As I wipe down my desk, I am reminded of osoji, a ritual that translates to “the big clean.” At the beginning of the new year, residents of Japan begin the big clean. All the furniture is taken outside. The floors and walls are thoroughly washed and shelves are dusted. Objects which are no longer needed are donated or recycled. However, this big New Year’s cleaning isn’t just about getting rid of dirt but is first and foremost a polite gesture, a means to invite the divine into one’s home. 

Over the years, I have developed my own rituals, too. For longer than I can remember, I have more or less lived out of three large suitcases. Every year or so I would pack up all my stuff and move, sometimes just down the hall and other times halfway across the world. Boxing things year after year was a reminder of what was really important and what was less important. I began donating old things to simplify my life. One year it was the Disney VHS tapes that I watched and rewatched as a kid. I had memorized those movies by heart. They were taken to the Salvation Army. The next year it was the shot glass from a Guyana rum factory, which I clandestinely bought on a college service trip. I left it at a friend’s apartment. I think back on those objects misty-eyed, not for the objects themselves but for the memories and relationships that those objects meant. 

Back in my community, I am told the rooms will be painted while I am away. So all the pictures have to come off the walls. As I take them down, I am thinking of other big cleanings. Not just the physical ones. I am thinking of spiritual cleanings, and the moment becomes a chance to examine where I am and where I have been. Filled with gratitude for the people I lived with, I feel the warm sun shining through the window, and I am thankful for that, too. I begin to clean spiritually. But instead of old pictures and knick-knacks, I take out memories, thoughts, ideas that are swimming in my mind. I set them aside so I can get the things that are pushed to the back of mind. There is bitterness, regret, and anger at the events of the last year and how I responded to them. I take those feelings and regrets out, too. I look at them, and I am finally able to get at the cobwebs in the corners of my mind. Once everything is cleaned, I decide what I am  going to put back in, what I am going to part with. 

As I sit here, having packed up and swept out my mind, I notice the memories I have made with new friends. Memories I am grateful to have. I’m keeping those. I also notice anxiety and self-judgement. I think it’s time to throw those away. I also notice a lot of desire for connection after a year in quarantine. I’m gonna see if some other people want that. They may not, and that’s okay. 

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Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Categories: Things Jesuit

Three Ways to Recharge in the Summertime

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 06/21/2021 - 05:30

By Vinita Hampton Wright

We can rest and recreate during the summer months, but how about going a step further? How do we recharge ourselves for the months to come? How can we use the natural gifts of summer to build up our resources? 1. Move past clutter to clarity. It’s so easy for summer to become the dumping […]

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

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

Click through to read the full article Three Ways to Recharge in the Summertime, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Calming the Storm Within Us | One-Minute Homily

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 06/20/2021 - 01:00

Does prayer ever seem dry or just not meet expectations? Br. Sullivan McCormick, SJ, reflects on the calming of the storm at sea and how Jesus defies expectations. Based on the readings for Sunday, June 20, 2021.

How do we respond when prayer doesn’t meet our expectations?

Hi, I’m Br. Sullivan McCormick, and this is my One-Minute Reflection. Have you ever experienced times when prayer was dry, uneventful, or unfulfilling? Today’s Gospel provides a powerful analogy and guidance for our prayer life. In prayer we might feel that we are “perishing” in our spiritual life because of dry prayer or unanswered prayer. We might feel discouraged because Christ is not resolving our storms in the way we want them to be resolved. 

However, what happens when we look at prayer through the lens of faith, that faith Jesus calls his disciples to after calming the storm? Faith tells me that Christ is present, healing and transforming me, even though prayer might seem dry or unanswered. Just as Jesus lies in the stern of the boat, he is there waiting inside us every time we pray. Faith tells us that Jesus is with us even if he doesn’t meet our expectations. 

Categories: Things Jesuit

Callings

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 06/18/2021 - 05:30

By Melinda LeBlanc

I recently began watching a TV show about passengers on an airplane who, unknowingly, disappear for five years while in flight. While they believe only minutes have passed, their friends and families have been without them for five years. (It’s a bizarre series, but I suppose it’s my escape from the heaviness of local and […]

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

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

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

Categories: Things Jesuit

31 Days with St. Ignatius: The Ignatian Year Edition

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 05:30

By dotMagis Editor

July is almost here, which means we’re getting ready for the 12th-annual 31 Days with St. Ignatius. This original month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality leads up to the feast day of its namesake on July 31. We’ve put together a calendar of Ignatian articles and more for you to be inspired daily by St. Ignatius’s […]

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

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

Click through to read the full article 31 Days with St. Ignatius: The Ignatian Year Edition, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Before He Was the Baptist

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 06/14/2021 - 05:30

By Loretta Pehanich

“I dare you to eat a bug.” Was John the Baptist the kind of kid who might say that? As a mom, I’m curious about such things. When did he acquire a taste for locusts and wild honey? Let’s imagine John as a teen whose parents, aware of the prenatal prophesy, do everything possible to […]

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

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

Click through to read the full article Before He Was the Baptist, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

What’s the Point? Let’s Examen the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Mon, 06/14/2021 - 02:33

The Jesuits (and also Franciscans) have a long and fascinating history of promoting the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In fact, it was so important, explicit mention of the devotion was added into the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus: “All should have a high regard for, and be keenly mindful of, the mystery of the Heart of Christpromot[ing] it in their every apostolic activity.” 1 Jesuits like Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ 2 and Fr. Karl Rahner, SJ 3 placed great emphasis on the power and importance of the Sacred Heart as well. In fact, Fr. Karl Rahner, SJ once wrote that the “Sacred Heart of Jesus is not just another devotion, it is the spirituality that defines the Church.”

Sacred Heart of Jesus with Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Louis Gonzaga (José de Páez, Mexico, 1727-1790)

I invite our readers today to learn about this ‘Most’ Human and ‘Most’ Divine Heart, not through trivia or history about this devotion, but through prayer — as a ‘friend to a friend’ or ‘heart to heart’. 4 This is the “interior knowledge” of Christ 5 which the Spiritual Exercises encourage us to experience — not just to know about Jesus, but to know him personally. Although St. Ignatius himself would not have seen the image of the Sacred Heart as we know it today, the practice of this devotion is incredibly Ignatian: “For it is not much knowledge that fills and satisfies the soul, but the intimate understanding and relish of the truth.” 6

I suggest this approach is the key to understanding and truly living the devotions to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. 7

Image from https://wallup.net/sacred-heart-heart-collage-jesus-christ-cross-cover-art-religious/

A ‘Radical’ Prayer Based on the Heart of Christ

The “core” of this devotion known as the “Cor Iesu Sacratissimum” is the heart (“cor” in Latin) of Jesus. The Sacred Heart  captures the central element of Christ: God’s infinite love in a living human heart 8. That’s his salvific gift to the world. Whenever we see this heart, we are to recall that Christ always “sees” our own hearts first (Mark 10:21). In fact, we too are called to do the same with everyone and not judge a book by its cover. And Jesus does mean every ‘one’ we meet (John 13:34-35). 

Using a method known as the ‘Ignatian Examen’, my hope is that this prayer transforms the way we understand our relationship with the Most Sacred Heart 9 — i.e. our relationship with Christ himself. So that everytime I see this image I am reminded of the goal of all Christian living: To re-create my own heart in the “image and likeness” 10 of the heart of Christ! 

Anatomy of the Sacred Heart 

There are three main parts to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which we can use daily to Examine our own hearts:

  1. A Heart set on fire 
  2. A Heart crowned with thorns
  3. A Heart that is exposed and vulnerable outside of the body

Opening Prayer (while doing the Sign of the Cross slowly): God the Father, send your Holy Spirit to create in us a heart that resembles that of your Son, Jesus” 

Step 1: Contemplate the Fire of the Heart 

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Luke 12:49)

Reflection: Jesus was always on fire for God’s Kingdom and God’s Justice (Matthew 6:33). The things of God oriented everything Jesus did. He was indeed a man filled with great passion for the work of his Father! (John 5:17). Here are some questions that can help us reflect on our own hearts in light of that roaring and unquenchable flame:  

  • Where has my heart been set on ‘fire’ with love, peace or joy today? 
  • Have I felt God’s presence — an increase of faith, hope and love?
  • Have I felt God’s absence — a decrease of faith, hope and love?
  • What kind of activities have I been passionate about? 
  • Are these things Jesus himself would be passionate about? 

Prayer: Lord, help my heart become “flammable” with the fire of the Holy Spirit so that I too experience that life-giving love between the Father and the Son (John 15:9).

Step 2: Contemplate the Thorns Crowning the Heart

“So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And Pilate said to them, “Behold, the man!”  (John 19:5)

Reflection: Right before his Passion, Jesus’s feet are ‘anointed’ with a pint of expensive nard oil (John 12:3) by Mary, Martha’s sister — equivalent to a year’s worth of salary. This kind of oil was used for very important and (very different) types of ceremonies, including coronations, ordinations, weddings and even burial ceremonies. This same scene appears in Mark 14:3, but with an unnamed woman who breaks the jar and pours it, this time on his head. From head to feet, Jesus was justly anointed as ‘Lord’ in Bethany, whereas in Jerusalem, he is unjustly mocked with a crown of thorns by unnamed Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:29). The fact that both the woman and the soldiers are unnamed allow us to place ourselves there: we continue to ‘anoint’ and ‘mock’ Christ as well in our daily lives. And yet, Jesus received both with equal love — the woman and the soldiers. Both were essential to signal his divine Kingship over the universe.

Christ is king of the just and unjust alike. His “broken heart” 11 and thorns can represent those moments of sacrifice or struggle for and with others. 

  • What have I sacrificed today? Is there something I have resisted sacrificing?
  • Is there someone else who has sacrificed something for me — i.e. a parent, friend or loved one? I hold them with deep gratitude in my heart at this moment.
  • Do I allow myself to feel the pain of so many “crucified” and unjustly treated peoples in our world or do I close my heart’s eyes and ears to injustice? How well doo I hear “the cry of the poor”12?
  • When I look upon my own heart’s ‘wounds’ do I pray just to be healed or that my ‘wounds’ are used by God to serve the world? 
  • How well do I receive both “blessings” and “hardships” in my heart? Do I receive them with equal love? 

Prayer: Lord, just as royal myrrh (Matthew 2:11) is extracted from a tree of thorns, transform our pains and sacrifices into opportunities to ‘praise, reverence and serve You’ without costing the cost. 

Step 3: Contemplate the Heart Outside the Chest 

Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you.” (Luke 22:19)

In the case of Jesus, we can see what his heart looks like because he does not hide it from others. He wears it not only on his sleeve, but on his chest — so that you cannot miss it. This level of vulnerability leaves his heart for others to touch, see and be close to — i.e. exposed to kisses and violence, acceptance and rejection, friendship and betrayal. Focusing on the ‘heart’ (essence) of the other first can help us transcend religious, socio-economic, racial and other exterior divisions. It is an artistic summary of the ‘Great Commandment’ to love God, others and self as one (Matthew 22:34-40). All human love and divine love is fused in this one heart. But Jesus clearly does not reserve this heart for himself, he gifts it away — always. 

  • How vulnerable and open am I with my own heart? 
  • Have I hidden my heart from anyone today?
  • Is there someone or something I am afraid of giving my ‘whole’ heart to?
  • Has there been anyone today who has given their heart to me through their time, service or just a smile? 
  • How does God invite me to greater vulnerability?
  • Knowing Christ gifts me his “messy” heart (i.e. bloodied and broken), am I willing to give mine (i.e. however its state) to God and others?

Prayer: Lord, transform my heart into a Eucharistic Heart — one that is “blessed, broken and shared” (Mark 14:22) 13 for all and with all without reserve and conditions. 

Photo Credit: Brandon Melton

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What if my Heart still Hungers for More? 

If you are still hungry, this is Good News! Your heart is becoming more like the heart of Our Lord, who until his last breaths was “hungry” (Mark 11:12) and “thirsty” (John 19:28) for the conversion of hearts and the installment of the Kingdom. This longing for righteousness and justice is a Beatitude that screams of the Ignatian “Magis” — always seeking ‘the more’ (depth over breadth) in everything and everyone. 

This divine love is contagious and it is this love that changes a ‘work of art’ into a ‘work of devotion’ —  transforming our own hearts into God’s own artwork

For those who wish to continue plummeting the depths of this eternal and inexhaustible well of living water and wisdom 14, here are some solid Ignatian Prayer Resources and Book Recommendations to continue setting our (internal) world on fire first!

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Kingdom of God is about Patience | One-Minute Homily

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 06/13/2021 - 02:00

The kingdom of God requires patience. Patrick Saint-Jean, SJ, reflects on faith the size of a mustard seed and the patience required for that kind of faith. Based on the readings for Sunday, June 13, 2021.

The Kingdom of God is about patience.

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

When I was young, my mother often told me that spiritual work for the kingdom of God is about praying, paying attention and waiting—but I never liked the last one, because I do not like to wait. Each time I tried to wait, I failed because I never had the patience to wait. 

Today, I feel like Mark is inviting us to the same dynamic while comparing the kingdom of God to a Mustard seed. Building the kingdom of the Lord only requires us to plant the seed and especially having the patience to wait. Everything will come out as God wishes and in God’s good time. Lord, give us the patience to see your Kingdom come.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Regeneration Through Cultivating Joy

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 06/11/2021 - 05:30

By Marina Berzins McCoy

One of my earliest childhood memories is being about two or three years old, walking along a Florida beach with my parents. My father showed me a starfish that had washed up on the beach. He explained to me that if it lost one of its arms, it could over time regenerate them again. I […]

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

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

Click through to read the full article Regeneration Through Cultivating Joy, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Strangers and the Funny Papers

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 06/09/2021 - 05:30

By Shemaiah Gonzalez

I am thirsty. Not for water or coffee or tea but for conversation. And I’m not talking about the weather or the plague or politics. I’m talking about deep listening. The kind of conversation where I feel I know the other person better, that person knows me better, and I know myself better. It has […]

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

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

Click through to read the full article Strangers and the Funny Papers, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

How Seventh Graders Taught Me to Pray

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 06/09/2021 - 02:33

Class started as it often did. “I want to pray for Kayla,” 1 12 year-old Caylen said with a mischievous smile. “Her mom took her phone away last night. She probably deserves it though because she’s really immature. I mean, I’m pretty immature, but she’s really really immature. You wouldn’t give a five-year old a phone, would you? But still I want to pray for her.”

As our start-of-class prayers have evolved over the past year, the most common petitions by far have to do with iPhones. Some students pray to get them back from parents who are trying to pry their children away from screens. Others pray to acknowledge a rude comment that’s still bothering them from last night’s three hour conversation. Still others offer petitions for people who have suffered misfortune in viral TikTok videos. That’s most common for the seventh grade boys.

Jared’s the one who figured out this way of exploiting my laissez-faire approach to petitions. A few months ago he started his prayer for a “video I saw on TikTok last night.” He described an elaborate set up and a dramatic pratfall, like Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner had come to life on his phone. The class roared. Two of Jared’s good friends completely lost it, nearly falling out of their seats with schadenfreude. It’s become a trend. The seventh grade boys spend most evenings watching ever more bizarre stunts on TikTok. Every morning, they “pray for” the victims of these stunts with their classmates. I have to close the classroom door because the laughter echoes down the halls into the principal’s office. After the laughter subsides, someone inevitably follows up with a plea to God that a phone will be returned by a punishing parent.

The seventh grade girls have figured out that prayer is a productive space in which to sort out classroom drama. They remind me of my grandmother, rehashing the highs and lows of the previous nights’ engagements, though she had cocktail parties, and they have group FaceTime conversations. They offer direct feedback to more difficult personalities. One might say about a girl sitting just a few rows away, “I can’t believe that she said that to me last night.” Such petitions often provoke louds cheers of approval or else protestations from the offending party. Or they might pray about a boy in an ever higher-pitched voice, “that he will stop calling me over and over again, I don’t want to talk to him!” Whenever boys come up, all the girls fall into fits of giggles. Still, no matter what the drama of the night before, everyone can agree that it’s wildly unfair that someone’s mom has taken away her phone.

The eighth grade girls tend to have a worldlier focus than any of the rest of my classes. They’re young women now, precocious and sophisticated. While they still spend hours on their phones, they’re aware of the troubles of the world. We pray for “everyone with COVID” and “the homeless.” Vicki spent weeks praying for an end to “Asian hate” and for the safety of women on a TikTok-promoted “National Rape Day.” Her classmate prayed for justice for George Floyd for weeks before the verdict was released. Recently, though, it got personal.

“He was thirteen. I’m thirteen.”

Yajaira doesn’t always offer petitions, but she prayed for Adam Toledo for a few days after a video went viral in which he was killed by Chicago police. The video stunned her as it seemed to say something about her own life. One inner city Hispanic teenager was dead, and another was sitting here praying for him before trying to focus on linear functions.

At our school, we try to provide a safe home for poor students in Brooklyn. As we prepare to graduate our eighth graders, these black and brown young women are quickly realizing that the big world outside will not be so safe. The girls have adopted a respectable, adult posture toward the dangers of the world. They’ve seen the cross, and they’ve seen the way they might one day be crucified on it. I stand in awe of their ability to face such tragedy despite being only fourteen.

I often sound like those eighth grade girls when I pray. It’s easy for me to offer Jesus a litany of tragedies I’ve read about in the news. I know plenty of dying parents and sick friends and incarcerated brothers worthy of my attention in prayer. 

I think Jesus sent me to the seventh graders to learn how to pray. Given the weight of the world, I rarely let Jesus surprise me with laughter the way Jared’s classmates do. I rarely lose myself in the reckless joy in which they bask. As Caylen admitted, they’re all quite immature, but Jesus looked to ones such as these as models for the Kingdom. To my adult mind, heaven is a place where worldly problems are solved, but the seventh graders show me that maybe that’s too small and earthly a picture. What if, instead, heaven is simply where laughter always abounds?

-//-

Photo by Daniel Joshua on Unsplash

Categories: Things Jesuit

Three Ways to Respond When Life Goes a Different Direction

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 06/07/2021 - 05:30

By Vinita Hampton Wright

After Ignatius of Loyola gave his life to God’s service, he imagined that he should go to Jerusalem to pray and do penance, make pilgrimage to the sites of Jesus’ life, and do God’s work among people there. Today still, many Christians feel the pull to walk where Jesus walked. We sense that this region […]

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

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

Click through to read the full article Three Ways to Respond When Life Goes a Different Direction, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Problems With White Jesus

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Mon, 06/07/2021 - 01:00

The following is an excerpt from The Spiritual Work of Racial Justice: A Month of Meditations with Ignatius of Loyola, a new book by TJP contributor Patrick Saint-Jean, SJ.

As much as it pains me, I cannot escape the fact that Christianity was the cradle in which racism grew. Centuries ago, the church rationalized land theft from indigenous peoples and the enslavement of Africans with the belief that God was on the side of white Christians. In fact, the church taught, God had destined white people to remake the world in their own image. The theology that would one day be titled “Manifest Destiny” was already at work, as white Christians soothed their uneasy consciousness with their belief in their own God-given exceptionalism.

Ignatius spoke of false Christians as “poison,” “creeping daily like a gangrene.” I hope he would have been able to recognize the rottenness that took hold of Christianity during the centuries of colonization and conquest that led to the building of our world today. Theologian Kelly Brown Douglas has said that whites’ belief in their superiority is America’s original sin, spawning both slavery and the unjust treatment of indigenous people, both today’s racism and the fear and resentment of immigrants. This sin is the idolatry we discussed earlier; in effect, white Christian created their own false god—a white god—and this warped all their other beliefs.

And yet America prides itself on being a Christian nation. The Declaration of Independence based the rights it guaranteed in the fact that these are “God-given”; at the same time, it referred to the original inhabitants of North America as “merciless Indian savages.” America’s founders spoke passionately of the equality of “all men”—and yet the Constitution defined Black Americans as only three-fifths of a person. Clearly, to be “human” meant to be white (and male).

Until the nineteenth century, however, Jesus was usually portrayed as a dark-eyed, dark-haired Jew. But in the early 1800s, the American church was increasingly troubled by a number of issues. It struggled with the morality of taking more and more land from Native Americans, while at the same time, the tension around slavery was mounting. In these decades, white churches began printing and distributing pictures of a white Jesus. His image became a wordless source of unity and comfort for many troubled Americans.

Christian ministers also went beyond this nonverbal image, stating in no uncertain terms that the enslavement of human beings was justifiable from a biblical point of view. The Reverend James Henley Thornwell, a Harvard-educated scholar who memorized most of the entire Bible, regularly preached the message of white supremacy from his pulpit in Columbia, South Carolina, where he was the pastor in the years leading up to the Civil War. “As long as that [African] race, in its comparative degradation, co-exists side by side with the white,” Thornwell told his congregation in 1861, “bondage is its normal condition.” Christians need not feel guilty about enslaving other human beings, Thornwell said. “The relation of master and slave stands on the same foot with the other relations of life. In itself, it is not inconsistent with the will of God. It is not sinful.” The Bible, insisted Thornwell, sanctioned “slavery as any other social condition of man.”

After the Civil War, as Americans struggled with Reconstruction even as they worried about the growing number of Asian and Jewish immigrants, white Jesus became even more important to the identity of white folk. Artists began to portray the Savior as not only fair-skinned but also blond and blue-eyed. This was nonverbal propaganda; it allowed whites to absorb the message that the Divine was like them. White skinned people were good, like Jesus; brown-skinned people were dangerous and sinful, the opposite of Jesus. 

Authors Skot Welch and Rick Wilson refer to white Jesus as “Plantation Jesus.” They make the statement that this concept of a white Jesus was what allowed good Christian folk to go to church on Sundays—and then put on the robes of the Ku Klux Klan the rest of the week and bomb, beat, torture, and murder Blacks. “Plantation Jesus was the reason that churches and Sunday schools sometimes dismissed early to participate in . . . lynchings, which happened in every American state except two.” Of course not all white Christians participated in lynchings, but the silence of the white church allowed the violence and murder to continue from 1880 to 1968. As historian Jemar Tisby has reminded us, “The refusal to act in the midst of injustice is itself an act of injustice. Indifference to oppression perpetuates oppression.”

Many white Christians did not identify themselves with the Ku Klux Klan, but they too worshipped a form of white Jesus. They implicitly believed that because Jesus was white, whites had the corner on God. Meanwhile, from its beginning, KKK members considered themselves good Christians. One Klan leader stated, “As the Star of Bethlehem guided the wise men to Christ, so it is that the Klan is expected more and more to guide men to the right life under Christ’s banner .” In the opening prayer of Klan rituals, the order proclaimed: “The living Christ is a Klansman’s criterion of character.” Perhaps Ignatius had something like these so-called Christians in mind when he said, “Charity and kindness unwedded to truth are not charity and kindness, but deceit and vanity. “

As the Civil Rights Movement dawned, white Jesus was still very much present. On Sunday, May 14, 1961, a crowd of angry white people in Alabama attacked a Greyhound bus carrying Freedom Riders (protestors against segregationist laws). The mob threw rocks and bricks through the windows and then tossed a firebomb through a broken window. As smoke and flames filled the bus, the attackers barricaded the door. “Burn them alive!” someone in the crowd shouted. A few weeks later, Montgomery’s most prominent pastor, Henry Lyon Jr., denounced the Freedom Riders. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he announced at a community gathering, “for fifteen years I have had the privilege of being pastor of a white Baptist church in this city. If we stand a hundred years from now, it will still be a white church. I am a believer in a separation of the races, and I am none the less a Christian.” 

Lyon waited for the applause to die down before he continued: “If you want to get in a fight with the one that started separation of the races, then you come face to face with your God. The difference in color, the difference in our body, our minds, our life, our mission upon the face of this earth, is God given.” Not all white churches took such an outspoken and overt stand in support of racism, but as Jamar Tisby points out, “At a key moment in the life of our nation, one that called for moral courage, the American church responded to much of the civil rights movement with passivity, indifference, or even outright opposition.”

You would think that Black people would have unanimously turned away from Christianity. Instead, many Black people, including my own ancestors, went directly to the Jesus of the Gospels. They found there a Jesus who looked like them—a person with brown skin, a victim of oppression. They discovered a Jesus whose message was love, affirmation, and freedom, a Jesus who came to take his stand with any who are oppressed. 

In the historical Jesus, we find the embodiment of God’s love for justice. In his life on earth, we come face to face with a Divine Being who experienced the pain of rejection, of poverty, of political oppression—and yet rose above them all with his message of liberation and love. This is the true message of Christ. “Racism is the ultimate denial of the Gospel,” said Bishop Desmond Tutu, “and it cannot be but that all believers would oppose vehemently this false gospel that would have people place their hope of salvation in a pseudo-gospel.”

“Above all,” Ignatius tells us, “remember that God looks for solid virtues in us, such as patience, humility, obedience, abnegation of your own will—that is, the good will to serve God and our neighbor in God.” Ignatius points us to a spirituality that has nothing to do with white Jesus, a false god of superiority, intolerance, and injustice. In the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius asks us to focus on humility. He defines humility at its deepest, most authentic level as total identification with Jesus: 

I so much want the truth of Christ’s life to be fully the truth of my own that I find myself, moved by grace, with a love and a desire for poverty in order to be with the poor Christ; a love and a desire for insults in order to be closer to Christ in his own rejection by people; a love and a desire to be considered worthless and a fool for Christ, rather than be esteemed as wise and prudent according to the standards of the world.

These words us challenge us with this question: Can we see Jesus in the lives of those who have been oppressed? Are we willing to serve the true Jesus, a person of color?

 

Categories: Things Jesuit

Corpus Christi: God Enters Our Mess | One-Minute Homily

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 06/06/2021 - 01:00

We are a mess, but today we remember that God entered into our mess. Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ. Fr. Eric Sundrup, SJ, reflects on what it means for God to become flesh and blood and offer us God’s very self. Based on the readings for Sunday, June 6, 2021.

We are a bloody mess.

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

[To someone off-camera] Am I allowed to say that…you know… “bloody,” that might sound a little profane in different regions. 

OK, well, it’s out there. 

Here’s the thing, God can take the profane and work with it. God can be part of the messy stuff.  Near as I can tell, Christ doesn’t mind a mess.

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ. Bodies, Blood, Humans… ughhh messy. But God doesn’t mind a little blood and guts, all that messy, human stuff. Things that might be labeled profane, stuff that makes us worry we might be icky, that’s not a problem for God.

So yeah, we’re a mess, and God jumps right in. God gives us God’s very self. Think about that! God wants to be there with you, as you are, right now, right here. It’s one heck of a gift.

God can deal with our mess.

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Trinity and the Trumpet

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 06/04/2021 - 05:30

By Becky Eldredge

I was about to walk downstairs when I heard a beautiful sound coming from my son’s room. I paused at the top of the landing to listen more carefully. While muffled due to his door being shut, I realized my son was practicing scales on his trumpet to prepare for his high school band audition. […]

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

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

Click through to read the full article The Trinity and the Trumpet, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Kintsugi and the Divine Potter

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 06/02/2021 - 05:30

By Gretchen Crowder

Recently, I started the Spiritual Exercises again, and one of the first readings I reflected on was from Jeremiah. In this passage (18:1–9), God explains how he can rework and remold the house of Israel like the potter reworks the clay. As I opened my Bible and read through this passage, I was struck by […]

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

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

Click through to read the full article Kintsugi and the Divine Potter, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

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