Staying Curious

In his ministry, Jesus often asks others what they want. For example, he asks the blind Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51) On another occasion, James and John approach Jesus, and he asks them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36) Both in his healing ministry and with his friends, Jesus displays a kind of openness and curiosity toward others. Until recently, I had […]

Trust and Freedom

Jesus’ instruction to pray to God, “thy will be done” is an essential part of Christian practice. Many saints, like Ignatius, have asked God to assist them in letting go of their own wills in favor of God’s will, as we find in the Suscipe: “Take, Lord, and receive, my memory, my understanding, my entire will.” This is both a difficult and worthwhile enterprise. Giving up one’s own will requires deep trust that in all […]

How a Busy Person Finds God in All Things

Busy people generally don’t stop being busy people. If they are spiritually aware, they will intentionally cease activity at regular intervals to be silent and still, to listen to the Divine, and to care for themselves. But then, they’re off! Busy people use their energy for action. Their minds rarely pause, because there are always multiple projects and plans forming. I use “busy” to describe a person who is nearly always outwardly active—this is the […]

The Greatest Union

I’ve recently returned from my annual weeklong silent retreat. Often it is the highlight of my year, a place to reconnect more deeply with God and to get my priorities straight for the next year. This year, I arrived at retreat with the intent to grieve. I was grieving the recent death of my stepdad. I was grieving the loss of a friend who had dropped out of my life without explanation, then briefly reappeared […]

Discernment Is a Choice of Courage

In a recent address to seminarians, Pope Francis highlighted three aspects of Ignatian style: friendship with the Lord, discernment, and cultivating the magis, or “more,” for the Kingdom of God. In speaking of discernment, the Pope said: Discernment is a choice of courage, contrary to the more comfortable and reductive ways of rigorism and of laxness, as I have repeated many times. To educate to discernment means, in fact, to flee from the temptation to […]

The Grace of Failure

This topic came up in class, and it gets better as I continue to think about it. Here’s the thumbnail: the young Ignatius went to Jerusalem to imitate St. Francis, wanting to walk in Christ’s footsteps and convert Muslims. But after he got there, the local priests sent him packing, and he was dejected. Why did God set him up for failure? One of the most difficult periods in my own life was a professional failure. It […]

Consolation and Desolation

During Lent, we reflect upon our spiritual state and on our interior movement. Are we moving toward more doubt, fear, and anger? Or are we moving toward greater faith, hope, and love? The Ignatian principles of consolation and desolation can help us. A person dwells in a state of consolation when she or he is moving toward God’s active presence in the world. We know we are moving in this way when we sense the […]

The Long Ride

I do some of my best thinking and praying while running or biking. This morning I considered how biking hills is not a bad analogy to the discernment of consolation and desolation in the spiritual life. Here’s the idea. Coming to the beginning of a long upward climb can be a daunting experience. You see it looming, and you see that it will be hard and tiring. There is a temptation to quit or turn around. This is […]

Harden Not Our Hearts

An antiphon that we often hear in Lent says, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 3:15 and Psalm 95:8). This line teaches me a way to think about the journey of Lent: to allow our hearts to be more open and responsive to whatever the Lord has to tell us and the world. Lent is a season of conversion. The Greek term for conversion, metanoia, means “turning around.” To convert […]

God’s Project

I first encountered the term “God’s project” in an essay by Joseph Tetlow, SJ. I think it’s an idea worth considering further. Looking at the world as God’s project has some powerful implications. For example: 1. It emphasizes the radical human freedom with which God has created us, and the passion God brings to persuading us to help God create a kingdom of goodness, truth, and beauty. 2. It allows us to see human evil […]

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