Toward a Habit of Gratitude

What kind of prayer expresses thanksgiving that is honest? Do I begin with my complaints and then end with words of praise and trust? Some of the psalms from the Bible follow that structure, so it must be OK. But is it enough simply to say, “Things are horrible, but I know that God is good, so I thank you, Lord, that you are watching over me”? There’s probably more to it than that. First, […]

Pray for Strangers

Wyatt Massey writes for America magazine: I sit alone on the bench, outside of a café as I wait for a friend. The lines on each passing face, the way they hold their hands, the postures they keep—it all tells a story. They are strangers, but I fill in details of their lives with imagination and prayer. His brief essay, “Prayers of a Wondering Mind,” beautifully tells of one way to pray for strangers when […]

Setting Down Our Nets

When Jesus calls the fishermen Peter and Andrew, he tells them, “Come follow me.” In response, the new disciples experience a new desire and put down their nets to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:19–20). We, too, can also have various “nets” that can limit our capacity to follow Jesus more closely. One way to pray with this passage is to consider the question: What are my own nets? In the Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius names […]

Fr. James Martin on Ignatian Contemplation

Fr. James Martin, SJ, author of books including My Life with the Saints (10th anniversary edition) and Jesus: A Pilgrimage, recently shared with Sean Salai, SJ, some thoughts on prayer, specifically Ignatian contemplation. Salai: Beginners in Ignatian contemplation sometimes struggle to distinguish between what comes from God and what comes from their own heads when they use their imagination to pray. As a spiritual director and retreat master, what do you say to them? Martin: […]

Time and Space for Silence

Shemaiah Gonzalez appreciates “The Gift of Silence in the Morning.” But it’s difficult to sit still. It’s not just my body that wants to move, to twitch and shift; it’s my mind too. I think of to-do lists and my schedule until finally I give in to the utter gift of a quiet space. I ask God to remind me of what is true and good. Read the full reflection at Busted Halo. Whether you […]

Take, Lord, Receive, My Work and Career

I work in an office where the pace is breakneck speed. I pray during my morning commute, but pride kicks in as I park: “See you at noon, God. I’ve got things covered.” Then I read the Suscipe. Uh, oh. Do I mean it? I pray, “Take, Lord, receive, well, most of me. Can I hang on to this area—and that—while I ‘let you’ take care of the rest?” So I’m taking an incremental approach […]

The Brain, Silly Putty, and Prayer

After reading a scientific essay about the brain, Jim McDermott writes in America: Because here’s the other crazy-cool thing about the brain: it’s like Silly Putty. It remains flexible throughout our lives. That is to say, no matter how many times we’ve reacted in one way, no matter how strong the path we’ve forged between two synapses, the brain remains always open to forging new paths. So if when faced with possible conflicts you choose […]

Joseph Tetlow on Prayer

Joseph Tetlow, SJ, is one of the Jesuits’ leading authorities on spiritual direction. For years he worked in Rome as head of the Society’s Secretariat for Ignatian Spirituality. In this video he talks about Ignatian prayer and why someone might want to have a spiritual director. Tetlow says, “Prayer is as natural to us as breathing is. We don’t have to be taught how to pray. We have only to be invited to start praying […]

Listening on the Sea of Galilee

Last year I was on a boat with 50 people on the Sea of Galilee. Admittedly, this makes praying pretty easy. Our joke during the Holy Land pilgrimage was that you didn’t really have to “imagine” anything, as you do in the Ignatian way of praying. All you had to do was open your eyes and look around! In the Ignatian tradition, people are encouraged to use their senses to picture themselves in a passage […]

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