O Come Emmanuel

Thinking Faith has been sharing a series of reflections on the O Antiphons this Advent. In a reflection on the last antiphon in the series—but the first in a popular Advent hymn—Frances Murphy writes of “O Emmanuel.” The traditional lyrics call, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.” Murphy writes: An exile is someone who is separated from the place they […]

Mary’s Humility

In a homily last week, Pope Francis talked about “fear of the Lord” as a humble way of living. As reported in Zenit: “The humility of the childlike is that of somebody who walks in the presence of the Lord, does not speak badly about others, looks only at serving and feels that he or she is the smallest …. That is where their strength lies.” The Holy Father praised Mary’s humility, as a girl […]

From Secular to Sacred: Go All Out!

As you prepare for the holidays this year, go all out! Literally—get OUT of the house, go OUTside, experience the great OUTdoors. Yes, you’ve got too much to do, but that’s no excuse. If it’s cold, bundle up and allow your cheeks to get rosy and your body to become energized by the brisk air. If you’re not in a cold climate, then spend a little more time wandering at a nearby lake/ocean/mountain/park. Take along […]

Why Gratitude?

Yes, here’s another article on gratitude—not because we can’t think of other topics but because we naturally cycle around to this one again and again. Gratitude is not a fad, not the latest trend on the World Wide Web. Gratitude is foundational to the life that so many people desire: a life that is well-lived, joyful, and connected to others and to God in good, healthy ways. I wouldn’t even call gratitude an attitude. It’s […]

Habits of the Heart

Most of us are interested in spirituality because, at the heart of things, we want to be transformed. We want our lives to change for the better, in small ways and big ways. This desire for ongoing, positive change compels us to sign up for classes, join prayer groups, attend religious services, participate in faith rituals, and search—again and again—for the practice or information that will help us become the people we truly want to […]

Spiritual Friendship

The twelfth-century Cistercian monk Aelred of Rievaulx wrote a small work that has become a classic, Spiritual Friendship. It would be easy to think that the word spiritual in the title refers to the quality of the friendship, spiritual friendships being the highest ones, something hard to attain. But Aelred is careful to say that what makes a friendship spiritual is not its lofty height so much as its origin and direction. Spiritual friendship, Aelred […]

A Long, Loving Look at the Real

Jesuit theologian Walter Burghardt once described contemplation as taking a “long, loving look at the real.” That sounds lovely. But what does it mean for you and me—people who most likely are not preachers, Jesuits, or philosophers? Let’s take that phrase in three parts: long, loving, and look at the real. Long. This is a sustained gaze, not a glance. It requires time, but it also requires focused attention. So whether I am looking at […]

Self-Awareness: The Oxygen of the Spiritual Life

In one of my recent classes I mentioned the term “self-awareness” and discovered that most of my students did not know what it meant. We interestingly live in a culture of self-absorption—of selfies and self-centered Facebook posts—but lack a healthy awareness of self. Many of us grew up in an environment where talking or thinking about one’s self was bad. We just didn’t do that. Sitting and reflecting on our interior life might have been […]

Support Networks

A popular series of cell-phone commercials boasted the strength of network coverage by showing a huge crowd of people following close behind the customer as he walked down the street speaking on his cell phone. That’s a good metaphor for the kind of support I’m going to need if I am to live according to God’s will. As I make my way through the spiritual life, it is absolutely crucial that I have a strong […]

Saturday Link for 31 Days with St. Ignatius

The end of July nears, but we still have more Ignatian celebration before St. Ignatius’s feast day on July 31. Today in 31 Days with St. Ignatius, enjoy The Foundation of Heroism: Magis by Chris Lowney. Is there an Ignatian concept you’d like to learn more about on this blog?

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