Springtime Scents

We’re somewhere in the middle of spring, which here in Chicago means temperatures jumping from winter-like lows to summer-like highs. The changing of seasons (even all within the same calendar season of spring) makes me more aware of my senses, particularly the sense of smell. Freshly mown grass and flowering plants are just two of the more obvious scents spring brings to my nose. Some people love these smells. I’m a little less enthused about […]

Feeling the Joy with Jesus

A few years ago, a friend gave me some prints of the Laughing Jesus painting. When I saw it, I immediately started laughing. I wondered what it was about this image that made me laugh. Part of it was that Jesus seemed to have such a joyful countenance that one could really imagine him laughing, and it looked like “contagious laughter”—the kind where it’s impossible to resist joining in. It also made me a tiny […]

More Stillness

What if, instead of more action, what we need is more stillness? What if, instead of more speech, we need more silence? What if all of our words—whether spoken, in an article, blog post, or group message—will make more sense if understood by attending to the Word underneath all words, the Word that gives rise to language itself? Could it be that paying more attention to silence might actually make us more attentive to one […]

Grief in the Easter Season

A few weeks ago, partway through the Easter Octave, my stepfather unexpectedly passed away. The news of his passing initially felt like an impossible interruption of joy, contrary to everything that I had been experiencing at Easter. My stepdad married my mom when I was only five, and so essentially raised my younger brother and me. I am no expert on how to mourn a parent. I have never done it before, nor have I […]

Wise Thoughts for the Graduate—and for the Rest of Us Too

In this graduation season, we share some wise and hopeful words from the late Lisa-Marie Calderone-Stewart, in I Wasn’t Dead When I Wrote This: Advice Given in the Nick of Time: If you still think everything seems hopeless, I invite you to do a simple exercise. On one side of a piece of paper, try listing all the problematic issues you can think of—things like hunger and poverty and sickness and homelessness and bullying and […]

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 […]

When to Sing Alleluia

“From holy Easter until Pentecost without interruption let ‘Alleluia’ be said both in the Psalms and in the responsories.” —from The Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 15. Last fall, my students and I read the Rule of St. Benedict, and I invited them to rewrite a chapter or two to suit their secular community of college students, an assignment they took up with verve. Chapter 15—when to sing the Alleluia—became a chapter on when it […]

What Is an Unhealthy Attachment?

People who are familiar with St. Ignatius, the Spiritual Exercises, or Jesuit spirituality in general will sometimes use the term unhealthy attachment. What is that exactly? Let’s explore this by asking a few questions. Is there any physical habit I have that gets in the way of my being available to God? Do I turn to food, drink, sex, exercise, or sleep to avoid facing myself or my conversation with the Divine? What are my […]

What Happened in the Tomb?

Did you ever wonder what exactly happened in the tomb after Jesus was buried? The mystery of Jesus fully human and fully divine tangles my brain like a shroud; I can’t get my mind wrapped around it. I’m puzzled by the few details the Gospels provide after the Resurrection. We’re told that the disciples found “the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place […]

How to Beat the Fear of Failure

Choose to do what you consider important to do. Do that important thing, and keep doing it. Don’t give up on what is important. Look at the gifts you have been given—name them. Accept those gifts and practice gratitude for them. Learn to cherish the life you are given. Believe what is good and kind and truthful and lovely. Find ways to pass along whatever is good and kind and truthful and lovely. Dare to […]

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