Authentic Gifts

It is National Reading Month, and I am an author invited to speak to grade-school children at the local Catholic school. I am unsure what to talk about. I do not write books for children. But my own daughters attended this school when they were young, and I write books. Apparently, these are good enough credentials. I tell the attentive, upturned faces a story from the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store about a child […]

Stop-Sign Examen

It’s traditional to undertake the Examen in the middle of the day and just before bed, but for the last few weeks, I’ve found myself starting the day with a version of this reflective prayer. It starts as I watch yet another car blow through the stop sign at the edge of the neighborhood. Sometimes I honk; sometimes I sigh. Always, I am aware of God’s presence and grateful—as one should be at the start […]

I’m Having a Hard Time Sitting in the Desert This Lent

I’ve been trying to sit with Christ in the desert as St. Ignatius suggests. I can’t manage to stay with him for long. I’m uncomfortable. I’m hot. I’m thirsty. And, worst of all, I really just can’t stand to see him suffering. I want out. I’m ready to skip right ahead to the Resurrection. My Ignatian contemplation is hitting too close to home this year. When my mother passed in September of 2015, we brought […]

Mary Showed Me Jesus’ Humanity

This post is based on Week Four of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure. I prayed most of the Spiritual Exercises with a baby in my arms. I began making them when our daughter, Abby, was one month old. When I began the Second Week of the Exercises, she was almost six months old and just starting to sit up. Most of my days at that time were spent sitting on the floor playing with her and […]

Dare to Look Inside Yourself

Fr. Michael Sparough, SJ, suggests the Examen as a tool to help us in daring to look inside ourselves. In explaining the steps of this foundational Ignatian prayer, Fr. Sparough tells us to pray from one or two dominant emotions: Those are the feelings that you especially want to pay attention to—those that are shouting at us and then those that are cowering, that say, “Don’t look at me.” Those are the ones we want […]

The Consequences of Seeing

This story is inspired by John 9:1–41, the healing of the man born blind, and Mark 10:46–52, the healing of Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus and I talked about it. His healing was immediate. Not mine. I must have looked like a fool stumbling down the road, mud on my eyes. “What was the first thing you saw?” I asked Bartimaeus. “The face of Jesus. You?” “My own reflection in the pool.” As we sat looking—just looking—at the […]

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 […]

Lenten Spring Cleaning

Most years, as I make my way to the Ash Wednesday service, it’s bitterly cold outside, and the hope of spring seems distant. With Easter a bit later this year, I was surprised to look out my window on Ash Wednesday to see the signs of spring quietly beginning its slow advance on winter. This little change shifts my perspective, and I begin to think about Lent in the context of spring rather than winter. […]

Not in Control

This post is based on Week Three of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure. Recently I used one of the versions of the Examen found in Fr. Mark Thibodeaux’s book Reimagining the Ignatian Examen for my daily prayer. This particular Examen (Saving F.A.C.E.) invited me to take a close look at four things: My fears My attachments My need for control Illusions of entitlement It nudged me to take an honest assessment of my last few weeks […]

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 […]

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