Find Your Inner IggyFind Your Inner Iggy is back! For the final week of Ignatian celebration this July, we’re recalling milestones from St. Ignatius’s life and exploring our own spirituality some 500 years later.

Find out how contributors like Kerry Weber, Paddy Gilger, SJ, and Pope Francis have had similar experiences to St. Ignatius. Then share your moments on Facebook, Instagram, Vine, or Twitter—using the hashtag #FindIggy—for a chance to win Ignatian prizes from Loyola Press.

Visit findyourinneriggy.com to begin finding your inner Iggy this Monday, July 28.

Meanwhile, 31 Days with St. Ignatius continues with today’s link, Wisdom Days.

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July 25, 2014

I stand at the door of the dreaded “networking lunch” at a conference. The feeling of isolation sweeps over me. I could make a thousand excuses for not being here now. I know not a soul in the room. I must be the out of place one. “Must…..get……over…..yourself….,” I struggle to pray in my head. I am not, by nature, an extrovert, so these situations are truly challenging for me. I have, however, found a way through that never fails.

What's your story? - speech bubbles

As I look at any room full of strangers, I frame them all as creations of God. Each of them has a story of what brought them to this moment, ways they have experienced this life differently than I, perhaps knowledge or insights meant for me or, better yet, perhaps a need that I can help them fulfill. I learned through Ignatian spirituality that you do not fear someone whose story you know. I live by this mantra so much that I am more comfortable meeting someone for the first time and simply asking, “Hi; what’s your story?” rather than the proscriptive, “Hi; how are you?” The story question sometimes throws people off just enough to open up a little more sincerely, and in that awkward space there is enough true presence to the other for a seed to be planted, for a relationship of sharing to begin. Everyone has a story.

And the question never fails. The stories people share with me about their lives (not always right off the bat, but as the conversation continues) open up worlds to me that I never knew existed. I have learned about everything from pumpkin chucking to flipping cars, about dreams realized and about the road not taken, about hometowns and crazy adventures, about illnesses and recoveries. It seems the more questions I ask about someone’s story, the more a given person comes alive that someone wants to know him or her. “So how did you manage that?” “How did that feel?” “What are you hoping for?” One question leads to another and the walls come tumbling down. I worry about not fitting in or knowing anyone, but as soon as I realize it is not about me, but it is all about the other person, the dreaded lunch becomes a golden opportunity.

Sometimes these conversations have created lifelong friendships, but most of the time they are at best the consolations of my Examen. I am left at the end of the day with nothing but gratitude for the unexpected face of God that I met and one more lesson to remind me to get my fears out of God’s way.


We move from lunchtime conversations to Spiritual Conversation with today’s 31 Days with St. Ignatius reading.

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July 24, 2014

Busted Halo reframes the Examen as Five Steps for Praying When You’re Overwhelmed. In their words, it’s “not intended as a substitute for seeking mental health support after a situation of loss or crisis, but instead is an opportunity to process the experience through the lens of faith.”

couple hugging after storms and fire

For more on the Examen, view today’s 31 Days with St. Ignatius video: The Examen Is One of My Favorite Prayers.

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July 23, 2014

Yesterday we shared a few submissions from Ignatian bloggers on where they encountered God in unexpected situations. Today we are happy to share two reader responses to the question.

reaching hand

In Prison

It was my first time in prison.

A few of us had permission to give a retreat at the prison for women. I had no idea what to expect, but I prayed that God would use us that day. Imagine our amazement and delight when it was the prisoners’ deep faith that ministered to our team and not just us ministering to them—it was reciprocal. Our presence was needed but not as we anticipated. We witnessed such courage, such concern for family and for each other. In great adversity these women, some of whom I have known now for a few years, live the love of Jesus for each other and for anyone who wishes to journey with them. God was with us in prison that day but in an unexpected way—the power of our God of surprises!

Lynda Clayton is a mother and grandmother from Canada.

On Retreat

Five years ago, while undergoing the 19th Annotation, I was in Puerto Rico on business. Early one morning, I walked to the beach where we were staying, to spend time at prayer with the recommended Scripture reading and to contemplate what Ignatius laid down. I was working on placing myself inside the stories and paying attention to how God was inspiring me.

The reading for that morning was from John chapter 15. Halfway through, I read, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain…” Something happened. There was a charge that went through my body. It was as though my surroundings moved in, and the words from the passage were all that I could focus on. I sat for some time to reflect on what happened. I was at peace. I knew that God had special plans for me, and I was looking forward to discerning exactly what it was God wanted me to do.

Tim Merriman is married, father of four and grandfather of four. He works in marketing and lives in Ohio.

Your turn! Where have you encountered God in an unexpected place or situation?


31 Days with St. IgnatiusToday’s 31 Days with St. Ignatius link is Sincere Gratitude.

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July 22, 2014

We asked a few readers to share with us where they encountered God in the unexpected. Today and tomorrow we highlight their responses.

Encountering God in the Unexpected graphic

I Found God in the Finding of Me

Unclothed, unprotected,
Touched by unloving,
Uncared for in my need, I was
Nothing.
Rich men grab at what they lack;
Poverty lowers the hand.
Poor as I was, I sat,
Unconsoled, unexpectant.
Alone.

As a blind woman senses a friend in the room,
I felt your eyes upon me.
My abyss met yours, much deeper, and wild.
My chaos met your silence.
Ages of agony passed between us.
This, too, is where you live.
How could I know you were looking for me?
“My name is I wait. All ways lead to me.”
Thus I found God in the finding of me.

Grace Mazza Urbanski is the Director of Children’s Ministry for the U.S. national office of the Apostleship of Prayer. She blogs at Praying with Grace.

Surprised by Grace

I’m standing in my yard, looking over the swampy mess that is waiting to be cleaned up once the spring rains dry up and the sun begins to shine. It’s much later in the season than I had expected. Usually this is all done by the end of May, but it’s been a very cool and wet spring. I sigh—and my heart is suddenly filled to overflowing with an expected joy! It has no place here, on this gray, sodden day. Yet there it is, and I begin to chant, “Thank you, Lord. I love you, Lord.” It’s been happening a lot lately, this surprise swelling of joy and gratitude. I’ve done nothing to earn it this day or any other, and soon it will pass like the clouds. But here in this moment, standing in the marsh that used to be my sanctuary, I simply accept it for what it is—grace.

Eric Gurash is a spiritual director and works in parish ministry. He contributes to DRE Connect.

Challenging People

Since I work at a parish, you would think that I trip over God in so many places that I would never be shocked. But be assured—the sneak-up-on-me God surprises me daily.

God regularly shows up in the form of challenging people. Sometimes I see God in a cranky co-worker or in a perturbed parishioner. God always arrives in the needy poor, at times belligerent in their persistence and perhaps mentally ill or simply exhausted from difficult living.

It is easy to see God in the hushed and majestic sanctuary, when I am kneeling and praying alone. God is indeed there—God is everywhere! However, I continue be startled by God revealed in people that irk me. God astonishingly shows up in everyone, challenging my not-so-merciful heart to soften and open—just like God’s does for us every day.

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn works at a parish in New York and blogs at There Will Be Bread.


Read today’s 31 Days with St. Ignatius selection, Conversion and Car Keys.

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July 21, 2014

desert drynessToday’s 31 Days with St. Ignatius reading is Quiet Nothingness. If you’ve ever struggled to feel God in prayer, today’s reading is for you.

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July 20, 2014

31 Days with St. IgnatiusOur 31 Days with St. Ignatius celebration continues this weekend with the video Sitting in Silence. Remember that if you miss a day’s link, they are all available here throughout the month.

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July 19, 2014

Vinita Hampton Wright leads a summer reflection, asking us what we’ll remember about this summer day in the future. Her questions help us to focus on what’s important and to pay attention to the details of living.

While we’re paying attention to details, today’s 31 Days with St. Ignatius link invites us to think about Ordinary Miracles.

If you’re receiving this via e-mail, click through to watch the video Reflecting on This Summer Day.

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July 18, 2014

I have made the mistake of agreeing to make contributions of various kinds at a time when I have major work pressure. My day job requires me to grade the exams of a 360 freshman chemistry students, submit a major grant proposal, submit a draft paper for a collaborative project, and give a paper at a theology winter school. In addition I have had to give a quiet day in my parish, submit two guest blog posts, write a post for my own blog, and see various people for spiritual direction. All of this has happened in the space of six days at the end of a taxing semester. Not only have I done the bulk of my teaching for the year this semester, but the husband of one of my closest friends passed away in the middle of it.

pause buttonTo say I am wrung out is something of an understatement. So my own blog post this week was a brief reflection on an overreaction I had to something trivial. Fortunately, I had been sufficiently self-aware to be able to pause and notice that my reaction was off-key and had been able to defuse my internal outrage before the other person was even aware that I was upset. It was all I had to give to my blog. I decided to share it rather than not simply because I like keeping a regular posting schedule, and I really had nothing else. I ended sharing the story with a reflection on the importance of pausing before we respond. Do we need to give the other person the benefit of the doubt? Maybe his or her intent was not quite as sinister as we first thought.

Just a few hours later a Facebook friend commented how much she needed this particular reminder on this day, as she grappled with finding a way to respond to a person with whom she had a difference of opinion.

I was so tired and so aware of my own terrible limitations on this day that discovering that what I had offered from what felt like the dregs of my soul could actually be the exact message this friend needed to hear was grace indeed. God works even with my poorest offerings.


Today’s 31 Days with St. Ignatius link is The Committee Rattling in My Mind.

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July 17, 2014

Eiffel Tower in ParisImagine sitting in a lovely outdoor bistro in the heart of Paris. The weather is fabulous. With a fresh baguette and a glass of wine in hand, you look out at all the beautiful old buildings and watch the world go by. Along comes a homeless man wandering up and down the line of bistro tables, yammering in another language, taking swigs from a flask, and disrupting your peaceful little scene. Such was my experience just recently during my vacation. But even in that very scene, I found God.

After a few minutes of putting up with the fellow, the restaurant staff summoned the police to deal with him. I listened intently as the restaurant staff explained to the police how disruptive his presence was and how it was affecting their business. The police responded that the man was doing nothing wrong, this was a regular occurrence, and there was really nothing to be done. After much debating, the officers departed, apparently leaving the issue unresolved.

It was then that I found God in the police as they approached the fellow and began chatting with him. They didn’t yell at him or speak down to him; they just engaged him in normal, idle chit chat. After some time, they left the area together, all the while joking and talking with the man as though they were old friends.

The police officers’ treatment of the homeless man led me to reflect on Matthew 25:35–40 (“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…”). The police officers, in their actions, understood this passage. They treated the homeless man with respect and dignity just as our Lord would want. In this little scene on vacation in Paris, God reminded me of just how important it is to look beyond my own comforts to see the dignity and value of every person around me. There is no taking vacation from that.


Read today’s 31 Days with St. Ignatius selection, Four Ways to Avoid Gossip.

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July 16, 2014