On this day of Halloween, it might be helpful to consider what we’re talking about when we mention the devil. Pope Francis references the devil often, and here Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, explores some of those references and what the pope means by them.

If you’re receiving this via e-mail, click through to watch the video The Pope and the Devil.

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October 31, 2014

5 Fresh Ideas for Renewing Your Prayer - people exercising as one example

Prayer is a cherished time to come to know God and to reflect, yet prayer can become rote. Even if we do pray daily we may at times find it fruitless or notice impatience within ourselves. Cultivating prayer routines is very valuable, but sometimes we need to shake up our prayer a bit. Like any relationship that needs rekindling, our relationship with God may need some freshness. Here are five fresh ideas for renewing your prayer.

1. Focusing on a Sense

God gave us our five senses. Select one and simply notice how that sense is being engaged. If you pick hearing, you may notice the hum of the refrigerator or the quiet breeze outside. If you choose touch, you may notice the pressure on your body from the chair or an itch on your neck. Pray with one sense, and recognize it as a gift from God.

2. Water Offering

One of my favorite kinds of prayer comes from Rachel Naomi Remen’s book My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging. Remen suggests filling a bowl slowly with water, letting the water represent the various “contents” of your life: your health, your gifts, your weaknesses, your family, your triumphs, your possessions, and your history. Place the bowl in a special place and offer it to God. Like the Suscipe says, “All that I have and hold…to you, Lord, I return it.” At the end of the day empty the bowl into the earth.

3. Slow Prayer

Choose a prayer you know well, like the Our Father, and recite it very slowly. Go one word at a time, without rushing, letting the individual word speak to you. Relish its meaning. Let it touch you. Then move to the next word. It’s okay if you spend the entire prayer time on just a single word!

4. The High-Low Prayer

In this shortened form of the Examen, ask yourself what the high point of your day was and why. Then ask yourself what the low point was and why. Share these two moments with God, and engage in a conversation with God about them.

5. The Prayer of Doing

Many spiritual directors will tell you that prayer is not about doing. However, why not make something you already do into a prayer? For instance, if you exercise, notice your body movements. Acknowledge how God animates you and gives you life. If you’re cleaning the house, be present to the work as if each action of wiping or organizing glorifies God. If you’re cooking, pay attention to the foods’ colors and smells, and receive them as God’s gift.

Just as you may go out with a friend for coffee one week and bowling the next, it’s okay to experiment with various kinds of ways to have an encounter with God, our closest friend.

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October 30, 2014

You are a child of God too - swirl design

Last night, my seven-year-old son struggled to fall asleep. He came into our room about a half hour after we tucked him in to let us know. He asked my husband, “What is it you told me to do when I cannot sleep?”

My husband replied, “When I cannot sleep, I talk to God about my day. I let God know all I am thankful for, and I talk to God about all that concerns me. I often find it helps me relax, because I know God is listening. That’s what we talked about last week. You could try talking to God when you cannot sleep.”

I added, “Remember God is always there to talk to you. God loves you very much, and God loves you even more than Dad and I do.”

My son replied, “I know, Mom. I know I am a child of God.”

Assured of a plan to try to help him sleep, my son gave us both hugs and turned to leave our room. On the way out, he paused and looked back at me and said, “Don’t forget, you are a child of God too, Mom.” Then without another word, he made his way back to his room.

A smile broke out on my face. I spend many hours in my work as a spiritual director sitting with people and reminding them of God’s unending love for them and God’s intimate involvement in their lives. How often, though, I forget to take to heart my own message of God’s love for me!

The unexpected reminder from my son that I, too, am a child of God, caught me by surprise. His words penetrated to my core, as they were words that I needed to be reminded of last night. Yes, I, too, am a child of God. God is intimately involved in my life too—and yours.

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October 29, 2014

clipboard

Rebecca Ruiz writes that the Suscipe (“Take, Lord, Receive” prayer) has helped her to trust God. She says, “…when we really trust Him and allow Him to work, in His time, He makes things happen that are better and beyond anything we could plan – even with detailed lists and hours of planning.” The full post is at the Encourage & Teach blog of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.

Are you a planner? Has the Suscipe made a difference in your prayer life?

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October 28, 2014

Kerry Weber, author of Mercy in the City, speaks about how the Corporal Works of Mercy can help us grow in relationship with God. She says, “We must take on a mentality of mercy.”

If you’re receiving this via e-mail, click through to watch the video The Corporal Works of Mercy.

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October 27, 2014

wedding rings

A member of Contemplative Leaders in Action, my former student E. writes a lovely blog, A Call to Joy. In light of recent news about the Synod on the Family, which is addressing neuralgic questions about the Church’s ministry, it is fruitful to share her meditations on being called to marriage.

On the one hand, it feels impossible to capture the intimate mix of joy and sacrifice, of both lighthearted and difficult conversations, of learning how to balance my own needs with J.’s in a new way. On the other hand, for an external processor like me, it feels impossible not to try to verbalize my experience of this new transition.  If I truly believe that marriage is a vocation – from Latin, to call – what does it mean in the day-to-day when it will take a lifetime to realize its effects? How is it possible to describe being married when it constantly (as in, daily, if not hourly) requires an immediate, intimate, and very current call for transformation?

Read the whole thing.

As one of the seven sacraments celebrated by the Church (and the last to be officially counted among the seven), matrimony represents one of a very few ways that the Church celebrates a fundamental, foundational mystery of Christ’s ministry. From Biblical times forward, following the lead of the author of the letter to the Ephesians, who compared the relationship of Christ to the Church as mystery (Latin sacramentum), theologians such as Tertullian, Augustine, Hugh of St. Victor, Aquinas, and many others considered marriage to be a sign for the whole Church: what the Fathers of Vatican II called the domestic church.

Marriage, E. reminds us, is a school of conversion, the kind of conversion to which God calls all people. It is a conversion away from our lesser, selfish selves, into the deeper, richer, softer, more compassionate, more generous, large-hearted people God creates us to be. It is a gift both for those called to this vocation and–like all true vocations–a gift to those called to other service in the Body of Christ.

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October 23, 2014

ebola virus [PD-USGov-HHS-CDC]

Brendan Busse, SJ, offers food for thought related to ebola reports.

What if the lives and suffering of others actually affected us?

Here’s another question: What if we came to understand that they already do? What if we knew that remaining untouched and unmoved meant that we were already dead? What if, instead of fear we were struck with care, instead of paranoia, love? What a cure we would have found!

Read the full article, “Contagious: Love in the Time of Ebola,” at The Jesuit Post.

Image by Cynthia Goldsmith. Content Providers(s): CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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October 22, 2014

Timothy Kesicki, SJDid you know that St. Ignatius never used the word magis, a word associated with the Jesuits and Ignatian spirituality?

In speaking to the Loyola Club of Washington, D.C., Timothy Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference, talked about the idea of magis or striving for the more. Magis is “A Word St. Ignatius Did Not Use,” as the title of the talk indicated, but:

“Ignatius was about the comparative, doing more,” said Fr. Kesicki. “Because when we do more, we’re always growing, always learning, always listening, always doing. We don’t roll the credits and declare victory. It never ends, there’s no pinnacle, no penultimate moment, no mark of perfection. The magis is about choosing more, for the greater glory of God, to transform society.”

For more about the magis, view this five-minute video.

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October 21, 2014

gift ribbons

May the God of Surprises delight you, inviting you to accept gifts not yet imagined.
May the God of Transformation call you, opening you to continual renewal.
May the God of Justice confront you, daring you to see the world through God’s eyes.
May the God of Abundance affirm you, nudging you towards deeper trust.
May the God of Embrace hold you, encircling you in the hearth of God’s home.
May the God of Hopefulness bless you, encouraging you with the fruits of faith.
May the God of Welcoming invite you, drawing you nearer to the fullness of God’s expression in you.
May God Who is Present be with you, awakening you to God in all things, all people, and all moments.
May God be with you.
Amen.

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October 20, 2014

Ignatius Loyola at his desk

I happen to believe that “if you are looking for God, God will find you.” Ignatius of Loyola or Mother Teresa would have likewise believed that even as we are looking, and even when we mostly feel lost, God is somehow finding us, whether or not it feels that way to us. Ignatius believed (as I do) that when we set ourselves toward some worthy purpose that transcends our meager strength, we tap into a source of meaning, strength, peace, and courage that is beyond us. We come to realize, in a graced moment, that we are called to some great purpose, that we cannot do it on our own, but that we don’t have to do it on our own. That’s why Ignatius urges, in one after another of his Spiritual Exercises, that we speak to Jesus “in the way one friend speaks to another.”

—Excerpted from Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney

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October 17, 2014