girl with hands out as if giving a giftWhile there’s nothing wrong with “random acts of kindness,” what if we were more intentional about those acts?

Cultivating a habit of gratitude is the most reliable way to extricate ourselves from every pattern of sin and disorder in our lives. We can begin by securing five minutes in our lives every day, during which time we count the blessings and mercies we have received in the past 24 hours. If we do that faithfully, we will soon find the constant generosity of God to be amazing, even overwhelming. At the end of the five minutes, ask God to reveal to you one person for whom you should perform an act of kindness that day as a concrete expression of your gratitude. Then act accordingly.

Read the full article, “How Gratitude Can Transform Your Life,” by Robert McTeigue, SJ.

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October 6, 2014

The Jesuits in Britain produced the below video, asking the secret to Pope Francis and how he inspires people. The answer lies in three of his regular topics:

  1. Invitation to be missionary disciples
  2. God’s mercy and compassion
  3. Emphasis that the Church should show concern for the poor and the excluded


If you’re receiving this via e-mail, click through to watch the video What Is the Pope’s Secret?

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October 3, 2014

math

Ginny Kubitz Moyer learned a lesson in finding God when she helped her son with his math homework. She concludes:

But St. Ignatius believed you can find God in all things, and ultimately I believe it, too. Some things and situations are easier than others, but maybe that’s why we need other people; they find the connections we miss, just like my son did when his math homework became an occasion to think of the Creator. Other people see the fingerprints of God in places where I just see smudges. And when they share, they gently train us to have a sharper, clearer vision than we did before.

Read Moyer’s full post and consider: How are other people helping you to find the connections to God this week?

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October 1, 2014

Fr. Bill Creed, founder of the Ignatian Spirituality Project, answers What’s the most important thing to know about Ignatian spirituality?

If you’re receiving this via e-mail, click through to watch the video What’s the Most Important Thing about Ignatian Spirituality?

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October 1, 2014

young man thinking

I’ve recently begun a year-long course on spiritual direction. The purpose of the course is not just to learn how to listen to and companion someone in his or her journey with God, but to become a contemplative. Contemplation is a word we tend to associate with the mystics and the saints of yore who experienced fantastic visions. We make it into something complicated, as if becoming a contemplative takes years of prayer and effort. In reality, contemplation is a “long, loving look at the real,” as described by Walter Burghardt, SJ.

Contemplation is the most basic element of prayer, because it asks us simply to open our eyes and look. We cannot even begin to pray without looking at our reality. Spiritual direction involves the exploration of one’s prayer and how God moves within the life of the directee. The director helps the directee open his or her eyes and recognize God’s presence in his or her lived experience.

I am reminded of a time a few years ago when I was a hospital chaplain. I felt so drained at the end of the day that I did not feel I had the energy to pray. At times I would write in my journal so I could process some of my experiences with patients. I may have talked to others about the graces and challenges of the day, but I never sat down to pray. And because of my exhaustion I had little energy in the morning for prayer either. When I told my spiritual director that I had not been praying, he asked me what I was doing. I told him about the journaling, the talking with others about my patient visits, how the experiences and people in the hospital were often on my mind, and the bit of spiritual reading I was doing. “Sounds like you’re praying quite a lot,” he told me. My director helped me open my eyes to the reality of God all around me. I was indeed being attentive to my reality, but I had failed to recognize fully God’s presence there.

Many of us have practiced contemplation without even realizing it. When was the last time you people-watched? When did you stare out at the birds or notice the nuanced wisps of the clouds? That is contemplation: taking a long, loving look at the real. It’s when all distractions melt away for a moment, and we simply see what’s before us. The key, however, is opening our eyes wide enough to recognize where God is in what we see.

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September 30, 2014

online writing retreat with Vinita Hampton Wright

Author and editor Vinita Hampton Wright will be hosting an online writing retreat at her blog this week. The theme is “Writing for the Soul,” and she explains it as a time to use writing to help participants figure out what’s going on in their lives, how they feel about it, and what dreams are bubbling up to the surface. All materials are available for free online, so whether you’re curious about writing as a spiritual practice or already write for the soul, it’s a great opportunity. Check it out at Days of Deepening Friendship.

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September 29, 2014

In yesterday’s morning homily, Pope Francis spoke on the theme of vanity. In one notable section, he asked: “How many Christians live for appearances? Their life seems like a soap bubble. The soap bubble is beautiful, with all its colours! But it lasts only a second, and then what?”

soap bubble

Those familiar with the Two Standards meditation might have the temptations of riches, honor, and pride in mind when they continue reading the pope’s thoughts on vanity. Pope Francis said vanity, “sows wicked anxiety, takes away peace. It’s like those who put on too much make-up, and then are afraid the rain” might come.

For more about the Two Standards, view this video with Kevin O’Brien, SJ.

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September 26, 2014

teapot and teacups

God came and sat down with me. I asked God to tea.
God sat there in the kitchen and smiled at me.
But I stumbled and mumbled, afraid just to speak.
It was my invitation, yet how could this be?

I poured God some tea and started to cry.
God patiently waited, but finally asked why.
I couldn’t begin, I was afraid just to start.
What could I say, since God knows my heart?

Do you love me? God asked. But of course! I replied.
Then why won’t you speak to me?
And again, I cried.
I love you, God told me. I know you so well.
But there are things on your mind. Why won’t you tell?

But you know! I replied.
You are God! I cried.
I am just little me and I’m scared.
Don’t you see?

God took hold of my hand in the gentlest way.
God said close your eyes and then try to pray.
I love you so much, so much more than you know.
Talk to me as a friend, just let the words flow.

I don’t seek to control you, I want you to choose.
I want you to love and I want you to lose
the fear that has told you that God is so great
that no one can know God, that Heaven can wait.

For God is right here, God is sipping this tea.
God is talking to you; will you please talk to me?
So I prayed and I talked, soon my eyes opened wide.
God was here drinking tea; God was right by my side.

I’m no longer afraid, not in awe do I stand.
But in love, like a friend. God again took my hand.
Whenever you need me, remember the tea.
Ask me in, sit me down, and then look at me.

I’m your friend, God said.
Don’t hold me in awe.
So I looked in God’s eyes and
there was love that I saw.

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September 25, 2014

William Barry, SJWilliam Barry, SJ, writes for the Ignatian Volunteer Corps:

If we look honestly at the history of the world God is creating, we would have to say that God has not been particularly successful in bringing about peace on earth. If there were a board of directors in our modern sense for the Kingdom of God, God would be out of a job.

So how does God measure success? Read Barry’s thoughts in the full reflection.

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September 24, 2014

This video is an ad for a Thai insurance company. But the story it tells is an example of a man who is generous, serves others, and gives without counting the cost—some of the very virtues we ask for when we pray the Prayer for Generosity.

If you’re receiving this via e-mail, click through to watch the video Unsung Hero.

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September 23, 2014