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

Changed Heart, Changed World by William A. Barry, SJYou might spend time outside on a sunny day, seeing the sunlight illuminating everything, feeling its warmth on your body, and imagining how God is creating and bathing you in love. Again, tell God what’s in your mind and heart.

This kind of contemplation can lead us to want to love God with our whole mind and heart and soul, to become the friend God wants us to be. Ignatius suggests a prayer that may express what you want to say to God.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory,
my understanding,
and my entire will,
all that I have and possess.
You gave it all to me;
to you, Lord, I give it all back.
All is yours,
dispose of it entirely according to your will.
Give me the grace to love you,
for that is enough for me.

(S.E. No. 234)

What a radical prayer! You may not be able to say it with your whole heart and mind right away. If you find it too much, ask God to help you be able to say it and mean it. When you get right down to it, this prayer is only an expression of the truth of things, namely that we are all creatures who have everything by gift from God’s creative hand and heart. It is an expression of the first commandment, affirming that God alone is God and everything else depends on God’s creative desire at every moment.

—Excerpted from Changed Heart, Changed World by William A. Barry, SJ

For more from Fr. Barry, read today’s 31 Days with St. Ignatius selection, God Wants Our Friendship.

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July 15, 2014

laundryWe talk often on this blog about finding God in all things; it’s a basic tenet of Ignatian spirituality. Here’s a reminder that “in all things” doesn’t mean only in all the life-transforming or awe-inspiring things.

God doesn’t want us to speak with Him just when we see big, beautiful, and amazing stuff. He wants to hear from us as we stand smack dab in the middle of the everyday ordinary stuff that makes up our day-to-day life. He wants us to realize He’s waiting for us in the middle of the regular!

How many people can you pray for when you fold a load of laundry? How many times can you call down God’s blessing upon your family as you pack their lunch or prepare dinner?

Sheri Wohlfert shares this reminder on CatholicMom.com and shows us how finding God in the ordinary is a practical way for parents (and all of us) to meet God in prayer.


31 Days with St. IgnatiusRead today’s 31 Days with St. Ignatius selection, Take Courage.

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July 14, 2014

31 Days with St. IgnatiusIt’s day 13 of our 31-day journey of Ignatian spirituality. Today we look at Ignatian Contemplation: Imaginative Prayer.

If you’ve joined us a few days late, you can catch up on previous reading at 31 Days with St. Ignatius.

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July 13, 2014

31 Days with St. IgnatiusIt’s day 12 of our 31-day journey of Ignatian spirituality. Today’s reading is God as Mystery, God as Neighbor.

If you’ve joined us a few days late, you can catch up on previous reading at 31 Days with St. Ignatius.

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July 12, 2014

computer and glasses sitting on desk

I always look forward to my end-of-the-fiscal-year performance evaluation. I like to think of this as an extended Examen of the past year. It is a crucial opportunity for giving thanks, celebrating successes, reviewing areas for growth, and looking ahead to the coming year.

There was much to be grateful for this past year, and I also knew there was a lot of room for growth. But there was something else going on, too. After 10 years in my current role, I was beginning to wonder if there was something more that I could be doing. I had that aching feeling that a significant change was on the horizon. My heart was striving for what Ignatius describes as magis—something greater.

What I had hoped would be a fruitful conversation about new projects and possibilities was instead met with a very different set of circumstances. I walked into my boss’s office last week only to be greeted by a formal letter announcing my termination. I knew there were budget constraints; our team had been notified earlier in the year that staff cuts might be a possibility. We’ve all known someone who’s been in this situation, and now that someone is me.

Where does one find God in the midst of economic downturn and unanticipated change? Even in the midst of sadness, anger, and disbelief, I see God everywhere! I know the face of God in unimaginable kindness from coworkers, numerous suggestions for job leads, two unsolicited offers for career coaching, and countless invitations to lunch. Clearly, there is something more at work here.

Most surprising, I have been met with an unmerited and extravagant amount of peace. At a time when most people would be panicked and afraid, my heart knows that this is exactly the place I am supposed to be. It is a peace that I can only describe as coming from the heart of Christ. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

As I now follow the Examen back over 10 years of gratitude, learning, growth, change, new friendships, and fond memories, I am confident and hopeful that God will take all of this and create something new, something more, something greater than I could ever imagine on my own.


31 Days with St. Ignatius

Join in 31 Days with St. Ignatius by reading today’s entry, A Change of Preposition.

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July 11, 2014