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

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of finding God in everything is how we find God in human limits, whether in others or ourselves. As someone who is rather perfectionistic, especially about myself, coming to terms with personal limits can be difficult. Indeed, perfectionism itself is probably one of my worst character flaws! There the evil spirit can enter in, as perfectionism can lead me to overwork and exhaustion, or having excessively high expectations in interpersonal relationships.

dance stepsWhile on retreat recently, Jesus used the image of dancing to help me to think differently about my own limits. I can become frustrated when I don’t always follow Jesus as closely as I would like to be able. Learning to follow Jesus, though, can be like trying to follow a dance partner’s new steps. My husband took ballroom dance class in college, while I did not. Still, he is a good sport about it when we dance at weddings or the like, and we always have a fun time together, even if our steps are not perfect. The smiles and laughter in our being together make up for the lack of professional skill. Jesus, too, asks us to follow him, but with the loving care of a partner who enjoys the process of being with us as much as the outcome.

Catherine of Siena uses a different image in talking about how to deal with shortcomings. She suggests that when God looks at our sin, He always “plucks the rose from that thorn” (Dialogue). We, too, can regard both others’ and our own shortcomings in this way, with gentleness and with an eye to finding what graces might come from any given situation. For example, years ago I went through a major depression that was very difficult. Years later, though, a friend told me that she thinks it has made me much more deeply compassionate toward others’ suffering. Compassion is a flower from the thorns that has bloomed many years later.

My husband’s late grandmother was an avid letter writer. She used to end each letter she wrote to our family with the reminder, “Enjoy one another.” Her adage remains good advice for families, friends, religious communities, and even strangers. God wants us not only to grow into holiness, but also to take joy in our steps as we walk (and dance) with Him.


Today’s 31 Days with St. Ignatius selection is the video, Why Ignatian Spirituality Appeals to Young People.

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July 10, 2014

God is present in the places of suffering, too. If you’re receiving this via e-mail, click through to watch the video Finding God When a Loved One Dies.


Today’s 31 Days with St. Ignatius link is God in the Mosquitoes.

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July 9, 2014

ambulance - God was there

It’s a sound no parent wants to hear: the thunk of a five-year-old forehead hitting wood. My son was taking a running leap into the lower bunk, misjudged the amount of space, and made brief but powerful contact with the edge of the top bunk.

There was a lot of screaming, a deep gash, gushing blood, and a sibling who was practically hysterical about what he thought was his brother’s imminent demise. My husband applied pressure to the wound while I called 911 for advice, simultaneously trying to reassure my other son and tamp down my own panic and fear.

These are the worst moments of parenthood, the moments when your child is hurting and you feel essentially helpless. You don’t know how bad it is, but you fear the worst—concussion, brain damage, bleeding that won’t stop. As you say soothing, confident words to your children, you are desperately trying to believe those words yourself.

And yet God was present that awful evening, in many different ways. God was there in the gentle firefighter who knelt down in front of my wounded boy, checked him out, and engaged him in friendly conversation. God was there in the other firefighter who stood back with a clipboard and chatted easily with my other son, distracting him from his fear and making him feel like he had found a new best friend.

God was in the skill of the ER doctors who put stitches in my son’s forehead, making the whole process so easy that my boy left the hospital saying, “That was fun!” God was in the kind, motherly neighbor across the street, who saw the fire truck and came over to make sure we were all okay. “I think I need a hug,” I told her shakily, and she gave me one. God was in the friends who helped me process the events of the evening and even helped me laugh at it all (“Chicks dig scars,” said one of them).

So now when I look at the pink and white line on my son’s sweet forehead, I remember a few things. I remember the terrifying thwack and the blood and the brother’s hysterics and my own primal, visceral fear. But I also remember that God was there, wearing many different faces, reminding me of the power of love and community when we need it most.


31 Days with St. IgnatiusJoin in 31 Days with St. Ignatius by reading today’s entry, Space and Place of Prayer.

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July 8, 2014

It’s often said that people following an Ignatian path are working to become “men and women for others.” But what does that mean? The newest episode of the Ignatian Way series explains.

The Ignatian Way - Men and Women for Others -screenshot

Other presentations in the complete series address themes of Ignatian prayer, decision making, and finding God in all things.

Continue your exploration of Ignatian spirituality with today’s 31 Days with St. Ignatius contribution, A Gratitude Deficit.

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July 7, 2014

teacher at boardWe begin our first full week of 31 Days with St. Ignatius with this featured link: Magis-Driven Heroic Leadership Is a Daily Personal Pursuit by Chris Lowney.

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July 5, 2014

"Prayer takes many forms: mystical prayer, devotional prayer, liturgical prayer, sacred reading, moments of epiphany snatched from our everyday lives. All of it is included in Ignatius’s conversar." - David L. Fleming, SJ

We hope you’re enjoying the first days of 31 Days with St. Ignatius. Here’s today’s link: Prayer Is a Conversation by David L. Fleming, SJ.

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July 5, 2014

We are thankful to have a worldwide readership for dotMagis, but today those of us in the U.S.A. pause to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday. Here are a few summertime images to mark the day, courtesy of our sister blog, Picturing God. Where are you finding God this weekend?

baseball field

summer clouds

summer water fun

fireworks

Don’t take a holiday from 31 Days with St. Ignatius. Today’s entry is I Love This Picture.

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July 4, 2014