In his new book, The Ignatian Workout for Lent, Tim Muldoon applies the principles of discernment, reflection, and action to guide readers to grow in love and transformation. The book includes 40 exercises organized according to the four weeks of the Spiritual Exercises.
We’re also offering an online retreat this year based on Tim’s book. Each Monday here at dotMagis, Tim will share an audio reflection based on an exercise from the book, accompanied by suggestions for prayer and action. Tim introduces us to the retreat below.
If you’re receiving this via e-mail, click through to listen to Tim’s retreat introduction.
In advance of the Academy Awards, Loyola Press is celebrating Film and Faith. One of the articles in the week-long series finds film critic Richard Leonard, SJ, looking at spiritual themes found in some of this year’s Oscar nominees. Read his article “The Top Spiritual Themes from Five Oscar Movies.”
What’s your favorite movie with a spiritual theme?
Being a graduate student of theology means I’ve been encountering questions that directly challenge the solid faith I’ve come to grow into over the years.
In my studies I’ve learned that the Church has changed and developed drastically over time, even in just the last century. What we consider to be a long-standing tradition may not have always been. Popes used to be married. Bishops’ roles today are far different than they were in the early Church. The two-natured fullness of Jesus’ humanity and divinity was not settled until 451.
Then there are the questions of Christology, which disturb me even more. The Jesus of history is not necessarily the Jesus of faith. Many of his sayings in the Gospels were likely said by him, but others may have been literary additions. Some scholars say that it was unlikely Jesus publicly rebuked the Pharisees. Those stories may have been added by the Gospel authors because the early Christians experienced conflict with the Pharisees. And what about Jesus’ miracles and other acts? Some are plausible and some may have been created by the early Christian community. (Gasp!) Learning all this turned things upside down for me.
What is true is that not everything in the Scriptures is verifiable. But ought one have a crisis of faith? No. The Jesus of our faith and our tradition offers us much in the way of truth. Jesus redefined community and gave new shape to social and personal ways of following God. The parables and other Gospel stories lay out for us timeless messages. Historically verifiable or not, they’re effective means of building faith. St. Ignatius, in the Spiritual Exercises, uses many of these stories to invite us to personal conversion. And I don’t think Ignatius has us shy away from a faith that disturbs. The questions that keep us up at night only further our faith journey.
As Rainer Maria Rilke said, “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.” The hard questions are not necessarily meant to have answers, but they are meant to rile us up and have us engage with our faith. If we claim to have a faith that’s all put together, well-explained, and perfectly straight, there’s something wrong.
Ash Wednesday is next week, so today we’re highlighting some of the many online features designed to help you observe Lent.
The Ignatian Workout for Lent
Tim Muldoon’s audio reflections accompany suggestions for prayer and action each Monday during Lent and Easter week.
Arts & Faith: Lent
Enjoy a visual prayer experience this Lent. Each week includes a video commentary about a work of art inspired by the Sunday Scriptures and an accompanying Ignatian reflection here at dotMagis.
An Ignatian Prayer Adventure
Join in an adapted version of the Spiritual Exercises, perfectly timed as a Lent and Easter retreat. This year guest blogger Jurell Sison will share his experiences with the retreat through posts on Thursdays. The retreat begins on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, March 2, and concludes the week after Easter.
Other6 Prays Lent
We’re providing daily topics to help you get in the habit of finding God in different ways this Lent. And blogger Paul Campbell, SJ, will expand on his answers to some of the prompts Tuesdays at People for Others.
Creighton University’s Online Ministries offers many excellent seasonal resources. New this year is an online reading group featuring Mercy in the City by America Magazine managing editor Kerry Weber.
Vinita Hampton Wright is also exploring mercy on her blog this season, with the online retreat Practicing Mercy, based on Weber’s book.
Moved to Greater Love
This is a program from the U.S. Jesuits, described as “an invitation to magnanimity, silence, creativity and depth, calling all to consider how God’s love burns away fear and open us up to respond generously and wholeheartedly.”
For even more Lenten ideas, see our page of Lent resources.
Jason Vaz, SJ, provides some helpful images to distinguish consolation and desolation in a recent post at the igNation blog. He concludes with questions for consideration, particularly for those experiencing loneliness:
Where am I in relation to the fire? Am I getting too close to it? Am I moving too far away from it? Which thoughts must I stop myself from thinking? Which thoughts give me life and energy? When was the last time I initiated a conversation with someone?
Andy Otto, blogger here at dotMagis, has produced morning and evening audio meditations to help us ask for the grace we seek each day and reflect on whether the grace was given before bed.
Enjoy the morning reflection below. Visit Andy’s blog, God in All Things, to listen to the evening reflection and download either or both.
Atlanta-area readers may be interested in an upcoming retreat at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center. Spiritual director and artist Claudia Campbell is leading a Lenten silent retreat during which participants will “contemplate the passion of Christ through the paintings of the 13th-century Italian painter, Giotto.” The retreat is March 17-18, 2014. For details, see the retreat house’s site.
Campbell uses the term, “visual lectio” to describe the main tool of her art retreats, which she defines as, “a deepening of faith that corresponds to the creative process.” It’s an experience of Ignatian imaginative prayer that involves engaging the senses to enter into what the artist might be saying through depictions of Gospel stories or other religious themes.
Have you used art as a means to prayer? Tell us about it.
Image: “Journey” by Claudia Campbell
It’s been a miserable winter for many people, with record-breaking snowstorms and chilling temperatures. As I write this, we are about to get hammered with yet another snowstorm, and nearly every face I see seems to carry a scowl. It’s the kind of atmosphere that is ripe for desolation. St. Ignatius gives us some tips on resisting the “evil one” who seeks to undo our efforts toward goodness and love: “The enemy acts like a woman, in being weak against vigor and strong of will. Because, as it is the way of the woman when she is quarreling with some man to lose heart, taking flight when the man shows her much courage.” (Sp. Ex. 12th rule)
Let’s admit that it’s a sexist image that the evil one is a like a woman who stops arguing with a man when he finally puts his foot down. However, if we can forgive Ignatius for being a 16th-century man, his underlying insight is crucial: the evil one flees in the face of courage. Our temptation is to make the evil one stronger than he really is. Yes, evil can be like a wild beast assaulting us. God’s goodness is always greater, but we have to cooperate too. Ignatius is clear: we must each individually face the temptations of the evil one with courage.
How do we resist? First, we should not change our plans made in times of consolation. Instead, we should remain firm in our prior commitments to family, friends, service, prayer, and so on, for when we resist temptations with courage, the enemy flees. Second, Ignatius suggests finding trusted spiritual friends with whom to share our struggles, so that they are out in the light rather than hidden in darkness (rule 13). Third, we need to have enough self-knowledge to understand our own weaknesses, which the enemy analyzes like a military defense, which he seeks to invade (rule 14).
If we can shore up those weak spots with support, we will be less likely to react out of those places. We can actively resist the enemy by remaining with our prior good commitments, sharing our feelings and struggles with our friends, and remembering that Jesus is our strong ally who overcomes all evil.
How are you prepared to listen to God and hear God speaking? This brief video offers some encouragement in communicating with God.
If you’re receiving this via e-mail, click through to watch the video God Is Speaking to Us.
Dayna Pizzigoni rewrites Pedro Arrupe’s famous “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way,” to claim that “Nothing is more practical than falling in love, than finding God.” She shares her story of Falling in Love and Finding God at the Meaning Making blog. It’s a good read on this Valentine’s Day.