Summer Pilgrimage

We’ve talked about walking prayer. We can take walking prayer further and make a pilgrimage. Actually, summer could be an ideal time for pilgrimage if you tend to take vacation during summer months. Many of us use vacation time to journey to hometowns and visit family. A hometown can be the location for profound pilgrimage. For instance, your parents or aunt may still live in the town where you spent your childhood years. Childhood holds all […]

Challenged by Ignatius

I’ve heard Jesuits joke that they’re not afraid to meet Jesus in the hereafter, but they are a bit anxious about meeting St. Ignatius. Jesuits go through rigorous training for many years, and the principles of spirituality Ignatius laid out in the Spiritual Exercises are reinforced again and again. Those of us who are laypeople familiar with the Exercises understand that they are demanding, but we are not likely to experience them as intensely as […]

Five Lessons in Summer Camp Spirituality

Walking past a group of day campers on my way to work, I was inspired to consider some thoughts that I’ve deemed Summer Camp Spirituality. Rule one of most summer camps is to get outside and enjoy nature. Nature is full of spiritual lessons. Arts and crafts invite even the non-artistically inclined to create something to save long after the camp session ends. Art can invite us into a deeper experience of imagination and prayer. […]

Take a Walk and Breathe

I was fortunate to grow up in a family that understood how to dwell in outdoor space. We lived in a small town in the middle of farm country; most people had big yards, many of them filled with flowers, vegetable gardens, trees, swing sets, treehouses, and pets. I can remember sitting in our backyard with my parents, and all we did was watch the various birds that flitted in the trees and visited the […]

No Prayer Warrior

Talk of “winners” and “warriors” with respect to prayer is, to me, oxymoronic. Christ told us to be willing to take the last place, and for me that’s never so much a matter of willingness as acknowledging that I’m there by default pretty much all the time. I’m no prayer warrior, or any other kind of warrior. I’m just a run-of-the-mill, deeply flawed human being who is terrified of not being loved, afraid of dying […]

What Was God Calling Me to Do?

“Uh, Mom?” my son said, motioning towards the window of our parked car. Outside the window, uncomfortably close, stood a slight woman, her face lined with age. I rolled down the window. With nary an introduction, the words starting pouring out. Decades ago, she had come from deep in the South. She had worked in the circus, had been a barn hand, a stage hand, a waitress, and a house cleaner. She wanted to know […]

Grounded Prayer

I think that sometimes we make prayer difficult because we separate it from what is concrete in daily life. We develop the attitude that prayer is supposed to be something in the mind and heart, a spiritual quality hard to define and somewhat elusive to experience. Yet Jesus urged his disciples to pray, to ask God for what they wanted, and to never give up at prayer. The Gospel accounts tell of his regular excursions […]

The Attitude We Should Have

As a preface to his declaration about the Incarnation in Philippians, St. Paul said, “The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had.” Wisdom is making peace with the unchangeable. We have the freedom to face the unavoidable with dignity, to understand the transformational value that attitude works on suffering. Viktor Frankl wrote that in concentration camps, “what alone remains is ‘the last of human freedoms’—the ability to choose one’s attitude in […]

When We Can’t Have What We Want

You’d think that people of faith would know how to deal with basic disappointments. We have been trained to think in the long-term and welcome ordinary hardships that provide character-building opportunities. But, alas, most of us aren’t skilled at remaining calm and positive when we don’t get what we want. Those of us in first-world situations have bought into the culture of consumerism and instant gratification. We expect fast Internet service, medications that will make […]

Finding God at the Shrine of St. Gianna

A key concept of Ignatian spirituality is finding God in all things. Learning to find God in the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the uplifting and the painful is indeed an important part of deepening our relationship with Jesus. However, every once in a while, it seems like God flashes a spotlight on his presence, painting the most glorious picture right before our eyes such that we simply couldn’t miss God […]

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