Fasting from Things: A Limit of 20

An extraordinarily beautiful donation came into the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop once. A woman gave us a box of over 100 silk scarves, all colors and sizes, for all seasons of the year. Each one unique and in perfect condition, they were laundered, pressed, and folded. We volunteers spent an afternoon admiring each one as we priced them all. We also spent a lot of time wondering why anyone on earth would need […]

Little Lesson from St. Ignatius of Loyola

“We should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. . . . Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created.” —St. Ignatius of Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises We talk a lot about freedom in the United States. Our nation was founded on the principles of freedom and liberty. Ignatius of Loyola recognized that […]

What Is an Unhealthy Attachment?

People who are familiar with St. Ignatius, the Spiritual Exercises, or Jesuit spirituality in general will sometimes use the term unhealthy attachment. What is that exactly? Let’s explore this by asking a few questions. Is there any physical habit I have that gets in the way of my being available to God? Do I turn to food, drink, sex, exercise, or sleep to avoid facing myself or my conversation with the Divine? What are my […]

The Spiritual Meaning of Balance

When most people refer to balance, they envision a successful juggling act. A balanced life is one in which, simultaneously, I keep all my projects going and all my relationships healthy. I achieve this balance by sheer strategy and willpower. In Christian spirituality, balance has more to do with temperance, which means that we allow our deepest principles to hold our passions in check. As Paula Huston explains in her book By Way of Grace, temperance […]

Setting Down Our Nets

When Jesus calls the fishermen Peter and Andrew, he tells them, “Come follow me.” In response, the new disciples experience a new desire and put down their nets to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:19–20). We, too, can also have various “nets” that can limit our capacity to follow Jesus more closely. One way to pray with this passage is to consider the question: What are my own nets? In the Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius names […]

Four Reasons We Resist Letting Go

Why do we resist letting go of unhealthy, or disordered, attachments? What happens inside us that makes us hang on for dear life, even when hanging on is hurting us? Here are some ideas. I resist letting go because, at some level, letting go feels like failure. I don’t want to admit defeat—that I can’t finish a project well, that the relationship is never going to work, that I can’t change a situation no matter […]

The Inner Process of Letting Go

What has to happen inside a person before she can let go of attachments that are harming her? The attachment can be physical, such as a house or keepsake; it can be emotional, such as resentment about an incident or fear of an unwanted outcome. Attachments can be needs—the need to understand everything completely, or the need to force things into an order she can manage. Attachments can be relationships or jobs, or even dreams. […]

Blessed by Less

Your life is an overflowing closet. You know it is. There are sweatshirts folded up in a corner of your mind where your children’s birthdays should be stored. That worry about the rust on the car is taking up the space that you had reserved for a slow cup of tea in the morning. I know how you feel. And guess what? There’s a way to get stuff back where it belongs: let go of […]

Finding Dory, Finding My Grandmother

The hype has started for the release of Disney-Pixar’s new movie, Finding Dory (the sequel to Finding Nemo), and it has me thinking of my grandmother. Yes, the movie is making me really miss my grandmother, and not just because the release date happens to be the day preceding my grandmother’s birthday. Finding Nemo came out when our daughter was a toddler and when my grandmother was battling Alzheimer’s a few years before her death. […]

The Rich Young Man and the Look of Love

This story is inspired by Mark 10:17–22, Jesus and the rich man. I had to walk away. Was he kidding? No way could I give up my comfortable life and spacious home! I love my clothes and collections and my small luxuries. I love eating food others prepare and walking away from clean-up. I enjoy all sorts of entertainments—and none of these are bad. I am a God-fearing man who keeps every commandment. I just […]

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