Joy in the Neighborhood

This is a guest post by Jane Knuth. People ask me if volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul store is depressing, and I honestly tell them that it is not. There is a joy in this work that defies the reality of the impoverished neighborhood that leans so heavily against the walls of our building. And our customers bring that joy through the door with them when they walk in. Leonard strides into the […]

Discerning as a Couple

Discerning as an individual is something that’s covered at length in the world of Ignatian spirituality. But what about discerning as a couple? The framework my husband Chris and I use for discernment is not that different from the framework I recommend people use for discerning as an individual. The major difference is there are two people’s voices and experiences of prayer, and there is the larger context of marriage and family life in which […]

Toward a Habit of Gratitude

What kind of prayer expresses thanksgiving that is honest? Do I begin with my complaints and then end with words of praise and trust? Some of the psalms from the Bible follow that structure, so it must be OK. But is it enough simply to say, “Things are horrible, but I know that God is good, so I thank you, Lord, that you are watching over me”? There’s probably more to it than that. First, […]

Breathing in the Silence

I found myself this morning reflecting on an experience that occurred a few years ago during a Charis retreat. It was a Friday night in March, and I stepped outside the chapel into the cool air during a period of sacred silence. As the doors of the chapel closed behind me, I caught a glimpse again of the 30 young adults who were in total silence and prayer. The silence came with me as I took […]

Take, Lord, Receive, My Work and Career

I work in an office where the pace is breakneck speed. I pray during my morning commute, but pride kicks in as I park: “See you at noon, God. I’ve got things covered.” Then I read the Suscipe. Uh, oh. Do I mean it? I pray, “Take, Lord, receive, well, most of me. Can I hang on to this area—and that—while I ‘let you’ take care of the rest?” So I’m taking an incremental approach […]

Encountering God through the Interior Senses

In my interactions with students at Boston College, where I teach and live with freshmen, I often speak to them about the need for continued care of the senses of the heart. I emphasize the need to exercise these interior senses, because the physical senses already receive so much attention during college formation. During studies, it is simply a given that the physical senses will constantly be tapped. Students use their eyes to read texts […]

Just Show Up

I’ve met some of my closest friends when I was attending parties I really didn’t want to attend. I’ve had some of my most profound spiritual experiences at events other people absolutely insisted I come along to. Some of the most fun and memorable moments I’ve had with my family have come only after my husband’s steady but loving insistence that I participate. Being a card-carrying introvert, most of the time I would much prefer […]

Prayer Is Like Bleeding Your Pipes

I grew up in a house that was well over a hundred years old. This house had a series of cast-iron radiators to keep it warm. During the winter months, the furnace would kick in and the heat and pressure would move the warmed water through the pipes and heat the house (when the furnace wasn’t broken). Every year, though, we had to bleed the air from the pipes, which means we had to open […]