A Week of Gratitude: Grateful for Less

Editor’s note: This week we celebrate a pre-Thanksgiving Week of Gratitude, with Loyola Press authors sharing reflections on gratitude each day. I’m grateful for less, however little of less I’ve achieved. After years of contemplative prayer, I can’t tell if I’ve made any “progress.” I notice, however, that I’m saying a bit less these days, especially when I’m tempted to impress someone with a witty remark, light teasing, or something else that might be seen […]

Prayers Rising

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you.” —Psalm 141:2 I just blew out my candle on my desk, and the smoke billows upward. I take my palms and catch some of the spindly lines, moving them upward as I add my thoughts of thanks. I didn’t expect this small visual reminder of prayer to touch me so. I’ve finished planning a retreat for a women’s group, and it’s time to transition to the […]

Pray for Strangers

Wyatt Massey writes for America magazine: I sit alone on the bench, outside of a café as I wait for a friend. The lines on each passing face, the way they hold their hands, the postures they keep—it all tells a story. They are strangers, but I fill in details of their lives with imagination and prayer. His brief essay, “Prayers of a Wondering Mind,” beautifully tells of one way to pray for strangers when […]

The Brain, Silly Putty, and Prayer

After reading a scientific essay about the brain, Jim McDermott writes in America: Because here’s the other crazy-cool thing about the brain: it’s like Silly Putty. It remains flexible throughout our lives. That is to say, no matter how many times we’ve reacted in one way, no matter how strong the path we’ve forged between two synapses, the brain remains always open to forging new paths. So if when faced with possible conflicts you choose […]

Touching the Stars

Bob Macke, SJ, the curator of the Vatican Observatory’s meteorite collection, is rooting around in a drawer. He pulls out a plastic bag with a nondescript rock about the size of my fist, and cupping it in his hand, wonders aloud at how wild it is to wrap your hands around something that—at four and a half billion years—is older than the planet, almost as old as the sun itself. I, too, am in awe. […]

Three Ideas for Prayer on Vacation

When you’re trying to do vacation, trying to relax and let go of the usual schedules and obligations, it’s tempting to let go of prayer and other spiritual practices. After all, if you practice any form of prayer regularly, it’s probably tied to your schedule—that 15 minutes between the time you get the kids to school and you have to head for work, or the time just before bed or right after lunch. When your […]

Noticed Something in Meetings

Raj Vijayakumar, SJ, overbooked himself at the end of the semester and noticed something: I noticed sometimes things would seem to work, and I would walk out of the meeting refreshed and invigorated. Other times, I found things just didn’t work—the gathering was boring, and uninteresting, and I left feeling zapped of all my energy. I wondered to myself, what could have possessed me to meet up with that individual!? However, I noticed something even […]

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 […]

Resting in the Lord’s Gaze

“How do you, Lord, look at me? What do you feel in your heart for me?” —John Eagan, SJ (from Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits) As Christians, most of us desire to cultivate the capacity to love others well. We also have a deep desire to be loved, known, and seen as we really are. A simple practice that St. Ignatius Loyola encourages before prayer in the Spiritual Exercises is to begin by placing […]

The Time to Pray

The best time to pray is when I feel the least inclined to do so. For instance, if I’m upset with my husband or wrangling online or over the phone with some nameless, faceless, nonhuman entity that’s after my money, then I am not thinking about my conversation with God. Also, if I’m feeling guilty, I find it difficult to glide into ceaseless prayer. However, in the same way that Jesus said he came for […]

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