An Examen of Care

caring man looking up at son on shoulders - photo by Keira Burton on Pexels.com

Editor’s note: Throughout July, we’re hosting 31 Days with St. Ignatius, a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality. In addition to the calendar of Ignatian articles found here, posts on dotMagis this month will explore the theme of “people for others.” This month marks the 50th anniversary of Fr. Pedro Arrupe’s famous address in which he challenged Jesuit school alumni to form what we now embrace as “people for others.”

Pedro Arrupe’s seminal call 50 years ago to the alumni of Jesuit schools resounds in our own day. That call to be people for others—and thereby to enact the concrete implications of a living faith in Christ—is now no less urgent and may, in fact, be even more urgent in the face of so many ethical and political challenges facing our global family. Environmental degradation; racism and strident nationalism; poverty and incarceration; callousness toward human life, especially at its beginnings and endings—all these challenges call for people committed to carrying on the ministry of Christ to show God’s loving care and invitation to friendship.

These challenges, while massive, are commonly rooted in the profound need for human beings to enter into deliberate, sustained, systematic collaboration at every level. And thus they call for the same metanoia, or change of heart, that the New Testament writers described as characteristic of those who change their ways in order to enter into fuller discipleship. It is no surprise, for example, that after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the disciples are described as sharing all things in common, having the same mind, and having no one among them in need. The gift of the Spirit enabled them to see past their small desires and to live toward the great goodness that God was unfolding in their midst.

Let us, then, take time to reflect on our care for and from others.

  • Who are the people God has entrusted to me to show particular care? I hold their faces in my imagination and attend to the feelings they elicit.
  • Whom have I encountered over the past day, strangers and friends alike? Who are the people to whom I have shown care? Who are the people I have ignored?
  • What are some ways others have shown me care today?
  • What remains in my memory as an example of unmerited care? Perhaps I recall a time when I was vulnerable and in need of caring attention. What feelings does this memory evoke in me now?
  • What is an example of someone caring for another that inspires me?
  • Whom do I long to care for? Whom do I hope will care for me?
  • What are my hopes for a world in which people care for one another? What is the small part I might play in such a world?
  • When have I failed to show care? I attend to the feelings my memory evokes.
  • When was a time that I cared for someone in a sacrificial way? I attend to the many feelings this memory elicits.
  • Who are people near or far from me that lack care from others? What are the biases that hinder others from offering the care they merit as children of God? I consider their faces and pray for the grace to see them as the Lord sees them.

Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels.


Following along with 31 Days with St. Ignatius? Read God Wants Our Friendship by William A. Barry, SJ, today, and share your thoughts on social media with #31DayswithIgnatius.

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Tim Muldoon
Tim Muldoon is the author of a number of books, including The Ignatian Workout and Living Against the Grain, and teaches in the Department of Philosophy at Boston College.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Tim for this detailed and profound Examen of Care. It is comforting though there is room for further work.

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