About Andy Otto

Andy Otto credits his relationships for a strong and ever-growing faith in God. After spending nearly three years as a Jesuit, he came to a deep appreciation for the practical application of Ignatian spirituality. He currently lives with his wife in California, where he works as a high school theology teacher. He is the author of God Moments and holds a master’s degree in theology and ministry from Boston College.

We Can Be More Fully Ourselves

When I was a Jesuit, people often told me I had a higher calling. It seems common language for those who’ve felt called to priesthood or religious life, but I don’t believe anyone has a “higher” calling. We’re all simply called to be the people God made us. God calls us to all sorts of paths, choices, and careers, but none is higher than another. If we’ve truly discerned what we’re good at and confirm […]

The Paradox of Christian Freedom

Jesus came to set us free. From what? The kind of freedom Ignatian spirituality preaches is freedom from the attachments, fears, and blockades that inhibit our human flourishing. One of those blockades, sin, is more than choosing to do wrong. Sin includes operating our lives from a place of fear—preventing us from being our truest selves. Blockades to the freedom of our flourishing are those places in our lives that seem comfortable and safe but […]

Guiltless Pleasure

If there’s a contrast to Lent, it’s Easter. If Lent is a time for holy sacrifice, Easter is a time for holy indulgence. I once heard someone use the term, “guiltless pleasure,” to refer to a pleasure that brings us close to God. And why not? As Christians, we tend to focus more on sacrifice than on celebration. We talk about the Mass as a “holy sacrifice” but can easily forget that it’s also supposed […]

Relationship Examen

It’s amazing how much my first year of marriage has found Sarah and me sharing with others about what the experience has been like. Just recently we gave a talk to some undergraduates about how we integrate prayer into our relationship. One key feature of our prayer, especially at the beginning of our marriage, was a Relationship Examen. Our method takes the spirit of Ignatius’s examination of conscience and applies it to a deep examination […]

Lenten Meditation 3: Contemplating the Gospels

In contemplating the Gospels during Lent, take this advice to heart: Be sure to take Jesus’ humanity seriously even as you reflect on his divine attributes. God took humanity seriously enough to become one of us, and we do God a disservice if we downplay what God has done in becoming human. When we use our imagination in contemplating Jesus, we trust that God’s Spirit will use it to reveal something about Jesus that is […]

Advent Consolation

There’s something about Advent and Christmas that stirs my heart. As my semester as a grad student winds down, I anticipate the time to relax into the season. Typically, my interior is not filled with holiday anxiety, but with consolation. Each year Advent stirs up the memory of past Advents—those graces of hopeful anticipation, family time, and even the comfort of purple and pink candles lit on a dark winter evening. St. Ignatius says we […]

Justice in the Spiritual Exercises

I’ve recently pondered how the theme of God’s justice fits into the Spiritual Exercises. Our traditional understanding of justice is getting what one deserves. God’s justice, however, is more about a desire for us to be whole, based in love and compassion. St. Ignatius was a Castilian military man, part of a justice system of fighting, capturing, and revenge. After the Castilians captured and occupied the land of Navarre, the citizens tried to drive them […]

Five Fresh Ideas for Renewing Prayer

Prayer is a cherished time to come to know God and to reflect, yet prayer can become rote. Even if we do pray daily we may at times find it fruitless or notice impatience within ourselves. Cultivating prayer routines is very valuable, but sometimes we need to shake up our prayer a bit. Like any relationship that needs rekindling, our relationship with God may need some freshness. Here are five fresh ideas for renewing your […]

Opening Our Eyes to Contemplation

I’ve recently begun a year-long course on spiritual direction. The purpose of the course is not just to learn how to listen to and companion someone in his or her journey with God, but to become a contemplative. Contemplation is a word we tend to associate with the mystics and the saints of yore who experienced fantastic visions. We make it into something complicated, as if becoming a contemplative takes years of prayer and effort. […]

Glowing with Joy

This past month my wife Sarah made a five-day Ignatian retreat. When she returned it had felt like I hadn’t seen her in weeks, but as she walked through the door she was glowing. As she began to share about her prayer experiences and how vividly the Gospel stories unfolded in her imagination, I knew she had a very real encounter with God. I could feel the graces she received spilling out onto me, and […]

1 2 3 4 6