Autumn Stirs Interior Reflection

Autumn brings with it changes in weather, sending many of us indoors more regularly. We experience bright, sunny days that are quickly followed by torrential rains, cooler temperatures, and even the first flakes of snow. As we move to the interiors of homes and workplaces for refuge from these weather events, it’s a good time to consider the interior of our hearts. God is present with us at all times, of course, but autumn invites […]

Praying Through the Storms of Life

Sometimes we feel God’s presence and closeness and may even feel favored or gifted by God. During these times, we may see all of our prayers answered in the ways in which we want them to be answered. At other times, God may seem far off. We pray and not only do we not see our requests fulfilled, we may even observe the opposite outcome of what we had asked for in prayer. During such […]

Staying Curious

In his ministry, Jesus often asks others what they want. For example, he asks the blind Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51) On another occasion, James and John approach Jesus, and he asks them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36) Both in his healing ministry and with his friends, Jesus displays a kind of openness and curiosity toward others. Until recently, I had […]

Trust and Freedom

Jesus’ instruction to pray to God, “thy will be done” is an essential part of Christian practice. Many saints, like Ignatius, have asked God to assist them in letting go of their own wills in favor of God’s will, as we find in the Suscipe: “Take, Lord, and receive, my memory, my understanding, my entire will.” This is both a difficult and worthwhile enterprise. Giving up one’s own will requires deep trust that in all […]

How a Busy Person Finds God in All Things

Busy people generally don’t stop being busy people. If they are spiritually aware, they will intentionally cease activity at regular intervals to be silent and still, to listen to the Divine, and to care for themselves. But then, they’re off! Busy people use their energy for action. Their minds rarely pause, because there are always multiple projects and plans forming. I use “busy” to describe a person who is nearly always outwardly active—this is the […]

The Greatest Union

I’ve recently returned from my annual weeklong silent retreat. Often it is the highlight of my year, a place to reconnect more deeply with God and to get my priorities straight for the next year. This year, I arrived at retreat with the intent to grieve. I was grieving the recent death of my stepdad. I was grieving the loss of a friend who had dropped out of my life without explanation, then briefly reappeared […]

Discernment Is a Choice of Courage

In a recent address to seminarians, Pope Francis highlighted three aspects of Ignatian style: friendship with the Lord, discernment, and cultivating the magis, or “more,” for the Kingdom of God. In speaking of discernment, the Pope said: Discernment is a choice of courage, contrary to the more comfortable and reductive ways of rigorism and of laxness, as I have repeated many times. To educate to discernment means, in fact, to flee from the temptation to […]

The Grace of Failure

This topic came up in class, and it gets better as I continue to think about it. Here’s the thumbnail: the young Ignatius went to Jerusalem to imitate St. Francis, wanting to walk in Christ’s footsteps and convert Muslims. But after he got there, the local priests sent him packing, and he was dejected. Why did God set him up for failure? One of the most difficult periods in my own life was a professional failure. It […]

Consolation and Desolation

During Lent, we reflect upon our spiritual state and on our interior movement. Are we moving toward more doubt, fear, and anger? Or are we moving toward greater faith, hope, and love? The Ignatian principles of consolation and desolation can help us. A person dwells in a state of consolation when she or he is moving toward God’s active presence in the world. We know we are moving in this way when we sense the […]

The Long Ride

I do some of my best thinking and praying while running or biking. This morning I considered how biking hills is not a bad analogy to the discernment of consolation and desolation in the spiritual life. Here’s the idea. Coming to the beginning of a long upward climb can be a daunting experience. You see it looming, and you see that it will be hard and tiring. There is a temptation to quit or turn around. This is […]

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