Praying Through the Pain

Anyone who has ever tried to read the Bible or use a popular prayer app while recovering from surgery or undergoing chemotherapy can describe how difficult it is to pray in these circumstances. The words swim on the page; the meanings don’t register; the mind wanders; the pain blots out all other thoughts; when the pain subsides, drowsiness takes over; some passages trigger worries and anxieties; the joyful ones seem irrelevant. At first glance, Ignatius […]

A Certain Place

The room where I quilt, the arms of my husband, and sitting in my inherited wingback chair are some of my favorite places. Jesus was praying in a certain place, and his friends asked him to teach them to pray. (Luke 11:1) I always focused on the words of the Our Father that follow. But today it was that certain place that stopped me in my mental tracks. Perhaps the first teaching on prayer, for […]

Asking for What We Want

I don’t remember being encouraged to ask God for what I wanted, back when my faith was being formed in my childhood and teen—and even young-adult—years. It was assumed that my natural longings would be tainted by sin and selfishness. If anything, I was encouraged to suppress my natural wants and wishes and train myself to pray for what God wanted me to have: conflict-free relationships, happy willingness to obey authority and serve others, the […]

He Walked Beside Me

I was doing a very ordinary task: washing clothes for the Apostles. I was almost done, and the basket was very heavy. “Can I help you with that?” I turned to see who spoke, and a handsome stranger was smiling at me. Rather than speak to him, I simply handed him the basket since my shoulders ached and I was exhausted by the hot sun. Relieved of the burden, I suddenly recalled something Jesus once […]

Praying Through Suffering

In his book, The Ignatian Adventure, Kevin O’Brien, SJ, writes: In the third week of the Exercises, Ignatius invites us to consider how Jesus’ divinity ‘hides itself’ (SE 196). We must not easily explain away the suffering we encounter. Jesus is not merely playacting his way through a passion play. We must take Jesus’ humanity seriously enough to realize just how much he loves us. (227) In what moment is Jesus’ divinity more hidden than […]

Cooking the Passover Meal for Jesus

“Who’s doing the haroset? These apples should’ve been chopped by now!” “Judith, where’s the rest of the matzah?” The tantalizing aroma of perfectly prepared lamb fills the crowded room. Noisy conversation buzzes all around. To paraphrase the youngest child, this night is different from every other Passover I’ve ever prepared. I’m standing in the doorway of the upper room, watching Jesus. It’s difficult to pay attention, because I’m so distracted. I wish I had another […]

Never Alone

What comforts me the most in my life is the fact that I am not left on my own to figure out things. One of the many things that Ignatian spirituality continues to teach me is that I am never alone. I am not alone in growing in my relationship with God. I am not alone in making any decisions. I am not alone in walking through both the joys of life and the heartbreaking […]

Praying for Others

Do you ever wonder why we pray for people? Praying for the living and the dead is, after all, a spiritual work of mercy. I believe one of the key characteristics of Ignatian spirituality, being a contemplative in action, offers us insight into this work of mercy. To me, living as a contemplative in action means being a person of prayer who puts that prayer into concrete reality. It doesn’t mean that we merely act […]

A Lenten Invitation from William Barry, SJ

Just think about this: God, the creator of our vast universe, made each of us in his own image and likeness to be his friend and to cooperate with God in the great adventure of developing this planet. Moreover, after thousands of years of seeing how often human beings mess things up, God still delights in us so much that God became one of us in Jesus of Nazareth. God becomes as vulnerable as any […]

The Imaginary Boy

The other day I came across a passage in a novel that brought me up short. The book is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. The writer describes the thoughts of a nine-year-old boy: “His father always talked to him—so he felt—as if he were addressing some imaginary boy, one of those that exist in books, but quite unlike him. And he always tried, when he was with his father, to pretend he was that book […]

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