My Beloved

My fingers brush the holy water as I enter the church. I’m here for a Gospel meditation, and I linger, imagining the Jordan. Was it shallow or deep, cold or comfortable? I see John the Baptist and crowds of onlookers. Some have already been baptized; others are making a ruckus with some Pharisees. I try to ignore them, refocusing on Jesus’ mother, who is seated on a large rock under a tree. I approach and […]

Practice Listening

Over the next several days, practice listening. Listen to everything—traffic sounds, nature sounds, speaking sounds, and the sounds of peace and quiet. Try to listen with great attention for five or ten minutes every day. Do this during a coffee/tea break, if that helps. Then, gradually tune in to God’s voice. This voice will come through many of the sounds you have already been noticing. It will also emerge as you partake of the arts—books, […]

Questions to Ask in Contemplating the Nativity

Ignatian contemplation allows the Spirit to bring to light important aspects of the Gospel that inform us along our spiritual journeys. This year, my contemplation on the Nativity—which I shared here—highlighted the following: Amidst the hustle and bustle of the marketplace, no one saw Mary in labor with the Christ Child. Where have I missed the opportunity to respond to Christ among us? Mary did not become upset when there were no rooms at the […]

Contemplating the Nativity

Every year, as Advent and Christmas roll around, I return to the contemplation on the Nativity in the Spiritual Exercises. In this contemplation, St. Ignatius invites us to reflect on the Nativity from the viewpoint of a maidservant accompanying the Holy Family. I imagine it this way. The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem has been long—winding miles through hill and valley. The sun is setting as we enter the gates of Bethlehem. We are hot, […]

Listening for God Through Our Imaginations

It never ceases to amaze me the abundant number of ways God speaks to us. I still remember the surprise of learning that not only can we listen for God through our imaginations, but that this prayer had a name: Ignatian contemplation or imaginative prayer. My first exposure to imaginative prayer came during high school religion classes. Several times a year, one of my religion teachers would guide us through an imaginative prayer experience. She’d […]

Prayer for Detachment

I beg of you, my Lord, to remove anything which separates me from you, and you from me. Remove anything that makes me unworthy of your sight, your control, your reprehension; of your speech and conversation, of your benevolence and love. Cast from me every evil that stands in the way of my seeing you, hearing, tasting, savoring, and touching you; fearing and being mindful of you; knowing, trusting, loving, and possessing you; being conscious […]

Walking with Mary

Two travelers are on a road in the hill country. One is Mary, who’s thinking: “I’m so excited! The Messiah is coming! I feel as if I could dance the entire trip ahead of me. I can’t wait to see Elizabeth.” Imagine you’re the other traveler: an apprentice carpenter. You’ve been charged with an important duty: caring for your boss’s beloved. Can you keep her safe? Just look at her! She’s practically running! What’s her […]

Listening for God in Scripture

Recently, I made my annual silent retreat: eight days of listening for God in nature and also of God meeting me in Scripture. Each day as I met with my spiritual director, she invited me to pray with new passages of Scripture. Scripture, yet again, became the Living Word of God for me as I listened to God’s voice through the written word. I’m always surprised at which Scriptures I am drawn to on a […]

Prayer for Humility

Let me have too deep a sense of humor ever to be proud. Let me know my absurdity before I act absurdly. Let me realize that when I am humble I am most human, most truthful, and most worthy of your serious consideration. —Daniel A. Lord, SJ, in Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits Photo by Frank Busch on Unsplash.

God’s Intimate Presence

Prayer is a matter of relationship. Intimacy is the basic issue, not answers to problems or resolutions “to be better.” Many of life’s problems and challenges have no answers; we can only live with and through them. Problems and challenges, however, can be faced and lived through with more peace and resilience if people know that they are not alone. A man’s wife will not return from the dead, but the pain is more bearable […]

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