Wisdom

There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom, between someone who’s a brain and someone to whom we bring our pain. Someone wise does know which things can’t be changed and which can, and he or she is at peace with that. The wise person accepts things as they are, accepts his or her position in the universe: far better than a rock or a carrot or a pig, far less than God. Science is […]

Three Reasons It’s Hard to Be Still

We have been conditioned to feel guilty whenever we are not “productive.” Stillness, even for the purpose of rest or prayer, can feel like wasted time to someone who lives in a world that values wealth, competition, high productivity, full schedules, and general self-importance. If we stare off into space for half an hour—and fail even to take notes on the thoughts that come to mind—that’s half an hour lost. The writer must always be […]

The Magi and Contemplation

When the magi see the star and come to visit the Christ Child, they see the baby and fall down and worship God’s presence there. When I have prayed with this story imaginatively, my focus is rarely on the magi themselves. Almost inevitably my gaze turns to the baby Jesus. What could be more natural when there is a newborn infant in the room? When I was a young mother, I used to enjoy just […]

Three Characteristics of Advent Waiting

Advent is a time of waiting. But not all kinds of waiting are alike. In Advent, we wait in a special way. 1. Advent waiting is expectant. Many years ago, when I was expecting my first child, I felt a deep connection to Mary in the Nativity stories. As I noticed my stomach beginning to swell, awaited feeling the first kicks, and wondered what it would mean to become a mother, I waited with an […]

Quiet for Three Minutes

I whisper that we are going to be quiet for three minutes and listen. I set the timer on my phone and let my younger son push the start button. My sons might wiggle. They might giggle. And with my eyes closed, I feel my younger son gently touching my fingernail. But if I ignore the movement and model stillness, they follow. I open my eyes to see my older son, his eyes closed, with […]

Five Easy Ways to Build Prayer into Your Day

Too busy to pray? Here are five easy ways to build a little prayer into the day. Try a “mini Examen” just before lunch, dinner, or going to sleep. Pause to thank God for good gifts from the day, and notice where God was present. Gratitude is at the heart of prayer. (And the full Examen doesn’t take that long, either!) Slow down and take a walk. On the way to an appointment? Instead of […]

An Anxious Person’s Prayer

How can I pray when I’m anxious? That is, how is it possible to pray when anxiety fills my person? How might I go about prayer when I’m in such a condition? Here are a few points to remember. First of all, reality does not change when I experience internal changes. I might be enraged, frightened out of my mind, or too worried to remember words to a prayer. But God continues to dwell with […]

God Is There All the Time

Becoming aware that we have been divinized by Jesus Christ, invited into the Trinity family, is a felt realization of the numinous presence of God not only all around us but also within us. God is there all the time, waiting. But, like God’s forgiveness, God’s will to share the divine aliveness with us can’t activate until we invite it. It is the heart-stopping understanding that despite our shortcomings, despite our seeming insignificance to most […]

Four Principles of Pilgrimage

We have taken a rather brisk tour through the life of St. Ignatius during the past few weeks, following the pilgrimage that is his life story. Now let’s glean some general principles of pilgrimage that apply to each one of us. 1. Pilgrimage presents itself, but we decide to go or stay. Ignatius could have responded in other ways to his months of healing from the cannonball incident. He could have set his mind in […]

How to Get Unstuck

I believe that one of the biggest obstacles to a person living her values is the ease at which we get stuck on any given day. And it’s rarely the big events that hold us back but the smaller, relentless thoughts, attitudes, and fears that show up all the time. When I encounter a big problem, such as a job change or a death in the family, I’m on high alert for whatever opposes God’s […]

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