A Few Moments to Imagine

I offer a short meditation to take you into the weekend. Get comfortable and take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes. In your imagination, place yourself in a location that is comfortable and beautiful and where you feel safe. Notice that a person is walking toward you. As he draws closer, you realize it is Jesus. (Or, if you prefer, it’s Mary, the mother of Jesus.) Jesus smiles at you and then embraces you […]

Five Tips for Beating Loneliness from St. Ignatius

A recent study revealed an epidemic of loneliness in America. Loneliness and social isolation isn’t limited to America, though; it’s a global scourge that Pope Francis has addressed: There are no longer close personal relationships. Today’s culture seems to encourage people not to bond with anything or anyone, not to trust…At the root of so many contemporary situations is a kind of impoverishment born of a widespread and radical sense of loneliness. Running after the […]

Reviewing the Feelings of Our Day

Reviewing the events of our day, either to thank God or to know our sins, is familiar enough. Reviewing the feelings that those events generate is a new approach for many people. A good way to begin is, “Lord, where have I heard your voice, and how have I responded?” Sometimes a strong emotion immediately surfaces. I was deeply saddened to get a letter from the son of an old friend telling me of her […]

Dancing

Pentecost I watch Your branches dance, bathed in morning sun, and wonder at the work of Spirit’s breath between the leaves; what You have begun You will fulfill, and we who wait so deep in peace can feel so close the heart’s caress, Your touch in us to be disguised, and go to make the day begin / be done in You, breathing / breathed on Spirit’s breath, branches asked to dance. Come Dance with […]

Living Out the Beatitudes, Part Two

In Pope Francis’s recent apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad), he reflects on the Beatitudes as a guide for how we can increase in holiness. Last week we looked at the values of poverty, meekness, mourning with others, and the pursuit of justice. The Pope goes on to talk about two aspects of mercy to consider in the beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” These are serving others […]

God Is Trying to Catch Our Attention

We know that much of prayer is simply paying attention. A prayerful person learns how to tune in, more and more, to the details of daily life and notice where the Divine is showing up. Sometimes, though, God steps in and tries to catch our attention. It’s not that God is coercing us—divine love always respects our freedom of will. But there are situations in which we are unable to pay attention: We are emotionally […]

The Cheer-Ups File

This is the last stop for the Make Today Matter blog hop, in which bloggers have been reflecting on the habits in Chris Lowney’s new book from Loyola Press. See the full list of blog hop stops here. I keep a “cheer-ups” file for paper treasures that strengthen me when I hit a snag of desolation. I realized this week that the manila folder reminds me of happy warriors, those special people Chris Lowney talks […]

Living Out the Beatitudes, Part One

Pope Francis recently released an apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad). The document is rich in reflections, such as one on the Beatitudes. I found the Pope’s commentary on the Beatitudes could serve as a kind of examination of conscience. How am I living out these Beatitudes, and where do I need to grow? For example, Pope Francis asks us to reflect on the beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for […]

Ancient Roots of Spiritual Exercises

The French philosopher Pierre Hadot has studied the origins of spiritual exercises among Greek philosophers. There seems to be a straight line from Hellenistic philosophy and its influence on Church fathers like Ambrose and Augustine, to the early monastic tradition, to the medieval monks who influenced Ignatius Loyola. (At one point Ignatius wanted to be a Carthusian and even permitted members of his order to transfer into that order and return later.) Ignatius borrowed from […]

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 […]

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