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 […]

Finding God in Family Prayer

One of our newest books is all about family prayer: The Prayer List…and Other True Stories of How Families Pray. Through interviews with friends, family members, and others she interviewed, Jane Knuth explores the various ways families have developed prayer practices. All have discovered that God begins with people where they are and leads them into relationship and conversation that become true and life-giving prayer. Here’s part of Jane’s own story: Dean and I are […]

I Am Not Worthy

I slipped into the church, unseen by the women cleaning on Saturday morning; the vacuum’s blare wiped out my footsteps. Early for a women’s breakfast, I thought I’d say hi to Jesus. In our church, an alcove creates a private space in front of the tabernacle. When I sat there, I sang a Communion hymn from my childhood so I wouldn’t scare anyone when I emerged from the hidden spot: Oh, Lord, I am not […]

Ignatian Indifference

Often, we think about freedom as freedom from interference from others, but St. Ignatius understood freedom differently. For him, human freedom is a freedom to grow in relationship with God and share in God’s redemptive work. This requires internal freedom or what Ignatius called “indifference.” Indifference means being detached enough from things, people, or experiences to be able either to take them up or to leave them aside, depending on whether they help us to […]

A Person Made of Light

Suppose there were a reality faster than light, so superenergized that it would be at rest, everywhere at once. Every object we see—though it appears rock-hard—is actually just another form of energy: e = mc2. Couple that with all we know from religion; encounters with God are so often described as burning bushes and fiery pillars and tongues of flame. I Am is the pool of energizing existence out of which everything draws its “is,” […]

Four Ways to Recreate This Summer

As we move into the summer season, let’s consider recreation—as in play, amusement, or leisure. How can we recreate? 1. Turn off all your screens. Because I work on words all day, I often relax by watching TV or movies—mostly from eras past or from other countries. But too much screen time—whether television, computer, or phone—actually sets us into a passive frame of mind. True recreation involves action of some sort. It may be minimal […]

Healing and Comfort

Sometimes God heals and comforts us, like Jesus did for Jairus’s daughter, the woman with the hemorrhage, and Peter’s mother-in-law. Sometimes God heals and comforts through us, and we find that in working to heal and comfort one another we’ve also brought great comfort to God. You Heal Us in Secret You heal us in secret and silently, when we but touch Your clothes; You say our faith is the cause; how is it You […]

Finding the Purpose

Casey Beaumier, SJ, experienced many uncomfortable shifts during his weeks of pilgrimage, walking from place to place, begging for food and shelter, and allowing strangers to become friends. During all of that, he struggled to understand where the journey was leading. Why was he here? What was he doing? I returned to Gonzaga grumpy and completely drained of any remaining confidence in myself. I felt completely fragile. We sat at dinner with two Jesuits, the […]

An Examen for Times of Illness

Physical illness, whether chronic or acute, can render us too distracted and exhausted to keep up with normal activities, among them prayer. Not only do pain, other discomforts, and fatigue sap our physical resources, but they also put a strain on our interior resources—our emotions, our ability to think, and our spiritual attentiveness. And yet, we are so in need of prayer when physically distressed. While ill or injured, we are likely to make mistakes, […]

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 […]

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