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 […]

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, […]

Who Do You Say That I Am?

This post is based on Week Four of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure. When I was first introduced to Ignatian spirituality more than 40 years ago, I had to answer the question, “Who is God for you?” I realized that my prayer had always been directed to Jesus. I had a general idea of God the Father, and I sometimes experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit, but it had always been Jesus whom I addressed […]

Mary’s Lesson of the Present Moment

For most people who celebrate Christmas, this season becomes a time of surviving tasks and events. We spend days, if not weeks, planning parties, lunches and dinners out, lunches and dinners in (involving grocery shopping, cooking, prepping the house), making our lists and checking them multiple times, buying gifts, sending gifts, writing letters, sending cards, traveling to others’ homes or hosting others in our homes, and so on. Add to that the difficulties that often […]

The Shepherd Girl’s Experience

“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8). I try to imagine night in an ancient land and myself in it, millennia before the mechanical hum of machines and motors entered the world. I try to think of the most natural quiet I have ever known, maybe after a fresh nighttime snow. Maybe the expectant hush that falls over the crowd as the houselights […]

Simply Advent: Simple Celebrations

We’re approaching the end of Advent, and even though you probably have your Christmas plans set, here are a few ideas for simple celebrations. First, consider making some adjustments to grand-scale plans, and then, savor the here and now. Make a Few Adjustments Is there a simple way to celebrate Advent and Christmas? Every time I consider inviting people over, this machine turns on in my head, and it churns out these huge events with […]

Jesus Asked Me to Pray He Gets a Home

I blasted out of my office with a broken heart and crestfallen face. I needed a break to calm my agitated spirit. As I took off down the street, a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk said something to me. I stopped and bent closer. “I’m sorry; I didn’t hear you,” I said. He asked if I had any prayer needs, because he would pray for me. Have you ever had a homeless person offer […]

Simply Advent: Simple Practices

We continue trying to keep things simple this Advent with suggestions for simple practices this season. Linger with the Nativity Story This seems simple enough, but why not be quite intentional about taking in, once more, the story of Jesus’ birth? Read it in Scripture. Read a children’s book version of the story. Watch a film about it, such as The Nativity Story or Jesus of Nazareth (first part). Read about it in poetry form. […]

Science and the Star of Bethlehem

Br. Guy Consolmagno, SJ, the director of the Vatican Observatory, addresses the question “Can science explain the mystery of the Star of Bethlehem?” in an article at Evening Standard. He highlights several theories before concluding: Actually, to me the most astonishing part of the story of the Magi is not that they would predict the birth of a king from the positions of the planets; any fortune teller could have done that kind of calculation. […]

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