From Church to God

It takes a great deal of slow, careful, thoughtful work to learn a language. First there must be the example of someone fluent in that language who acts as a model. Next, there must be careful listening, repeating of sounds that are foreign, and memorizing words and their unfamiliar nuances. Over time one builds small sentences to convey basic meanings. Months, even years later, one grows in the ability to write and speak sentences to […]

Church and Community

The other day at Mass we sang a song that brings me back to my youth, a World Youth Day theme song called, “We Are One Body.” The song stuck in my head for hours afterward, leading me to consider more deeply what the song is really about, particularly in the context of my life right now. The song is about community. When we sing it, we remember that we are in community with those […]

Answered Prayers

My brother came to stay with my family recently while he attended training in our city. While I was happy to welcome him, I worried about how we were going to survive three whole weeks under one roof. As adults, my brother and I get along well in short doses, but after a while I inevitably launch into lecturing my brother and attempting to tell him how to live his life. I mean well, but […]

In Downtown Detroit

This video features a ministry that doesn’t make headlines; it’s humble service to people in distress in downtown Detroit. I like it for that very reason. It’s typical of many ministries run by volunteers walking an Ignatian path. I like it for another reason too–the memorable name of the priest in charge: Patrick Francis Peter Ignatius Peppard. If the Jesuits had an all-name team, he’d be on it for sure. (Go here to watch it on YouTube.)

Why Go to Church?

In this age when more and more people describe themselves as spiritual but not religious, it is helpful to recall Ignatius’s understanding of the purpose of prayer, devotions, and participation in liturgy. In what pertains to prayer, meditation, and study and also in regard to the bodily practices of fasts, vigils, and other austerities or penances, it does not seem expedient to give them any other rule than that which discreet charity dictates to them, […]

Real Presents (Part II)

Moving right along.  Where was I?  The 5:30 PM liturgy on Friday. I had finally settled down in a back pew when an usher’s tap on my shoulder launched me into full-bodied Uh-oh Mode. What did I do? What didn’t I do? I’m convinced this reaction is the result of having watched “The Trouble With Angels” way too many times, although there could be other reasons.  A few incidents during a part-time pastoral associate stint […]

Real Presents (Part I)

Just when I’m almost certain that church-the-building is one of the last places I’ll encounter God’s grace, I receive evidence to the contrary. Being a mystic* type, I’m okay with having my assumptions about church and faith challenged empirically. This is what happened when I got into gear for the 5:30 PM liturgy on Friday. I almost didn’t go because of the life-threatening heat. (I blame beehive hairdos of the 1960s and the massive amounts […]

Desire and the Church

During this week of Pentecost I have been thinking about the Church as an institution, a community launched by Christ and gifted with the Holy Spirit. Our beginning, we profess, is through God’s own activity, and our continuing life is through grace. This was certainly Ignatius’ understanding, a point underscored by Michael Buckley in a fine essay he wrote in Theological Studies 15 years ago (“Ecclesial Mysticism in the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius,” v. 56, […]