The Crumpled Ribbon and a Moment of Grace

A sweaty little kindergartener came running towards me from the playground one afternoon. When he got close, I noticed he had something crumpled tightly in his hand. He reached out his hand to show me his prize as the words tumbled out of him in one long, continuous breath: “Mommy, a friend spilled her water, and I helped her, and I got to pick this ribbon, and I picked the rainbow one.” As he exhaled, […]

The Devil in a Piece of Pie

Waiting for a friend at a local coffee shop, I used my smartphone to read a portion of the first letter of John. God took the initiative to sit with me in that moment. My heart was deeply at peace. I was aware of a presence beyond myself. I was warmed by God loving me. I breathed deeply, looked out the window at freshly mown grass and marveled. I was glad my friend was late. […]

The Grace of Autumn

Autumn Leaves Summer’s end cathedral windows paint pale canvas, dapple our shadows with sight, for colors pieced and patched quilt earth to sky; precious colors once hidden within, made plain by grace, grace us. Fall’s Last Leaves Wild wind drives them, shakes loose last grips sending them hurtling heading who knows where when they catch, to gently find their rest. How like these fall’s last leaves are we, when struggle with wildwind Spirit or Fear […]

God’s Grace and Our Efforts

I have watched myself and other people swing back and forth between two extremes of expectation when it comes to spiritual growth. One expectation is that God will do everything if only I have faith and wait patiently. This view goes out of balance when, in my waiting and believing, I become passive. I pray but do not act. I pray but do not engage with the realities in my daily life. When I become […]

The Grace of Failure

This topic came up in class, and it gets better as I continue to think about it. Here’s the thumbnail: the young Ignatius went to Jerusalem to imitate St. Francis, wanting to walk in Christ’s footsteps and convert Muslims. But after he got there, the local priests sent him packing, and he was dejected. Why did God set him up for failure? One of the most difficult periods in my own life was a professional failure. It […]

Resisting Grace

Grace can’t be earned, but it can be resisted. There are times when we prefer darkness to light, when revenge feels good and pleasure trumps virtue. Hating those who wound us comes easier and, at least in the short term, feels more satisfying than loving them. It gets easier and easier to remain in the shadows. The promises of Christ seem distant, as if they are for other people but not for me. We might […]

Ignatian Optimism

St. Augustine was impressed by the amount of sin in the world; humanity for him was a massa damnata. That seems to imply that grace is not only unearned but bestowed sparingly. Ignatius, on the other hand, was impressed by the fact that God spoke to him despite his sinfulness. That implied a liberality to God’s giving and forgiving. If God would speak to him, he would speak to anyone. And from a conviction of […]

Accepting Grace

Ignatian spirituality appeals to people of multiple Christian denominations, as a recent post at Las Puertas Abiertas de Par en Par shows. Rosa reflects about what the Ignatian concept of indifference has meant to her and what she has learned in her life on a farm. These beautiful lines are worth noting: This business of unclenching my hands is not just about surrender. It is also about accepting the small, never-ending and absolutely sufficient, gifts […]

Star Certified

I was praying on the freeway, as I often do, driving to work. The trees lining the road held me like the walls of a church. I traveled up “the aisle,” remembering the day I met Jesus in Communion at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Why did this tree-lined freeway remind me of that unforgettable day? The cars processed up the lanes, bumper-to-bumper to our destinations where we would be perhaps blessed, broken, and shared. […]

Reimagining the Ignatian Examen Flip Book: Naming the Grace

In his book, Reimagining the Ignatian Examen, Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ, writes: But the closer I grow to Christ, the more I want to share with him the seemingly insignificant things as well. I know that he’s there, in the midst of it all, and I long to tap into his presence right there in the mud and muck, the pencils and French fries of my complicated yet incredibly ordinary life. This is why the […]

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