Waving to a Stranger

Standing in a piazza in Lucca, Italy, dappled sunlight shining down on me, I licked gelato al limone while my husband peeked in storefront windows. Our boys traded licks of their own flavors as they critiqued them with the seriousness of a Food Network expert. I whispered “I’m happy” to no one but me and God, as I often do when the moment comes, to capture it and make it more real. A small bus […]

How the Examen Made Me Smile at the Mailbox

My son recently developed a new fascination with the mailbox. “Mom, how do I get a letter from me to someone else?” he asked one day with tremendous curiosity. We went through the steps: write the letter, put it in an envelope, address the envelope, and don’t forget the stamps. Then one morning my son showed me a picture he had made for his best friend that he desperately wanted to mail. It was perfect […]

Three Reasons It’s Hard to Be Still

We have been conditioned to feel guilty whenever we are not “productive.” Stillness, even for the purpose of rest or prayer, can feel like wasted time to someone who lives in a world that values wealth, competition, high productivity, full schedules, and general self-importance. If we stare off into space for half an hour—and fail even to take notes on the thoughts that come to mind—that’s half an hour lost. The writer must always be […]

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 […]

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 Steps of the Examen

Today let’s explore the Examen through the lens of brief reflections pertaining to each step. The steps in this version of the Examen match what is presented in A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer by Jim Manney. Ask God for light. If we attune ourselves to look and listen, we may find God present within us, all around us, and speaking to us constantly. But if we don’t bother to look, it will seem that there is […]

The Inner Process of Letting Go

What has to happen inside a person before she can let go of attachments that are harming her? The attachment can be physical, such as a house or keepsake; it can be emotional, such as resentment about an incident or fear of an unwanted outcome. Attachments can be needs—the need to understand everything completely, or the need to force things into an order she can manage. Attachments can be relationships or jobs, or even dreams. […]