No Excuse for a Closed Heart

Another question I ask: in the evening, how do you conclude your day? With the Lord or in front of the television? How is your relationship with those who help you to be more merciful? That is, how is your relationship with the children, with the elderly, with the sick? Do you know how to reassure them, or are you embarrassed to caress an elderly person? Do not be ashamed of the flesh of your […]

The Virtue in Playing Games

When was the last time you played cards or a board game, just for the fun of it? Matthew, who blogs as the Mountain Catholic, sees the virtue in playing games for fun, with not even the smallest of wagers at stake. [G]ames are a means, not an end in themselves. They exist to build up the relationship between all players, not the livelihood of just one. And so we ought to fight against the […]

What Is Ignatian Friendship?

Is there a difference between an Ignatian friendship—a friendship inspired by the spiritual wisdom of St. Ignatius Loyola—and other types of friendship? I posit that an Ignatian friendship is an intentional relationship modeled on the idea of magis, a word that means more, but for our purposes, we’ll expand that to define magis as the greater good. An Ignatian friendship is therefore grounded in the idea of one friend desiring the greatest good for the […]

Relationship Examen

It’s amazing how much my first year of marriage has found Sarah and me sharing with others about what the experience has been like. Just recently we gave a talk to some undergraduates about how we integrate prayer into our relationship. One key feature of our prayer, especially at the beginning of our marriage, was a Relationship Examen. Our method takes the spirit of Ignatius’s examination of conscience and applies it to a deep examination […]

Two Differences between Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Sometimes we hesitate to forgive because we think it must automatically include reconciliation. These are two separate processes, and one does not always lead to the other. 1. One person can forgive; it takes two to reconcile. With God’s help, I have the power to forgive anything. That doesn’t mean that I’m willing to forgive anything or that it will be easy. And sometimes a wrong is so heinous that it can take the rest […]

Practice Love

A friend shared with me a fascinating video (h/t CBS News) about a photographer who went out onto the streets of New York City to ask complete strangers to pose with one another as if they were intimate friends or family. What is fascinating about it is that those who participated—even in spite of initial awkwardness—reported feeling that they began to care for the people to whom they were introduced. I have long suspected that […]

Spiritual Conversation

The most basic thing human beings do together is communicate. Language helps form and maintain relationships. Jesus, in the scriptures, had deep conversations with his disciples, the Pharisees, sinners, and all those who approached him. Consider the intimate conversation with the woman at the well. This kind of spiritual conversation was very important to St. Ignatius’s mission in the Society of Jesus. Ignatius specifically states in the Jesuit Constitutions that spiritual conversation is one of […]

On Ignatius Day, How to Disagree

To mark St. Ignatius’s feast day, I thought I would tell one of my favorite stories about him. In 1552, Pope Julius III announced plans to make another Jesuit a cardinal.  Ignatius detested the idea; Jesuits were committed to poverty, and the office of cardinal at the time brought with it wealth and a luxurious life.  Ignatius lobbied hard to scuttle the idea, writing that “If I did not act thus, I would be quite certain […]

The History of One Day

You can look at the day you just lived through, and notice certain things. The physical: What did you see? What did you hear? Taste? Smell? Touch? What was the weather like? How was the sky? What impact did all of these sensual elements have on you? The emotional: What were the primary emotions of the day? When did you feel most emotionally alive, and when were your emotions more muted? What part of your […]

How Does Hope Shape Us?

A driving dynamic of Advent is hope. If we had nothing to hope for, there would be no point to this season. The original hope was for a child to be born who would bring justice and peace to the world and who would heal the rift between humanity and God. But that larger hope is filled with smaller ones—daily hopes that can shape us as people. Some hopes will shape our relationships. The Christ […]

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