Things Jesuit

One-Minute Homily: “We Need to Talk”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 01/21/2018 - 11:02

Do you get nervous if someone says to you… “we need to talk”? Check out this week’s One-Minute Reflection with Br. Ken Homan, SJ. Based on the readings for Sunday, January 21, which you can read here: http://bit.ly/2DCZMIz

Categories: Things Jesuit

“Making” Sacred

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 05:30

By Vinita Hampton Wright

Home is sacred space. It is also sacred time. Whether home is a physical location or a state of mind while we wander the globe, we have the power to make it sacred, to hold it in loving attention and simultaneously offer it to God and the world as our gift to give. Here are a few ideas for “making sacred.” I make home sacred by: Receiving it with gratitude, noticing its details from day [...]

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Categories: Things Jesuit

Days Hazed, When Such Winter Chill, and Light Too Bright to Behold

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 05:30

By Mary Ellen Smajo

Days Hazed days hazed, holding their knowing, known in hope only, open too slowly, while these days filled too full quit too quickly, knowing not yet caught. yet hazed days are wonders working, slowly seen, but granting sight so that in these days our lame leave burdens behind— and carry us; and hearts fill full; and knowing catches us. When Such Winter Chill when such winter chill creeps up close so swift slow-seeping, pausing, playing, [...]

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Categories: Things Jesuit

Just Looking at You

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 02:01

A striking scene in the recent film Darkest Hour comes when Winston Churchill, in a particularly anguished moment, pauses his dictation of a difficult letter and asks about a photo on the desk of his typist, Elizabeth. She reveals that it is her brother, was recently killed by Nazi troops while attempting to retreat to the shores of Dunkirk. Churchill pauses, slumps in to a chair, and then looks directly at Elizabeth for a long stretch of silence. In the midst of quiet, yet resolute tears, Elizabeth eventually turns to the silent Churchill and asks, “What?” Churchill simply replies, “Just looking at you.”

It was the directness of Churchill’s looking at Elizabeth that unexpectedly struck me in this scene. I felt an ambiguous rush of instinctual emotion as I watched. Part of me felt uncomfortable seeing Churchill silently watch Elizabeth in this moment, but I also sensed the love and care present in Churchill’s attentive look. Eventually, Elizabeth breaks the silence and encourages Churchill to continue his dictation, a newfound compassion born between them. I was left with a sense of awe at the power of a gesture as simple as a loving look.

***

I’ve often had a difficult time looking people in the eye when they are looking at me. When I’m talking and someone is really listening and looking directly at me, I feel exposed, and I get nervous. I become even more anxious in moments when another person and I find ourselves without words, and are led to look at each other in silence. There is some sort of strange fear that wells up in me that is difficult to describe, and that makes me want to break away.

Some time back a good friend and I were talking, and at one point he remarked, “You don’t look me in the eyes very often.” We were sitting down next to one another, and he was looking right at me. He was someone who sincerely knew me, but there was still something about facing his gaze that scared me.

I told him that I had struggled with looking people in the eyes for a while, and that honestly, I didn’t know why it was so hard to do so. I tried to look at him as I explained, but then felt a gut reaction to turn away. I looked slightly down, or up, or anywhere other than at him as I spoke.

After I tried to explain, he said, “Well, just look at me now.” So I stopped talking, and I did. His eyes looked straight in to mine, and mine in to his. I quickly felt a familiar discomfort. But slowly, the seconds ticked by and I didn’t turn away. I began to actually see him. His eyes were blueish, and soon wrinkled at the corners with a smile. His gaze was kind, respectful, devoid of pity or mockery.

Eventually I relaxed enough to notice I needed to breath. My shoulders relaxed, and I could feel the muscles in my face fall. I smiled, and my anxiety started to abate. He continued to look, and I continued to see more and more the love in that look.

I then began to feel what I would describe as a certain kind of exhilarated relief. There was something in his look that touched on a fundamental need within me. To simply be known. To be loved. To be safe, open, and accepted for who I was. To be drawn out of my protective shell toward a real relationship that was not a mere façade I put up to seek affirmation or maintain control.

There was nothing complicated or uncomfortable about what I felt. It was the opposite of complicated or conflicted. It was simply good, true, and freeing. It was like peeling off some sort of heavy medieval armor with its massive helmet having only slits for eyes. I could actually move around in my own skin. To be known, and to be looked at with love: a simple act with the power of a human person behind it.

***

Pope Francis said that when he prays, he simply looks at God, and God looks at him. I think that watching Elizabeth and Winston in Darkest Hour and thinking back to this experience with my friend help me understand the power of this kind of encounter, whether human or divine. When another person and I look at one another, there is some way in which the full power of who we are is given and received. It can become the space where we meet each of our doubts and fears about ourselves, face them, and then allow the other person to fill that emptiness with what can only be received as a gift: to be fully seen, and truly loved.

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Categories: Things Jesuit

Patience Must You Have

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 23:01

New Year’s resolutions seem to fall clunkily in the middle of the school year – with the return to classes, assignments, and squirrely students, the start of the new semester can leave me a bit weary and jaded from frustrations of the first. Amidst my hope for a good start to the semester, two events politely coincided: I saw the newest Star Wars; and I read Bishop Carlson’s op-ed on starting a new year. While seemingly unimportant and unrelated events, the two have left me with some important nuggets to sit with: build my patience, learn from mistakes, and allow love to be the transforming power.

Build My Patience

Freshmen are quite excellent at trying a teacher’s patience. Despite being the first week back, I found myself losing patience with my sixth period. They struggled to sit quietly as I sprinted through material. Though I would like to blame their chattiness on Christmas candy and having been away from school, it was really a result of my trying to pack too much material into a 45-minute period.

My juniors can also try my patience. Our course explores Catholic Social Doctrine and how we apply it in the world today. While we try to unpack complex issues like the school-to-prison pipeline or the gender pay gap, I sometimes grow frustrated and angry by what I perceive as a lack of empathy on their behalf. When students push back, I can sometimes lean toward arguments that shut them down rather than engage them. Instead of dialogue and compassion, I throw more data at them.

Here lies the wisdom of Yoda and Bishop Carlson: “Patience must you have.” It is very tempting to sprint out of the gate, to give the quickest response we can. Carlson suggests we live by the 24-hour rule, where not responding within 24 hours means you’re irrelevant. Our society as a whole and frequently my own life/teaching employ this rule. But what happens if we wait to respond? Carlson believes we become more charitable, understanding, and truly listening. How can we be more patient with others? How can we be more open to listening?

Learn from Mistakes

Unironically, becoming more patient will not likely occur overnight. Herein lies Yoda’s second dash of wisdom: “The greatest teacher, failure is.” Sometimes as a teacher, I forget that I’m still learning. I definitely make mistakes (see the absurd length of my freshmen semester exam).The constantly-sprinting lifestyle means that mistakes must be quickly glossed over without much reflection.

Unattended scratches become major damages.

Despite being a third-year teacher and some desire to proclaim myself an expert educator, I must stop and recognize my mistakes not just to fix them, but to let their lessons truly manifest. Herein lies a second part to patience – patience with ourselves. What happens if we allow our patience with others to apply to ourselves as well? Do we take time to allow others and ourselves to learn from mistakes? Are we patient with the learning process?

Allow Love to Be the Transforming Power

Growing in patience and listening points to the transforming power of love. In The Last Jedi, Rose stops Finn from a suicide mission to save the rebel base. As Finn runs to ask her why she would do such a thing, Rose replies, “I saved you, dummy. That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.” In that scene, Rose boldly summed up the entire Gospel.

My goal as a teacher is not to get freshmen to sit still or juniors to agree with me. Rather, I want to help them experience the transforming power of love and it’s ability to shape the world. Threatening freshmen with boring lectures or hurling statistics at juniors serves only to alienate or frustrate them. And then – they stop learning both the content and the lessons of unconditional love.

But living out that Gospel message will hopefully transform both their learning experience and the world. And so too it is with our own lives. Is love our daily compass? If not, what do we need to do to allow love to be the transforming power? How will love, listening, and learning allow us to be more loving both toward others and ourselves?

****

Perhaps it’s a good thing that the middle of the school year and the start of the calendar year perfectly coincide. It can push us to reflect on the first semester, more fully relying upon the examen for the new year and second semester. Perfect resolutions might not emerge to start the year. Rather, we can focus on slowing down, learning, and letting love take hold.  And if we allow ourselves to be gently patient with ourselves and others, we might begin to lead others to the transforming love that is the source of our truest peace.  

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The cover photo was made with images from CNS photo/Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review, and Flickr user William Warby.

Categories: Things Jesuit

10 Reasons to Choose Ignatius

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 05:30

By Rebecca Ruiz

I was delighted to learn that St. Ignatius Loyola is among my son’s top three choices for his Confirmation saint. Of course, I wanted him to make an educated choice, so, in all fairness and with no partiality or favoritism, I directed him to my favorite Ignatian books and websites and procured a copy of the 2016 film, Ignacio de Loyola. As we sat down to watch the film, both of my teens aired their [...]

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Categories: Things Jesuit

MLK’s Dream: The Hope and the Challenge

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 23:59

Today is Martin Luther King Jr Day. There can be no better tribute to his memory than to re-read his words, or read them for the first time:

I Have a Dream

Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Nonviolence and Racial Justice

And many others

King’s words require no commentary. But I will leave you with one thought. There are two ways to betray his legacy.

First, we can celebrate it while refusing to allow it to challenge us. We can sanitize his legacy as a nice person we all admire, as an exemplar of what we all already want and are doing. We thus anesthetize ourselves from the painful realization that we do not always measure up to his teaching, and in fact are often complicit in the injustice he rejected. But we have to be willing to embrace that pain if we are going to grow from his example.

Second, we can depress ourselves with how far we have fallen short of his challenge. The struggle for justice is never easy, and it takes a personal toll on those who engage in it. But King’s message was one of hope, not of despair. If we find ourselves despairing that we cannot do all that must be done, then we are not imitating King. King trusted in the slow work of God. Only that trust will give us enduring hope.

King could name injustice without losing hope in justice. Instead of “celebrating” King today, let him challenge and inspire you. Can you find the courage to accept the ways you have been unjust, and the hope to keep fighting for justice?

Categories: Things Jesuit

The Imaginary Boy

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 05:30

By Jim Manney

The other day I came across a passage in a novel that brought me up short. The book is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. The writer describes the thoughts of a nine-year-old boy: “His father always talked to him—so he felt—as if he were addressing some imaginary boy, one of those that exist in books, but quite unlike him. And he always tried, when he was with his father, to pretend he was that book [...]

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Categories: Things Jesuit

A Quiet Morning with Harry and Barry

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 01/11/2018 - 02:02

On a rare morning of quiet, I lit a fire, poured hot coffee into a Star Wars mug, and settled into a squashy armchair to read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In moments, I was moving across the dark grounds of a vast castle school, wand at the ready for an attack. I was lost in another world.

I’m a long time Potthead; I first picked up a Harry Potter book 16 years ago – finals week during my freshman year of college. It was a mistake to start reading them at that moment; as I tend to lean toward a world of fantasy anyway, the books were an unreasonable escape from the very real thing I was asked to do – exams and papers. I managed, in spite of an immediate addiction to stunning spells and butterbeer. Harry Potter was my distraction, my release, my stress, and my joy all at once.

In my burgeoning adult life, I’ve returned to Harry Potter when I need to suspend reality. When work becomes overbearing and my anxiety even seeps into my dreams, I find the fiction of Harry Potter actually draws me back to something closer to my real self. I become a person captivated by the gift of imagination and rooted in a loving hope that good will triumph.

Pages melted away as the sun rose and washed out the brightness of the flickering fire. Reality check – I needed more coffee. I dug myself out of the chair and made my way to the pot.

***

When I returned, fresh steam was rising out of R2D2’s chrome dome. As my mind danced with what form my Patronus might take – surely a humpback whale – I noticed an entirely different kind of book sitting on the coffee table before me: Obama: An Intimate Portrait.

Published a day before the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s election, the book reveals the world of the 44th presidency through the lens of Pete Souza, the official White House photographer during the Obama Administration. Harry could wait. Barry had my attention.

I started at the beginning, remembering events of those eight years. As I meandered through pages, I saw Obama slumped over a desk at Newtown High School and remembered the deep sadness of Sandy Hook. No spell would bring the victims back to life.

I saw a cramped room filled with decorated military leaders and government officials watching a screen unseen, and I remembered the strange blend of relief and lament when Osama bin Laden was found and killed. The soldiers were carried into their mission by boats and helicopters, not broomsticks and Floo Powder.

I saw a man singing and dancing with his enchanting wife in his arms, and I wondered how anyone could manage to smile through the pressure of the presidency – almost magic to try, or perhaps an illusion.

There were trying moments for me during the Obama administration, and all people make mistakes. But still, I was captivated by the bold imagination of it all – trying to care for sick people, trying to help people find good jobs, trying to keep conversations about rights and justice at the forefront of American dialogue. I felt called to do more in rooting deeper hope and goodness in the world.

But first, more coffee.

***
On a rare morning of quiet, I over-caffeinated and chuckled at the books before me. They couldn’t be more different. One whisked me away to a wizarding reverie, and the other planted me firmly in reality. One boasts werewolves, pixies, and hippogriffs, and the other is made of actual people who suffered and struggled, who sent people to die and who tried to keep me safe. One offered the timeless tale of good versus evil, and the other revealed that the line between them isn’t always clear.

Both, however, reminded me that it is not reasonable to fear a name or the thing itself – dark wizards or presidents or anyone else. Both reminded me of the power of imagination, and the human capacity to dream big. Both called me to courageous action and an indomitable spirit of hope.

And, both gave me reason to pause in the chaos of life and enjoy a well-earned moment of reflection before my day began.

But now, the day begins…

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Image by the author.

Categories: Things Jesuit

God in the Annoying

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 01/10/2018 - 05:30

By Cara Callbeck

Take a minute to think of the person who annoys you most in your life, the one who always seems to find his or her way under your skin. That person who always seems to say the wrong thing at the wrong time and who most often brings out the worst in you. The person who knows every button to push to upset you. Now think about how you react when that person is in [...]

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Categories: Things Jesuit

No More “Me Too”

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Mon, 01/08/2018 - 23:24

On Sunday night, Oprah Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award. In her acceptance speech, she powerfully remembered the many women who have been victimized by men throughout human history. Speaking of the recently deceased Recy Taylor – an African American woman brutally raped  by six white men in 1944 – Winfrey turned our attention to the many women who have chosen to speak their own painful experiences of sexual assault and harassment in the media this year.

Winfrey noted that her own field, the media industry, is just one of every industry where women experience sexual violence and harassment. Many women, however, will never have their stories heard. Despite experiences of gender violence and discrimination, they must continue to work to support their children and families.

But in a powerful call to all the girls in the room watching the screen, Winfrey’s tone changed:

So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “Me too” again.

Inspiring as this is, the call is not simply to the girls at home watching from their own television screens. The call is for all of us – especially for those of us who are men. Sexual assault and gender violence will not end unless each of us become those magnificent women and phenomenal men. We all are called to action.

Heeding Winfrey’s invitation, we must all ask ourselves, how might we have contributed to gender-based violence? What have we done to prevent gender-based violence in our workplaces and homes? What are we doing to support women so they can vocalize the truth of their experiences? And what more must we do to protect women across all workplaces?  

Without sustained, long-term hard work, the hashtag #MeToo will fall out of fashion and we’ll move onto the next social problem of the month. But, if we commit ourselves to the hard work Winfrey calls us to, perhaps we’ll ensure that that new day will finally dawn.

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The cover photo is courtesy of Chris Owen of the Flickr Creative Commons. 

Categories: Things Jesuit

Three Ignatian New Year’s Resolutions

Ignatian Spirituality - Mon, 01/08/2018 - 05:30

By Marina McCoy

Here are three New Year’s resolutions grounded in the counsel of St. Ignatius Loyola. 1. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Ignatius said to be, “more ready to put a good interpretation on another’s statement than to condemn it as false” (Spiritual Exercises 22). What I am tempted to do: Correct others when I think they are wrong. After all, perhaps I am pretty sure I know the truth, especially if it is on [...]

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Categories: Things Jesuit

Grieving Together through Song

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 01/07/2018 - 22:59

I had just sat down by the Christmas tree at my grandmother’s house, when I saw the first Tweet about the Bronx fire of a couple weeks ago: a multi-story apartment building in the Belmont section of the Bronx near the zoo up in flames. I gulped. I dreaded that it might be my home or the home of one of the students I teach at the local parish grade school. I breathed a sigh of relief to learn that my house and my students were safe and offered up a prayer for those affected.

It wasn’t until last Tuesday, at the interfaith prayer service at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church, that I really began to feel the suffering of the victims and their loved ones. It is a strange grace of this vocation to be invited into the suffering of seeming strangers. I hesitate to call them strangers because acquaintance with grief quickly overcomes any other lack of acquaintance.

That is not to say that the prayer service wasn’t awkward, in its own way. A loose script, apparent differences among the religions represented, extended off-the-cuff remarks by grieving family members all lent an unpredictable and impromptu atmosphere to the event. But there was a tangible compassion in the air. If one and all did not share the same feeling of sadness as deeply as the victims’ families, everyone at least had the desire to feel that compassion.

The most striking part of the prayer service was not the words spoken by the different faith and community leaders. In situations like this, words are necessary but not sufficient. While a father’s words about the death of his 8-month old child in the blaze moved many to tears, even these words could not bring the healing comfort needed. The most tangible healing, rather, happened during the singing. There were songs sung by the choir and all joined in singing the “Prayer of St. Francis” and “Let there be Peace on Earth,” but the songs sung by the families had the greatest impact.

Some of the victims of the fire were Jamaican, and when the surviving victims and their families first returned to the site they were moved to sing a traditional Gospel hymn “Around God’s Throne.” During the service, the pastor asked if they wanted to sing again and they broke into a haunting rendition:

I went to the house, where I use to live.
The grass has grown up and it covered the door.
Someone across the street,
Said I know whom you seek,
But they, they don’t live here anymore.

They are somewhere around the throne of God,
Somewhere around the throne of God…

 

The powerful wailing moved all of us in attendance, but the healing power and true beauty of the moment was that they did not sing for us. They sang for God and for themselves. They broke into song because that was the most natural response in the moment of returning to the scene of their loss and in this moment of prayer. They held each other and sang together because singing made more sense than speaking or remaining silent.

Their spontaneous outpouring of emotion sparked the Ghanaian community, who had also lost loved ones, to sing a traditional song in their own tongue. Again they were not singing for the hundreds gathered there to show support. We who had come to share in their mourning played our part by listening and being moved, but they would have sung for no one but themselves if we were not there.

Reflecting later on the power of the singing to heal and to draw folks together, I asked myself what songs I might sing with my loved ones if we experienced a similar loss. What if it had been my house that was destroyed or my students who had lost their lives? The sad strains of “Danny Boy” and “The Parting Glass” drifted through my mind. I had a hard time imagining these songs flowing out of me as naturally as they seemed to from those mourners in church, but I hope that if I am ever in their shoes, I can stand among a community that cares and sing my own song of healing.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Like a Trapeze Artist When We Begin Something New

Ignatian Spirituality - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 05:30

By Becky Eldredge

Years ago, when I was leaning into a new season of life, my spiritual director compared going through a season of change to being a trapeze artist. She offered that as we make changes and go through transitions, it’s like a trapeze artist swinging from bar to bar. Sometimes, we can easily make the transition from one bar to the other. Other times, we cling to the old bar with an arm outstretched for the [...]

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Categories: Things Jesuit

Three Jesuit Resolutions for Anxiety

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 23:41

Let’s face it: stress builds, anxiety grows, and a laundry list of things influence and pressure us. While we may think that the mounting chorus has been muted in our lives—without proper self-care and awareness—stress and anxiety still operate underneath the surface. The question then becomes, what can we do to address this stress in a healthy way? Ignatius has three  suggestions.

Presume the Best of Others

Conversation often includes miscommunication, ambiguity, or seemingly offensive statements… It’s easy to take it personally, which can have a negative effect on our well-being as we dwell in the hurt and worry, demonize the other person, or imagine ourselves in a “fight” which may or may not actually exist.

In response, Ignatius encourages us to “assume the best” possible interpretation in every encounter and storyin what the person is saying and of the person themselves.

We should ask: Could I be misunderstanding the statement/person? Is there a different, more positive way I could interpret the story/person? Even if incomplete, is there some truth to what this person says? Where is this statement or action coming from—could it be from a different understanding or experience than my own?

If after asking, we still can’t quite make sense of the person’s statement, Ignatius encourages us to seek clarification. Perhaps, we’ll grow from a deeper understanding of their position. Perhaps, we’ll grow to see them as human and struggling with a complex world, just like us. Maybe, after all of that, we’ll still find what the person says is incorrect. But even then, we can remain civil and kind.

Ultimately, we are invited to see the person as a human being, loved by God. It makes our lives and communication less of a battle or fight—it creates opportunities of deeper encounter.

Keep Things, Only as Much as They are Helpful

Anxiety and stress can arise not simply from bad habits, but from good habits that might need to be adjusted for our particular circumstances. For example, running is a great exercise, but if you have an injury it’s important to adjust your running. Reading the news is a good habit, but if it leads you to despair then perhaps there might be a need to limit the time dwelling in the news.

Ignatius offers an insight which might help: indifference in discernment. While indifference can sound “cold” like apathy or lack of care, Ignatius understood it as a sort of freedom—an ability to choose what is best, even if that means setting aside a good thing. The hope is that we will be free and indifferent enough, not only to discern what is best but to set aside the other seemingly good options.

Fundamentally, this discernment invites us to view our habits and practices: What habits, even seemingly good ones, pull me away from my ability to be my best? Am I doing these ‘good things’ for the right reasons, or am I letting them make me anxious or bitter? What good things or habits in my life cause me more stress than relief? What things in my life, even good things, are really just clutter and distractions?

Ignatius’s indifference calls us to use good things as much as they are helpful for our particular circumstances and lives. Even good things, practices, or habits might need to be set aside if they pull us in the wrong direction or lead to unneeded stress and anxiety.

Take a Break and Get Away

Sometimes, even after all that we do to lessen the stress in our lives, the best we can do is to take a break and getaway for a moment… which is a very Ignatian thing to do.

Ignatius recommends that we take time away from things, preferably in a place filled with the beauty of God’s creation. Stress and clutter are inevitable, and we can do little to control those external factors which cause us anxiety. Therefore, in order to maintain a healthy balance, it is necessary sometimes to take a step away.

It’s good to spend time “convalescing” or recharging oneself. Spaces with “better air,” beauty, or even quiet offer us the opportunity to step away from the stress of our daily lives—to pause and breathe so that we can dive in again, renewed and refreshed.

It may be impossible to solve the source of anxiety in our lives, but that does mean we should spend all of our time neck-deep in the situation. Heading out to the gardens, the better air, or just taking time away can be an excellent method of mitigating the building pressure of stress in our lives.

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Categories: Things Jesuit

Pope Francis’ Gandhi Problem

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 22:59

In his book Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads, Chris Lowney compares Pope Francis to Gandhi. And it’s not a wholly flattering comparison.

If you haven’t read Lowney’s book, you should. The book is thought-provoking and easy to read. Lowney’s key point, moreover, that Pope Francis’ popularity stems from a deep hunger for good, moral leaders, says as much about the world in which we live as about the pope.

Among other things, Lowney characterizes Pope Francis’ “leadership style” as one of modeling: Francis shows how he hopes the rest of us will act. From wearing simple clothes to carrying his own bag, Francis has consistently applied Gandhi’s maxim to “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

It’s a beautiful way to lead, and there is no question that it accounts in large part for Francis’ popularity.

The problem is, it’s not enough.

As Lowney points out, the “Gandhi model” is a necessary but insufficient condition for change. Such personal modeling has to move beyond itself. It has to inspire others to take action towards change. But such change can’t be taken for granted. Leaders as diverse as Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Pope John Paul II and Gandhi himself modeled heroic leadership. In some cases, change followed. More often, however, the world shrugged and went back to business as usual.

In the case of Pope Francis, the pope can model Christian virtue and piety all day long, but that doesn’t matter if we don’t follow him. Are we following him?

One way we fail to follow Francis is by making everything about him. (I am doing that right now.) An incredible amount has been written about Pope Francis since his election in 2013, and many corners of the Church love nothing more than to talk about him. But here’s the problem: the point of Francis’ striking departures from papal traditions is not to draw attention to himself. His teachings on mercy and love have never been about boosting his own image. Rather than trying to create a personality cult, he’s trying to draw our attention to Jesus.

Another way we fail to follow Francis is when we “defend” him with a total lack of the charity and mercy that are the central message of his example. Yes, critics often treat Francis harshly and unfairly. But his “defenders” are often little better.

As wonderful as it is to be able to gush about Francis’ global popularity, we miss the point of it if his witness never moves us beyond words to actions. And as hungry as we clearly are for the moral leadership he provides, few of us seem willing to accept it for the challenge that it is.

Thus my New Year’s resolution: less talking about Pope Francis, and more acting like Pope Francis. But what I really want, then, is to act and be more like Jesus. I think Pope Francis would approve.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Open-Eyed Wonder

Ignatian Spirituality - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 05:30

By dotMagis Editor

Seeing God in all things is about challenging the concepts we have formed about God over the course of our lives, recognizing that they are always limited. Part of the way we as human beings think is to break down our world into manageable chunks; we develop a sense of how things work based on what we are able to understand. If God is God, though, our understanding of God will always be very limited. [...]

IgnatianSpirituality.com ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Open-Eyed Wonder, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

Powering Down

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 02:00

The electricity still wasn’t back on when I woke up— I tried both lamps before I lit a candle. I heard someone down the hall flick a switch one too many times. Nope. Even with five video conferences scheduled for the day, the internet down and no promise of resolution, I felt a strange calm. I watched the candle kick light onto the walls.

***

I read the first reading with a tactical flashlight hoisted onto my shoulderyou know, the five-pound cold metal one that takes four D-batteries and looks like a billy club. I’m not sure Brother Mike, our sacristan, even uses electricity he’s so old-school, so I wasn’t surprised to find the chapel set and warmly lit when I got there. Candles on the altar and in the Advent wreath flickered soft light on the walls. But they weren’t quite bright enough for reading.

No heat, no lights, but all the regulars, the chapel was a rare and special sort of quiet.

No humming, no whirring, no heavy rumbling of attendant machines, we were together, instead, with every sniffle, shuffle, cough and rustle.

Joe is clearing his throat, again; he’s been sick since October, I think.

Sister Barb’s singing voice is high and melodious, a wonderful balance to our scratchy, male morning voices.

Brother B’s smokers cough.

Each unique voice praying the Our Father.

And the Sign of Peace was just a little bit different. We moved a little more. We bent over seats. We stretched long arms across aisles to greet one another when usually a little peace sign sufficed.

Father George said as much of the Mass as he could from memory, and I lit the rest by flashlight.

It takes a whole lot more than a wrecked transformer to keep these Jesuits, sisters and friends from praying together.

***

Sometimes, I wonder if the Silent Night was a Holy Night at least partially because it was silent. I wonder if God is especially present when the sounds of town quiet for a moment, or we get away from them for something special– a simple prayer, a candlelit space, an intimate conversation.

…or maybe these are just the cynical things I think about when the lights come back on, the internet comes back on, and as a result, I spend the rest of the soft-start day in front of the computer screen. Dang.

***

Between calls, I fell into an old daydream, wishing I was born before this time.

Glass not plastic, analog not digital, fires not fluorescents, euchre not Netflix… I have this thing where I wished I lived in a kitschy, Charles-Dickens-nostalgia. Mass this morning only made the feeling stronger.

Likewise, with thirty Christmases under my belt, I feel like my last 15 have been hunting the magic of my first 15. It’s easy to blame the internet and technology and every distraction that they bring, but the fault is also mine. I choose most of the distractions they offer, even when home with family, even when out with friends… even sometimes at Mass.

I’m not sure if any New Year’s resolution will come out of this, nor do I have elaborate plans to sabotage the campus’ electricity for a glorious repeat. But later that evening I powered down a little earlier. I turned the lights off and lit the morning’s candle. Prayer always seems easier by quiet candlelight.

-//-

Categories: Things Jesuit

Catholic Guide to 2018

Latest from the Jesuit Post - Sun, 12/31/2017 - 10:59

Happy New Year!

As we kick off 2018, there is a lot to look forward to. The Winter Olympics in South Korea. The World Cup in Russia. A royal wedding (plus another royal baby!). The U.S. Midterm Elections and the nonstop media coverage (okay, maybe you aren’t looking forward to that).

Here at TJP, we wanted to give you a list of the top Catholic events to look forward to in 2018. Get out your calendars and add the following:

 

1.) Papal Visit to Chile and Peru (January 15-22)

CNS photo/Paul Haring

In just two weeks, Pope Francis will make his fourth trip to his home continent of South America. While he still hasn’t made a return to his native Argentina, he will be spending a few days in Chile and Peru on this visit.

While there, Pope Francis will be meeting with indigenous populations, including in the Amazon, where rampant deforestation has damaged the area’s natural biodiversity. Expect this visit to be a precursor to a special gathering of the Synod of Bishops in October 2019 that will be focusing on the Amazon region.

 

2.) Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (February 3-6)

CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann

Held in Washington D.C. and organized by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB), the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering brings together over 500 social ministry leaders from dioceses, religious congregations and nonprofit organizations like Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities.

The theme this year is “Building Community: A Call to the Common Good,” and it will explore Pope Francis’ call to go to the peripheries as missionary disciples. The event involves opportunities to connect and network, learn best practices, pray together, and advocate on Capitol Hill.

 

3.) Must-See Movies (February and March)

Several Christian-themed movies will be released in February and March. The most anticipated is Mary Magdalene from director Garth Davis (known for the Oscar-nominated film Lion about an Indian orphan searching for his lost family). Rooney Mara, from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, stars in the title role, with Joaquin Phoenix playing Jesus. If the trailer is any indication, the film takes artistic license and will stir controversy over the way it portrays Mary Magdalene and her role among the early disciples. Stay tuned!

Other films to look out for include Samson about the Old Testament strongman, Paul, Apostle of Christ written and directed by an alumnus of Jesuit schools, and I Can Only Imagine about the Christian band MercyMe and their chart-topping song of the same name (is it in your head now?).

 

4.) National Workshop on Christian Unity (April 16-19) & Ecumenical Advocacy Days (April 20-23)

Another national event in Washington D.C., the 41st National Workshop on Christian Unity will explore topics of religion and politics in the context of our multi-faith country.

The event leads directly into the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days, with the theme of “A World Uprooted” this year. Through prayer, advocacy training and networking, the event will focus on responding to migrants, refugees and displaced persons in the midst of racist, Islamophobic, and nationalistic ideologies. It is a timely topic given the current national discourse and the uncertainty felt by many migrants in the US.

 

5.) Fortnight for Freedom (June 21 – July 4)

CNS photo/Bob Roller

The Fortnight of Freedom is an annual event that involves fifteen days of prayer and reflection focused on the importance of defending religious freedom. It always concludes on Independence Day. Dioceses around the country organize special events, and it can likewise be a time of personal prayer and reflection. The USCCB website from the link above offers a wealth of resources, from fact sheets to prayer guides.

 

6.) World Meeting of Families (August 21-26)

Held every three years, the World Meeting of Families brings together families from around the world to celebrate, pray, and reflect on the central importance of marriage and the family life. This year’s event will be in Dublin, Ireland with the theme “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World.” You might remember that the last meeting took place in Philadelphia in 2015 as part of Pope Francis’ trip to the U.S.

 

7.) Synod of Bishops on Youth (October 3-28)

CNS photo/Bob Roller

Pope Francis has convened a Synod of Bishops, which is an assembly of bishops who assist the Pope by providing counsel on important topics by analyzing the signs of the times in light of the teaching of the Church.

This year’s October Synod on “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment” will take place in the Vatican and will examine the Church’s outreach to youth and young adults (ages 16-29 according to the preparatory documents). To gather data from Catholic youth around the world, the Vatican released a global survey online: did you fill it out?

 

8.) Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (November 3-5)

CNS photo/Elizabeth A. Elliott, Arlington Catholic Herald

The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice is an annual event in Washington D.C. that is the largest Catholic social justice gathering in the US. It began as a way to honor and commemorate the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador who were killed in 1989. Today the event brings together students and alumni of Jesuit schools, along with anyone who identifies as part of the broader Ignatian family to discuss issues of justice and solidarity.

The Teach-In includes breakout sessions, keynote speakers, and prayer and liturgy. It concludes with a day on Capitol Hill where participants meet with their representatives in Congress to advocate for policy changes.

If you read TJP, that means you are part of the Ignatian family, so make sure to join us in D.C. for the Teach-In!

 

— A LOOK AHEAD TO 2019 —

 

9.) World Youth Day: Panama (January 22-27, 2019)

CNS photo/Paul Haring

Along with all those exciting events for 2018, don’t forget to mark your calendars for next January. World Youth Day (WYD) will be hosted in Panama- the first time the event has come to Central America. WYD brings together thousands of Catholic youth from around the world for a shared encounter of their faith, along with a visit from Pope Francis. It is an opportunity to experience firsthand the universality and diversity of the Church.

 

10.) Magis: Central America (January 11-21, 2019)

Organized in conjunction with World Youth Day, Magis is a Jesuit-sponsored event for young adults (18 and over) as a precursor to WYD. The Central American Province of Jesuits will organize Magis with participants spread across six countries from Guatemala to Panama.

The event includes immersion experiences in one of the six countries, with the opportunity to live with and work among a local community. At the end of the immersion experience, all the participants will convene in Panama for a shared Mass with Fr. Arturo Sosa, S.J., the global leader of the Jesuits, before joining in the programming of World Youth Day.

It’s an experience you don’t want to miss!

Categories: Things Jesuit

Mary’s Lesson of the Present Moment

Ignatian Spirituality - Sun, 12/31/2017 - 05:30

By Vinita Hampton Wright

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 [...]

IgnatianSpirituality.com ® is a service of Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry.

Click through to read the full article Mary’s Lesson of the Present Moment, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Categories: Things Jesuit

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