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Ignatian Spirituality Reflections Thank you for making the Ignatian Spirituality Facebook page a success. To mark the milestone of 10,000 “likes,” we share with you this collection of Ignatian spirituality reflections. The pieces here are some of the most popular posts from dotMagis, the blog of IgnatianSpirituality.com. We hope you enjoy this peek back at some of our favorite posts. Whether you’re new to Ignatian spirituality or an expert teacher on the subject, these reflections aim to inspire you as they explore topics of gratitude, silence, love, and paying attention. Let’s continue the conversation on Facebook.com/IgnatianSpirituality and in the comments at dotMagis.

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About the Authors Meredith Gould is the author of seven books, including The Catholic Home: Celebrations and Traditions for Holidays, Feast Days, and Every Day, Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar? Jewish Roots of Christian Worship, and The Word Made Fresh: Communicating Church and Faith Today. She serves on the team at The Virtual Abbey, which prays the Daily Office via Twitter. More Meredith Gould is her personal blog.

Jim Manney is author of A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer and co-author of What’s Your Decision? as well as the editor of many books on Ignatian spirituality. He is a senior editor for Loyola Press. Jim and his wife live in Michigan.

Maureen McCann Waldron graduated from Creighton University with a degree in journalism, and then spent 22 years in corporate public relations. After receiving her master’s degree in Christian spirituality from Creighton, she joined Creighton’s Collaborative Ministry Office. There she cofounded, with Andy Alexander, SJ, the Creighton University Online Ministries Web site.

Tim Muldoon is the author of Longing to Love, Seeds of Hope, and The Ignatian Workout, as well as many essays. He was the inaugural director of the Church in the 21st Century Center at Boston College, where he now serves in the Office of University Mission and Ministry and teaches in the Honors Program. He, his wife, and their two daughters live west of Boston.

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Table of Contents The Gratitude List

On the Move with God

Jim Manney

Meredith Gould

Pay Attention!

People Who Can’t Stand Me

Maureen McCann Waldron

Jim Manney

Contemplative Cooking

The Time Is Now

Meredith Gould

Tim Muldoon

Shared Silence

What We Don’t See

Tim Muldoon

Maureen McCann Waldron

What I Think about When I Don’t Have to Think

Direction

Jim Manney

Practice, Love

Tim Muldoon

Daddy’s Girl Maureen McCann Waldron

Tim Muldoon

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The Gratitude List by Jim Manney http://ignatianspirituality.com/7306/the-gratitude-list/

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friend of mine was stuck in traffic in New York City late on a summer Friday afternoon. He was really stuck—sitting in his car on a narrow east-west cross street in Manhattan, going nowhere. He grew impatient, then angry. After a while, he started to think about how pitiful his life was. His friends were smarter, wealthier, happier than he was. He hadn’t accomplished anything significant. He was stuck in life, just as he was stuck in traffic. Then he called a friend and asked for help. The guy said, “if you’re just sitting there in traffic, make a gratitude list.” So my friend pulled out a notebook and pen and made a list of all the things he was grateful for. A few were big things—family, friends, job—but most of them were little things. The weekend coming up. An excellent novel he was reading. A compliment from his boss the previous day. An exhilarating jog along the East River that morning. His comfortable car. Soon his mood lifted. The exercise in gratitude restored balance to his thinking. It wasn’t a trick. My friend saw that his life really was full of good things. Gratitude was the truth. I recently ran across a comment on gratitude by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts,” he said. We strive for the grand spiritual adventure, which we haven’t had, and neglect the many gifts from God that we do have. Bonhoeffer urges us to “be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given us.” Make a gratitude list.

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Pay Attention! by Maureen McCann Waldron http://ignatianspirituality.com/5596/pay-attention/

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hen I was in grade school, I was a daydreamer. I could get lost in the view out of the classroom window, in the display on the bulletin board at the side of the room, or in the stories at the back of my reader—although I was never reading the ones we happened to be working on in class that day. “Miss McCann! …. Maureen!” was the constant call from Sister to bring me back to whatever we were doing. I think these days I still don’t always pay attention, but it’s because I get too focused. I have my list, I cross things off of it as I get them done and I don’t let too many interruptions get in my way. A few weeks ago I was in the grocery store making my way around the fruits and vegetables. Two young children were in a shopping cart near their father, laughing and talking to people as they went by. I am ashamed to say that I hardly paid attention to them as I made my bee-line for the celery, and only later as I played it back in my mind, did I realize that they had tried to engage me as I charged past them. What finally brought me back to reality was their giggles as an older woman stopped to talk to them. All three of them were laughing. The older woman was clearly delighted by them, and they were enchanted by her. I had missed the chance, not only to make these children happy, but to share in that happiness. Of course my life with God is no different, and as I dash through my busy, busy life, I don’t always stop to notice the gifts God places in my path: daffodils, a good apple or someone “interrupting” my life to say hello. When I miss those gifts, I am less aware of God’s presence, although God is no less present in my life. God is simply waiting for me to slow down, pay attention and say hello. I suspect that even when I don’t realize it, God is holding me close, laughing a little with great love and saying, “Maureen! Pay attention!”

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Contemplative Cooking by Meredith Gould http://ignatianspirituality.com/6954/contemplative-cooking/

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ince I no longer believe in coincidence, I’m wondering what God is inviting me to see, not only in the sudden spate of movies glorifying food, but because this morning’s kitchen adventure soon became an especially contemplative exercise. I’ve been cooking—and eating—for many years. I was raised by foodies who entered cooking competitions on weekends. My mother (The Gourmand) vs. my father (The Short Order Cook)—grab your ingredients and claim your burners…on the same stove. In our suburban kitchen. Perhaps, I’m being called to remember that in a marriage broken enough to eventually collapse, there was still joy to be found in cooking for a family with many hungers. Another memory: walking into divorce court nearly a decade ago, my soon-to-be-ex husband looked me in the eyes and said quite wistfully, “I miss the meals.” Perhaps, I’m being called to remember that great cooking could not sustain a marriage that was spiritually depleted. With time, cooking for friends would heal and reveal more about the meaning of nourishment; that time is now. Thanks be to God.

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Shared Silence by Tim Muldoon http://ignatianspirituality.com/4886/shared-silence/

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am on retreat with some forty Boston College students. For five days, we are keeping silence together and attending to the mystery of God.

During a meeting with other guides, an older Jesuit remarked that those who shared the long retreat–thirty days in silence–emerge as lifelong friends, even without having spoken to each other. I believe I understand why. Contemplating the mystery of God in silence is like gazing together at the transfigured Jesus. Sharing such a gaze–beholding God’s mystery together– changes you. It is a conversion, a conversation (Latin “turning together”), a shared glimpse at the truth “deep down things,” as Hopkins put it [http://www.bartleby.com/122/7.html]. What a beautiful metaphor for what lovers do. I have often quoted Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” I wonder whether the problem today is precisely that some lovers have lost the sense that there is anything else to look at besides each other, and that when they become bored they move on. The promise of love is like the promise of a shared pilgrimage: that of moving together toward God, and therefore toward the source of love. Only with such a hopeful promise can couples weather the inevitable storms of the pilgrimage. And only with such a promise can one sustain hope, sustain desire, sustain joy–even during periods when one is unhappy. On the other hand, when one is happy one can appreciate it but not get too caught up in it; what matters is not the weather but the progress of the pilgrimage. AMDG

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What I Think about When I Don’t Have to Think by Jim Manney http://ignatianspirituality.com/5977/what-i-think-about-when-i-dont-have-to-think/

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while ago I decided to stop trying to make big changes. They were too hard. I thought I’d concentrate on making small changes, but much of the time this was even harder.

The big changes were things like writing a novel, learning how to play the piano and design web pages, become a master gardener, and become the most attentive husband any woman ever had ever had. Those things didn’t happen. I did some of it. I learned some things about web design and gardening, practiced some scales, wrote some sketches, and remembered to buy flowers for my wife a few times. But I didn’t accomplish the big goals. I soon realized that I never would. So I did what all the spiritual masters suggest and concentrated on smaller changes. They say to single out a relationship that’s troubled and do one thing to help it. Look at one weakness (procrastination is a good example) and work through the to-do list efficiently for a day. The small thing I picked was what happens in my mind during tedious moments. I hate standing in line in the supermarket with only magazine covers of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to look at. I dislike checkout people who work slowly. I take traffic jams and constructions delays personally. I’m mightily annoyed by aggressive drivers in big SUVs. I’m restless when in conversation I’d rather not have with people I’d rather not be around. A mild resentment percolates in my consciousness when I do repetitive and boring tasks like cleaning the kitchen and scraping paint and filling out expense reports and correcting book proofs. These are bad attitudes. I can’t do much to clean up the political system, bring harmony to my parish, or get work for my unemployed friends and family. But I can do something about the way I think when I don’t have to think very hard. Changing this is tough. My stream of consciousness seems to quickly default to querulous rumination. But I can work at it. I can imagine the stresses the weary woman at the cash register lives with, the life that the speeding driver in the SUV leads. I can pray for these people. I can remember that cleaning and scraping and doing paperwork are honorable tasks, worth doing well. These things are tough, but do-able with God’s grace. More feasible than running a half marathon. ©

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Practice, Love by Tim Muldoon http://ignatianspirituality.com/7803/practice-love/

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’d like to propose a juxtaposition of two ideas that emerge from the Spiritual Exercises: practice and love. Without getting into too much insider baseball on how Ignatius’ text emphasizes these themes, let me suggest a brief thought exercise that you might take into prayer. 1. We learn anything by practicing: the piano, soccer, algebra. 2. Jesus calls us to love one another as the Father has loved Jesus. 3. How do you practice love? Notice that embedded in observation #1 is the basic idea that practice itself isn’t always fun or instantly gratifying. In fact, it can be tedious. But what makes us do in the tedious times (what Ignatius might call desolation) is the hope that it will bring forth some fruit in our lives. To practice love like Jesus–to work at it day after day–what might that mean for you? What are the many practices which, when added up, help you develop into a virtuoso, a poet of love?

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On the Move with God by Meredith Gould http://ignatianspirituality.com/6652/on-the-move-with-god/

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od doesn’t move, we do. I’ve heard this aphorism for years and am currently experiencing this bit of wisdom big time. God doesn’t move, but I did—and I mean this quite liter-

ally.

Was it just last week or the previous one that movers arrived to load and transport all my stuff? I can’t remember and looking at a calendar hardly helps create clarity, I am that confuzzled these days. For a slew of superb reasons, I recently decided to make a bold move— maybe not so bold because I’ve been carping forever about being stuck in Suburban Captivity. I haven’t lived in a city for 30 years; now I do. The city of my personal pre-Christian Era was Manhattan.* Where am I now? Baltimore, Maryland. No shortage of churches and evidence of church history here in Charm City or within walking distance of my apartment, for that matter. In one direction, Loyola University Maryland and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. In another, the Cathedral of the Incarnation and diocesan center for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. One hot humid evening, I sat on the steps of the Scottish Rite Masonic Center (next building over) to gaze at the illuminated stained glass windows of the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church (across the street). If you think being surrounded by Gothic, Romanesque, baroque and contemporary versions of these church architectural styles would help me feel anchored during my move, you’d be right but not entirely so. Yes, attending Mass a few times has helped me feel more connected to church but feeling God’s presence? That didn’t happen until yesterday morning when I finally heeded God’s call to walk across grass still moist with morning dew, listen to birdsong and notice life lived along the pavement. * East side, below 14th Street!

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People Who Can’t Stand Me by Jim Manney http://ignatianspirituality.com/7543/people-who-cant-stand-me/

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was griping to a friend about a person who just didn’t seem to like me. This guy avoided me when we were in the same place. He dismissed my ideas with a smirk and a sneer. When I reached out to him with a smile and pleasant small talk, he was cold. “What’s wrong with him?” I complained. “Is it me?” “There are a handful of people in the world who can’t stand you,” my friend said. “You’ve run into one of them. If you’re lucky, you won’t meet very many of the others. It’s not you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Nothing, that is, except to continue to try to act charitably toward this guy whenever we are together. But I realized that I didn’t need to work very hard on this relationship. And it was also helpful to know that there are other people in the world who won’t like me no matter how hard I try. I’m going to rub them the wrong way. I’ll remind them of someone who did them wrong. Who knows why. It’s good to know this in advance. I don’t have to be upset when I meet them. I’ll give them a wide berth and get on with my life. This got me to thinking about the opposite situation—the rare person who thinks that I’m the greatest guy they ever met. They praise me to the skies. They tell others I can do no wrong. This is obviously irrational, and I make a big mistake when I take it seriously. Their over-the-top praise is as dangerous as the hostility of the people who can’t stand me. I might believe it. And what about me? Am I one of these people for someone else—someone who can’t stand them on sight, someone who thinks they can do no wrong? Judge not, that you be not judged.

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The Time Is Now by Tim Muldoon http://ignatianspirituality.com/9160/the-time-is-now/

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omewhere nearby—perhaps a co-worker in the next cubicle; a friend across the room; a stranger in the chair next to you; a spouse beside you in bed; a child clawing at your leg for attention–there, now, is an opportunity for love. Before you is God’s invitation to know him. Do not delay; do not postpone love. Reach for it; give your whole self to it. Use your imagination, for love is not for the sluggish. Surprise him with love; overwhelm her with love–and be surprised and overwhelmed. God is nearby. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act (Ps 37:5).

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What We Don’t See by Maureen McCann Waldron http://ignatianspirituality.com/9419/what-we-dont-see/

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ometimes we are blind to what is right in front of us. Recently at our parish, we watched two altar servers who had fun all through Mass. It may have been the first time they had served Mass. Or maybe they had just gotten really comfortable. They talked. They laughed. They slapped their legs with the cords of their server garments. They pointed to their friends. At one remarkable moment, one of them half stood and shot a wave over his head to a pal he spotted in the back of the Church. They thought that because they sat behind the priest, he couldn’t see them, which is true. Our presider had no idea. But they were blind to the fact that the entire congregation was facing them—including their parents. That is a particular kind of blindness, but I suspect the kind you only have once. All of us are blind to things from time to time, but I suspect the biggest thing we don’t see and can’t always feel is how God delights in us. Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J., quotes Anthony de Mello, who wrote about how we might meditate on how much God loves us: “Behold the one beholding you, and smiling.” Fr. Greg adds, “It is precisely because we have such overactive disapproval glands ourselves, that we tend to create God in our own image. It is truly hard for us to see the truth that disapproval does not seem to be any part of God’s DNA. God is just too busy loving us to have any time for disappointment.” And, God may be still chuckling about the altar servers at Mass last week.

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Direction by Tim Muldoon http://ignatianspirituality.com/9201/direction/

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ship may be tossed on the seas, buffeted by storms of every sort. Its crew may be struggling mightily every day simply to keep it afloat, wearying themselves, becoming chilled to the bone. They may fear for their lives every day, and regret ever having set sail with the hopes of adventure and fame and wealth. There may be days when the supplies are running low when they fear starvation. Perhaps every now and again there may be a sunny day, with calm seas, when all is well in the world. The crew may find a moment of rest, such that they might gain some strength to again face the rigors of the voyage. Prayer is like checking the compass every day to insure that the ship reaches its destination. It is the hope that comes from this knowledge which sustains the crew, so that they understand that none of the trials of their voyage are in vain.

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Daddy’s Girl by Maureen McCann Waldron http://ignatianspirituality.com/7976/daddys-girl/

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t was a moment of grace on a Sunday afternoon. My husband, Jim, and I were walking through the crowd into a Creighton U basketball game. In the middle of the throng on the sidewalk ahead of us, we spotted a little girl, about 5 years old, wearing a spectacular fluffy ballet tutu in game day colors, blue and white. Her special skirt bounced with her as she walked proudly along next to her father. I smiled at the difference in their sizes, her father a huge man, tall and beefy, carefully holding her miniature hand in his. I saw that in his other hand he carefully held a tiny canvas bag—and out of the top of it peeked a Barbie doll. I loved the image of this large man carrying his daughter’s doll, unselfconscious in his desire to keep her happy. As we passed them I complimented her on her skirt. They both smiled and she thanked me. “My mom made it for me to wear to the games,” she said proudly twirling in it. Her father looked down at her with such love then reached his hand down to reconnect with her and I saw it. The fingernails on his massive hand were painted a bright pink. This was truly a father, a dad in all respects, whose love of his daughter gave him the freedom to not only allow his daughter to paint his nails, but to wear them publicly with pride and happiness or to forget he even had them done. Father and daughter joined hands again, their nails matching in color and their joy in each other, clear.

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