Obedience Yes, Sorcery, No

Ignatius’s attitude to life challenges us, the modern people of the twenty-first century. It was probably confrontational in its radicality even in his own time. Because of his attitude he asks us what and how we believe. In particular, he asks Christians whether they really believe in the God revealed by Jesus, an ever-creating God who is lovingly close to men at all times of the day and night. We will probably often have to answer this question with the words that the father of the possessed boy addressed to Jesus:
I believe, help my unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24)

Excerpted from Living with Ignatius: On the Compass of Joy by Nikolaas Sintobin SJ (p.29)

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Is There a Cure for Loneliness?

To put this another way, loneliness is a subjective experience. It is worth being clear about this, otherwise it is easy to fall into offering solutions to others and forgetting that what works for one person is not necessarily right for another. Advice based on our own experience, such as ‘I’d advise you to…’ needs to be complemented by time spent listening to another person and trying to understand what they really mean when they say anxiously ‘I feel alone’. This is because feeling alone doesn’t necessarily mean feeling unloved. Sometimes it may do. At other times it is really about feeling a failure, or reaching one’s limits, or tiredness, or even competitiveness or guilt or insecurity…The list of what these words might mean stretches ad infinitum.

Excerpted from Dancing with Loneliness by José Maria Olaizola SJ (p.27)

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Not All Spirituality Is Equal…

Within the human heart there are always going to be contradictory stirrings. Therefore, we need to pay attention to what’s authentic and to what’s preventing us from growing into an integrated and balanced human person. ‘I’m spiritual’ – but, as we have seen, not all spirituality is equal. Inspiration can be both good and bad. There is compelling evidence that contemporary society has lost its way. This is confirmed by daily news bulletins…Humans are responsible for much of the evil in the world…Therefore, the importance of regular reflection to assess which direction we’re moving in, personally and collectively, cannot be emphasised enough.

Excerpted from Reimagining Religion by Jim Maher SJ (pp.20-21)

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Ignatian Reflection

  • It is good to be aware of the ‘angel of light’ deception, where apparently good things can, if unexamined, bring you in a bad direction.
  • Reflecting on experience to examine the whole course of events, beginning, middle and end, will enable us to see where they are leading.
  • Interior freedom and distance from our ideas, plans or desires allows us to examine them more closely and gain perspective on ‘pet projects’ or keenly felt passions.

Excerpted from Discover God Daily by Brendan McManus SJ and Jim Deeds) p.63)

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Believe in the Unseen

I believe in the existence of the wind. Do you?  I have never seen the wind. Have you? And yet, I believe the wind exists. Not only that, I believe that the wind is an awesome thing.

Why should this be? I know that some very weighty and academic studies and explanations of the wind have been written through the ages. But none of these are the reason I believe that the wind exists. The only reason I believe the wind exists is that I have experienced the wind and its effects. Simple. Full stop. I have experienced it.

I believe in God for the very same reason: I have had a personal experience of God. I have had the experience of God in so many ways in my life: in the love of my family and friends, in the stillness of my prayer life and the sacraments, in the wonderful world of nature.

Excerpted from Finding God in the Mess: Meditations for Mindful Living by Jim Deeds and Brendan McManus SJ (pp. 103-104)

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Finding my walking companion

When we ask ourselves, during our daily Examen of consciousness, where and when we experienced love in its various guises during the day, we discover that we have found God, and vice versa, that God has found us. It’s a bit like saying that God is the dancer and the dance is the gift. You can’t have one without the other. The criterion for judging whether or not we have experienced God is the answer to the question: ‘Where is this experience leading me?’ If my ‘finding God in all things’ is leading me towards generosity and service of others, then I’ve found God and vice versa. This is where Ignatius’s guidelines for the discernment of spirits play a crucial role.

Excerpted from Pathways to a Decision: With Ignatius of Loyola  by Jim Maher SJ (p.50)

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The Soul – Sign of God’s Fatherhood

The soul isn’t a thing, so however powerful the microscope you use, you will never manage to see it. Neither can you grasp it; you may as well try to get hold of a ray of sunlight. This invisible and intangible gem has definite qualities, however. These qualities are divine qualities – the soul is free, intelligent and continues to exist forever, just like God. This divine spark points to your identity as a child of God. It shows that you are created in the image and likeness of the Father.

Excerpted from The Mindful Our Father  by Thomas G Casey SJ (p.44)

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Why Pray?

A cloistered nun was asked why she prayed. ‘Because I breathe,’ she replied. People want to pray because ‘they want to experience God’s extraordinary presence in their ordinary lives’. However, prayer demands ‘a slow and deliberate effort, a dedicated time for reflection, and an authentic response from our soul’.  The effect of prayer is to see with the heart and respond appropriately. It brings peace to the spirit and facilitates the welling up in the heart of compassion, empathy, gratitude and hope. We also bring others before God as our way of supporting them through good times and bad.

Excerpted from Reimagining Religion: A Jesuit Vision by Jim Maher SJ (p.46)

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Surviving Suffering

This journey of life is filled with such beauty at times. We could all do with slowing down and appreciating that beauty more often. Too often, we allow it to pass us by without recognition.

We do sometimes catch it though. Sometimes, we realise we are in the presence of beauty and we allow ourselves to freeze time – to stay in that presence. In those moments, we are conscious enough to really experience beauty. While these moments may not come very often, when they do they are often very emotional.

They connect us to a central truth that no matter what suffering there is in the world (and there is suffering in the world) and in our lives (there is and will be suffering in our lives), there is also beauty. We cannot explain why it is so, we can only accept that it is so.

Excerpted from Finding God in the Mess: Meditations for Mindful Living by Brendan McManus SJ & Jim Deeds (p.71)

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Jesuits, Spirituality, Religion

God has a vision for the world. Each person, says Ignatius, plays an essential and unique role in the implementation of that vision. Unlike substitutes in a rugby game, no one else can play our part in the distinctive way that only we can. We may not be certain what our role is, but it’s got a lot to do with our temperament and personality. All God wants is for us to reflect on who we are, on what gives us life, on what we are good at, in which direction we’re travelling and how. Our own circumstances determine how best we can contribute to the world. Ignatius again reminds us to reflect from time to time, following the guidelines he gives us for discernment of spirits, decision-making and the Examen prayer.

Excerpted from Reimagining Religion: A Jesuit Vision by Jim Maher SJ (p.108)

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