Yesterday we arrived in Girisonta a Jesuit Retreat House in Central Java. Lina and Audrey (our novices) are about to make their Thirty Day Retreat. I will direct them and Agnes Dini is here to support the whole process in any way she can. The actual retreat will begin tomorrow evening. Please keep Audrey and Lina especially in your prayer at this special time for them. May the Holy Spirit be with them and us throughout this time. We will be praying for all of you…
Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category
And as he drew near, when he saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If [only] you also had known on this day the things that lead to peace; but now it’s hidden from your eyes.’ Luke 19:41-42 (The New Testament, Nicholas King)
The first two verses of a recent Gospel reading are a powerful reminder to me of the vital need to seek those things that lead to peace. Those words couldn’t be more relevant in the light of recent news of horrendous acts of violence in several parts of our world. It is more important than ever to find ways of promoting peace and justice wherever it is lacking – including in my own heart. Recently, the concluding prayer for my morning prayer included these words: ‘Help us to look lovingly upon all people and events that come into our lives today.’ (People’s Companion to the Breviary, Vol II, p 31)
Perhaps, if we can look lovingly on everything that is happening these days, including terrible act of violence, we might begin to understand why they are happening and we might also begin to glimpse solutions that bring the peace we all long for.
These days the readings are telling the story of God bringing the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. In today’s reading there is a lovely piece from Moses who is having to cope with all the moaning and complaints of the people (who seem to have forgotten the wondrous miracle of the manna that saved them and are busily moaning and wanting more – in the form of meat and fresh veggies now!). Moses turns to God and states ‘I cant carry all these people by myself alone’. (Numbers 11:14)
Years later of course, the Israelites will look back to the provision of manna and remember how God saved them in the desert, but whilst they are in the thick of the suffering they can only see the next step, they cant see it in context.
It is a good lesson to absorb. How often am I like the moaning Israelites, wanting things to be better than they are? Forgetting the blessings in the face of what is not perfect?
Can I focus today on the Manna, rather than on the moaning?
This is Week 1 of Desires of the Heart, a 10-week series on Ignatian spirituality and prayer. The text below is meant to companion the audio teaching and meditation.Click play and feel free to follow along. You may also download a PDF this week’s “handout” here.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven: May your holy name be honored’” – Matthew 6:9 (GNT)
St Ignatius Loyola was considered minor nobility, but that didn’t stop him from leading a life of vanity, sin, and pride—being “of the world” he might say—indulging in gambling, duelling, and affairs. After a conversion while recovering from a battle wound, Ignatius began living a life of poverty and asceticism. He didn’t cut his hair or nails and wore shoes with no soles. His attachment now was not to vanity but to harsh penances.
Through prayer Ignatius learned that…
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“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
The disciples were still just ordinary people. I often imagine them as somewhat superhuman and therefore fearless messengers of the gospel. Not like me at all.
Pentecost reminds me that they were gathered together, still in their safe world, even after the amazing revelation of Jesus’ resurrection they did not have the impetus to go out. Until the Spirit comes upon them. Then they are transformed. They move from being a group dominated by past experience and fear to people filled with courage and understanding and a deep and unquenchable desire to proclaim the gospel.
The Holy Spirit has come into the world. We believe too that we receive the Holy Spirit at Confirmation. And yet in some mysterious way we are also longing to be transformed today by that same Spirit.
Send your Holy Spirit upon us to be our Helper and Guide.
Give us the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill us with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
We pray this for every situation of fear and misunderstanding in our personal lives, and for our world. May the Spirit transform each of us to be witnesses to the Gospel of love, freedom and forgiveness.
Today Pope Francis is to meet with the Presidents of Israel and Palestine. May the Spirit of God give these men the courage to be transformed.
Today is a beautiful spring day in London. I have just returned from Yorkshire and the lovely rolling hills and landscape of the north of England and am now surrounded by the noise and bustle of the ‘big smoke’ once again. The workmen are drilling outside, the planes are roaring overhead and there is a fine coating of dust on almost everything that you can see! And then out in our lovely back garden the birds are building a nest and the hyacinth and daffodils are beautiful. Tiny little violets and some new seedlings are pushing up. It is a haven of peace.
Beauty surrounds us.
How will you choose life throughout lent?
Ash Wednesday – Reflect – where did I meet the love of God today?
‘…Today, I call heaven and earth to witness against you: I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live, in the love of Yahweh your God, obeying his voice, holding fast to him; for in this your life consists, and on this depends the length of time that you stay in the country which Yahweh swore to your ancestors Abraham,Isaac and Jacob that he would give them.’
This picture was taken in the Chapel in our new community in London. We prayed today, Holy Thursday, with the Church and with our FCJ Sisters throughout the world that the thirst of Jesus may touch our hearts and lives, leading us to hand over our lives with generosity and faith to one another and to all to whom we are sent.
God’s faithfulness will never fail nor will he ever withdraw his love. FCJ Constitutions 229
Holy Thursday is a special day for all of us who live the FCJ Charism – it’s the day when the Society began. After years of questioning and discernment Marie Madeleine knew in her heart that this was what God was asking of her. And she said YES.
That YES is significant – without her choice, her agreement, her willingness to take the consequences, the Society would have remained only a holy idea. In any discernment there comes a point where we have to CHOOSE, we have to have the COURAGE to take a step. We may not be certain, the way may seem hidden or difficult, but like Marie Madeleine there comes a moment of trust that God is with us, that Jesus is our companion, and we are called to respond.
‘That night, Holy Thursday, 30th March 1820, holy in its moving commemorating of the institution of the Eucharist, Marie Madeleine watched before the Altar of Repose. As she dwelt on the great love of her Lord on the mysteries of his paschal meal, passion and death, she gave him her heart, her soul and her entire being, consecrating herself at the foot of the cross to the work for which God had been so long preparing her. In this hidden way, in the silence of her heart, the Society of the Faithful Companions of Jesus was born.
(Marie Madeleine) and her future companions would be women Jesuits, companions of Jesus, sharing by divine gift his spirit, his heart ad his mother. The Lord himself would be their founder and director, Mary their mother and superior. In complete self forgetfulness they would spend their lives for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Their rule would be that of St. Ignatius. Poverty, humility, obedience and gentleness were to be their inseparable companions leading them to reflect, in so far as human weakness allowed, the life of Jesus. (God’s Faithful Instrument – P Grogan fcJ)
Whilst no longer needing to live by the Jesuit rules (apparently once a Jesuit becomes Bishop they are not obliged to live under the Jesuit rule), I am delighted to know that the current Bishop of Rome, our Pope, is a man rooted and formed in the Ignatian tradition, desiring to be a companion of Jesus who by his life models and draws others to be men and women for others. But on the cusp of this new Chapter in the Church’s history what do I hope for from this new Pope?
As a member of an Ignatian religious congregation, I hope he witnesses to being a man loved by God. Rooted in that love may he show the loving and compassionate face of God to each person and to all of creation. As all who do the Spiritual Exercises are invited to move towards freedom for mission, may he also encourage and nurture the Church to do the same. By his example may we, the People of God, be called to gather under the standard of Christ, desiring poverty rather than riches, humilty rather than pride and insults rather than praise and adulation.
Having prayed the Third Week of the Spiritual Exercises may be show us how to stay faithful to the Church, but more importantly to Christ, when difficulties arise. May he live out of the joy of the resurrection and show us always that “love ought to be shown in deeds far more than words.”
Let us pray for our Church as this new chapter begins and for Pope Francis in his ministry of service and leadership of God’s people.