Day 23 of #31DaysWithIgnatius

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#Day23of31WithIggy: Gratitude is countercultural.

The development of today’s post was particularly challenging because I have been confronted with very strong feelings of anger and disappointment at the actions of someone very close to me.
This occurrence has seen me read over a chapter in my class notes on “Ignatian Discernment and Decision-making,” (I know I’m such a nerd!) in search of the terminology to articulate this particular movement of the #Spirit.

Briefly put, the way of Christ is #countercultural. The devil seduces and tricks us into believing that we are entitled to x, y, z in a consumerist ideology and that we deserve things. Of course we have rights, but the distortion lies in the soleness of taking; without the awareness of where it comes from; that it is a gift in itself from God. (Think, Principle and Foundation, SpEx No. 23)

So although today has brought about its challenges, I am #grateful for them. Human emotions, especially the less-celebrated ones like anger, sadness and disappointment, have their place and purpose. For me, that place is with God; always with God, who is always with me. #ThankYou

#IgnatianSpirituality #31dayswithIgnatius #spex #spex23 #principleandfoundation #31dayswithIgnatius #emotion #anger #counterculture #Jesus #faith #discernment #bemagis #bemore #bemorehuman

In celebration of Ignatian Spirituality, and to mark the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola (31 July), I have taken on the challenge of posting a picture a day that speaks to me of the lessons learned from all things ‘Ignatian’; including ‘finding God in all things.’ Here it is, as posted on Instagram (@fcjAustralia).

Day 21 of #31DaysWithIgnatius

IMG_20160721_221426.jpg#Day21of31withIggy: After yesterday’s emotional day, and today’s busy one, I seek #solitude and #silence. A perfect expression of my mood at this moment comes from the Spiritual Exercises, no. 234.

#31dayswithIgnatius #prayer #blue #spex #spex234 #suspice #love #grace #quote #qotd #StIgnatius

In celebration of Ignatian Spirituality, and to mark the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola (31 July), I have taken on the challenge of posting a picture a day that speaks to me of the lessons learned from all things ‘Ignatian’; including ‘finding God in all things.’ Here it is, as posted on Instagram (@fcjAustralia).

Day 13 of #31DaysWithIgnatius

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Today’s insight comes from #discernment of spirits. St Ignatius taught that #consolation is an increase of grace, the good spirit “strengthens and encourages… establishes#peace” whereas the #badspirit “proposes all the problems and difficulties in living a good life”. [#spex315]

I am especially #grateful for this insight. And am so grateful for my #Ignatian#formation in unlocking this. (Quotes from#SpEx from “Draw Me Into Your Friendship” by David Fleming)

#31dayswithIgnatius #IgnatianSpirituality#LoyolaPress @loyolapress #qotd #quote

In celebration of Ignatian Spirituality, and to mark the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola (31 July), I have taken on the challenge of posting a picture a day that speaks to me of the lessons learned from all things ‘Ignatian’; including ‘finding God in all things.’ Here it is, as posted on Instagram (@fcjAustralia).

From the Archives: Awaiting the Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Feast of Easter

KEEPING-COMPANY.COM
If you will allow me, I have written here a personal reflection. It is 6 pm local time and in a little while, I will make my way to the church to celebrate Holy Thursday. Those who are acquainted with the FCJ story will know that Holy Thursday is an especially significant feast, marking the foundation of the Society.

It was last year that I did the Nineteenth Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises, a grace of the Spirit and a fruit that my work with the Sisters of the Asia-Australia Province has brought. It was during the Third Week that I had made a profound personal connection in the reading (prayer) material.

In the gospel passage for Holy Thursday, we hear that Jesus “took off his outer robe” (NRSV). He then picks up the towel and begins to wash the feet of his disciples. (John 13:4) My experience with biblical exegesis is basic at best, but what I did pick up on was that the word in the original Koine Greek is the same word that John the evangelist uses in his discourse on the Good Shepherd in chapter 10. Please note that I have yet to recover the sources from which I gathered the information that lead to such a conclusion, but significant enough for now is what it means to me. When Jesus lays down his outer garment, it is symbolic (as John’s gospel likes to be!) of his coming death, where he would lay his life down on the Cross. Jesus, after all, is the Good Shepherd, which by the way, is another section of our faith tradition that is found only in John’s gospel!

Fast-forward then, to the present moment. Something was stirring inside of me – I could not (cannot) let go of that connection between Jesus washing the feet of his disciples (the role of the servant) and laying his life down for us. From this perspective, they are both one and the same. What’s more is that Jesus calls us to do the same: ‘”So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also out to wash one another’s feet.”‘ (John 13:14)

But still the stirring would not go away. I did what any person of my generation would do these days when I wanted to do some research: I googled it. I typed in “Jesus takes off his outer robe”, and sure enough, I came upon a reflection by L’Arche founder Jean Vanier.

I have included the following section and have highlighted what spoke to me as I read it, bearing in mind that there are only hours in the Easter Triduum, only hours between one feast to the next. Only hours between celebrating the institution of the Eucharist with a living, breathing, foot-washing Jesus, and the one who we will crucify (as is traditional among the congregation to voice the role of the crowd in the Good Friday service). It is only hours from that horrific and disturbing account of death and when we celebrate new life on Easter morning!

So here is Jean Vanier, with layers and layers of wisdom and depth:

We had also welcomed into that house, Eric. Eric had lived for 12 years in the psychiatric hospital. He was blind, he was deaf, he couldn’t walk, and he couldn’t feed himself. He was a man with an immense amount of anguish — a man who wanted to die. In the psychiatric hospital the nurses rather avoided him because he wasn’t gratifying, he could do nothing.

He came to our community, and in him there was this terrible desire to die. He vomited everything that he ate. He was just in immense anguish and immense pain. (I mentioned this afternoon Moses with his pain.) But with Eric it was even more painful. His anguish and his desire to die were evident.

I said that, for us in L’Arche or in Faith and Light, our mission in welcoming Eric is to help him to move from the desire to die to a desire to live. We want him to move from a feeling of being no good to a sense of his value and his worth — from a feeling of guilt to a feeling of trust.

I said this afternoon that the only way…[is through] the transforming power of love. Through that love which reveals that you are beautiful; love that understands your pain and your needs; love which celebrates; love which empowers and calls you to be and to be yourself; and a love that forgives.

But for Eric, how will this be revealed to him? He is blind and he is deaf. So the only way of communication with Eric is through our hands. These are the incredible hands that we have been given by Jesus — hands that give security; hands that give peace; hands that manifest love. But hands that also can hurt; can take; can abuse.

I had the privilege of giving Eric his bath every morning. … This was a fragile little man of 16. And through our hands (because it was not just me, but those of our community together) we revealed to him that he is beautiful.

We are to touch people with a deep respect — to touch them with tenderness. Our hands, and not just our voices, may become vehicles of the love of Jesus. The Word became flesh, that our flesh may become word. Our flesh, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can reveal to people their value — that they are cherished and loved by God.

Our hands are, in some mysterious way, a source of revelation of communion. Jesus, as he knelt down in front of the feet of his disciples, knows that tomorrow he will be dead. But he wants to have with each disciple a moment. Not just to say goodbye.

Up until now he has just talked with the group. When you talk with a whole group you don’t have that individual contact with each person. Jesus wants that contact with each one of these people. He wants to touch them — to touch their feet; to touch their bodies; to touch them with tenderness and love. Maybe to each one he says a word; maybe looks each one in the eye. There is a moment of communion.

So there is communion through the Body of Christ, where Jesus says “do this in memory of me.” But there is also this communion as he kneels at their feet. And later he will say “I have done this as an example for you. And what I have done to you, you must do one to another.” So this is a gesture of communion, of tenderness.

For the full article, please click here. And as we move into Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, let us remember that wherever we are, whoever we are and however we are, we are to touch people (and let people touch us) with deep respect and reverence, the same kind of reverence shown to the body that is then laid in the tomb.

G. Anderson, 2013.

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Editor’s note: I wrote the above reflection last year, but it remained unpublished. Here it is now, as it was then, for your consideration. All viewpoints are strictly my own.

Blessings for your journey into Easter, from all of us at Keeping Company and the FCJ Mission and Identity Team.

Link

FCJ Sisters - General Chapter 2013 | Keeping-Company.comFCJ General Chapter 2013

As a religious congregation, the Faithful Companions of Jesus Sisters have General Chapters, in which representatives from around the world gather together to pray, to reflect and to discern the ways forward that will enhance the mission of the Order.

Upcoming, from 9th October – 1st November inclusive, is the 2013 General Chapter, to be held at Loyola Hall, Liverpool in the UK.

Please keep all participants, delegates and contributors in your prayer. We invite you to pray along with us, the following:

Loving God,

Thank you for the gift of your Son,
through whom we are united as companions.
Throughout all of life’s decisions,
but with special intention during the FCJ General Chapter of 2013,
we ask that your Holy Spirit guide each heart with courage and confidence,
to always choose that, which leads each one and all to love Jesus more deeply, to know him more intimately and to follow him more closely. [SPEX #104].

Marie Madeleine, mother and foundress,
pray for us.

Amen.

Keeping-Company.com FCJ SistersFor more information on the Chapter, to subscribe to updates or to leave a message for the Sisters, please go to the FCJ General Chapter 2013 web page.

6 Tips on Prayer in a Digital Age

How’s your prayer life?

…The body of Ignatius’ writing does not seem to advocate any one form of prayer. He was not concerned whether a prayer form was more ‘advanced’ but whether it was authentic for an individual and a wellspring of integrity and service. | Katherine Dyckman, et al., The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed: Uncovering Liberating Possibilities for Women (2001)

Keeping CompanyBearing this in mind, here is an extract from an article by Carole A. Crumley, in the Huffington Post, which recognises the difficulties that can come up in our digital age:

There are many ways to pray, many ways to open to God’s living presence and nurture an awareness of the sacred in daily life. Whether you are just beginning on a spiritual path or seeking to deepen your spiritual practice, here are some ways to begin or begin again.

6 Tips on Contemplative Prayer

  1. Establish a daily set-aside time when you can honor your desire to open to God. We recommend 20 minutes of silent prayer time daily. For some that might seem like a long time. For others, it may be way too short. The exact number of minutes is not that important. Start with what is right for you. The important thing is doing it daily.
  2. Create a set-aside place, a space that honors your intent, where you can sit comfortably and uninterrupted for your prayer time. This might be a prayer corner or even a prayer chair. If a chair, just make sure it is different from the one you sit in to watch television, work on your computer or take a nap. A different chair will help you be more alert and attentive in your prayerful listening. You might also place a candle or flower or image in your prayer space, something that helps draw your focus to God’s presence.
  3. Begin with stretching and releasing any physical tensions. We carry the tensions of the day or night in our bodies. Notice the places in your body that are tight or constricted. Stretch into those places, hold for a moment or two, and then relax the tension. Sometimes a gentle body-stretching practice is all that is needed to quiet the mind and prepare the body for opening in prayer.
  4. Notice your breath. Your breath is a spiritual tool that you always have with you. It is your most intimate connection with God. Sense your breath as a living instrument of God’s spirit, ever cleansing and inspiring. At any time or place, you can notice your breath. Is it rapid or slow? Shallow or deep? Just noticing and slowing your breath can quiet the mind and draw you deeper into the heart of God. It is the most fundamental practice in the spiritual life.
  5. Open to God’s living presence, keeping your desire for your own and the world’s fullness in God before you in prayer. No words are needed. Simple, quiet openness and availability are enough. Trust that God’s healing, transforming power is at work whether you know it, you believe it, or not.
  6. Find support for your spiritual life. Support can come in many forms. Listen to music that stirs your soul. Go to a museum and feast your eyes on great art. Walk in nature. Read some of the great classics by contemplative authors. Study the lives of the saints. Find a spiritual director who listens with you to the movement of the Spirit in your life. Attend worship services that nourish your spiritual heart. Seek out others who share a similar desire and join with them for dedicated times of prayer.

For the full article, click here.

Our Sisters are compassionate listeners with experience and qualifications in the ministries of chaplaincy and spiritual direction. If you would like to explore this further, or make initial contact, please do not hesitate to get in touch via: email or Facebook.

 

Imaginative Contemplation and an experience of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon

St Ignatius presents us with a particular way of praying in the Spiritual Exercises, called ‘imaginative contemplation’. The basic outline is that the pray-er uses the faculty of imagination to enter into the world of the prayer text. The purpose of this is to fully immerse oneself and interact with the characters so that hopefully some sort of relationship or meaning may be made between the person at prayer and God. Ignatius instructs us to imagine the scenery, the noises, the scents, the time of day, etc of the scenario in an effort to engage the whole self in the contemplation.

Intrinsic to this is a dialogue or conversation, which can often be a time of surprise and grace.

Consider the following prayer text in imaginative contemplation, a picture by Michael Belk, entitled The Second Mile.

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Note: A clearer copy of the image may be found here.

Questions

• What feelings or responses rise in you as you look at the picture?

• Which parts grab your attention?

• Does it move you or confront you or console you or challenge you in any way?

• Enter as far in to the scene as possible. Talk to Christ and share your responses with him. Also wait for him to reply.

I recently did the above exercise myself.  When I first encountered it, I was met with surprise, a sense of humor. Jesus is walking along, strolling really, with the soldier and Jesus lovingly questions the man and his motives… Hey man, where are you going with that rucksack and rifle? You look weighed down by that, here let me carry that for ya… (Jesus has a cool and collected drawl) and the soldier surrenders his things to Jesus in a state of speechlessness.

Soon this humor progressed to an understanding or insight into the faithful companionship of Jesus and how he still walks with us, still cares for us and still calls us to conversion, no matter how foolish or destructuve our choices may be. That led to peace and to joy and by the end of the contemplation period, I was really consoled.

Interestingly however, there is another part of Ignatian prayer called ‘repetition.’ This is whereby you revisit the scene however not as you were previously, for the simple fact that you can’t recreate feelings or responses. This is to see if there are any more graces to be received.

My experience of the tragedy at Boston

When I revisited the scene a second time, I found myself in a space that was almost at odds with the peace and humor I experienced the first time. This was because I had just learnt of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Images of war, death and disaster now filled the scene. I had actually seen video footage of a live-action account from one of the runners’ camera.

Immediately the tone of my prayer with the above image changed. Things were different now from when I first entered the scene before. My prayer took me right into the heart of the events. I imagined the marathon runners on that same road. Is Jesus there with them? I imagined those responsible for the bombings. How is Jesus with them now? I imagined myself in the place of Jesus, how might I be if walking along someone who did terrible things?

I contemplated what the invitation might have been, noting the weight or mood in this prayer space.  Perhaps I was being called into forgiveness, into  solidarity with the suffering of the world and of simply staying with Christ.

Of course Boston is only one example of the reality of such carnage and brutality that plagues our world. Nevertheless images like The Second Mile beg us to go deeper into ourselves and into the mystery and identity of God and imaginative contemplation facilitates that aim.

Where did your prayer take you today? On the road to Emmaus? Boylston Street, Boston? Or as in other news, perhaps a dirt road in Afghanistan?

The possibilities are endless.  And the fruits of prayer abundant. We just have to let ourselves enter into the story.

Celebrate What’s Right With the World

The basis of Ignatian spirituality is the ‘Principle and Foundation’ [#23] of the Spiritual Exercises. It is a statement of faith that grounds all our choices and perspectives. A summary of the text reads:

  1. I exist for God.
  2. I live for God in the world which is God’s gift.
  3. To live for God in the world is to respond to things, people, situations in a way that praises God, and expresses love of Him.
  4. For this, inner freedom is necessary.
  5. This inner freedom is only possible where there is desire.*

*Taken from material used by St Bueno’s Outreach Team, North Wales, UK.

If these are the tenets by which we are called to live, then Dewitt Jones, who for twenty-something years, worked as a photographer for the National Geographic, is doing just that. I watched a 22-minute video today called Celebrating What’s Right With the World. In it, Jones so graciously and generously shares with us, the insights he has gained from his work as a photographer. I recommend that you watch it for yourself to take in the wonder and awe.

Here’s the link to the video, in case you missed it.

While watching it, I took note of some of the things he said and kept hearing its resonance to the Principle and Foundation. Ignatius would be smiling, I kept thinking. Here are some of Dewitt Jones’ words that in my opinion, run parallel to the ideals set out in Annotation 23.

celebratebest

 

On reality:

Vision controls our perception, and our perception become our reality.

On the insights gained from his work:

Celebrating what was right with the world, it was a vision with purpose and passion… And in the Geographic‘s view, man was an integral part of that beauty, not something separate – just as beautiful, just as magical as anything else on the planet. And when I celebrated the best in people, I could see that. I could see it in the faces of those who worked, or the body language of those at play, those in their youth or in their age… I would see it, I would see that light that shines not on us, but from within us. From within us when we trust enough to let it out. It was the same light I’d seen in nature that didn’t have to trust to expose itself, but just graced us every day.

And food-for-thought for us all:

How open to possibility does our vision allow us to be? Celebrating what’s right with the world: it not only keeps us open to possibilities, it gives us energy… Instead of starting out as we so often do by griping about what’s wrong with the situation, what’s right with it? Because by celebrating the best, that allows us to fall in love with it. That connects us with our passion, that emancipates the energy. By celebrating what’s right, we find the energy to fix what’s wrong.  As Michelangelo once wrote: “I saw an angel in the stone and carved to set it free.”

For Reflection

What do you think about God falling in love with us?

What about celebrating our best, and then falling in love with each other?

How does this challenge us in our relationships with ourselves and with one another?

What other statements do you see resembling the Principle and Foundation?