Easter Comfort

May 11th, 2017 Posted in writing | 1 Comment »

Having recently passed the midway mark of the Easter season we might want to pay attention to an aspect of the Resurrection that St. Ignatius Loyola highlights. He says that the Risen Christ acts as a consoler to his disciples and followers who have suffered through the trauma and confusion of the terrible events of Jesus’ arrest, beating, mockery, crucifixion and death.

They had lost not only their companion, teacher and leader but someone they had come to love. And they had lost the hopes and dreams that Jesus and his message had evoked in them. They were sad, afraid, confused and traumatized. Their pain went so deep that when some women from their group reported to them that they had seen angels at Jesus’ empty tomb and even seen and spoken to Jesus, the apostles simply did not believe them.

Then suddenly, on the evening of the first Easter, Jesus was there with them, speaking with them and wishing them Shalom/God’s peace and his own blessing. They experienced the Risen Jesus being with them, loving them, consoling and comforting them.

One of the surest signs that we have truly understood and accepted the Easter event is that we let Jesus’ comfort and greeting of peace come into our hearts and dry the tears we have shed in our lives, finding that in the presence of the Risen Lord, we may find life and hope in a way we thought we never would.

Receiving Easter

April 9th, 2017 Posted in writing | No Comments »

This is the time of year for celebrating Easter, but it is also the time for “receiving” Easter. And, while it may not be the usual way we talk about it, the idea of receiving Easter can offer a different way to approach Easter, namely, by thinking of the Resurrection of Jesus as God’s greatest gift to us.

And, as wth all gifts of God, the gift of Easter is truly and completely achieved only if we open ourselves to receive it — just as sacraments become truly effective to the extent that we open our hearts and souls to receive them. So, how do we receive Easter?

We receive Easter when we long for the good news of Jesus’ Resurrection, knowing we need its assurance that we ourselves and the good things we have done will not pass into oblivion but will last forever.

We receive Easter when we let the Resurrection of Jesus become the bedrock and foundation of our hopes, believing that Jesus will share his life with us here on earth as well as eternally in Heaven.

Finally, we receive Easter when we let it confront our fears of the future or thoughts that God will leave us to our own resources, for Easter shows us that God is able to bring life even when it seems that death and diminishment rule the day.

So, may our celebration of Easter this year be full of joy and consolation as we pray to receive the gift of Easter with open hearts and deep gratitude.

Two Sides of Discipleship

February 26th, 2017 Posted in writing | 1 Comment »

In chapter three of Mark’s gospel, Jesus calls the 12 apostles to be with him and be sent out to preach and expel demons. Jesus’ call was to be in close intimacy with him and to share in his own mission. Not one-or-the-other, but both-and.

Some believe that one of these two things is more important than the other, for instance, that intimacy is more fundamental than work. But at least in Ignatian spirituality they are seen as two sides of one coin.

Thus, Ignatius told his retreatants to earnestly pray for a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus. But he also instructed them to ask just as fervently for the grace of hearing Jesus’ call to share his mission. Ignatius believed that in shared labor his followers would become closer to Christ and this closeness would lead to a more significant and lasting work for the glory of God and the coming of God’s Kingdom on earth.

No matter how one sees them related, Lent can be a good time to examine how strong are the two pillars of discipleship (intimacy with Christ and shared labor with him) and see if, in our lives, they actually do feed into each other and support each other.

Role Call 2017

January 3rd, 2017 Posted in writing | 2 Comments »

I’ve found that my New Year’s resolutions are often short-lived, especially those about food, drink and exercise. Is there a more creative alternative to starting the year than the usual adopting of resolutions?

I got a hint that maybe there is from one of the characters in Shakespeare’s As You Like It who says, “All the world’s a stage/ And all the men and women merely players/. . .And one man [or woman] in his [or her] time plays many parts.” So why not think about the role I’d like to play in the drama of 2017 rather than the resolutions I might make.

Maybe you’d want to try the same thing. For instance, would you like to be the romantic lead in your personal drama or would the role of courageous adventurer be more appealing? Maybe you think it might be fun to play the role of someone who brings joy and laughter to others. Or maybe your chosen part will be that of someone who overcomes adversity, acts as a reconciler and peacemaker or becomes a trusted counselor from whom others seek encouragement and advice.

Then, as the year goes on, instead of focusing on those resolutions which you have or haven’t succeeded in keeping, you could look at the role you’ve chosen to play and see how you are doing with it. Maybe you’ll find that another role fits you better. But no matter what role you select, make it your aim and intention that it give pleasure and satisfaction to God, in whose presence you are playing it out.

Advent Longings

November 28th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

The Rolling Stones sang, “You can’t always get what you want . . . but if you try sometimes well you just might find you get what you need.” A lot of Advent is about naming what we want and, more importantly, becoming aware of what we need.

Wants and needs aren’t the same, of course, for what I truly need is on a deeper level than what I might want. I may want a comfortable home in a quiet neighborhood, but I can live without it. I can live without eating meat, but I can’t live very well without protein. I may want to be married but whether I’m married or single I definitely need relationships in which I can both give love and receive it.

In December, we often ask children, “What do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?” In Advent the Church poses to us a deeper question: “What are the deep needs and longings of your life, which only God can fill?” Paying attention to these and presenting them to God is very important because, as St. Augustine and others tell us, frequently presenting our longings to God actually prepares us to receive God’s fulfillment of them.

In a few short weeks, we will celebrate the coming of God’s once and final answer to all human longings and desires — Christ. As we prepare to receive Christ with the joy and gratitude his coming deserves, let us be bold in presenting ourselves, our needs and our longings to God. We might indeed find that we will get what we need.