Tag Archives: Ignatius Loyola

Finding God in All Things

They should practice the seeking of God’s presence in all things…
Letter of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Finding God in all things is central to the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. One of his early companions, Pedro Ribadaneira, S.J., wrote:

We frequently saw him taking the occasion of little things to lift his mind to God, who even in the smallest things is great. From seeing a plant, foliage, a leaf, a flower, any kind of fruit; from the consideration of a little worm or any other animal, he raised himself above the heavens and penetrated the deepest thoughts, and from each little thing he drew doctrine and the most profitable counsels for the spiritual life.

But how easy it is to overlook the presence of God, to become so accustomed to the ordinary things of life that we fail to see God’s presence.

So in today’s Gospel (Matthew 13: 54-58) the people of Nazareth could only see Jesus as an ordinary person, one they knew. Even Jesus’ “wisdom and mighty deeds” could not open their hearts to recognize the presence of God in this ordinary man.

I pray today that my heart may become more and more open to see the presence of God, especially in Jesus, God made flesh, but also in all the world, especially my sisters and brothers in need.

God is here. Stand in awe.

St. Ignatius' room, Rome

St. Ignatius’ room, Rome


The quotations come from Jim Manney, An Ignatian Book of Days, which has been a good companion for me the past few months.

Holy indifference

In his spiritual exercises St. Ignatius Loyola present his first principles and foundation. In one translation – excuse the non-inclusive language – it reads:

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord,
and by this means to save his soul.
The other things on the face of the earth are created for man
to help him in attaining the end for which he is created.
Hence, man is to make use of them
in so far as they help him in the attainment of his end,
and he must rid himself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to him.
Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things,
as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition.
Consequently, as far as we are concerned,
we should not prefer health to sickness,
riches to poverty,
honor to dishonor,
a long life to a short life.
The same holds for all other things.
Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive
to the end for which we are created.

Today I returned from a visit to Tegucigalpa. Our bishop in Santa Rosa, Monseñor Darwin Rudy Andino, had asked me to come with him to speak with Monseñor Juan José Pineda about something our bishop is proposing for me.

I went with a deep sense of what might best be called detachment.

I knew that what we would talk about might influence my future ministry.

Our bishop has proposed something that would possibly make my ministry more official and sacramental. But I felt a real holy indifference to what might result. What our bishop is proposing is something that I had not sought, but I am willing to pursue.

Monseñor Pineda was very welcoming – hugging everyone. I was surprised. But he is also very professional, being a canon lawyer. I appreciated his clarity and his straightforward approach.

I don’t think the meeting went as our bishop had hoped. I also shared a bit of our bishop’s hope. But I felt a great peace during the meeting and afterwards.

Where this will go, I do not know.

But I pray that God continues to grace me with the gift of holy indifference, holy detachment. But I also ask the grace to respond whole-heartedly to what God wants for me

So far it has been a great blessing.

Detachment, living in the now, and following the call

This morning I work up about 4 am and heard people talking near my house. I thought it was rather strange but went back to sleep since I had planned to sleep in this morning.

I finally got up at about 6:15 and noted the presence of a good number of people at the corner by the school. I saw my neighbor Juan and asked him why. He told me to come over.

I went over and discovered that his mother, in her early seventies, had died yesterday. I found out later that she had been in the hospital for a week. Last night they held a vigil in the home, as is the custom here.

I went and prayed at the coffin in the main room of the house and greeted those gathered in the kitchen and outside – many of the Doña Victoria’s children.

When I returned to my house, I grabbed a coffee and prayed my morning prayer.

Today’s second reading – 1 Corinthians 7; 29-31 – is not an easy reading. “The time (ό καιρός) is running out… the world in its present form is passing away.” Those who are weeping should live as if not weeping, those laughing as though not laughing – and so on.

But a sentence in Daily Gospel 2015 opened my heart:

…our time is too short and we need to use it well. Our life is valuable and we cannot just spoil or ignore the call of God.

Reflecting a little more I began to see this passage of Paul as a call to detachment – or, as St. Ignatius Loyola puts it, indifference. In the Spiritual Exercises, 23, he writes:

…it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things … in such a way that, for our part, we not seek health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, a long life rather than a short one, and so on in all other matters, wanting and choosing only that which leads more to the end for which we are created.

Detachment from all things can open us to respond to the call of God at any moment, even at the moment of our deaths. Indeed, I’d suggest that detachment can free us to die.

This afternoon Padre German will come to celebrate Mass for Doña Victoria who followed the Lord in her daily life, often participating in a base community in her house.

Am I detached enough to let God call me where I don’t expect and eventually call me home?

The citation from St. Ignatius is taken from the translation of George Ganss, S.J., as found in Dean Brackley’s The Call to Discernment in Troubled Times, a book that I highly recommend.

Fiat – Let it be

“Let it be…”

Mary’s response to the surprising and disconcerting announcement that she was to be the mother of the Lord was a simple “Let it be so for me – as you have said.”

Santa Maria in Trastevere

Santa Maria in Trastevere

So simple and yet so difficult. But remembering God’s great love it may become easier.

Last week, during my retreat, I prayed the contemplation on the incarnation in Ignatius Spiritual Exercises.

The Trinity looking down on the earth – on all its people – and see us all, in our sin and suffering. They say, “Let Us work the redemption of the Human race.”

And “The Word becomes flesh” in the womb of a young woman in Nazareth.

God’s love is so great, wishing us healing and heaven – in love, willing our healing.

As I prayed, I thought of all the people throughout the world whom God looks upon with love – including me.

When we begin to realize this, we can say yes to God.

When we realize that God loves us and has our well-being in mind, it becomes easier to pray the prayer that ends Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my intellect, and all my will
—all that I have and possess.
You gave it to me: to Thee, Lord, I return it!
All is Yours, dispose of it according to all Your will.
Give me Your love and grace,
for this is enough for me.

Mary gave God all, recognizing God’s love.

Can I too say yes to God’s love?

The Jesuit Pope Francis’ Examen on violence

I don’t know what I expected from Pope Francis but his homily at the Peace Vigil in St. Peter’s Square is full of surprises, though it is also very traditional

He starts his homily with a short reflection on the goodness of creation. His first words, from Genesis 1, were “And God saw that it was good.”

…this, our world, in the heart and mind of God, is the “house of harmony and peace”, and that it is the space in which everyone is able to find their proper place and feel “at home”, because it is “good”.

Is this the place to start at a homily at a vigil for peace? Not with a strident critique, but a call to vision, a call to return to the beginnings, to the vision of a world of peace.

As I reflect on the homily, I think this reveals the deep Ignatian identity of Pope Francis and, I believe, reflects Examen promoted by St. Ignatius of Loyola. (A good summary is in James Martin’s The Jesuit Guide to [Almost] Everything.)

The first step of the Examen is to ask for God’s grace. In gratitude, we recall the good things that God has done for us during the day.

Pope Francis, after recalling this “house of harmony and peace,” asks:

Is this really the world that I desire? Is this really the world that we all carry in our hearts? Is the world that we want really a world of harmony and peace, in ourselves, in our relations with others, in families, in cities, in and between nations? And does not true freedom mean choosing ways in this world that lead to the good of all and are guided by love?

Only after this does the pope asks us to question whether this is the world we experience:

Is this the world in which we are living? Creation retains its beauty which fills us with awe and it remains a good work. But there is also “violence, division, disagreement, war.”

The second step in the Examen is to ask for the grace to know one’s sins.

Using the Genesis account of Cain and Abel, the pope asks:

We too are asked this question, it would be good for us to ask ourselves as well: Am I really my brother’s keeper? Yes, you are your brother’s keeper! To be human means to care for one another!

He then goes on to identify the sin of war and violence and their causes, perhaps reflecting the third step of the Examen: reviewing one’s day.

Even today, we let ourselves be guided by idols, by selfishness, by our own interests, and this attitude persists. We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death!

Pope Francis’s third point is centered on conversion:

“Can we learn once again to walk and live in the ways of peace?”

The fourth step of the Examen is to ask God’s forgiveness for one’s sinfulness. The fifth is to resolve to change.

In the midst of this final section, Pope Francis makes a plea to put the Cross at the center of our meditation:

My Christian faith urges me to look to the Cross. How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the Cross if only for a moment! There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken. This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions, and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: violence and war are never the way to peace!

This very much reflects the importance of the Crucified Lord for St. Ignatius.

In his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius urges the person making the exercises to look upon the crucified Lord and reflect on three questions: What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I do for Christ?

Recalling the remarks of Ignacio Ellacuría, the martyred rector of the Jesuit university in El Salvador, Father Jon Sobrino wrote:

Concluding his meditation on sin, Ignatius Loyola asks us to look at the crucified Christ and ask ourselves what have we done for him, what are we doing for him, and what are we going to do for him. Ignacio Ellacuría, also crucified, asks us to place ourselves before the crucified people and answer the same three questions: What have I done to crucify them? What am I doing to take them down from their cross? What should I do to ensure their resurrection?

Pope Francis is, I believe, also asking us to look upon the crucified, but not merely as a victim of the violence of the world. He is calling on us to look upon the Crucified Lord as providing a way out of the spiral of violence.

Though he does not use these words, I think Pope Francis is asking us to follow the nonviolent crucified Lord.

How very Christian, how very Jesuit, how very Francis – and how very human.


Ignatius and the treasure hidden in the field

The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Matthew 13: 44

St. Ignatius death mask

A central aspect of the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola is finding God in all things.

I think the image of Jesus along with Ignatius’ spirituality can help us in our search for God.

What could that treasure buried in the field be?

The Reign of God, Jesus says.

Yes, but what does it look like?

Could it be the presence of God which we overlook as we float through our days?

Could it be the simple signs of God’s love that are there, just below the surface of our lives, if we would clear away the distractions?

Could it the Love of God at the center of all that is but which we forget as we let ourselves be overwhelmed by evil and injustice?

Could that treasure be God calling us to listen and respond with loving attention?

As Ignatius prayed:

May it please the supreme and abundant Goodness
to give us all abundant grace
ever to know His most holy will
and perfectly to fulfill it.

Finding what is the will of God in the midst of our daily lives is finding that treasure.