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Welcome to TJC Journal 

Welcome to TJC Journal, which features members of TJC staff and Ignatian partners answering questions and offering reflections about Ignatian Spirituality and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius (see posts below).  Other online Ignatian prayer resources also are offered (see links to the right).  Additional prayer and educational resources appear in TJC's Ignatian Spirituality Resource Guide: http://jesuit-collaborative.org/welcome 

TJC Journal Links

Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life: Part 28

April 21, 2016 - Praying Along with the Retreatants of the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life

The final contemplation in the Spiritual Exercises is the Contemplation on the Love of God. It is the culmination of the many weeks and months of prayer that preceded it. In this contemplation, we draw on our experience of God’s overwhelming love in the Exercises to inform and empower our lives going forward, and we see that the whole movement of the retreat has been rooted in and oriented towards love.

In contemplating the love of God, we ask for the grace to love as God loves. Ignatius offers two critical insights:

“Love ought to manifest itself more by deeds than by words”. Love must be put into action; words are not enough. Having been schooled as disciples these many weeks, we must now do something. Ignatian spirituality is one of mission.

“Love consists in a mutual communication between the two persons”. Just as the love between two persons is marked by giving and receiving, the love we share with God enjoys a certain mutuality. God wants our friendship. God wants to be known by us. These divine desires are the source of our desire to know, love and serve God.

The steps of the full Contemplation are not presented here, since this journal has been a “sampling” of the full Exercises. We hope that this taste of the Exercises has whetted your appetite to undertake them yourself, or to learn more about and to experience Ignatian spirituality. The Jesuit Collaborative, in conjunction with Jesuit parishes, schools and retreat houses, provides many such opportunities. Please continue to visit our website to learn more about these offerings. You can also sign up for our monthly newsletter by emailing us at collaborative@jesuitcollaborative.org or clicking here.

May you continue to enjoy the graces of the Easter season. Peace be with you!

- Adapted from "The Ignatian Adventure" by Kevin O'Brien, SJ (Loyola Press)

Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life: Part 27

Apr. 6, 2016 - Praying along with the retreatant of the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life.

On the road to Emmaus, by DuccioThis week, the retreatants are praying on the theme of “The Risen Life”. We continue to reflect on the role of Christ as consoler. In your own life, look for signs of how God has consoled and continues to console you and the people around you. Where do you find joy? Who or what gives you joy?

Prayerfully read Luke 24: 13-35 (Jesus appears to disciples on the road to Emmaus). Notice how the disciples do not recognize him at first. Notice how Jesus walks and listens to the disciples in their sadness and confusion. How has Jesus walked with you? How do you recognize Christ? Have you experienced your heart burning? What desires are stirring in your heart?

- Adapted from the Ignatian Adventure by Fr. Kevin O'Brien, SJ (Loyola Press)

Igantian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, Part 26

Apr. 1, 2016 - The retreatants are now praying the fourth “Week”, or major phase, of the Spiritual Exercises. Currently, they are praying with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In this prayer, we do not contemplate the actual resurrection event, which is a mystery beyond time and space. Rather we pray with God’s transformation of life, making all things new, as in a new creation. Resurrection is a conquering of sin and death, once and for all.

The grace we pray for is that of Easter joy – to share in the joy and peace of the risen Christ. This joy, like any grace we pray for, is a gift from God, and we do not earn it and cannot force it. We simply try to be open to it by contemplating Christ as he shares the joy of the Resurrection with others.

The following contemplation is not found in Scripture but comes from Ignatius’ own imagination. Given the central role that Mary played in Jesus’ life, Ignatius thinks it only reasonable that the first person to whom Christ appeared was his mother. So imagine the risen Christ appearing to Mary. Imagine the details of the room where they meet. Imagine how each is so excited and joy filled upon their reunion. Imagine the words and embraces they exchange. See how Christ consoles her.

- Adapted from “The Ignatian Adventure” by Kevin O’Brien, SJ (Loyola Press)

A Reflection for Easter: The Gift of New Life

Mar. 26, 2016 - by Fr. George Witt, SJ, Executive Director

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the central event of our Christian faith. Through it we are given a gift of immeasurable proportions, the gift of new life.

There is no cheap grace here. We are still not immune to the terrible effects of greed, jealousy, violence, or any of the many ways that people hurt one another. Neither are we immune to the ravages of nature, illness, or disease. Like Jesus, who entered fully into our human experience, we too come face to face with death’s power.

But the resurrection of Jesus is God’s answer to all of this. God loves us too much to allow these to destroy us. God loves the world too much to let it be swallowed up in sin. Easter marks the final victory over these powers, and it serves as a reminder that we are to relate to these unwanted things the same way that Jesus did in his Passion, namely, with faith, with hope, and with love. Through his resurrection, Jesus shows us once and for all that these are the path to life.

Of course, the gift of new life that we receive is to be shared with others. Once his disciples discovered that Jesus was alive, they became apostles, spreading the good news to all they encountered. So as we sing out our Alleluia’s this Easter, let this prayer of Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini be ours:

Lord Jesus, we ask you now
to help us to remain with you always,
to be close to you with all the ardor of our hearts,
to take up joyfully the mission you entrust to us
and that is to continue your presence
and spread the good news of your Resurrection.

Have a blessed Easter!

For reflection:
How will I share the good news of the Resurrection with others?

Igantian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, Part 25

Mar. 21, 2016 – The Suffering and Death of Jesus

As you pray through the Passion and ask for the grace of compassion, consider how you are called to be more compassionate in the particulars of your own life. Ask: What invisible crosses do people bear? How can I help carry them? Who helps carry my own burdens? Who are the crucified peoples of our world today?

Ignatius invites us to consider how Jesus’ divinity “hides itself”. We must not easily explain away the suffering we encounter in the scripture passages. We must take Jesus’ humanity seriously enough to realize just how much he loves us. He remains faithful to his Father and the mission of the kingdom and accepts the very real consequences of that faithful obedience, which he does out of great love.

We pray for the grace to experience “sorrow with Christ in sorrow; a broken spirit with Christ so broken; tears; and interior suffering because of the great suffering which Christ endured for me” (Sp. Ex., 203)

Prayerfully read any or all of the following:

Luke 23: 1-25 (trial before Pilate and Herod)

Matthew 27:26-31 (crowning with thorns)

Luke 23: 26-32 (way of the cross)

Luke 23: 33-49 (Crucifixion)

- Adapted from "The Ignatian Adventure" by Kevin O'Brien, SJ (Loyola Press)

Lenten Reflections: Palm Sunday

Mar. 18, 2016 - by Kevin O'Brien, Director of Ignatian Partners

Jesus entering Jerusalem.On Palm Sunday, we read a lot of gospel in the liturgy – Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem, the agony in the garden, the whole Passion story. How does a crowd go from creating a welcoming, parade-like atmosphere as Jesus enters the city as a celebrity to yelling for his crucifixion and jeering at him as he struggles under the cross on the way to Golgotha?

Around a decade ago, there was a popular book out called "The Wisdom of Crowds." The author, an economist, made the argument that often better decisions are made by large groups of people than by the individuals themselves. He is talking about averaging aggregate individual choices rather than crowd psychology. That is, it’s not that when a large group of people deliberates they come to better decisions than an individual would, but rather the individual decisions of a group on average are wiser than most of the decisions made by the individuals. Contrast this with what we know colloquially as “mob mentality”, or the tendency of a group of people to whip each other into an emotional state that allows them to commit acts that they would not otherwise consider individually.

Does this imply that we humans have both the innate capacity for reaching our highest ideals and the unfortunate penchant to goad one another into acting on our basest urges? The gospels seem to hint at this again and again – and nowhere more clearly than in the events leading up to Jesus’ execution. The reality is that we, each of us, are both of those condemned prisoners hanging on either side of Jesus on Golgotha. We often act contrary to our best selves and incite others, by word and behavior, to act similarly. We see this in many of the characters in these passion narratives. But there are other characters in these same stories who remind us that we also have the capacity to respond compassionately, and to encourage each other. And they are the ones following the example of Jesus.

For reflection:

Where have we acted contrary to the path of Jesus and where have we goaded others to do the same? Can we ask Jesus to forgive these trespasses and to give us the courage to be his compassion in the world?

Lenten Reflections: Fifth Sunday of Lent

Mar. 11, 2016 - by Pat McDonough, Coordinator for Ministry in the NY Area

“Irish Alzheimer’s,” quipped author Frank McCourt, “is forgetting everything except the grudges.”

The Irish weren’t the first to find forgiveness a challenge. The readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent recall the words of the prophet Isaiah, writing 2700 years ago, “Remember not the events of the past.”

St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, encourages them to forget what lies behind, but strain forward to what lies ahead.

Modern science has proven that the words of this Sunday’s scriptures carry more than spiritual wisdom. They offer sound medical advice, as well. When we recall instances of hurt or betrayal, blood pressure and heart rate increases, immune systems are weakened, and sleeplessness, fatigue or depression can seep into our systems. Research has discovered that when we contemplate forgiveness, we feel less angry, less anxious and have fewer health problems. Reconciliation seems to suit us, both physically and spiritually, whereas holding each other hostage to past mistakes carries no benefits.

Jesus challenges those who are about to stone the adulterous woman to focus, not on her failings, but on their own faults. When asked to examine their own lives, they drop their stones. Without the weight of judgment in their hands, perhaps they were free to receive God’s gift of merciful love. Could their encounter with Jesus have changed them?

“Mercy is twice blessed,” Shakespeare said. If forgiveness is a win-win, what are we waiting for? In this Year of Mercy, may our mistakes be a source of grace that moves us toward claiming the freedom offered by forgiveness.

For Reflection:

Lent is a good time to rekindle the fires of forgiveness. Begin by praying for someone who has hurt you. Pray for someone who you may have wounded in some way. Ask God for the grace of reconciliation and healing, and the strength to resolve the conflict compassionately.

Igantian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, Part 24

Mar. 9, 2016 - The Arrest of Jesus

We continue in the third “week”, or major phase of the Spiritual Exercises, in which we accompany Jesus during his Passion.

Recall that in the Contemplation on the Incarnation, we heard the Trinity proclaim, “Let us work the redemption of the human race.” We witnessed how God became one of us in Jesus of Nazareth, and we accompanied Jesus in his earthly life, watching divine generosity play out in the details of history. God’s desire to save us from our inhumanity continues to unfold in Jesus’ passion.

During your prayer this week, keep your eyes and heart fixed on Jesus. Use your imagination to place yourself in the scene if you like. Note in these meditations how much Jesus’ opponents are concerned with self-seeking, face-saving and power-tripping. Conversely, notice how Jesus refuses to play their games and instead remains true to who he is.

As you pray with the Scripture passage, pray for the grace to experience “sorrow with Christ in sorrow, a broken spirit with Christ so broken; tears; and interior suffering because of the great suffering which Christ endured for me” (SE 203).

Prayerfully read any or all of the following passages this week:

Matthew 26:47-56 (arrest of Jesus)

John 18: 12-27 (Jesus brought before Annas and Caiphas; Peter’s denials)

Matthew 26:57-75 (night session of the Sanhedrin; Peter’s denials)

Luke 22: 66-71 (morning session of the Sanhedrin)

Isaiah 50:4-7

- Adapted from "The Ignatian Adventure" by Kevin O'Brien, SJ (Loyola Press)

Lenten Reflections: Fourth Sunday of Lent

The Merciful Father

Mar. 4, 2016 - by Carlos Aedo, Director of Hispanic Ministry 

The readings for the Fourth Sunday of Lent can be found here.
Para leer esto en español haga click aquí.

Rembrandt's "Return of the Prodigal Son"One of the most moving scenes of the Gospels appears in the readings of this coming Sunday. In the story of The Merciful Father, Luke tells us that the father “caught sight” of his son “while he was still a long way off”. Then, the father “ran to his son” and “embraced him and kissed him”. The father’s love for his son suspends anger and disappointment, and even precedes the son’s petition for forgiveness.

This love, I believe, transforms the son because the experience of such love stirs the heart deeply. The parable ends with a conversation between the father and his older, dutiful son, but imagine what the younger, prodigal son becomes: more generous, more compassionate, more attentive to the needs and concerns of others. At the end of the party, he might even have sought reconciliation with his brother.

In his 2016 Message for Lent, Pope Francis expresses this transformative experience like this: “God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn. In an ever new miracle, divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbor and to devote ourselves to what the Church’s tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. These works remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbors in body and spirit”.

Love transforms us. Mercy transforms us. Lent is a season intended to help us become brothers and sisters to on another, and sons and daughters of God. Are we letting the mercy and love of God transform us?

Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, Part 23

Mar. 2, 2016 - The Road to Calvary

Week Three of the Spiritual ExercisesWe now enter the third “Week”, or major phase of the Spiritual Exercises, in which we pray with the passion of Christ. In the second Week, we asked for the grace to know Jesus more intimately, to love him more dearly, and to follow him more closely. This love leads us to be with Jesus in his suffering. In this third Week, we focus on being with Jesus in his suffering and less on the “doing” of the second Week, where we accompanied Jesus on his active ministry. A certain stillness pervades this Week. We keep our eyes on Jesus and avoid any intense self -examination or weighing of values, as we have done in prior weeks.

The grace we pray for is to “ask for sorrow, regret, and confusion because the Lord is going to his Passion for my sins” (Spiritual Exercises, 193).

During this calendar week, pray any or all of the following scripture passages:

Matthew 21:1-11 (Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem)

Matthew 26:7-30 (Last Supper)

John 13:1-17 (washing of feet at Last Supper)

Matthew 26:36-46 or Luke 22:39-46 (agony in the garden)

After reflecting on the Scripture passages, enter into a colloquy (conversation) with Jesus, speaking as one friend to another. You might express words of sorrow, confusion, compassion, regret, fear, anticipation – whatever moves you.

- Adapted from “The Ignatian Adventure” by Kevin O’Brien, SJ (Loyola Press)

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