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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: 

TJC Journal Links

Lenten Reflections: Third Sunday of Lent

Feb. 26, 2016 - by Fr. Frank Kaminski, SJ, Coordinator of Jesuit Parish Outreach

Readings for the Third Sunday of Lent

I remember seeing a bumper sticker a number of years ago that said something like: “Jesus is coming, and He is NOT happy.” Too often we imagine that God is not really all that pleased with us. We worry because we are conscious of our failings and mistakes. We know that we don’t measure up to all that we should be.

So scripture like this Sunday's second reading makes us nervous. Paul reminds us of all the blessings that Israelites received and “yet God was not pleased with most of them.” Then he concludes with the warning, “whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.”

The Gospel reading does not seem to offer much more encouragement. Does God look on us like the fruitless fig tree, just taking up space and exhausting the soil? Do we have to get busy and start producing abundant fruit or risk being cut down? How much will be enough? Or will we just end up perishing like those Jesus talked about earlier?

We are already beginning the third week of Lent. Maybe it’s already too late. Or maybe the Responsorial Psalm can give us a truer insight: “Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.” Perhaps there is much more kindness in the heart of God than our fears sometimes permit us to imagine.

For Reflection:

St. Teresa of Avila encourages this simple prayer, “See how He looks at you.” During this week, rather than looking at yourself, look at God and see yourself reflected in His loving eyes and heart.

Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, Part 22

Feb. 24, 2016 - Jesus as Human and Divine

The Church has long taught that Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine. As fully human, Jesus is like us in all things but sin. As fully divine, Jesus shows us who God is most completely. To be faithful to this teaching, we must avoid two extremes: emphasizing the humanity of Jesus so much that he becomes just another admirable human being, or emphasizing the divinity of Jesus so much that he becomes otherworldly and inaccessible to us.

No definition or doctrine fully captures who Jesus Christ is. We are left with an alluring Mystery. Our deepening desire to know, love and serve Jesus Christ draws us into the mystery of God becoming human for us.

This week, we continue to pray for the graces of knowing Jesus more intimately, loving him more intensely and following him more closely.

Prayerfully read Luke 9:18-36, Peter’s profession of faith and Jesus’ transfiguration. How do you respond to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” How do you feel when you hear Jesus invite his disciples to “take up their cross?” What is it like to join the disciples on the mountain?

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

Lenten Reflections: Second Sunday of Lent

Feb. 19, 2016 - by Marilyn Dunphy, MHSH, Associate Director for Administration

The Gospels from the first two Sundays of Lent resonate with me as I ponder the stark contrasts of Jesus’ respective experiences – from the barren isolation of the desert, where he is assailed by temptation, to the mountaintop experience in the company of Peter, James and John, where he is glorified by the Father. All of us who are engaged in the spiritual life have experienced our own spiritual lows and highs – in the language of Ignatian spirituality, desolations and consolations.

Can we let these Gospel passages speak to us as we deal with our personal desolations? Conversely, when we have our own “mountaintop” experiences – when we have a deeply felt sense of God’s presence, love and care – can we, like Jesus, trust that they are real?

Scripture does not provide details of Jesus’ interior life as he struggled with temptation or heard his Father’s voice call him “chosen” and “beloved”. It does cite numerous times where Jesus goes off to pray. In prayer, Jesus grew in his knowledge, love and trust in God. In this relationship, honed over time, he could resist unrelenting temptation, believe that he was beloved of the Father and could carry out his divine mission, regardless of the cost.

Lent is a perfect time for us to begin or renew our commitment to prayer and strengthen our own relationship with God. We can listen in prayer, as Jesus often did, for the voice of God, assuring us of our own belovedness, and our own place in bringing about God’s kingdom.

For reflection:

What practices will you utilize during Lent to deepen your relationship with God?

You might consider working with a spiritual director/companion – someone who can accompany you in your prayer life and help you grow in relationship with God.

Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, Part 21

Feb. 17, 2016 - The Kingdom of God

In the Contemplation on the Call of Christ, our King (Week 15), we heard the invitation to labor with Christ in building a more loving, just and gentle world. In his teaching, Jesus invites us to imagine God’s dream for the world. In his actions, Jesus shows us what the reign of God looks like concretely. As you pray this week, ask: How does the call of Christ move me now? What bold, holy desires does Jesus’ view of God’s kingdom stir in me?

The kingdom of God is not simply what awaits us in heaven at some time in the future. By becoming one of us in Christ, God revealed how the kingdom of God breaks into history, here and now. The kingdom of God is not a place but a way of living and being.

Prayerfully read Luke 6:27-38. Perhaps focus on just on particular teaching in this rich passage and try to apply it to your own life.

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

Lenten Reflections: First Sunday of Lent

Feb. 14, 2016 - by Sean Sanford, Director of Comtemplative Leaders in Action (CLA)

Reflections on the Sunday Mass readings from TJC staff.“Life is difficult…. It is a great truth because once we see this truth, we can transcend it. ” I am not one who ponders, much less reads, many self-help books. Even so, this passage from The Road Less Traveled has stayed with me for many years. Life is difficult. It is something we may hear or be taught but until we experience it, the truth of it is not entirely obvious. Nonetheless, it is a universal human experience. The first reading for Sunday tells us of the maltreatment and oppression of our ancestors in faith. The Gospel recounts the temptation of Jesus in the desert. From the lowest born to the Son of God, tales of suffering are replete throughout the scriptures.

Yet the difficulties that are our lot are not the end of the story. The good news is that we are beloved. The psalmist enjoins us to pray, “Be with me Lord, when I am in trouble” not as a simple act of piety but as an instruction – for even in our darkest hours, through the grace of God, we must maintain hope that we can move from despair to happiness. It may not be quick or easy, but it is the promise of our faith in the God who is “Lord of all, enriching all who call upon Him.”

This Lent we are invited to reflect upon our failings and fears, not as an exercise in self-mortification, but rather in the belief that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the path to transcendence from pain, the way of salvation from suffering.

Questions for Reflection:

  • How do you cultivate faith in the midst of difficulty?
  • Have you ever experienced the grace of hope in a time of despair?

Igantian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, Part 20

Feb. 3, 2016 - We continue in “Week” two, accompanying Jesus on his public ministry. We pray for the graces of knowing him more intimately, loving him more intensely, and following him more closely.

Pray with either Luke 17:11-19 (the grateful leper) or Luke 10:38-42 (Martha and Mary).
Use your imagination to become part of the scene. In a colloquy, speak with Jesus or another person in the scene.
Ask for the grace to become more like the One who is the focus of our attention. Continue to be aware of the places in your life where you experience greater freedom and any in which you may still have “disordered attachments”.

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

Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, Part 19

Jan. 27, 2016 - We continue praying in the second “week”, or major phase, of the Exercises.
In recent weeks we heard Christ’s call to labor with him on mission, and we considered how Jesus went about his mission in poverty, humility and self-giving. We reflected on how interior freedom and commitment are necessary to follow Jesus more closely.
This week, we continue to pray for the graces of knowing Jesus more intimately, loving him more intensely and following him more closely. As we read and reflect on the scripture passage, ponder how Jesus loves – wholeheartedly, without condition, without consideration of personal cost of any kind.
Prayerfully read Luke 7:1-10, the cure of the centurion’s servant. Jesus loves by caring for the needs of people who come his way.  Notice how Jesus cares for the centurion and his servant. Bring your own needs to Jesus. Notice also how free the centurion is – a Roman soldier and non-Jew who is benevolent with his own authority and respectful of Jesus’ authority. What rises up in you as you contemplate this scene? Ask for the grace to love as Jesus did.
- Adapted from “The Ignatian Adventure” by Kevin O’Brien, SJ (Loyola Press).

Igantian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, Part 18

Jan. 20, 2016 - The retreatants continue praying in the second “week”, or major phase, of the Spiritual Exercises.  This week, they are reflecting on the call and cost of discipleship. 

Last week, in the Meditation on Two Standards, we experienced noble desires to serve and follow Christ in his simplicity of life, humility and selflessness.  This week, we grapple with the demands of discipleship.  In all our choices, we want to choose the “magis” - the path that brings glory to God and the salvation of our souls.  We pray for “indifference”, in which we are free enough from disordered loves and fears to respond wholeheartedly to God’s call.

This week, we pray for the following graces: to grow in interior freedom so that we are able to respond wholeheartedly to Christ’s invitation in our lives.

Prayerfully read Mark 10:17-31.

Imagine this scene.  Notice the rich man’s noble desires but also his lack of interior freedom because of his excessive attachments.  Look at Jesus looking upon him with love.  Hear Jesus’ words of encouragement to Peter and to you.  Ask: “what attachments or disordered loves are getting in the way of my responding to Christ’s invitation?"

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

Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, Part 17

Jan. 13, 2016 - Praying along with the retreatants of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, Part 17. The retreatants continue in the second “week”, or major phase, of the Exercises.

This week, the retreatants are praying with another key exercise: the Two Standards.  A standard, in the time of Ignatius, was a banner or flag under which the followers of a particular leader rallied. Ignatius asks us to consider the opposing tactics and values of Christ and Lucifer. We are asked to choose the banner under which we will stand.

In praying this meditation, we pray for the graces of an awareness of the enemy’s deceits and for courage in the face of them, as well as an understanding of Christ’s way of living and a desire to live that way.

In presenting this meditation, Ignatius uses the imagery of his time. Feel free to adapt that imagery to something more modern, if that helps you to enter into the prayer.

First imagine a great plain in the region of Jerusalem, where the supreme commander is Christ our Lord; then another plain in the region of Babylon, where the leader of the enemy is Lucifer.

Imagine the leader of the enemy seated on a throne of fire and smoke, in aspect horrible and terrifying.  Consider how he summons uncountable devils, and disperses some to one city and others to another, and thus throughout the whole world…

Consider the address he makes to them: how he admonishes them to set up snares and chains; how first they should tempt people to covet riches, so that they may more easily come to vain honor from the world, and finally to surging pride.  In this way, the first step is riches, the second is honor, and the third is pride, and from these 3 steps the enemy entices them to all the other vices.

In contrast, imagine the supreme and true leader, who is Christ our Lord.  Consider how Christ takes his place in that great plain near Jerusalem, in an area which is lowly, beautiful and attractive.

Consider how the Lord of all the world chooses so many persons, apostles, disciples, and the like.  He sends them throughout the whole world, to spread his doctrine among people of every state and condition.

Consider the address that Christ our Lord makes to all his servants and friends whom he is sending on this expedition.  He recommends that they endeavor to aid all persons, by attracting them, first, to the most perfect spiritual poverty and also, if the Divine Majesty should be served and should wish to choose them for it, even to no less a degree of actual poverty; and second, by attracting them to a desire of reproaches and contempt, since from these, humility results.

In this way there will be three steps: the first, poverty in opposition to riches; the second, reproaches or contempt in opposition to honor from the world; and the third, humility in opposition to pride. Then from these three steps they should induce people to all the other virtues.

For your prayerful reflection: How do I experience the two standards playing out in my own life or the world around me?  What role do riches and honors play in my life? What enslaves me? Where is the invitation to greater freedom in my life?

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

Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, Part 16

Jan. 8, 2016 - The retreatants continue in the second “week” of the Exercises. Currently, they are praying with the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. As we pray with these scripture passages, we use our imaginations to place ourselves in the scenes, as one of the participants or as a bystander. Do not be concerned about the historical accuracy of the details you supply – we are not reconstructing history.  Rather, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we are asking for the graces of knowing Jesus more intimately, loving him more dearly and following him more closely.
Prayerfully read Matthew 4: 1-11.  Be with Jesus as he is tempted in the desert.  Talk with him about his experience.  Realize that Jesus sympathizes with us in our weaknesses, because he experienced temptation, though without sin.
Remember that Jesus was fully human as well as fully divine.  Don’t gloss over his humanity as he deals with these temptations.  To do so is to undermine the central meaning of the Incarnation.

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