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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

El Miércoles de Ceniza

Hoy empezamos la santa jornada de Cuaresma, un tiempo sagrado del año litúrgico en que nos preparamos para la fiesta de la Pascua. Pasamos estos 40 y más días (si uno los cuenta se notará que hay algunos más que 40) de retiro espiritual con oración, ayuno y limosna. Estos son los signos externos que nos recuerdan nuestra dependencia de Dios y nuestro llamado a ser el amor de Dios que transforma el mundo. Esta temporada nos invita a examinar nuestras creencias, decisiones y acciones y entonces pensar en cómo ellas no sólo afecta nuestras vidas sino las vidas de los que nos rodean. Estamos invitados a escuchar y responder de una manera más intenso que en "el tiempo ordinario".

Debemos darnos cuenta de los lugares donde hemos errado el tiro. Unirnos a las personas con las cuales no estamos conectados. Ser compasivos y presencia sanadora para nuestro prójimo. Por medio de estos encuentros podremos encontrarnos más en comunión con Dios mientras participamos activamente en la transformación de nuestro mundo. Este tiempo de la Cuaresma nos invita a vivir, de manera concreta y verdadera el llamado de San Ignacio a ser contemplativos en acción.

¿En qué partes de su vida está Ud. llamado/a a sanar y crear comunión? ¿Cómo le invita el Espíritu Santo a “encender el mundo con el amor de Dios”?

-Lisa Buscher, RSCJ

Ash Wednesday

Today we begin the holy journey of Lent, a sacred time set in the Church year to prepare for the Easter Feast. We spend these 40+ days (a few extra for those who are counting) of spiritual retreat in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving - outward signs that point toward our dependence on God and our call to be God’s transformative love in the world. 

In this season we are invited to look at our beliefs, decisions and actions and how they affect not only our personal lives, but also the lives of others. We are challenged to listen and respond in a way beyond “ordinary time.” To notice the places where we have missed the mark, to build unity with those whom we find the least connection, to be the healing presence of compassion for another; and through these encounters, to be drawn ever more deeply into communion with God as we participate in the active transformation of our world. This Lenten time invites us to live in a very real and concrete way Ignatius’ call to be contemplatives in action.  

So where are the spaces you are being called to heal and create communion?  And how is the Holy Spirit inviting you to “go forth and set the world on fire?”


- Lisa Buscher, RSCJ

Long Conversations

Thirst by Mary Oliver
Another morning and I wake with thirst
for the goodness I do not have.
I walk out to the pond and all the way
God has given us such beautiful lessons.
Oh Lord, I was never a quick scholar
but sulked and hunched over my books
past the hour and the bell;
grant me, in your mercy, a little more time.
Love for the earth and love for you
are having such a long conversation in my heart.
Who knows what will finally happen
or where I will be sent, yet already
I have given a great many things away,
expecting to be told to pack nothing,
except the prayers which, with this thirst,
I am slowly learning.


A while back I found this poem on retreat or should I say it found me. It is the Epilogue in Mary Oliver’s book Thirst. The line that leapt off the page was “love for the earth and love for you (God) are having such a long conversation in my heart,” and I spent hours pondering, praying with, and even painting the “long conversation” in my heart.


The Lenten journey is full of such heart conversations. It is a time set apart each year when we retreat into the desert and thirst for God and the things of God. So, what is having a long conversation in your heart this Lent? What are the “ long conversations” you are desiring or God is desiring for/with you? As we listen/contemplate and then act on these “long conversations,” may we be inspired to become God’s healing presence of love in our broken-hearted world.

- Lisa Buscher, RSCJ

A God of Surprises

Yesterday, March 13, 2013 a Papal conclave elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the 266th Pope.  Francis, the name chosen to honor Francis of Assisi, a saint revered by Ignatius and Jesuits for his love and simplicity, is the first Jesuit selected as pope. It is unusual for a Jesuit to be selected as bishop.  This election is a surprise.
As at the time of the founding of the Society in 1540, the church faces many issues throughout the world.   Challenges are not new.   Francis, formed by the Spiritual Exercises, is a man with a discerning spirit and selected by the same Holy Spirit to lead the church.  “Who can know the ways of God?”
With the election of Pope Francis, The Jesuit Collaborative renews its commitment to helping to meet the deep spiritual hunger of so many people.  Joining with Christians world wide, let us use what remains of this Lent to pray and fast for the intentions of the Pope and the needs of all the people of God.  
Ad majorem Dei gloriam (AMDG).  All for the greater glory of God. 

Un Dios de Sorpresas

Ayer, martes 13 de marzo de 2013, el Cónclave Papal eligió a Jorge Mario Bergoglio S.J., Arzobispo de Buenos Aires en Argentina, como el papa numero 266. Francisco, nombre elegido en honor a San Francisco de Asís y un santo reverenciado por Ignacio y los jesuitas por su amor y sencillez, es el primer jesuita elegido papa. Es inusual para un jesuita convertirse en Obispo. Esta elección ha sido una sorpresa.

Tal como durante la fundación de la Compañía de Jesús en 1540, la Iglesia tiene muchos desafíos en todo el mundo. Estos desafíos no son nuevos. Francisco, formado en los Ejercicios Espirituales, es un hombre de discernimiento que ha sido elegido por el Espíritu Santo para guiar nuestra Iglesia. “¿Quién puede conocer los caminos de Dios?”
Con la elección del Papa Francisco, la Colaborativa Jesuita renueva su compromiso para ayudar a hombres y mujeres a saciar su profunda hambre espiritual. Junto a los cristianos de todo el mundo, aprovechemos lo que queda de esta Cuaresma para rezar y ayunar por las intenciones del Papa y las necesidades de todo el pueblo de Dios.
Ad majorem Dei gloriam (AMDG).  A la Mayor Gloria de Dios. 

Praying and Fasting with the New Pope and the Church

In 2009, John Allen, who reports for the National Catholic Report wrote a book titled, The Future Church in which he suggested the strong possibility of the next pope coming from the Southern Hemisphere; Africa, South America or Asia.  In the same book he said a third world pope would likely shift priorities.
Allen correctly identifies the emphasis of care for the poor.  Pope Francis is fond of saying out loud, “he wants a poor church to be with the poor”.  His namesake is Francis of Assisi renowned for his simplicity and love for the poor.  St. Francis bares a heart full of love beyond what most humans will risk. 
The first Hispanic Pope is from financially ravished demonstrably poor Argentina. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Francis, archbishop of Buenos Aires, washed and kissed the feet of men and women with AIDS and drug addiction.   
This election guided by the Holy Spirit points to the great energy and faith of our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters.  It must seem like liberation for all to be led to a new future as a faith community to the anthem of Juntos Como Hermanos (together as brothers/sisters). Spanish is the language of the mystics, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Ignatius of Loyola.  And Francis has made the Spiritual Exercises at least twice, almost certainly the first pope to do so. 
Clearly God is doing something new.   Third world priest, love for the poor, the language of mystics, the Spiritual Exercises, a member of a religious order, a pope that laughs and smiles, a pope that wears black shoes and pays his own bills, who rides on buses not limos.  And Glory be to God, did I mention, Francis is a Jesuit!  What in the name of heavens is going on?  He could be a challenge to all of us.  So what do you think?  What does Jesus say to you?  What do you want to ask God for?
When both a new pope and the reading from scripture point to the same thing, I wonder if there isn’t here an invitation to enter more deeply in to the focus of scripture and Francis.  
For Ignatius, fasting is strategic.  It comes as an effort to intensify prayer and purify the thing desired.  What would it be like during this last week of Lent if we did a day of fasting asking God to let our hearts grow in love for people who are poor?  
Remember the words of scripture.  
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.”
- Isaiah 58: 6-8
Consider a day of fasting between now and Easter.  
Orient it to do what God wants to do with this Church.
Reflect on the words of the new pope.
Notice how your heart is drawn to see what Jesus sees. 
Ask for what you want.
- Excerpted from an Ignatian Lenten Meditation delivered by Jim Conroy, SJ in Charlotte, NC, March 19, 2013

Orar y Ayunar con el Nuevo Papa y la Iglesia

En el año 2009, John Allen, que escribe para el periódico “National Catholic Reporter”, escribió un libro titulado “The Future Church” (La Iglesia del Futuro), en donde señala la cierta posibilidad de que el nuevo papa provenga del hemisferio sur: Latinoamérica, Africa o Asia. También sugiere que un papa que provenga de esta región podría cambiar las prioridades de la Iglesia universal.

Allen identifica correctamente el énfasis en el cuidado por los pobres. El Papa Francisco no teme en decir que quiere que la Iglesia sea “pobre y para los pobres”. El nombre que eligió es Francisco de Asís, conocido por su sencillez y amor por los pobres. San Francisco poseía un corazón lleno de amor que lo llevó a actuar más allá de lo que cualquier ser humano podía arriesgar.

El primer Papa Hispano proviene de un país pobre y convulsionado. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Francisco, Arzobispo de Buenos Aires, lavó y besó los pies de hombres y mujeres contagiados de Sida y de adictos a las drogas.

Esta elección, guiada por el Espíritu Santo, nos recuerda la gran energía y fe de nuestros hermanos y hermanas que hablan español. Debemos considerar una gran liberación ser guiados hacia el futuro como comunidad de fe cantando “Juntos como Hermanos”. El español es el lenguaje de los místicos: Teresa de Ávila, Juan de la Cruz, Ignacio de Loyola. Francisco, además, ha hecho los Ejercicios Espirituales de mes por lo menos dos veces. Quizás es el primer papa que lo ha hecho.

Claramente Dios está haciendo algo nuevo. Un sacerdote del “tercer mundo”… amor por los pobres… lenguaje de los místicos… los Ejercicios Espirituales… un miembro de una comunidad religiosa… un papa que sonríe y se ríe… un papa que usa zapatos negros y paga sus cuentas… un papa que toma un bus y no una limusina… Y, Gloria a Dios, ¿acaso mencioné que Francisco es Jesuita? ¿Qué está pasando? Francisco puede, sin duda, desafiarnos. ¿Qué piensa usted? ¿Qué cree que Dios le está diciendo? ¿Qué le quiere pedir a Dios?

Cuando la elección de un nuevo papa y las lecturas de la Biblia apuntan hacia lo mismo, ¿no cree que es una invitación para todos a adentrarnos en el sentido de las escrituras y en el significado de la elección de Francisco?

Para Ignacio, el ayuno es estratégico. Es un esfuerzo para intensificar la oración y purificar lo que uno quiere. ¿Cómo cree que resultaría un día, durante lo que queda de Cuaresma, para ayunar pidiéndole a Dios que nuestro corazón crezca en amor por los pobres?

Recordemos las palabras de la Biblia…

El ayuno que he escogido, ¿no es más bien romper las cadenas de injusticia y desatar las correas del yugo, poner en libertad a los oprimidos y romper toda atadura? ¿No es acaso el ayuno compartir tu pan con el hambriento y dar refugio a los pobres sin techo, vestir al desnudo y no dejar de lado a tus semejantes? Si así procedes, tu luz despuntará como la aurora, y al instante llegará tu santidad; tu justicia te abrirá el camino, y la gloria del Señor te seguirá.
-Isaías 58,6-8


¿Qué hacer?

  • Considere un día de ayuno entre hoy y Pascua y vea qué nos está pidiendo Dios para nuestra Iglesia.
  • Reflexione en las palabras del nuevo Papa.
  • Note cómo su corazón es conducido a ver como Jesús ve.
  • Pida por lo que usted necesite.


(Extracto de una Meditación de Cuaresma del P. Jim Conroy S.J., Director Ejecutivo de la Colaborativa Jesuita en Charlotte NC, 19 de marzo de 2013).


The World Is Charged With The Grandeur Of God

Spring is slow in coming to New England, and so we here in Boston take special delight in the arrival of warm sun, blue sky, and brightly colored trees and flowers. But this spring has been marred. TJC’s Boston office is just a block and a half away from where the Boston Marathon bombings occurred. It is as if a smoky screen has been pulled down over our eyes. Our hearts are broken. Still, the promises of Easter and of springtime offer hope.

As I was cleaning out the Christmas pines from the window boxes on my house recently, I lifted the one closest to my front door and out flew a bird. Realizing that I had disturbed its nest, I left it alone.

I’m an amateur birder, and this time of year is especially good for watching the backyard feeder. The birds are migrating with the winter birds going and summer birds coming: juncos, cardinals, jays, titmice, chickadees (the state bird of Massachusetts), wrens, woodpeckers, creepers, finches, and many more. They are lovely to behold. The one in my window box is a Carolina Wren, which despite its name is a year-round resident in this area.

The Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God”, which captures a central theme of Ignatian Spirituality: that God is at work everywhere, in our work and in our play, in our relationships, in the splendor of nature and the ordinary of everyday life, in our joys and in our sorrows.

In the coming days, I will be waiting and watching expectantly for the egg in my window box to hatch and to hear the chirpity, chirpity, chirpity, chirp of a baby wren. I also will be waiting and watching expectantly for the love of God to fill the cracks of my and our city’s broken heart because I believe with Hopkins in the continual renewing power of God’s creation, as he testified when he wrote:

And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
   World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

         - Excerpted from God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ


- Bob Cunningham


It Just Doesn't Seem Possible

Spring has rolled out its waves of beautiful flowers, bushes and trees – crocuses, pansies, forsythia, daffodils, tulips, irises, azaleas, and now the rhododendron. In my yard, the weeping cherry, miniature pear, and crab apple trees blossomed in quick succession, life emerging from bare branches, bursting color into the sky, with petals floating in the wind and trailing to the ground in the twinkling afterglow.


The liturgical year springs forth in similar fashion with Lent emerging slowly from hard earthen ash, building toward Holy Week and exploding in the pyrotechnics of the Easter climax. In the radiant light of Eastertide, our eyes open in disbelief as we witness a succession of spectacular events, Jesus appearing to his disciples, the Ascension, and Pentecost, fire descending and covering the earth.


It just doesn’t seem possible … life … death … resurrection. Cold death is transformed into warm, breathing, thriving life. After all that has happened, it is hard to recognize, much less accept. How is this possible? It is too … beautiful! And yet, life is before us even after we blink in amazement and to make sure we are not dreaming. And there is more to come.


My lawn is in its full glory now, growing fast, deep green, full of vitality. Soon, the day lilies will blossom. All that is needed now is to feed the roots – regular watering for the roots of the plants, and regular prayer for the roots of our souls – for we know that the doldrums of summer and of life will come, and we need to stay fresh and well nourished.


- Bob Cunningham

Finding God Beyond The Boundaries

I've always been skeptical of any movement or initiative in the church that hasn’t started out being suspected of heresy. Perhaps it’s my affinity for St. Ignatius, who was offered the opportunity to discuss his thoughts on God with the Holy Inquisition. It just seems to me that if we aren’t bumping up against boundaries and the status quo we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to encounter God and God’s creation in new and profound ways. Recently Pope Francis, whose namesake’s teachings and lifestyle were also regarded as suspect at first, has made some headlines for remarks he has made in some of his homilies. He has urged the people of the church to go to the margins. That is nothing new, really. His predecessor Benedict indicated that going to the margins was a particular charism of the Jesuits, Pope Francis’ own religious community. What was different, however, was Francis’ comment that, if you are questioned by church doctrinal authorities, don’t worry, shake it off and move on.  This illustrates the tension between the comfort and certainty of what we know and the confusion and uncertainty of discovering God in new places and in new ways.

It is the human condition to want to stay in a safe space, to go with what is known and comfortable. Without this drive for safety and security, our species would not have gotten this far. But there also exists in us a drive to explore, to understand things more deeply, to push the boundaries of what we know and are comfortable with. Without this drive we would not have progressed much as a species either.  I find this is true for me as well. My world can get too comfortable, too certain. Boundaries of comfort can become walls that lock me in. And when that happens, everything on the outside can seem frightening and dangerous. I am called to step out beyond my comfort zone to encounter Christ in the world in ways I might not even understand at the moment. I am called to be of service to people who are alien to me, who make me uncomfortable, but who just might be able to bring me closer to God.

Sure, sometimes we may end up going down a path that ends up not being helpful or productive. When that happens it’s time to back up and reorient. That is to be expected and is a valuable learning experience in itself. I am fond of the notion that, if we haven’t made a mistake, we haven’t tried hard enough. We don’t know the limits of what is possible until we bump up against those limits. I can’t let my fear or laziness build a nice comfortable box for me. I’d rather take the bruises that come with venturing into the unknown in search of the divine than remain enveloped in comfortable certainty. Remember, God meets us just where we are, but loves us too much to leave us there!