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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

Finding the Presence of God Palpable

Many have heard the Jesuit and Ignatian motto of Finding God in All Things. I find this phrase both a challenge and a delight. When faced with anger over the closing of a ministry, for instance, I have to ask God to help me. Where is the face of God? Often the presence of God is in plain view, as in the heart felt thanks of an employee who received a bonus allowing a visit home to family. I am focused on the angry face, not on the voice offering gratitude. Can I allow God to reveal both the grace (gratitude) and the desire (healing and reconciliation)? The habit of the Examen has helped prepare me.


Then there are those wondrous moments when I easily see the glory of God. I have recently taken scuba lessons (that's me on the right). When I arrive on the ocean floor I can grapple with equipment and protocols. Then I will see a school of fish, or some spectacular specimen, and find myself in awe. My new "lows" have become treasured peak moments in savoring the hand of the Creator.


Where and when do you find the presence of God palpable?


Ed Quinnan, S.J.
Director of Formation
The Jesuit Collaborative

Honoring the Past, Looking to the Future

July 31, 2013 - Fr. Vin Ritchie, SJ celebrating the last mass in the chapel at the Inisfada Retreat House.

The Feast of St. Ignatius, 2013, brought with it the closing of Inisfada, the Jesuit retreat house that graced the north shore of Long Island for many decades. Through the generosity of Genevieve Brady, who following the death of her husband, Nicholas, bestowed the magnificent mansion upon the Society of Jesus in 1937, Jesuits have used the idyllic space to bring faith and spirituality to the masses.

On this day, staff and friends of Inisfada gathered to celebrate the Feast of St. Ignatius in what was once Inisfada's chapel. Now a space stripped bare of pews and sacramentals, it is sacred still, simply because it had been home to so many pilgrims and so many prayers throughout the years.

Vin Ritchie, SJ stood before the stone altar, the only remnant of the chapel still standing, and used the words of former Jesuit priest and theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, SJ to remind us that the Spiritual Exercises invite us to share Christ's path, as Jesus invited the disciples to share his path. The Jesuit lectionary suggests John 1: 35 - 39 as one gospel for their founder's feast day. Jesus was passing by when the disciples asked, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” to which Christ responds, “Come and see.”

In his reflection on St. Ignatius, von Balthasar writes “Jesus was passing by, and Ignatius emphasizes that Jesus is not stationed somewhere, but rather, is always passing by.” Von Balthasar goes on to say that “this is not just something that happened back then, nor is it merely a model, but it is exactly the same thing that happens today, in the here and now...”

Although von Balthasar penned these thoughts more than 50 years ago, his words are timeless. Here we are, well into the 21st century, realizing that even as retreat houses close, the mission continues. Jesus provided a model of mobile ministry, as von Balthasar points out. He had no place to rest his head. He was always passing by, meeting people where they were, not unlike Ignatius and his early followers. With fewer large retreat houses to offer retreatants a place to rest their heads, maybe we are being invited to ‘come and see’ in a new and different way.

As the world changes, so, too, ministry must change to meet the needs of a more mobile society. Pope Francis reminded his fellow Jesuits in a Mass celebrated with them in the Church of the Gesù in Rome on July 31, 2013, “to ask oneself with truth and sincerity: ‘What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What must I do for Christ?’” (cf. Sp. Ex. 53). It seems we are being called to be more mobile, more creative and more imaginative in ministry. May our efforts be blessed by St. Ignatius and all Jesuit saints, who Pope Francis called upon today to continue to teach us to do all things ad majorem Dei gloriam.

Pat McDonough
Ministry Coordinator for New York
The Jesuit Collaborative

Papal Interview, Papal History - Revisited

Pope Francis made history last week by giving an exclusive interview to just a handful of Jesuit publications around the world. He shared some amazing insights with all of us, and so we decided to ask TJC staff members and friends to share what most struck them.


Kevin O’Brien, Director of Ignatian Partners:

What really struck me was Francis' directness and humility, his willingness to be frank about what he sees as weakness and mistakes, both his own and those of the church. This really speaks to his grounding in the Exercises and the self knowledge and openness that comes with doing the Examen regularly.


Regarding the Church, one line that jumped out at me was, "…the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives." It seems to me that what attracts people to Christ and the Church isn't usually a list of rules, but rather it is an attraction to the love of God and the community that forms around this love. People then come to understand that moral and religious imperatives exist to support and strengthen the community. Overall, I am very hopeful that with Francis' leadership we can develop a new way of dialogue around the neuralgic issues that exist in the Church.


Jim Conroy, SJ, Executive Director:

"Christian hope is not a ghost and it does not deceive. It is a theological virtue and therefore, ultimately, a gift from God that cannot be reduced to optimism, which is only human. God does not mislead hope; God cannot deny himself. God is all promise."


When I am discouraged with myself, our church, and our country and edging toward a despair, to be reminded of the power of hope raises the temporary confinement of darkness. Pope Francis is a leader who discerns the presence of the living God and points with simplicity and directness. I am more hopeful.


Anthony Compagnone, TJC Board of Directors:

"Our life is not given to us like an opera libretto, in which all is written down; but it means going, walking, doing, searching, seeing... We must enter into the adventure of the quest for meeting God; we must let God search and encounter us."


My reaction: From his jaw-dropping opening, "I am a sinner," to his gentle musings on literature and the arts, the interview with Pope Francis left me feeling instant affection for this humane and hopeful servant of God, and proud once again to be Catholic.


Sr. Clare Walsh, Director of Programs:

"You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God."


This Pope has a big God! I am excited and heartened by his challenge to enlarge the lens through which we view God, the world, and the church. I feel hopeful!


E.J. Quinnan SJ, Director of Programs, New York:

"Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself ...."


In these words of Pope Francis, I hear a call for the Collaborative to bring Ignatian spirituality to all who hunger. Francis validates our discernment to move past our walls, into communities who thirst for a deeper life of prayer. He goes on to warn that this "takes audacity and courage.” May we be bold!


Bob Cunningham, Director for Advancement:

"I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else—God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”


Witnessing to the creative power of the Holy Spirit active in every person. Preaching love and mercy for all. Challenging assumptions and existing structures. Calling for more prayerful discernment and a new way of proceeding. Pope Francis is doing these things. Reminds me of someone I know from Nazareth.


Mary Tracy, Director of Contemplative Leaders in Action:

Every time I read the interview or sections of it I take away something new, something to reflect on and bring to prayer. I am alternately challenged, humbled, inspired or filled with gratitude. Today the passage that speaks to me is the following:


"I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the ground up."  This is a reminder for me always to try to meet people where they are.


What was your favorite part of the Pope’s interview? Head over to our Facebook Page and let us know!

Jesus, the Compassion of God.

Advent is just around the corner and we are reminded that once again we are waiting patiently for miracle. As Americans immersed in our consumer culture, we aren’t too comfortable with concepts like, “waiting” and “patience”. Even more so, as educated post-Moderns, “miracle” is a troublesome concept for most of us. This may make it more difficult for people today to get beyond that word miracle and focus on the end result it is pointing to, the divine entering into the world as one of us.

But why would this happen? How does this make any sense? It doesn’t make sense if we are using the logic of the mind. It can only be understood by the logic of the heart. One of the books I often turn to in grappling with this is Jesus Before Christianity by Albert Nolan, OP. I recently reread it since it is part of the curriculum of TJC’s Magis Program. The book explains very well the context of the world in which Jesus lived and worked, often helping us to understand some of the more confusing passages in the Gospels. But more than that, it is his description of Jesus as the “Compassion of God” connects the dots for me. 

In Jesus, God pointedly identifies with those on the outside of society – the poor and those on the margins. Why would the Church proclaim a “preferential option for the poor”? Why would Pope Francis desire us to be a “church of the poor”? Because we are to be a people of compassion, with Jesus himself as the model of compassionate servant. Jesus breaks down societal barriers, Jesus sees, touches and heals without regard to status. Jesus seeks out those on the margins. 

And his stories were absurd. Inviting the people on the streets into a banquet when the original guests don’t show up? Putting a herd of 99 sheep in danger by leaving them unprotected to search out the one that was missing? Not only stopping to care for an injured man who was from an “unclean” people, but paying for his care? Only by using the logic of the heart does this make any sense. Once, while teaching 7th grade religion, I was asked by a student why God would show a preference for the poor? (Or anybody, for that matter?) Didn’t God love everyone? Another student responded before I had a chance to say anything. She pointed out that, unlike we who have resources and supportive families, the poor don’t have anyone else to stick up for them. Sure God loves all equally, but God sticks up for those in need. She nailed it.

So this Advent, I will still struggle with waiting and patience, but I will hopefully be better prepared to welcome the compassion of God into the world once again. I just need to get my head out of the way and let my heart do the work.

Kevin O'Brien
Director, Ignatian Partners

El Modo de Proceder de la Encarnación

(For English, click here.)

La Segunda Semana de los Ejercicios se abre con la Contemplación de la Encarnación (EE 101-109). Esta contemplación tiene como objetivo profundizar en el conocimiento de Cristo, para así amarle más y, en definitiva, seguirle más. Nos presenta a Cristo como “el enviado” para realizar la “redención” del género humano.

¿Qué dice Ignacio? Ignacio invita al ejercitante a pensar y meditar en cómo la Trinidad decide el envío de Jesús, la Segunda Persona, a salvar al mundo. Por eso mismo, esta contemplación nos adentra en el modo de proceder de Dios.

Se nos dice que las Tres Personas oyen y ven la diversidad del mundo, el pecado, el dolor de las personas, y las consecuencias de todo esto. Al final deciden, usando palabras de Ignacio, “hacer redención del género humano”.

¿Cómo procede Dios? En este tiempo de Adviento podemos considerar dos cosas:

(1) Dios está pendiente de su creación.

Cuando las tres personas deliberan y deciden “hacer redención” no parecen sentir rabia por el pecado del mundo, sino más bien dolor por las personas que sufren sus efectos.

Nuestro Dios no es un dios que nos deja solos después de habernos creado, sino que hace todo lo posible para mantenerse en relación con nosotros. Y cuando rompemos la armonía de las relaciones con Dios, los demás y la tierra, se nos envía como regalo al mismo Dios. Jesús, “la segunda persona”, viene a restaurar y sanar la armonía rota por el pecado individual y social.

(2) Estamos invitados a mirar el mundo con la misma mirada de Dios.

Las “tres personas”, como decíamos, se duelen al ver la guerra, el llanto, las divisiones, enfermedades y muerte.

La mirada ignaciana del mundo es realista. Nuestro modo de proceder está arraigado en la realidad, no en un mundo “de lo posible”. No podemos ignorar el mal. Está constantemente asediándonos en nuestras familias, trabajos, países, comunidades, etc.

Pero, como en la Encarnación, estamos invitados a salvar lo que se está perdiendo. Nuestros corazones se duelen al ver los frutos del pecado, personal y social. Somos enviados a servir en misión a un mundo necesitado de sanación.

Ojalá que en estas semanas de adviento podamos entrar en el espíritu de esta contemplación. A fin de cuentas, en todo lo que hacemos buscamos conocer más a Jesús, para así amarle y seguirle más en el mundo. Es nuestro modo de proceder.

-Carlos Aedo
Director for Hispanic Ministry


The Incarnation and the Way of Proceeding

The Second Week of the Exercises opens with the Contemplation of the Incarnation (SE 101-109). This contemplation aims to deepen the knowledge of Christ, to love him more and ultimately, to follow him more . It presents Christ as the one "sent" for the "redemption" of the human race.

What is Ignatius saying here? Ignatius invites the one making the exercises to ponder how the Trinity decides to send Jesus, the Second Person, to save the world. This is the reason why I think this contemplation takes us into God’s way of proceding.

We are told that the Three Persons hear and see the diversity of the world, the sin, the pain of the people and the consequences of all this, ultimately deciding, using words of Ignatius, "let us work the redemption of the human race.”

How does God proceed? In this season of Advent we can consider two things :

(1) God is awaiting creation.

When the Three Persons deliberate and decide "work redemption”, they do not seem to feel angry about the sin of the world, but rather pain for people who suffer its effects.

Our God is not a god to leave us alone after having created us, but makes every effort to keep in touch with us. And when we break the harmony of relationships with God, others and the earth, we are sent the gift of God. Jesus, "the Second Person" comes to heal and restore the harmony broken by the individual and social sin of humanity.

(2) We are invited to see the world through the eyes of God.

The "Three Persons”, as mentioned, see the pain of war, crying, divisions, disease and death.

The Ignatian view of the world is realistic. Our way of proceeding is rooted in reality, not in a world that might be possible. We cannot ignore the sin, brokenness and division. We are constantly reminded of the consequences of sin in our families, jobs, countries, communities, etc.

But just like with the Incarnation, we are invited to save what is lost. Our hearts break to see the fruits of personal and social sin. We are sent in God’s mission to be healers and serve a world in need of healing.

Hopefully, in these weeks of Advent we can enter into the spirit of this contemplation. After all, in everything we do we seek to know Jesus, to love and follow him more closely in the world. And this is our way of proceeding.

-Carlos Aedo
Director for Hispanic Ministry

A New Year’s Restlessness

As a native New Yorker (even though I’ve transplanted to Boston and swapped team allegiances, if not my accent), I can be a bit skeptical, not easily fazed, and sometimes have a “seen that, been there, done it all” kind of mentality. Nonetheless, the dawning of a New Year can be somewhat unsettling, even for this hard-edged New Yawker.

Looking back over the past year and ahead to the coming one can cause restlessness. Sometimes, restlessness can be a surface thing, like feeling anxious about having too much to do. Sometimes, it’s deeper, like feeling I don’t know where I’m going or wondering if there is something “more” that I can or should be doing with my life. At the start of a new year, that deeper kind of restlessness can increase.

In his homily at a Mass giving thanks for the new Jesuit Saint Peter Faber, Pope Francis said that Faber was a “restless” man of “lofty desires” and that it is restlessness that prepares us to receive the gift of apostolic fruitfulness, that without restlessness we are sterile. His words made me feel not just okay about being restless, but good. It also made me feel like maybe I should spend more time praying with my desires.

In speaking about the Church, the Pope said its strength is not in its organizational abilities but rather is “concealed in the deep waters of God” that “agitate our desires”, which in turn “expand our hearts.”

St. Ignatius emphasized the importance of what he called “holy desires”, desiring great things for ourselves. That connects with his concept of the “Magis,” Latin for “more,” not necessarily doing more, but in going deeper and focusing on the quality of what we do.

When we make the effort to go deep inside ourselves, there is likely to be some turbulence along the way, but we have the opportunity to connect with our innermost desires. In his prayer, Patient Trust, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ states that, “… it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability”. Through that process, we find that our deepest desires are God’s desires for us.

There is a lot of talk about resolutions around New Year’s. Lose weight. Get organized. Learn something exciting. And so on. They sound good, I suppose, but I’ve never had much luck keeping any of them. So I’m not making one this year. Instead, I’m just going to be cool with my restlessness and see where that leads me.

Maybe it will help bring the “more” of my life into sharper focus. In any case, I’m hoping that at least it will help me feel better about the unsettledness of the NFL playoff season. Go Pats! Actually, I’ll go even deeper with my desires. Go Pope Francis!

-Bob Cunningham
Director of Advancement, TJC

To read the Pope’s homily, visit:

For more on the Pope’s homily, visit:

For more on St. Peter Faber, see this article from the NCR Online by former TJC Board Member, Chris Lowney: