Did I have my own cannonball moment, a turning point in my spiritual life that marked the beginning of real change? I might want to dwell on it in gratitude and wonder.
Jesuit reflections – Blog Posts
Pilgrims are those who move beyond the place they have reached towards a new destination. Not because they are not happy with where they have reached, but because they discover in their hearts this deep desire to go beyond themselves, seeking to discover and do God’s will more fully. We discover that this is what really fills our hearts.
St Igmatius learnt that rather than performing great exterior deeds, he should take care of his heart, seeking to grow in interior freedom to be able to discover and do God’s will.
Ignatius invites us to conversion through a progressive ordering of our life in freedom. But according to which principle are we to order our lives?
Ignatius believes that contemplating Jesus in his humanity, spending a long time just looking at what he did, listening to what he said and seeing how he interacted with others in the gospel scenes, is the royal road to conversion. I will always find something from which I can draw profit, and I will discover that my prayer to know and love him more is being answered.
His conversion led Ignatius to found the Jesuit order which he immediately put at the disposal of the Pope, to be sent where the need was greatest. He was convinced that love ought to find its expression in deeds more than in words, for it actually consists in mutual sharing [SpEx 231]. We will show our love for God by loving and serving him in our neighbour.
A new set of reflections for Lent 2021. The theme: ‘Be Reconciled’. This cry for reconciliation is an appeal valid for all times, but these months of pandemic have made us even more aware of how urgent it is in our own times.
I pray not to be deaf to this call, to be given a heart that is sensitive to so much division and suffering around me. I pray to resist the temptation to look away.
God has already made you his friend without looking at your behaviour. Become yourself the ambassador of Christ and carry this powerful message to others.
(Traduzione in italiano ed albanese in fondo alla pagina) Be Reconciled  – Let us dream of a more reconciled world after covid Let us dream is the title of Pope Francis’ latest book: a remarkable work for its 150 pages. The pope challenges us to dream of a more just world as the present…
The trust God has in us always leaves us astounded: Jesus does not make us mere subordinates, he shares his own mission with us. ‘As the Father sends me, I also send you.’
Forgiveness can be a very complex process, taking place on many levels, and needs time. It is much more than a decision, yet our will to forgive or not makes all the difference.
How many conflicts drag on and on because we do not take the step to purify our memories! How many families live in mutual resentment for mistakes or injustices committed a long time ago!
He took the breaking down of walls of hostility very seriously: he proclaimed that the Father sends sun and rain on everyone, good or bad; he praised the Samaritan as more capable of dealing with his neighbour in need than the priest and the levite. He said there is more rejoicing in heaven for one sinner who changes their ways than for ninety-nine who do not need to (or think they do not need).
Be Reconciled  – ‘I absolve you of your sins’ In his book, The Name of God is Mercy, Pope Francis tells the story of a Capuchin priest in Buenos Aires, who went to see his bishop, Cardinal Bergoglio, for advice. He told him, ‘I need your help. I always have so many people at…
Like the sacrament of penance, the Eucharist too is closely linked to reconciliation.
Be Reconciled  – The cry of the Earth is the cry of the poor: be reconciled with creation In Laudato Sii, his encyclical about the environment, Pope Francis argues that the ecological crisis is at the same time a social crisis: those who suffer most the effects of climate change and environmental degradation are…
I take time to realise that all this is for me, out of pure love. I recall the words of St Paul that have accompanied us throughout this Lent, that, ‘All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.’
He loved them to the end, no greater love is possible: I can only stay and worship in deep wonder, asking to know how to accept this great offer, and take it to others.
Every human death is a window into the great mystery of our existence and its meaning, and so is the death of Jesus. His last words are, ‘It is completed’, a regal statement that he had fulfilled in everything the mission given to him by the Father, to reconcile the world to himself.
In the presence of the Risen Jesus I pray with renewed confidence for our shattered world, for us Christians, so divided among ourselves because so often we seek to be served and not to serve. May we know how to tell the world that God has forgiven our sins and offers us the great gift of peace.
This year’s Advent blog will be inspired by Pope Francis’ ‘Fratelli Tutti’, on fraternity and social friendship. We have called our blog ‘Stepping Beyond’, which is what the Pope is inviting us to do: let us step beyond our usual spaces, let us imagine a world where we are all brothers and sisters, friends even, and let us commit ourselves to bring it closer.
Unfortunately, in our world this ideal of belonging to a single human family is fading. On the contrary, while equality is enshrined in solemn documents that claim to fashion our relationships, in practice we are encouraged to stress our differences rather than what we share.
Only one person stopped, approached the man and cared for him personally, even spending his own money to provide for his needs. He also gave him something that in our frenetic world we cling to tightly: he gave him his time.
Migration puts to the test our conviction that all human beings are not only equal but brothers and sisters.
We need the challenge of what is happening in other places, openness to enrichment by other cultures, solidarity for the tragedies affecting other peoples.
Would you spontaneously connect politics and love? You would more probably link it to power and its abuse, polarisation, corruption, selfishness. Yet Fratelli tutti, in continuity with Catholic social teaching, speaks of political love.
On Christmas night the angels proclaimed peace to all those of good will, not only to those of a particular religion. And God chose the wise men from the East to bring the news to Jerusalem that the king of the Jews was born.
(Traduzione in italiano ed albanese in fondo alla pagina)  – Stepping beyond: With Mary on our way to Bethlehem The year 2020 will be a year we will never forget, full of surprises, mostly unwelcome: the world feels unrecognisable from what it was last January. For Mary too, as she journeys towards Bethlehem, the…
(Traduzione in italiano ed albanese in fondo alla pagina)  – Stepping beyond the crib into today’s messy world What better way to pray on Christmas day than taking some time to look at the scene of the birth of Jesus? You can take the image on a Christmas card, or spend time before the…
This year we would like to propose something that might sound different, but which is actually in the true Lenten spirit. Ecological conversion – Our invitation to you is to reflect and act on what may be the ultimate challenge of humankind.
(Traduzione in italiano ed albanese in fondo alla pagina) Ecological conversion: Why should I change?  – But what is conversion? Conversion can be one of those tricky words we often use without taking time to understand what they really mean. We meet it very often, especially during Lent, because it is a central part…
We cannot be led by fear or by the search for profit or for the easy life. We need a change of heart, a real conversion, that fills us with trust and courage to look for real alternatives, to believe that what we are seeking is truly within our reach.
(Traduzione in italiano ed albanese in fondo alla pagina) Ecological conversion: Why should I change?  – The heavens belong to the Lord, but he has given the earth to all humanity. (Ps 115:16) The first page of the Bible tells us that the earth is God’s gift to us, a gift not to be…
The coronavirus scare is making us aware of how interconnected we all are… Yet it is painfully clear that the way we behave does not reflect this unity of everything.
(Traduzione in italiano ed albanese in fondo alla pagina) Ecological conversion: Why should I change?  – Ecological conversion is urgent: what will I change? Conversion without a change of behaviour is not real. Jesus said that saying ‘Lord, Lord’ without putting those words into practice would be building our house on sand, so that…
May the suffering of others I have never met spur me on to a deep ecological conversion, playing my part so that the world will really be our common home, for us all and not only for the lucky few.
My ecological conversion must include a real commitment to support initiatives that will bring about real change within my society.
We all wonder to what extent will the coronavirus pandemic change us interiorly. Once the crisis is over, will we return to what we were a few weeks ago, or will we discover we have become better, more generous persons? Will it make our ecological conversion easier?
Technology can give us the false impression that we can solve all our problems, even the most complex ones, with relative ease, and that the only possible way is forward.
The greatest commandment for the Christian remains that of love, which is always put to the test in times of crisis.
The battle is a real one, challenging us to take sides. It does not involve only me and my choices, but the whole of creation, which is saved from meaninglessness and destruction.
Today we can take time to reflect on the fact that God chose this way to remain with us, a way that involves creation as transformed by human hands.
). When it seems so hard not to lose hope, when the problems we are facing, like the pandemic or the ecological challenge, loom so large, I know I can look at the Cross and find the strength to trust more.
He is not there to shield us from the difficulties of life nor to guarantee that our life will be without problems. He is there to help us face our struggles with hope, with the certainty that life is stronger than death.
“Take care, take care, never to close your heart to anyone.” – St Pierre Favre SJ. As we approach the feast day of St Pierre Favre, the lesser known of St Ignatius Loyola’s first companions, I will share some reflections on the life of this extraordinary Jesuit with a small introduction and some resources for…
Favre’s biographers estimate that during these seven years he travelled more than 7000 miles, or 12000 km, more than the distance between Rome and Tokyo. Mostly on foot, but sometimes on a mule or a horse, or by sea. It is difficult to imagine the stamina of our saint: no wonder he died at so young an age.
‘There came to my mind the manifold afflictions of men: their diseases, their sins and their obduracy, their moods of despair and their tears, disasters, famines, plagues, woes, and other trials… Then with great fervour and a totally new awareness, I wished and petitioned that I might at last be allowed to become the servant and the minister of Christ, who consoles, helps, delivers, heals, liberates, saves, enriches, and strengthens.’
His advice is very relevant to our own own times, which often feel as turbulent as the 16th century. We seem to believe that the best way to solve differences is to build walls…. Pierre Favre’s attitude is completely different: the only starting point is love, in deed and truth. Tolerance is not enough: he speaks of having a real esteem for the others.
(Traduzione in italiano ed albanese in fondo alla pagina)  A great heart open to God and others When Ignatius was asked whom he considered the best giver of the Spiritual Exercises, he replied that ‘the first place’ belonged to Favre. And when Ignatius left Paris to visit his homeland in 1535, ‘Master Favre’ remained…
Love… Of Words & Deeds (Troverete il testo in italiano ed in albanese in fondo alla pagina)  Will anyone read a blog about love? Will anyone read a blog about love? Is it not this the most over-used and hackneyed of all words? It is a fact that while we know that somehow love…
Love… Of Words & Deeds (Troverete il testo in italiano ed in albanese in fondo alla pagina)  This is the love I mean ‘This is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.’ This…
I might spend some time today recalling those persons who have taught me to love. Deep in our hearts we all feel drawn to love, but we need others to enable us to learn what this means and how to do it well.
A patient love is not a passive one, for Love is [also] kind, at the service of others. True love bears fruit in deeds and not just words
True love then finds expression in deeds rather than in words. The real test of my love lies in my behaviour.
Loving our enemies is one of the most difficult things we are called to do, and very often wanting to do it is not enough to achieve it. Pardoning those who have harmed us can be a long and complex process, which involves so many conflicting emotions and desires in our hearts.
… if we look at when our love is patient and generous we will find in us the desire and the motivation to love others as they are loved by God, and as we are loved by him.
In a very real way, the question about who are the persons I really love can be answered by asking myself who are the persons I rejoice with, those whose good qualities and success fill me with joy.
The scale of suffering and injustice in our world is the biggest challenge to our love. Is it really possible to love everybody, even those I do not know and have never met?
To understand who God is and his love for us, Jesus invites us to look at the lilies of the fields, he compares our relationship to God to a vine and its branches, he is our good shepherd and we are the flock for whom he gives his life.
This God who is love has created us in his own image and likeness, and is calling us to resemble him as much as we can in the way we love others.
I can do many impressive and even heroic things, but if I do them without love, I am nothing more than ‘a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal, I am nothing’
Throughout his life, and in special way during the Passion, Jesus really took his life in his own hands, and in obedience to the Father, let it be broken for our sake
Let our gaze rest on Jesus and ask for the grace to enter more deeply into the mystery of his love for us.
The only Jesus that exists now is the Risen one: we cannot find him in the tomb because he comes to meet us in our ordinary life, in our Galilee. He bears his wounds because the path we follow is the narrow one, yet it is the one that leads to life, a life based on the certainty that ‘love never ends’
Since it is God who made me, the best thing that can happen to me is to discover and do his will for me. We all know this is easier said than done, but Ignatius shows us it is possible if we are discerning persons, willing to walk this pilgrimage one step at a time.
Even though discernment includes reason and prudence, it goes beyond them, for it seeks a glimpse of that unique and mysterious plan that God has for each of us, which takes shape amid so many varied situations and limitations…
One of the first questions I must ask myself is what lies in my heart. Who is at its centre, is it only me, or are the others there too, especially those who suffer and are in need of my help, the ‘little ones’ Jesus identified himself so clearly with? Can I ever discern properly if my heart is closed to migrants?
This year we will remember St Ignatius of Loyola, whose feast we celebrate today, July 31st, by reflecting on discernment. It is a word he used very often, a practice he developed throughout his life. It is also a word we hear more and more nowadays: so often in fact, that we need to understand…
The complete set of reflections in interactive eBook format, as well as in pdf format, with links to music and video clips. Enjoy!
Welcome to our Lenten blog for 2018. We will dedicate this Lenten blog to prayer, specifically to the prayer that Jesus himself taught us. It is he himself who suggests we use it as a model for our own prayer.
Our Father… This is really the core of the good news that Jesus came to proclaim. We are not slaves but sons and daughters of God. He is not just our distant creator or formidable law enforcer, but our loving father.
In the person of Jesus we meet the Christian God who is the Emmanuel, the God-with-us. Jesus, the one whom came to live among us, said, ‘Who sees me sees the Father’.
We are reminded of Jesus’ last command before he ascended into heaven, to make this good news of God’s love known by all peoples so that God’s name may be hallowed by all.
… it grows inexorably, day and night even while the farmer is asleep, it gives an extraordinary harvest, even a hundredfold when it finds good soil.
This is the prayer of those who understand themselves as sons and daughters of God, and not his slaves. The more we see God as our loving Father, the more we desire that his will be done, not out of fear but out of trust.
Praying for our daily bread helps us clarify to ourselves what we really need, what we consider more important and worth having.
Jesus assures us ‘there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance’. (Lk 15:7)
…he slowly understood that his daughters’ death must not be in vain. He became a peace activist, sharing his story and working hard to convince people that peace and forgiveness are more powerful than hate and revenge.
Acknowledging our weakness before temptation, we ask our Father to have mercy on us and strengthen us in our weakness.
…the struggle with the evil that inhabits us and our world is a serious one, for we find ourselves pitted against what we often feel is much bigger and powerful than us. Yet this prayer reassures us that we can always turn trustingly to our loving Father and seek his protection.
Mary will be our best companion as we look at Jesus living out his last days, preparing himself to make the supreme act of love and mercy for us sinners in full trust to his Father.
Instead of thinking of himself and his personal needs as he approached his departure from this world to the Father, he was concerned with how his friends would fare after his violent arrest and death.
Now as he hangs on the cross at the end of his life he could say that all is completed, and he could entrust himself fully, in total trust, into the loving hands of the Father.
The women were told that the Risen Jesus was not where they expected him to be but in Galilee, the place of their normal activity. For us too, the Risen Jesus is no longer in the tomb, nor in the Temple, nor in church, but in our Galilee, in our everyday life, in my family, at my place of work, my believing community, my political world.
We must not let hope abandon us, because God, with his love, walks with us. Each one of us can say: “I hope, I have hope, because God walks with me”. He walks and he holds my hand. God does not leave us to ourselves. The Lord Jesus has conquered evil and has opened the path of life for us. (Pope Francis)
‘This is how Christian hope is: having the certainty that I am walking toward something that is, not something that I hope may be’
We are still fascinated by Abraham because he is so similar to us: we too struggle to keep our hope alive, and sometimes in our disappointment and bewilderment we complain bitterly to God. Our hope too can be threatened by darkness, as we strive to maintain trust in God’s faithfulness to his promises.
Where can our hope come from? The Pope says it comes from the migrants themselves, who battle huge odds and risk their lives because they believe that a better, peaceful and just future is possible. They place their hope on the humanity we all share, and take huge risks trusting they will be welcomed.
One way of lighting a candle of hope is by performing a concrete act of mercy. The darker the world becomes the greater is the scope for mercy and merciful people.
Hail, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope (Traduzione italiana in fondo alla pagina) As Christmas Day draws near, the image of Mary assumes more space in our imagination. We imagine her as she makes her way from Nazareth to the small town of Bethlehem. Like every heavily pregnant woman, she is anxious…
Those who were ready to hope had their hopes fulfilled, albeit in totally unexpected ways. Those who knew exactly what they expected were frustrated.
Hope means believing that the light will come from the darkness itself: it is a gift, God’s greatest gift, given to those who are ready to face their darkness. Like the shepherds we discover the joy of Christmas when we go as we really are.
In a few days we will be celebrating the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits and the man who tried to put his spiritual experience at the service of others through his writings and through the foundation of the Jesuit order. Though he lived in the 16th century (1491-1556), his…
Putting order in one’s life implies looking for what the Lord wants from me now, in the context of my present duties, my present struggles and my hopes. This is a continuing quest, an ongoing discernment rather than a single decision that sets my life on a certain course.
Through knowing and following Jesus, whom I desire to love always more Who more than Jesus had an ordered life? He was always attuned to the Father’s will, which he fulfilled to the very end on the wood of the Cross. Therefore for Ignatius it was natural to seek order in life through the lived…
Within this Ignatian vision, it is clear that my life will not achieve order unless it includes service to others in their real needs.
Blessedness through virtue – An introduction to our new series of reflections for Lent, inspired by the Beatitudes
The first beatitude is perhaps the most enigmatic of them all. How can the poor be called blessed? Is not poverty to be combated as unworthy of human dignity? And what is poverty of spirit?
Sometimes our faith feels so weak we start suspecting it is not even there. Yet Jesus tells us otherwise: it is enough for our faith to be as small as a mustard seed, it can move mountains.
‘Who cried for the people who lost their lives on a boat? For the young mothers who travelled with their children? For those fathers who were seeking a better future for their families? ‘ This was the ringing challenge to the world’s conscience sounded by Pope Francis from the island of Lampedusa in July 2013.
…It goes beyond empathy or pity, for the compassionate person not only feels the pain, but lives it as something his or her own and tries to do something about it…
It looks like the earth is being conquered by the angry, and that those politicians who know how to tap into this anger will be successful, whether it is the anger at factories and jobs moving elsewhere, or at seeing too many migrants around, or at the total disrespect for the environment by those with power.
Although it seems that meek and weak are synonyms, in fact meekness requires inner strength: as the Italian proverb goes, Patience is the virtue of the strong.
Hunger and thirst are needs we cannot stop ourselves from feeling, and the only way to get rid of them is to do something about it. By speaking of the hunger and thirst for righteousness, Jesus is once again setting a high standard indeed.
One of the tragedies of our times of unparalleled material well-being is the near absence of causes or ideals that are capable of inspiring our passion. We seem to hunger and thirst for very little, except perhaps for material things and comforts.
Throughout his life Jesus was accused of being too friendly with sinners. Yet he never defended himself from this accusation.
Jesus tells us very clearly that ultimately we will be judged on the concreteness of our mercy, on how we reacted to those suffering hunger and thirst, to refugees, the sick and those in prison.
… That is why Jesus is blessing those whose heart is pure, transparent, not muddied by hidden agendas or motivations. The heart’s first commandment, the only one, is love.
Nothing can ever replace a person of integrity, and perhaps never was this need felt more than today.
Peacemaking is needed at all levels of human life, not only between states, but between persons and within families too. Today I will try to open the eyes of my heart to such situations, and will do my best to deserve the name of peacemaker.
There are so many concrete ways to protect creation, from being less wasteful to supporting policies that are more sustainable. Most come at a price, but it is a price worth paying.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven I am writing this blog from Albania, a country which was ruled by one of the harshest Communist regimes anywhere, the country which prided itself to be the first to define itself as an atheist state in its constitution.…
On April 7th, 2014 Fr Frans was shot dead. He was one of the blessed praised by Jesus, those who are ready to suffer for the sake of righteousness, for what they believe to be true and just, to build a world as close as can be to what God wants of it.
When we read and reflect on the Beatitudes there is always a lingering ‘too good to be true’ feeling, if only they can be lived out, if only we can put them into practice. Somewhere there is always a big BUT.
‘Behold the man!’ As so often in his Gospel, John uses a touch of irony in reporting Pilates words: while Pilate is speaking to the crowd in front of him, we know the invitation is really directed to us, the Gospel’s readers. On the day of the Passion, we are called to behold Jesus.
Christ our Passover is risen. Alleluia! Let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia! This is the liturgy’s insistent call today: let us rejoice with Jesus, the blessed by the Father, who has been raised to life after three days in the tomb. He endured humiliation and suffered grievously for our sakes, but his faithfulness has…
As the 36th General Congregation of the Jesuits gets under way in Rome today, Sunday 2nd October, we will try to reflect on what is happening from our Ignatian perspective.
At their General Congregation (gc36.org), some 200 Jesuits from all over the world are gathered to seek what God wants of the Jesuits at present, and to decide how best to achieve this in practice.
Just before Fr Arturo Sosa, the new Jesuit General, starts the celebration of his thanksgiving mass at the church of the Gesu’ in Rome, he will visit the room where the first Jesuit General, St Ignatius, lived for nearly 18 years. There he will listen to the portrait Ignatius himself composed in the Jesuit Constitutions…
When he founded the Jesuit order, Ignatius gave it a clearly universal mission: he placed himself and the Jesuits at the total disposal of the Pope, the one who has the responsibility for the universal Church.
Last Monday (24th October) Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope, addressed the 36th Jesuit General Congregation meeting in Rome. In the next blogs we will reflect on the three ways he suggested the Jesuits can choose to carry out their mission nowadays. The original speech, in Spanish can be found on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqrK938BBPg with the English…
‘the more he failed the Lord, the more the Lord reached out in giving him his grace’…
“We neither walk alone nor comfortably, but we walk with a heart that does not rest, that does not close in on itself but beats to the rhythm of a journey undertaken together with all the people faithful to God”.
Ignatius prompts me to ask myself to what extent my Christian faith is really centred around the person of Jesus…
Ignatius was born in very exciting times. When he was a few months old, Columbus arrived in America, and his conversion in Loyola in 1521 coincided with the first circumnavigation of the globe by Magellan. It was also the time of the Reformation in the Church, set in motion by Martin Luther in 1517. At…
The Church is our family, the family of those who believe in Jesus, where we received our faith, and where we are still called to share it.
From time to time we find ourselves struggling with difficult decisions, at a loss how to decide…
In the film Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye, the protagonist prays: ‘May God bless and keep the Tsar…far away from us!’…
What is my image of God? One of the most crucial features of any discernment process is the image I have of God: is it one that inspires trust and love, or fear and suspicion? I may see him as my loving and merciful father, or maybe I prefer to keep my distance. Perhaps I feel angry…
There were once three groups of persons, who had a considerable sum of money, but they were not sure whether they could keep it. All realised they needed to take a decision, but each group went about it in a different way. The first group were really determined to decide, but somehow never got down…
The discernment of our spirits is so important in discerning God’s will for us. We need to be able to understand the language of our heart.
Ignatius learnt from experience that times of desolation can be extremely important as long as they are discerned. The basic question must be, Why am I in desolation? Where is it coming from?..
Ignatius asks us to insist in prayer to know Jesus more intimately, to love him more intensely, and to follow him more closely. Discernment is much more than a technique or a method, it is rather following Jesus as we seek to find and live the Father’s will for us.
When Solomon inherited the great kingdom of his father David, God asked him what he wanted. Instead of asking for more power or greater wealth, Solomon asked for a listening heart, so that he could be able to take good decisions. As we come to the end of this short series of reflections on discernment,…