Getting Started

The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola are best suited for prayer during a silent retreat. However,  Ignatius knew that they could also be effective when employed in a less isolated environment. It is the hope of the authors of this blog that you, the reader, find the meditations that we offer here useful in your own search to encounter Christ in prayer in your daily life. The meditations are intended to be prayed in order, from as close to the beginning as possible, perhaps over the course of a dedicated time such as the season of Lent. (more…)

March 6th, 2014

March 14, 2014 |

Grace: To desire to reform my life and renew my relationship with Christ, recognizing that life is short and I will be judged by the Lord after death.

Text for Prayer: 1 Thes. 4:13-15

Reflection: When I was an undergrad in Miami, I befriended someone at my parish named Christina. We weren’t super close, but we enjoyed talking and passing the time. She smiled a lot. She was sweet and fun to be with. One day, I woke up to the news that she had died in a car accident. She was twenty years old and so was I. Her death was shocking and heartbreaking. I had never known anyone my own age who died. Even though we weren’t particularly close, her death felt closer than others I had experienced.The sudden end to her life struck a chord inside of me.

It is easy to think that this life we are living is going to last forever. We get caught up in our plans, the bills, time with our loved ones, the busy schedule, the joys, the struggles—all of it. We get so caught up that we forget that life is about more than just today, and that today may be all we have. Every day is an opportunity to take account of our lives and to renew our friendship with Jesus Christ.

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March 14th, 2014 | |

February 22, 2013 |

Grace: To ask that all of my thoughts, words, and actions, be directed to the praise and service of Our Lord

Text for Prayer: Psalm 90

Matthew 25:11

Reflection: Some years ago, a few days after Christmas, I happened to be at a funeral where the priest, during his homily, took out a shopping bag and began by saying, “These days we see many people looking inside these bags and eagerly taking out their Christmas presents. But what do we finally take with us on the last journey? Jim, whom we will bury today, what did he put into the bag to take with him?” I don’t remember much else about the homily other than those two questions, but even today, they continue to make me think about the certainty of death. Death will come for each and every one of us, and when we do die, what will we place in our gift bags or suitcases to take with us? What will the Lord look inside to find and how will he ultimately judge us, based on the lives we have tried to live?

We should not live our lives constantly pondering the prospect of death. That would place us, many times, in a permanent stasis, and might even lead to depression. The young, certainly, do not like to think of death and prefer to think that it is something that they can forget about until they grow old. But regardless of when death may come—and sometimes it can come unexpectedly—we must remember that we will eventually die and come before the Lord, the just judge. He will look at our lives and judge us for our thoughts, words, and actions. In the Gospels, Jesus tells us Himself that He is coming again to judge the living and the dead, and we profess our belief in His coming, every time we recite the Creed.

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February 22nd, 2013 | |

March 2, 2012 |

Grace: To desire to reform my life and renew my relationship with Christ, recognizing that life is short and I will be judged by the Lord after death.

Text for Prayer: Luke 12:16-21

Reflection: Benjamin Franklin once wrote to Jean-Baptiste LeRoy, a prominent scientist during Enlightenment France, “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Since the tax return deadline, April 15, is still a ways out, let us leave taxes on the sidelines and ponder the certainty of death.

During the past few days, we have been reflecting on the nature of sin: the sin of the angels, the sin of Adam and Eve, mortal and venial sin, the influence of tepidity, and our own sinfulness.  One of the consequences of sin is the certainty of death for all living creatures.  “The Lord God gave the man this order: ‘You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die’” (Gen. 2:16-17).  The disobedience of Adam and Eve resulted in the consequence of death.

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March 2nd, 2012 | |

March 18, 2011 |

Grace: To understand that I will one day come before the Lord, and to realize how my relationship with Him is able to be strengthened and renewed at every moment of my life.

Text for Prayer: Ezekiel 37: 1-3

Reflection: It has been observed that ours is a culture that does not like to face the reality of death.  From Botox to infomercials promising that we will live to be 100 to elaborate euphemisms to speak of death, we often try to deny the inevitability of death.

One reason, I think, for all this effort is the fear that thinking about death makes us feel like little kids again.  Invariably, we start to think about things that maybe we thought we had outgrown: judgment, and heaven, and hell.  Those are things we were told as children to make us behave, or to make us docile, or to make us nice.  Or maybe it was something we were told when things were rough, that there was a better world right around the corner if we could just stay steadfast for a little longer.  That’s what Marx was getting at when he declared:

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.  It is the opium of the people.”

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March 18th, 2011 | |

February 26, 2010 |

Grace: to understand clearly the imminence of the day I will stand before God, to gain a greater sense of urgency in renewing my relationship with God, and to realize how permanently my relationship with God can be impacted by what I am currently doing.

Text for Prayer: Revelation 20:11-15.

Reflection: Death is inevitable.  It happens to us all, in spite of power or celebrity.  The famed general George Patton was at the height of his earthly glory as a World War II hero when he was hit in a car accident and died several days later in December of 1945.  A quick look at the obituary section shows that death does not play favorites.  Every kind of person is found in the obituaries- young, old, nice, mean, hard-working, lazy- it doesn’t matter.  Some died slowly, others suddenly.  But they are all there.

Whatever their beliefs, every person will stand before God in judgment.  The choices we make in life will be reflected in what happens next.  There is a vivid scene in C.S. Lewis’ book The Last Battle where all the creatures of Narnia- those who followed Aslan, those who worshipped Tash, and those who thought that each was a myth- stand one at a time before Aslan.  Those who recognize Aslan as the one they have been longing for with the every action of their lives rejoice at being with him, and stand by him in the light.  Those who recognize Aslan as the one they have been running from with their actions look on his face with terror, flee into the great shadow he is casting, and are never seen again.

Just claiming to be a Christian and to be a follower of Jesus is not enough.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Mt. 7: 21)

Jesus further warns that we must be constantly alert.  Death and judgment will come unexpectedly.  “Two women will be grinding at the mill.  One will be taken, and one will be left.  Therefore, stay awake!  For you do not know at what hour your Lord will come.” (Mt. 24:41-42).  There is no explanation why one woman was taken from this life and one was left.  Up until the moment it happened, there was no reason why it should.  None of us knows when we will die and go before the Lord, so each of us must constantly ask the question: am I ready to die?

We have to look hard at our lives, with God’s help, and ask how God will find us when we die.  Do we continually choose to seek God and be with God in our every action?  Or do we make a choice, in spite of the grace He has given us and our experience of His love, to run from Him?  Have we repented of our choice to run, and asked forgiveness, or confirmed the choice, continuing to stand by it unrepentant?

Questions: One day, you will die, and you will stand before the throne of God.  Will you behold His face and flee, or recognize God as the One you long for?  If you were to die right now, what would your life say that you are: a disciple of Jesus or of someone else?  Have you ever made a choice to reject God?  Do you regret that choice, or do you still choose to live as though the choice were right?

February 26th, 2010 | |