One of the idols I no longer believe in is Vending Machine God. You know Him well. Pray hard enough. Behave righteously enough. Rebuke the sinners enough. Deposit the right amount, hit the button, and you get your candy bar. You deserve it!
It’s not that we shouldn’t ask for the things we want. It’s the things I wanted that changed as I let go of that immature image. I ask for a grace every time I pray but as I go deeper into God, I stopped asking for me and started asking for God. I don’t ask for more money. I ask to provide for my family. I don’t ask for power. I ask to be able to do God’s will. If I ask for an outcome, I qualify if it’s God’s will. I do ask for the graces of peace, wisdom, charity and love.
I ask for those a lot!
A couple’s joy: their daughter is named into the Covenant.
Went to two Shabbat services this weekend, one included a beautiful baby naming ceremony, and was thoroughly impressed. I’ve done my share of reading about ritual, meaning and myth and their power in our lives. And it enabled me to appreciate what I witnessed and participated in not only with heart and soul but with my mind.
But for all the beauty and joy, my mind was troubled. I was saddened by the fact that fewer and fewer of us have those resources in our lives. In our pursuit to master the world around us, we’ve reduced myth to fables and fantasy. We’ve made ritual mere clashing cymbal and empty motion. We’ve made a God shaped hole in our lives and have since tried mightily to fill it.
We’ve tried fundamentalisms of every sort, from a worship of science to a worship of sacred books. We’ve tried amorphous “spirituality” and superstition as well. We’ve tried mindless distractions and “serious” politics. I’m wondering when we will try humble, contrite hearts that can listen to that soft whisper that only our deepest selves know.
Went to Budo class the other night for the first time in over a decade. Kicked my ass. Out of shape. Nauseous and dizzy. Sore and bruised. Couldn’t continue to do all the exercises without puking. Had to opt out to rest twice in front of another student: a woman and white belt.
All of which is awesome. There is only one enemy in the Dojang: you. Rudeness (Impatience). Arrogance. Lack of integrity. Giving up. Wildness. Weakness in spirit. The enemy complains only when he is being vanquished. Can’t wait for my next class. I’m glad I’m, as Grand Master Chang used to say, “getting young” again.
The Jesuits have a handbook for this search. It is The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, composed by the saint before he was even a priest. Often described as Ignatius’s greatest gift to the world, these exercises unfold a dynamic process of prayer, meditation, and self-awareness. The basic thrust is to make us more attentive to God’s activity in our world, more responsive to what God is calling us to do. Ignatian spiritual directors accompany or guide people through the exercises in retreat houses, parishes, and other settings.
via Ignatian Spirituality | Finding God in All Things.
I “finished” my Exercises several months ago and it has taken me some time to reflect and digest what’s happened. I would say that no great vocational insight struck me. What happened was I received a capstone to a very long process of getting to know who I am and whose I am on a deep level. What I am to actually do is simple: the “slow work” of God. Day to day. Minute to minute. I’ve learned to be open to God directing my life. My direction becomes clear as circumstances arise and preparation makes for opportunity.
I’m mindful of the Living Force so to speak.
“Use your opponents’ strategies against them and you take away their power. [...] Get your opponents to lose their grace, and they will lose their purpose, Padawan. [...] Do not meet hate with hate. Meet it with purpose.“―Qui-Gon Jinn teaches Obi-Wan Kenobi how to win a battle.
R. Joseph Hoffman brings it.
What I miss about the old atheism–even though I still find its central premises wobbly and unconvincing–is that thinking was permitted. The conversation continued. There was no infallible source of confidence. Skepticism reigned.
The new atheism is a catechism of conclusions reached, positions taken, dogmas pronounced. It is more like the Catholicism I giggled to see parodied, a church too sure of itself and its exclusive ability to save souls and reveal the kingdom.
via Atheist Tantrums: The New Loud | The New Oxonian.
Perhaps most interesting about the document, Hinze continued, is that it recognizes that some priests and bishops might not have figured out exactly what the church should be teaching on a particular subject.
“I thought it was pretty judicious that the hierarchy has to recognize that they may not have it right yet,” said Hinze, referring to a passage in the document that states that Catholics may “deny assent” to church teaching “if they do not recognize in that teaching the voice of Christ.”
via Vatican considers: How hard do bishops have to listen? | National Catholic Reporter.
The reason Jesuit spirituality has been so profound for me is that it has given form to the substance of my spiritual life. So often I find myself saying, “Yes! Exactly!” when I read books on Ignatian spirituality or being moved by a particular poem or prayer. The Jesuit Principle and Foundation of is both poem and prose. It describes my core. Enjoy.
Principle and Foundation: Contemporary Translation
God who loves us creates us and wants to share life with us forever. Our love response takes shape in our praise and honor and service of the God of our life.
All the things in this world are also created because of God’s love and they become a context of gifts, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.
As a result, we show reverence for all the gifts of creation and collaborate with God in using them so that by being good stewards we develop as loving persons in our care for God’s world and its development. But if we abuse any of these gifts of creation or, on the contrary, take them as the center of our lives, we break our relationship with God and hinder our growth as loving persons.
In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some responsibility. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a more loving response to our life forever with God.
Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me (SE 23).
-Translation by David L. Fleming, SJ, in Draw Me into Your Friendship: The Spiritual Literal Translation and a Contemporary Reading.
Father Kevin O’Brien SJ. The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in Daily Life (Kindle Locations 576-585). Kindle Edition.