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Spiritual Life

Post date: 08/09/2019
Jesuit author Father John Cavanaugh was working at the Home for the Dying Destitutes in Calcutta, India. On the first morning, he met Mother Teresa after Mass at dawn. She asked, “And what can I do for you?” He asked her to pray for him: “Pray that I have clarity.” She said no. That was that. When he asked why, she announced that clarity was the...
Post date: 08/09/2019
This summer we’ve been discussing St. Ignatius of Loyola’s teaching on consolation and desolation in prayer, which he calls “discernment of spirits.” Let’s look briefly at desolation to see how we should respond to it. Recall Ignatius’ definition of desolation: “I call desolation all the contrary of (consolation), such as darkness of soul,...
Post date: 07/10/2019
In the July 14 Gospel, we hear the familiar parable of the Good Samaritan. In the background of this Gospel was the Jews’ hatred of Samaritans, a hatred that had existed for several hundred years before Jesus came. The Samaritans were the people who stayed behind when the Jewish people went into exile. They chose to intermarry with Gentiles and...
Post date: 07/10/2019
Last time we looked at an overview of St. Ignatius’ teaching on consolation and desolation in the spiritual life. Let’s dive deeper into his teaching on consolation. How can we know if the peaceful and pleasant feelings we experience in our souls come from God or another source? How should we respond to them? As I wrote previously, when we are...

“Christ’s Appearance to Mary Magdalene After the Resurrection” by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov, oil on canvas, 1835, housed in the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. PUBLIC DOMAIN/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Post date: 07/10/2019
On July 22 we celebrate the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, patroness of contemplatives, converts, penitent sinners and evangelists. Who this amazing woman is and how she appears in Scripture can be a bit confusing, but what she has meant to the church over millennia is not in doubt. Mary Magdalene is portrayed in film and art as the woman who was...
Post date: 06/18/2019
Traditionally, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (that is, Corpus Christi) is celebrated on the Thursday after the second Sunday after Pentecost – Thursday being the day of the week when the Lord Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper.  However, due to its great importance and to give as many people as possible the...
Post date: 06/18/2019
A common mistake people make in prayer is considering consolation as a testament to their personal holiness. Perhaps even more common is thinking something is awry when desolation hits. What are consolation and desolation, and what do they signify? St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote, “I call it consolation when some interior movement is caused in the...

“Saint Aloysius Gonzaga,” by an unknown painter of the Roman School, oil on canvas, from the 18th century. PUBLIC DOMAIN/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Post date: 06/18/2019
The first-born son of Italian aristocrats, little Luigi had his life mapped out for him by his father, who wanted him to become a great soldier. At the age of 4 his dad gave him a miniature pistol and cannon, and he was sent to live amongst soldiers, from whom he picked up some of their bad language. He learned very early on that military life...
Post date: 05/15/2019
During this glorious Paschal season, our churches are decorated beautifully, music is likely full and joyful at the celebration of the Mass, and we are quite aware of the Lord’s Resurrection and celebrating it with devotion. It is easy for us to consider the glory of the Lord’s Resurrection during the Easter season. However, the Gospel on May 19...
Post date: 05/15/2019
In the past two columns, we have looked at the universal call to holiness and its implications for us. We have seen that God calls each of us to be a saint. We have also seen that the grace necessary for holiness is granted to us through prayer. Yet when we think about deep prayer, we still tend to ask, “Can that really be for me?” Now we’ll look...

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