Group photo
Author:
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
11/15/16 6:32 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Three Ingredients in a Recipe for Gratitude
Lisa Kelly Reflections
recipe book with article title, "Three Ingredients in a Recipe for Gratitude"

So many times a day we say “thank you” out of nothing more than common courtesy at best or, at worst, out of habit, with no realization that we even said it. Thus, saying “thank you” is actually the least impactful part of being grateful. My spiritual director will often instruct me to “sit with a feeling”—not judge it or rationalize it, but instead just “sit with it” so I really feel it. What does real gratitude feel like? Here are the ingredients I can almost taste when I take the time to feel truly grateful.

First we taste two cups of humility. True gratitude instantly puts me in a place of realizing I am dependent on another. Whatever I have just received—whether it was a cup of coffee, a borrowed pen, or the deepest desire of my heart—someone beyond myself has just positively impacted me and made my life better. A western cultural mentality promotes the thinking that we somehow deserve whatever we have received, especially if money was involved. There is even a prosperity theology out there that asserts wealth is a blessing God bestows on some and not others. Don’t fall for it. God’s blessing comes in the way of life and love and is freely given to all. If you think money can take the place of your dependence on others, you are cheating yourself out of recognizing our interdependence and experiencing the humility true gratitude brings.

The second cup of humility in my recipe for gratitude comes from the Ignatian mantra that God is in all things. The enormity of God’s presence is easy to feel standing next to the vast ocean or staring up at a sky with a million stars, but even when I am heartbroken or scared, on the craziest of days or just standing in line at the department store, the moment that I reach for sincere gratitude I am bowled over by the enormity of God’s love and graciousness in my life. How is it that with all my faults and failings, one mere creature of the billions on this earth, the God of all, the Creator of all, longs for me? How is it I have come to have this moment? True gratitude affirms the paradox of our smallness and God’s grandeur.

Sitting in gratitude I can also taste a cup of relief. If you say “thank you,” but you don’t feel just a bit of weight lift off your shoulders or anxiety dissipate from your mind, chances are you aren’t really experiencing gratitude. Naming the concern or need that has just been alleviated instantly stirs the gratitude pot.

Finally, experiencing true gratitude always brings a taste of hope. Receiving is empowering. It allows you to take that next step down the road, to look to the future, and to keep going even when the road is hard. A barrier has been removed or a reinforcement has arrived, even if only in the form of smile from another.

Sitting in gratitude to experience this humility, relief, and hope need not take an extended hour of meditation. In mere seconds of awareness I can feel these ingredients all wash over me. St. Ignatius encourages us to begin and end all things with gratitude. Thus, when I say, “thank you” for taking the time to read this blog post and reflect on your own tastes of gratitude, you know exactly what I feel.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/16/16 11:07 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Being People for Others



St. Ignatius Loyola understood that, even when we strive to do glorious deeds, often the motivation is selfish. Or at least it’s self-focused. In his early years, he trained to be a soldier and a knight. He wanted to sacrifice himself for country and for some beautiful lady he could defend and honor. But years later, as he meditated, prayed, and discovered God, who created and loved him, Ignatius dismantled old ways of thinking. Rather than becoming proud and worried about making a good show, a person must develop humility. Rather than focusing on himself and his dreams of glory, he must follow Jesus’ example and move outward, looking at what other people needed and dreamed for.

Being “people for others” means that we are willing to shift focus and actually notice others and care about them. What does that look like on a typical day? Here are just a few ideas.

When I’m around someone who is behaving badly, rather than think of how the behavior irritates or upsets me, I wonder what might be triggering that person to act like this. A child in the hospital? Job loss? Relationship problems? A string of faulty decisions?
While working with other people on a project, I resist worrying about how my input is received or how much I am noticed and concentrate on helping each person on the team do his or her best.
I pray as much—probably more—for others than for myself.
Rather than turn away and distract myself from others’ suffering, I make some move to help.
My decisions about time, money, and other resources always factor in how generous I can be, and I come up with concrete plans for sharing.
Being a person for others will always be a challenge, because we are conditioned from an early age to focus on “me and mine.” We might be encouraged to see the world as a dangerous place, to see many people as too different and therefore “other,” and to believe that there is never enough of anything to go around. Jesus requires that we resist this way of being in the world. He asks that, rather than growing fearful, we make an effort to be open. Rather than grasping and hoarding, we are to be grateful and generous. Jesus asks that, rather than operating in a judgmental and self-protective way, we extend to others God’s love and make room at the table for those we might call strangers.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
7/27/16 12:19 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Finding God in the Soundtrack of Life




I once read that the music we listen to becomes the soundtrack of our life. I just love that sentiment! As in a movie with a great soundtrack, music can transport us in time and evoke in us emotions we had thought were long gone. Have you ever noticed how certain songs bring you right back in time?

For me, “The Servant Song” youtu.be/k-Pk2NHKg_o is one of those songs. I remember singing this song in my high school choir, joining in the soulful rendition of our college folk choir, and raising this song with prayer-filled communities as we prepared to go out and serve Christ among us. Every time I hear this song, I am transported back to these times in which my heart was filled with a special awareness of the Holy Spirit at work—present and alive—in the unity and fruits of these communities rooted in Christ’s love.


This song doesn’t just bring me back in time though; it impels me forward too. Every time I hear it, I am reminded that the Christian call to serve is a personal and lifelong call. And it reminds me that those we are called to serve may not always be in a far-off country. It might also be that we are called to “hold the Christ light” that we sing of in this song for our best friend, child, or spouse—whomever is vulnerable at the time. Mother Teresa said, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”

When I hear “The Servant Song,” I remember too that the call to serve requires accompaniment. Serving is never a one-way street if we’re doing it right; it is a special privilege that requires a certain vulnerability on the part of both giver and receiver. Pope Francis reminds us almost daily not just of our call to serve, but also of the need to accompany those whom we serve:

The call to serve involves something special, to which we must be attentive. Serving others chiefly means caring for their vulnerability. Caring for the vulnerable of our families, our society, our people. Theirs are the suffering, fragile and downcast faces which Jesus tells us specifically to look at and which he asks us to love. With a love which takes shape in our actions and decisions. With a love which finds expression in whatever tasks we, as citizens, are called to perform. People of flesh and blood, people with individual lives and stories, and with all their frailty: these are those whom Jesus asks us to protect, to care for, to serve. Being a Christian entails promoting the dignity of our brothers and sisters, fighting for it, living for it. That is why Christians are constantly called to set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, and to look instead to those who are most vulnerable. (Homily of Pope Francis in Havana, September 20, 2015)

In the soundtrack of my life, “The Servant Song” is a powerful reminder of God’s presence in my life and my response to God’s presence. What about you? Where do you find God in the soundtrack of your life? What songs in your soundtrack bring to mind those who have held the Christ light for you? What songs remind you of times when you held the Christ light out to others? Whom might you be called to hold the Christ light out to in the future?

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
6/22/16 11:39 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Love, Relationship, and How We Live

Posted: 22 Jun 2016 03:30 AM PDT



The other day, I was sorting through some old papers and came across the “Fall in Love” prayer attributed to Pedro Arrupe, SJ. His thoughts are so simple yet so profound. I was glad to come across them again.

The first time I read these words, though, I was completely intimidated. It was my first Ignatian retreat, and Arrupe’s words presented such a challenge that I had to fight the urge to hightail it out of the retreat center! I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be this honest with myself. And while I was indeed searching and wanting to know God, I wasn’t yet sure if I had found God at all. I wondered, How am I supposed to “fall in love and stay in love” with a God I am just getting to know?

There came no immediate answer from above and no immediate rising to the challenge on my part. I just kept sitting with God—and wondering.

It wasn’t until many years later that the answer to my question started to reveal itself as I was reading St. John of the Cross’s Ascent of Mount Carmel. St. John advised, “In the first place, it should be known that if a person is seeking God, His beloved is seeking him much more.” This concept was profoundly liberating to me. I had been seeking, trying so hard to know God, but I perceived myself as being on a solitary quest. Reading St. John, I realized that I was not alone at all—God was already seeking me! This struck a chord deep within my heart. Ours is not a God who lets us “go it alone.” Ours is a God of relationship. If we are seeking God, we are responding to the One who has already been calling us. Suddenly, the task of “falling in love” and “staying in love” with God seemed so much easier, because being “in love” requires relationship.

Despite this realization, though, I still find Fr. Arrupe’s words challenging. They still stretch me out of my comfort zone and urge me to conduct a sort of “spiritual check-up” as I look at the truths of my daily life. If we dare to rise to the challenge, Arrupe can help us all to come to a more authentic relationship with God.

We can ask ourselves:

What is it that gets me out of bed in the morning?
What is it that I do with my waking hours?
What often seizes my imagination?
What brings me joy and makes me grateful?
What breaks my heart?
With what am I actually in love?
For most of us, if we tackle these questions honestly, we will come across some inconsistencies. We may be surprised that our thoughts and desires are not where we thought they were or where we want them to be. That’s OK; we’re not saints yet! As we journey forth, it’s OK to make adjustments if we’ve gone off-course.

If we do want to re-align our lives, we must remember that we aren’t on the quest alone. We are in relationship with God. And every strong relationship needs an ongoing investment of time. In his recent apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), Pope Francis advises young married couples that “Love needs time and space; everything else is secondary” (224). The same words ring true for our relationship with God. If we really want to fall in love and stay in love with God, we must give God our time, and we must allow room for the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts.

We must take the time to be with God. This be-ing with will determine the everything of how we live.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
5/15/16 10:33 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Pentecost

The Holy Spirit calls us to go outside the walls we have built
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.


Scripture
“Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.”
Acts of the Apostles 2:5–6

Reflection
PentecostThere is a lot of talk about building walls in our current political environment, that all the evil in the world is somehow “out there” and all will be well if we only keep those whom we perceive as our enemies contained somewhere else in the world. This is the modern version of the old saying “good fences make good neighbors.”

The experience of the early Church on the Feast of Pentecost contradicts this view. Having received the Holy Spirit, the first disciples sang out loud in praise of God. The commotion was so loud that it attracted a crowd of people from all parts of the Roman Empire (which, in the view of the New Testament, was synonymous with the world) who did not understand what was happening.

Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power (Acts of the Apostles 2:7–11).

Since Jesus had been crucified, the disciples remained for a period of time behind closed walls, “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19). After the Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit, this fear blew away. The disciples began to proclaim all that they had learned, going out beyond their walls and into the world, transcending all borders.

The disciples were able to proclaim the truth of who Jesus was because, inspired by the Holy Spirit, they were now able to understand what had happened to them during Jesus’ last few years. Twenty-seven times in the Gospels we read that the disciples “did not understand” what Jesus was teaching, or the meaning of an event that had just happened. As Jesus in the Gospel of John tells Peter when he was getting ready to wash their feet at the Last Supper, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:7). With the coming of the Holy Spirit comes the insight to what Jesus was teaching, who he was calling them to be as his disciples, who he was sending them out to proclaim.

We all have established our personal walls seeking to keep out people, thoughts, and memories that trouble us. We identify with the disciples hiding behind locked doors. We fear some kind of invasion, painful memories, or our own unforgiving nature; out of these fears, we remain hidden from ourselves and others, which only leads us to personal anxiety. The same Holy Spirit who called the first disciples calls us to re-imagine our past and our fears in the light of who Jesus is calling us to be. We are called to be people of courage and understanding, building bridges in the world instead of walls.


Pope Francis
“A Christian without memory is not a true Christian but only halfway there: a man or a woman, a prisoner of the moment, who doesn’t know how to treasure his or her history, doesn’t know how to read it and live it as salvation history. With the help of the Holy Spirit, however, we are able to interpret interior inspirations and life events in light of Jesus’ words. And thus, within us grows the knowledge of memory, knowledge of the heart, which is a gift of the Spirit.”
Homily, 8 June 2014

Mercy in Action
► Learn more about building bridges by reviewing the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service.
► Read what Pope Francis says about Pentecost Astonishment.
► Pray with an imaginative prayer for Pentecost by Vinita Hampton Wright.

Prayer
Send us forth with your Spirit, O Lord, that you may renew the face of the earth.



Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
5/13/16 11:25 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
God in the Wounds

It’s not so difficult to talk about God being present when someone is healed. After all, God’s the one who fixes our brokenness, right? This is the god we especially like—the one who doesn’t allow the discomfort to continue, or who prevents the accident from happening—the one who makes things new.

But what about the wounds that don’t heal, not really? What do we do with those? How do we think about a god who does not fix us? How do we relate to such a god as that?

How do we relate to God when people we love continue in their addictions, their destructive relationships, their lingering illnesses? Of course we know that God doesn’t force people to get help or to change their ways. Does that mean that God cannot be present to people who are stuck?

What does God do with people who can’t seem to make the steps necessary to get help and healing? If we really can find God in all things, does that mean that we can find God in the life of someone who is bitter and unyielding?

Could it be that God is present, not only in the healing, but in the wounds? When we encounter someone who is angry and stuck in bad patterns, should we still expect to experience God somehow, right there?

Consider this: What if God is present to that bitter, stuck person through our stubborn love toward her? What if that person is waiting for someone like you or me to stick around long enough to identify and name God’s features that show up in her face, contorted as it may be by tragedy and inner turmoil?

I don’t believe that God gives us the wounds, but I do believe that God is with us in our woundedness. Sometimes God’s presence is disguised in the body of another person. I hope to be brave enough and generous enough for God to use my very human self in just this way.



Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
4/8/16 10:59 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
In my Men's Faith Group the other night we practiced the art of Lectio Divinia and we used this Bible story. I was moved and thougth that I would share....


Waking Up to the Risen Jesus



This story is inspired by the first contemplation in the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises, the apparition of Christ to Mary (#218).

Do you know that semiconscious state as you begin to awaken, when it’s possible to believe you’re still dreaming? That’s how I awoke the morning of my son’s Resurrection.

I felt my Jeshua gently stroking my hair. I smiled and looked into his sweet face. Such a loving son! He was sitting on the side of my bed, leaning over and smiling. My darling Jeshua looked more radiant than I’d ever seen him.

“Good morning, Mother. I love you. How are you this Resurrection Day?” he said.

Resurrection? What was he talking about?

The sweet aroma of myrrh mysteriously pervaded the room, and I began to realize I wasn’t dreaming. My Jeshua was in the room, waiting for me to awaken.

My mind raced. He died three days before! I’d held his body, feeling confusion and heart-rending loss. But even then, I knew there had to be more to God-with-us. The crucifixion couldn’t be the end.

As my mind cleared, I sat up and rubbed my eyes as the sparkling, laughing eyes of my Jeshua came into focus. “My son! Alive again!”

We hugged each other and gently rocked. I kept repeating, “My son! You’re alive again!” My heart was in my throat. Tears flowed.

He chuckled as he whispered into my unpinned hair, “Yes, Mother, I am alive.”

I don’t know how long I held him, his cheek against mine. Eventually, I let go.

Had he appeared to me while I was fully conscious, it probably would have scared me. To awaken to his gentle kiss was natural and loving. It felt right.

“Mother, let me give you some breakfast,” he said, reaching for a tray on the bedside table.

In a state of awe yet deeply at peace, I allowed my son and savior to feed me. I thought of our Last Supper together, with so many present, and his words that we would eat again in the Reign of God.

“Mother, you’ll have much to do now. Many will come to you, seeking me. You’ll know what to say,” Jeshua said. “Help our family now to be their best selves. Show the intimate love you and I have for each other. Your work isn’t finished. Encourage our flock, and always show them my love.”

I had much to ponder as this visit came to a close.

He told me he couldn’t stay, but that his Spirit would always live in me. He asked me to wait until his friend John came for me. John would need some time; they all would. He asked me to be patient and listen to their doubts and fears.

“Hold them as you held me so many times.”

I remembered the tears over a broken arm, his heartbreak over a teenage crush on a girl who didn’t care, and flashes of many other memories.

“I meant what I said from the cross. I need you to be the mother of all now.”

As I nodded, he kissed my forehead, said goodbye, and disappeared.

I felt a soft cramping in my womb as my heart filled with joy. My son! My son! Alive again!

I settled back on my pillow to ponder this glorious day, now fully awake and full of joy.

Imagine waking up to the risen Jesus. To what mission does he invite you?


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
3/24/16 10:40 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Stay Here with Me



There is a beautiful Taizé hymn inspired by Jesus’ words in the Garden of Gethsemane, with the lyrics: “Stay with me, remain here with me; watch and pray.” This song lends itself to the Ignatian practice of unwrapping Scripture passages by imagining oneself within the passage. For instance:

I imagine myself having left the Passover table with the rest of the disciples. I am confused and overwhelmed by everything that has just happened. Jesus says he will be leaving us. He took the bread and wine and said it is his Body and Blood, “the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” What does all of this mean? And what kind of a Master washes his followers’ feet? It’s always the other way around. He said, “Love each other as I have loved you.” What kind of love is this?

These thoughts swirl around in my head as we all walk together. We make our way to a garden called Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Jesus is so upset. He asks us to stay with him, to stay awake and pray. We sit down under some olive trees as he goes just a little further up, a stone’s throw away. He falls on his face on the ground and says, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.” He is shaking because he so agitated. I have never seen him so upset. He wipes his brow. It is a hot evening, but it almost looks like he is sweating blood. Seeing Jesus like this pains me to the heart. I want to go to him and comfort him, but he has asked us to keep watch, so I just close my eyes and pray. The night air is heavy, and I feel myself drifting off to sleep.

As I reflect on my experience in prayer, it strikes me that Jesus asks his disciples to accompany him that evening to Gethsemane. We see in Scripture that Jesus would often go off to pray alone. Yet, on this night, this night of his most profound suffering, he wants the company of his friends.

This is striking because he is about to die for these friends—and, indeed, for all of humanity. From a human perspective, it is unusual for someone who is about to be condemned to death for a crime he didn’t commit to ask the person who actually committed the crime to come and be with him. The human instinct would more likely be to push that person away and not to want to see that person at all.

Jesus, though, while fully human, is also God. And our God is a God of relationship. He came to redeem us and he loves us, personally, throughout the process of redemption. He doesn’t push us away—ever—even when our human sense of justice would deem it justifiable. At Gethsemane, Jesus demonstrated that with God’s justice, love is the overriding factor. His love remains at all times, even when we don’t expect it and when we know that we don’t deserve it. And God requests us to remain near; God desires our presence.

This evening, we enter into the Paschal Triduum, the summit of the liturgical year. We will be walking together through the events of Christ’s final days on earth. As you recall these events, place yourself in the Scripture passages each day. Observe how your experience of the passage affects you and what feelings arise within as you watch the scene unfold.

If you were at Gethsemane with Jesus that night, and he asked you to stay there with him, would you?

Think of Jesus walking with the Cross, looking at you, requesting your presence.

Think of Jesus on the Cross, requesting you near him.

Stay here with me, remain here with me.

Feel that Love, looking at you. Tenderly.

How will you respond?


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
3/22/16 11:05 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Reflection on one of my favorite prayers

The Anima Christi During Holy Week



Among my favorite prayers to pray during Holy Week is the Anima Christi or “Soul of Christ.” Many of the lines are resonant with Passion Week, as the poem reflects on Christ’s body and spirit. Among my favorite lines are those at the center: “Within your wounds hide me. / Permit me not to be separated from you.” In the Passion, God unites himself to us so that we are never alone in our own suffering. In the Passion, we find our shelter and “hiding place” in Christ.

About six years ago, I undertook the 19th Annotation version of the Spiritual Exercises (the Exercises in daily life). I remember praying imaginatively with the scene of Jesus in the garden at Gethsemane. Initially, I imagined myself among Jesus’ friends who waited outside the garden as he had asked. Suddenly, I realized that I did not want Jesus to be alone in his time of suffering, and so I ran to kneel next to him in the garden. I felt completely powerless to prevent his sorrow, suffering, and fear, but desperately wanted to be near to him in all that he was experiencing. I embraced him, wept with him, and held him, hoping to provide some comfort.

As I prayed, I discovered that my desire to be intimately with Jesus, and not to leave him alone in his time of need, was a mirror reflection of Jesus’ first choosing to be with me in my own suffering. God came to be a human being and to suffer so that we would never be alone in our own suffering, anxieties, fears, and sorrows. “Permit me not to be separated from you” are words that each one of us can pray to God because God said them to us first.

Jesus’ wounds also serve as a resting place for us. “Within your wounds hide me” speaks of uniting our own wounds to those of Jesus. By placing ourselves within his wounded side, hands, and feet, our own wounds become known, transformed, and healed. When I prayed with the image of Jesus being scourged, part of me desired to take a blow so that Jesus would not have to take so many. But Jesus was insistent that he cover me with his own body and take the suffering upon himself. We might want to shelter Jesus, but it is Jesus who takes on human suffering, and so shelters us from suffering and the consequences of sin.

Knowing that God comes to be with us in our suffering is also what allows us to go and to be with other people in theirs. We cannot always alleviate others’ pain by removing it from them, but we can faithfully remain present to them so that they are not alone. What Jesus does for us becomes mirrored in what we can then go out and do for others. What we receive in love, we can then go on to give.

The Prayer Amini Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ's side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
and with Thy angels
Forever and ever
Amen

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
3/8/16 11:38 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
this was one of the themes of my retreat this weekend and I thought I would share it. I spoke to me and I hope it does to you as well...


Peace and God’s Will



Have you ever heard someone say, “Peace comes from doing God’s will”? Sometimes I feel like this is the craziest line someone can give me, especially when I am in the middle of attempting to do God’s will, and it’s causing a few feathers to be ruffled or people’s eyebrows to be raised—or creating internal doubt.

At times, doing God’s will feels anything but peaceful. All it takes is one look at Jesus enduring pain during his Passion to realize that doing God’s will is not always about feeling peaceful and being pain-free.

Living out God’s invitations for us does not mean that every person around us will be on board with our decisions. Choosing to follow God’s will does not mean that we will be free from insult, betrayal, hurt, or disruption to the routine of our lives. At times, Gospel values will cause us to run smack into the opposition of those around us, which can be startling and disconcerting and feel anything but peaceful.

This is where the “rubber hits the road” in our faith, though. This is where the logic of our human brains cannot always articulate what our heart understands—that peace does come from doing God’s will. As Jesus shared with his disciples as he promised them the gift of the Holy Spirit, our great Advocate, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

While there are those in our lives that will not understand this sentiment, we do. Peace does come from God and in doing what God asks of us. And in moments when I doubt this, I lean hard and heavy on St. Ignatius’s rules for discernment to help notice the inner hum, the quiet resolve within, and the inner peace that are present as I take one step forward and then another in saying “yes” to God’s will.

It doesn’t always make sense to me, but I know I am so thankful for all the times I’ve heard myself say, “This makes no sense that I have peace right now.” It is then that I know very clearly that God is offering me a grace: the gift of peace that the world cannot give.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
2/27/16 11:58 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Come as You Are to Jesus



When I was preparing for First Communion, I remember Sister telling our class that when we go to Mass, we are going before a king—the King of all Creation—so we had better be prepared and presentable.

I took her words to heart, always wanting to be “prepared and presentable” when I went to Mass. I wanted to be so perfect for the King. The fact was, though, I wasn’t perfect. What’s worse, I knew I was never going to be perfect.

Fast forward ten years to my first year of college. The church was full of students; it was 11 p.m.—the “last-minute Mass,” as the students fondly called it. They piled into the church, overflowing the pews out to the walls. It was the first Sunday of Lent. That evening, the Jesuit homilist spoke words that would forever change my spiritual life: “Come, come as you are, just come. Jesus is your friend; he is here for you. He is waiting for you.”

The words echoed in my head for days. They cleared up the misunderstanding that had formed in my eight-year-old brain. I didn’t have to be perfect—perfectly prepared, perfectly dressed, perfectly anything—to go to Mass or to pray. I just had to go into the presence of the Lord.

How freeing! This homily inaugurated a pivotal time in my spiritual journey. It also opened the door for a personal relationship with Jesus—a friendship that would grow over the years. Because, the fact is, few people are really best friends with kings. However, if I simply thought of Jesus as my friend, it would be a lot easier to go to him, even if he were a king. And, if I didn’t have to be perfect all the time, I could talk with him any time.

In his book, What Is Ignatian Spirituality?, Jesuit David Fleming writes:

God is an active God…Our response to God occurs now. We are not to be inhibited by our own weaknesses and failure. We are not to ponder our unworthiness. God is working in our lives now and we are to respond now.…The Gospels show us Jesus entering into people’s lives and inviting them to follow him—right from where they are, from boats and fishnets and from tax booths. He does not demand first that they run to the synagogue. Neither should we delay our response to God until we deal with our neuroses and character defects and our own sinful behaviors (38–39).
Jesus doesn’t demand perfection. We don’t need to be perfect or wait for the perfect time or spot to approach Jesus. We don’t need to wait for Sunday Mass to talk with him. Throughout the day, each day, there are countless opportunities to check in with Jesus wherever we find ourselves.

This Lent, remember these words: “Come, come as you are, just come. Jesus is your friend; he is here for you. He is waiting for you.”

Don’t keep him waiting. The time to respond is now.

Jesus,
The night before your death,
you asked your friends to remain with you.
This Lent,
In the midst of all the busyness,
remind me to be present with you,
And stay with you,
To remain with you.
Here.
Now.
Amen.

Crowder - Come as you are
youtu.be/r2zhf2mqEMI

Edited by: RHOOK20047 at: 2/27/2016 (11:59)
Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
2/23/16 11:34 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Zacchaeus: Surprised by Mercy


One of my favorite Gospel stories that lends itself so well to Ignatian contemplation is the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1–10). This man appeals to me because love and acceptance took him by surprise and changed him.

Zacchaeus is a wealthy man of Jericho. His job as chief tax collector puts him in a position to get “perks” through extortion and by overstating moneys due from powerless citizens.

Zacchaeus hears that Jesus, a charismatic teacher and healer, is going to pass through the town. He’s not really interested in his message, except for the part that tells the poor to be happy. He agrees with that! But something stirs his curiosity; he’d like to see the man.

Already a crowd is gathering on the road into Jericho. Better than a parade, thinks Zacchaeus. But I don’t stand a chance of seeing him in this crowd. Thanks, Lord (he says sarcastically), for making me so short!

Nobody would stand aside for their detested tax collector. If he tried to muscle his way through the crowd, he’d probably get an elbow in the eye! Not deterred, Zacchaeus scrambles up a low-branched sycamore tree where he can get, literally, a bird’s-eye view. The roar of the crowd signals Jesus’ approach. Walking with the crowd is a man laughing and talking with the folks around him, like any ordinary person. Zacchaeus had expected more pomp, more elegance, a manner that spoke of greatness and authority.

Someone near Jesus scornfully directs his attention to the sycamore tree ahead: “Look at that ridiculous person up there in the tree! So high and mighty, is he?”

The Master looks up and sees a wide-eyed Zacchaeus gaping down at him. Something in Jesus’ ordinariness appeals to Zacchaeus and stirs some long-lost hope within him. Their eyes meet and he hears his name: “Zacchaeus! Come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house!”

The crowd parts, like the Red Sea, allowing space for Zacchaeus to scramble down to the Master’s feet, suddenly filled with joy.

However, the people of Jericho do not all share his joy. They mutter and grumble at such an absurd turn of events. “If the Teacher were a prophet, wouldn’t he know what this man is? Yet he goes so far as to invite himself to the home of a liar and a cheat, to spend the night there, and to even dine with him!” Scandalized by Jesus’ apparent lack of good judgment, many in the crowd turn away from Jesus.

Zacchaeus stands his ground: “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”

What is this amazing encounter between two strangers? Jesus changes his plan to briefly pass through the town. Jesus changes Zacchaeus.

Jesus models for us the only effective treatment for sinners: overwhelm them with kindness. Instead of shunning them, he welcomes them. How counter-intuitive! Jesus doesn’t save his mercy for the “worthy,” but lavishes it on those who most need it, such as the likes of me, and maybe even you.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
2/22/16 1:51 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Preparation

Prepare for a period of meditation by sitting comfortably, closing your eyes, and breathing deeply for a moment or two. Allow any present concerns to move across your mind and wait off to the side for now.

The Master Gardener

Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your memory as you recall events that you wish had never happened. Some of them involve words you spoke or actions you took that you now regret. Some of these events were beyond your control, yet they affected you, and they were not pleasant—perhaps they were even harmful.

Do not ask why these things happened. Do not try to figure out if they had a purpose. Simply place these memories before Jesus the Christ, trusting in his mercy.

Watch as Jesus digs a circular trench. The trench surrounds a tree that is but a few years old. In this trench Jesus buries your regrets and covers them with soft, rich soil. He weeps as he works, and his tears water the ground that feeds this growing tree. You realize then that the tree is you—it is your life with all its history and all its possibilities. This tree is you, growing every day, facing storm and extreme temperatures, soaking up sunshine and rain.

And now you understand: although you have the freedom to choose and sometimes you choose unwisely, Jesus has committed to tending your life. As long as you stay rooted in God’s mercy, Jesus will make certain you flourish and bear fruit.

You are in the hands of the master gardener. Let go of your regrets. Trust the skill and love of the One who will not give up on you.

Concluding Prayer

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
2/15/16 10:32 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Preparation

Prepare for a period of meditation by sitting comfortably, closing your eyes, and breathing deeply for a moment or two. Allow any present concerns to move across your mind and wait off to the side for now.

Transfiguration on an Ordinary Day

We think of transfiguration as a form of miracle, something that could not happen to an ordinary person on an ordinary day. However, every sacred story is meant to reach us in our own lives, in its own way.

Close your eyes and bring to mind a bright, clean place where you are in the open, where your sight is unhindered but can reach for miles in every direction. There is no clutter or noise in this place, only a breeze and soft light, this level easy place where you stand, and the sound of your own breathing, which is calm and regular.

A figure approaches from the distance. You wait for this person to come close, and in a few moments, Jesus stands there with you. Two other people are with Jesus. Both are people you know and love. Both are people who have always offered you wisdom and support. They may be alive or dead, but they are here now, with you and Jesus.

You ask why the three of them have come. They wait a long moment before answering, and in that moment, each of them, including Jesus, gazes at you with much love and intensity. You can tell that they want you to pay attention. Finally, Jesus says, “We want to help you see your life more clearly.”

One of the others says, “From where we are, we see you very well—your joys and hurts, your gifts and fears.”

The other says, “But, above all, what we see is you bathed in the light of God’s enduring love.”

Then you say, “I am here to listen to whatever you have to say to me.”

And you listen. They tell you something you need to know. It’s something about you—a choice that’s in front of you, or a problem that worries you, or a dream you have been afraid to embrace. You do not speak but listen and open your heart to hear what they have to say.

Perhaps they say several things to you. But the one sentence or image that makes the biggest impression on you is this: __________.

Concluding Prayer

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
2/2/16 1:10 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
The Joyful Season

Lent originally meant “springtime,” and so we can view it as a springtime for the spirit. It is a time also to spring clean the cave of our hearts!

Whatever the variations in the practice of Lent over the last 2,000 years, the main issue is whether Lent helps me to become more aware of how I stand in relation to God and my neighbor. The ancient practices designed to achieve these goals were fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. The call to fast makes me focus on the affairs of the spirit rather than of the body. The call to almsgiving makes me more alert to my needy neighbor. The call to prayer nourishes my relationship with God, and especially with Jesus in his Passion. What about fasting? There are many little things I can perhaps do without. The point is that the shock to the system should lead to a deeper sense of what God may want of me!

Jesus warns us against trying to attract notice when we fast or pray or give alms (Matthew 6). The simple act of washing off the ashes on Ash Wednesday is understood in some Christian circles as a reminder of Jesus’ admonition to look joyous! Lent is a “joyful season.”

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
1/20/16 9:44 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Seeing Christ in Others

Posted: 20 Jan 2016 03:30 AM PST



Early in my spiritual journey, I frequently read how important it was to see Christ in others. In particular, I admired Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who saw Christ “in the disguise of the poor.”

Try as I might (and surely it was due to a prideful disposition), I was unable to picture Christ in anyone’s disguise. It was impossible for my imagination to make the leap toward seeing Christ in mere mortals whom I could hardly like, much less love. The only solution, I reasoned, was that I must behave in such a way that they could see Christ in me.

One of my “ministries” was to visit an elderly neighbor, a survivor of Auschwitz. The strength of her character and ready sense of humor balanced her physical fragility and her constant memory of sufferings in that brutal place. Little by little, my visits became more frequent as I learned her history and relished her love of laughter. Many times, in my own loneliness, I would run over to her house, sometimes with a loaf of homemade bread, and find consolation in her company.

And little by little, my sense of performing a mitzvah with its almost imperceptible grain of condescension, like Jack Horner’s Oh, what a good girl am I!, was being transformed by the honest affection of this woman. I no longer had to picture Christ in her so that I could love her. I saw her as lovable in herself. There was no edifying kind of play-acting or imagination necessary. She poured her love into me, and Christ became visible in that love.

Thus does God gently open us to the mystery of how to love. Even I, who had gone through life holding herself off to the side, coolly observing others, was taught that Christ would respond to my clumsy efforts with an ever-warming spirit. I was taught the truth of the Gospel in the prayer of St. Francis, that it is in giving that we receive; it is in loving that we are loved.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
1/15/16 2:36 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
God Looks at Me



While reading Pope Francis’ book, The Church of Mercy, I stopped in my tracks. He asks, “Do you let yourself be looked at by the Lord?” I wondered if I take time to be aware of God’s gaze upon me. Pope Francis continues, “God looks at us, and this is itself a way of praying.”

The Pope’s words led me to the following contemplation.

I picture myself before God, like a child self-dressed for school standing before a loving parent. “Just let me look at you,” the parent says.

I stand a little taller, enjoying that smiling gaze, knowing I am the center of attention. True, my outfit is mismatched, and there’s mud on my knee and a tear in my sleeve. But God overlooks all these things, seeing only with joy the beloved child who eagerly looks back into a loving face. “Turn around.”

I pirouette, allowing myself to be studied, and God smiles. I stand looking into that face, and Divine Mercy looks lovingly at me.

I have a drawing in my hand, and I offer it for God’s approval. I’ve made a picture of my life’s plan, with all its decisions and expectations. I’ve scribbled in where I will do this or that. I picture it like a hopeful kindergartener’s rudimentary artistic effort. God accepts it, looks at it, and laughs. “It’s beautiful.”

Again, I find God gazing upon me. And I return the gaze.

Suddenly worry sneaks in. I wonder if I am going to get my picture back. What if God shreds it?! I gaze at God, not saying a word, but the anxiety shows on my face, I am sure. I sense the Almighty saying, “Trust me.”

I relax a little, but I can tell I have not surrendered that drawing. Will God hang it on the heavenly refrigerator? Will God show it proudly to every visitor to the house? “Isn’t this precious?” I can imagine God saying, pointing to my picture.

I return to the image of God and me looking at one another. God stares at me a little longer with love. I find myself letting out a deep breath. I didn’t realize that I was holding on to it. I exhale loudly.

“Trust me,” God says, handing back my drawing. The Holy Spirit wrote something on it. What does it say?

I stay still, allowing my Creator, my Redeemer and Sanctifier to hold me in a long, loving look. And suddenly, I am ready to go to sleep, and this is OK with God. While I sleep, God will continue to look at me, like a parent smiling into the restful face of a babe who gently snores with complete surrender.

Still, God looks at me.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
1/14/16 8:12 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Faced with What We Lack



With the end of each year I typically find myself in a state of hopefulness for the next year. I want to make resolutions like eating healthier, exercising, and praying more. But I also find that my hopefulness comes with a lament about some lack in the past year: I failed to make healthy choices; I was over-stressed with work; I got lazy with prayer and exercise. That lament is coated with a layer of self-dislike because I allowed myself to get that way. At year’s end it’s easy to notice what we lacked due to our choices.

A lyric in Beth Nielsen Chapman’s song “How We Love” seems to describe that cusp between the old year and the new:

Faced with what we lack
Some things fall apart
But from the ashes new dreams start.

It seems like a line perfect for the Lent-to-Easter transition, yet it’s really applicable to the entire reality of the human condition. We’re always moving from old to new. Our God is a God of new beginnings and renewal. We tend to be more aware of it during those points in the year that mark transition, like New Year’s or Lent.

One way of looking at our inherent feeling of lack is what Jesus called poverty of spirit. It describes the reality that I especially recognize each new year: My lack, my emptiness can never be filled completely with resolutions and good choices; only God can fill that space and poverty of spirit gives God the space to fill us. St. Ignatius realized this when he prayed to God, “Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.”

And so, we build new dreams from the ashes of lack. Yet like all things in this world, they’re temporary. We need not lament about our lack. Indeed, we can embrace poverty of spirit as a reminder that only God can fill us completely with love and grace.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
12/29/15 1:18 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply


Examen Prayer for the Year

As we transition into the new year, let’s try an Examen prayer of our previous year. It’s really pretty simple: the Examen helps us reflect on a past period of time—usually we reflect prayerfully over the previous day or the previous few hours. But I believe we can apply these principles to the past calendar year as well.

Step One: Become aware of God’s presence.
One way of doing this is to ask the Holy Spirit to help you review the year with a holy perspective—with wisdom, grace, and faith. Ask for the grace to tear yourself away from your own patterns of thinking and seeing so that you can see your life more as God sees it. Of course you will see your failings—but God sees you as a beloved daughter or son who has a future and a hope. Of course you will see your accomplishments—but God sees your deeper self, the person behind all the activity, a person made in God’s image.

Step Two: Review the year with gratitude.
As you use this holy perspective to review the year, pay attention to the good gifts from the year ending. Name specifically those that come to memory now, and thank God for them.

Step Three: Pay attention to your emotions.
Think over the year again, and notice your emotional reactions. What memories speak most loudly to you? What events, conversations, relationships, or activities bring up the most emotion now, as you remember them? Ask God to help you linger with these emotions, whether they are pleasant or disturbing. Ask for help in understanding why you feel as you do. What can you learn about yourself or about your situation as you dwell in your emotional responses?

Step Four: Choose one feature of the year and pray from it.
While you are lingering with your memories and emotions, settle on one feature. Perhaps it is a single event, or maybe it’s a pattern of your own behavior that has come to mind as you reviewed the year. Whatever it is that has emerged, allow it to fuel your prayer. Don’t worry about the many other aspects of the year that you could think about right now; stay with the one thing that has come to you with the most power and pray from those thoughts and emotions.

Step Five: Look toward the new year.
Imagine what challenges and blessings might await you in the coming year. Think of important relationships, major (and minor) decisions to be made, skills to learn, habits to build, healing to seek, good work to accomplish. Make a simple list of highlights—matters that you expect to take prominence in your life in the new year. Bring them to God now, and ask for the graces you will need.

End your prayer, thanking God for love and life and holy possibilities.



Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
12/21/15 12:34 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Preparation
Prepare for a period of meditation by sitting comfortably, closing your eyes, and breathing deeply for a moment or two. Allow any present concerns to move across your mind and wait off to the side for now.

Encountering the Newborn Baby
In your imagination, go to an outdoor location that felt like home for you when you were a teenager. It could be the backyard of the house you lived in, or a campground you frequented, a neighborhood park, or even a field where you played sports with your friends. Go back there now. It’s a chilly night, but the sky is clear. You’re with friends, just talking—about what’s happening at school, about somebody’s break-up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, about conflicts with parents or the car you hope to buy soon.

One of you hears voices in a shadowed corner nearby. It seems that two or three people are huddled under a canopy of branches. You detect excitement in their voices. You and your friends whisper among yourselves, wondering what you should do. After a few moments, you decide to go see what’s happening, in case someone is in trouble. You move quietly toward the sound.

Then the moon breaks through the clouds, and you see clearly a man and woman under the trees. She is lying down, and he crouches beside her. They look up as you and your friends approach.

They are not from around here—the features of their faces seem sharper and more distinct than most of the people you know. Do they speak English? One of your friends asks, his voice hesitant, “Is everything OK?”

The couple looks up at the small of group of you. In the moonlight, you can see a slight flash of fear cross their faces. But then they both smile, and then you hear a baby cry.

“Yes, we’re all right now,” says the man. “My wife just had a baby, but they’re both fine.”

The baby’s squall sends ripples across the night air. You all come closer—you’ve never seen a born-in-the-last-few-minutes new baby. The mother is wiping his hair and face with a towel. She has wrapped him in what looks like a large cotton scarf.

“Don’t you have a place to stay?” you ask.

“We’ll find one,” says the husband. “This happened so fast, we had to stop. No hospitals in this part of town—we’re traveling through and don’t know where anything is.”

By now, all of you are huddled around the mother and baby. And this is what you will remember until you are all very old: the sight of the child fills you with a deep-down joy and this overwhelming sense that the world will be all right. That you will be all right. That a huge love dwells in the universe—a love that makes such a tiny, perfect life possible. You think you’re the only one to feel this, but later, when you and your friends talk about this night, you’ll all say the same thing: something fundamental changed when you encountered this newborn baby.

But now, you take action. Your friend Natalie lives in a large house, and her parents are the kind of people that will take in this couple and their child, no questions asked. So Natalie and Jared run to her house, to get her dad and the car. Should this lady go to the hospital, to make sure she and the baby are all right? Natalie’s parents will know what to do.

The couple—Jose and Maria—beam with gratitude. Their warmth and calm actually bring you comfort, even though they are the ones in need. You talk together easily while waiting for the car, and more help, to come.

Concluding Prayer
Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
12/17/15 2:37 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
In God’s Waiting Room



Swirling ideas, wresting thoughts, and mixed-up emotions vie for my attention.

Come, Holy Spirit.

I sit still for what I hope will be a time of prayer. What will emerge?

I trust. I wait. I thank God in advance for what will be.

But my stillness leads to tangents.

I am preoccupied by a decision I need to make, and people are waiting to know my choice.

I’ve been invited to add one more good thing to my already full plate. Is it a really good thing? I want to do it, but is it the best thing at this juncture? Is it the magis?

I bring it before you, Divine Spirit, or as St. Ignatius would call you, Divine Majesty. I smile at the thought of you, and I wait. Like a patient in a doctor’s busy waiting room, I sit in the quiet, knowing the doctor will see me.

Around me are plenty of distractions. The child bouncing on a chair. Magazine headlines on a side table. I shut my eyes and wait for you to call my name. How long must I wait?
Where do I get this confidence that all this waiting will bear fruit? Previous experience.

Here is an example. I began to pray for the grace to do a daily Examen. Why is it so difficult to remember this prayer at the end of every day, or in the middle, or both—to check in with God and review where we have walked together? Maybe my distractions have something to do with it. For many days I’ve asked for this grace, and my success has been spotty.

Then today a present arrived in the mail—two books. I immediately began reading the thin book by Mark Thibodeaux, SJ. I was on page five before it hit me like a two-by-four. The book is called Reimagining the Ignatian Examen. God is answering my prayer using someone who had no idea of the grace I was requesting.

“Loretta?”

I suddenly remember I am in God’s waiting room. I’ve been called by a smiling intercessor with a clipboard. She opens a door for me. She guides me along the right hallway. Surely goodness and kindness await me, for the Lord is my doctor and there is no reason to fear the outcome.

At last I am placed alone in a quiet private room and invited to take off the layers that will prevent me from receiving the doctor’s examination. The outfit that I hide behind is shed.

It leaves me vulnerable in a paper-thin gown. The cold air distracts me in the silent room as I sit shoeless on a paper-covered table. Holy Spirit, come.

I rest in the silence and I wait for you, O, God. How long must I wait before I hear a knock at the door?


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
11/27/15 8:20 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
How do I respond when I see violence in the world? How do I feel when I see sin and injustice? Angry? Sad? Confused? More importantly-what do I do?

I could hide. Some hide literally. Many more hide behind technology, busyness-- and even their own sin. Others want to fight. How do I respond?

Most importantly-how does God respond? He sends His Son, His Most Beloved, His only begotten. God does not run from us, but rather runs toward us as a Father searching for His wounded sons and daughters amid the rubble.



Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat. Literally _Saw Mountain _-- aptly named. Here Ignatius laid down his sword before the ancient statue of Jesus and Mary.

In the Spiritual Exercises, St Ignatius invites us to, "hear what the Divine Persons are saying, that is, 'Let us work the redemption of the human race... and bring about the most holy Incarnation.'" The entire salvation of mankind will hinge on the response of a poor young woman from Nazareth. Her name is Mary and she is full of grace. She is not full of power and strength-at least not in the way we usually understand those words. She knows herself, and who God is. In her heart, she ponders the angel's invitation: bear the Son of God and be the Mother of God? She speaks with trust and hope: "How can this be?" All the angels, all sinners, all the victims, all of creation leans forward-waiting for her response. Mary answers, "Fiat! Yes, let it be done to me according to your word."

What is the Father's response to our sin and the sins of the whole world? Jesus. God gives us a greater love, a greater gift than we dared to ask. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. In the Gospel, Jesus prophesies about the violence and fear that we will witness. He is right, of course. The effect of sin and disobedience is always destruction, whether big or small. He also promises that we "will see the Son of Man coming," and that our "redemption is at hand." He comes as the tiny child in the womb of Mary; this is the King of the Universe. He is God's 'Yes' to mankind, and Mary's 'Yes' to God.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
11/25/15 12:46 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Gratitude for All Who Came Before Us


In Hebrews 11:1–40, there is a litany of thanksgiving to the “faith of the ancients,” all those who went before us: Abel and Cain, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Moses, etc. This letter captures the faith of these people who “died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them.” They passed on the faith in the promise of the Messiah, who they never met in person, and it is their lives and belief that are the foundation for our Salvation history. All of these men and women stand with us today and pray for and with us.

Then there are those who were part of Jesus’ life: those who birthed Jesus and raised him, like Mary and Joseph; those who readied people’s hearts for the Messiah’s coming, like St. John the Baptist; and those who walked with him as his disciples, like St. Peter, St. John, and St. Matthew. These men and women saw the promised Messiah in the flesh with their own eyes and, unlike many others in their day, believed and knew who Jesus was. They, too, stand with us and pray for and with us.

There are all who came after Jesus’ time, all of the saints who passed on the faith through various religious orders and charisms, such as St. Ignatius, St. Francis, St. Augustine, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Teresa of Avila. Their faith is much like the faith of the ancients mentioned in Hebrews, believing but not seeing. Yet they profess a faith in the Messiah who came and a faith that there will be a Second Coming. They stand with us and pray for us, too.

This great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1) stands with us, and it includes all who believed what had been promised regarding the Messiah. Along with the named saints stand our loved ones who pray for and with us. As we make the turn from the month of gratitude towards the season of Advent, let us thank God for all who came before us to prepare the way for us to believe.

We, too, are witnesses as we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Messiah. Like those who came before us, we hold on to the promise.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
11/20/15 9:53 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
As we celebrate the feast of Christ the King this weekend, I always reflect on St. Ignatius, one of my favorite Saints.

St. Ignatius was fighting for the King of Spain when he was hit by a cannonball. The French soldiers admired his courage, so they helped him onto a stretcher. His companions carried him back to his family's castle so that he could die at home.
As he lay in bed, Ignatius asked for a few books to keep his mind occupied. He hoped for adventure books about knights and dragons and damsels in distress. All they had was a book about the lives of the saints and another with meditations on the life of Christ.

Slowly, powerfully, Ignatius questioned his loyalties. Why serve the King of Spain when he could be serving the King of Kings? Why battle against the French when he should be fighting for the salvation of souls?


Ignatius offers us the Call of the King meditation in the Spiritual Exercises. There, he describes Christ calling all people to join Him under the banner of His Cross. "Whoever desires should come with Me and labor with Me, that following Me in the pain he may also follow Me into glory."

This Sunday is the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Jesus is Our Lord and Savior. He has given us everything-- even pouring out His Life for us. There is no higher king. There is no higher cause than His Kingdom. We fight for His Kingdom not with gunpowder and cannons but with prayer and labor and sacrifice. Spain might win one battle but lose the next. But the saints fight for a Kingdom that will never end. Jesus does not want to defeat His enemies, but beacons them to join Him-and to live with Him in Heaven forever.


The call of Christ captured the heart of Ignatius. The King's call still stirs the hearts of those who have the courage to follow Him. "Whoever desires should come with Me...into glory."

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
11/18/15 11:17 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Three Ingredients in a Recipe for Gratitude

So many times a day we say “thank you” out of nothing more than common courtesy at best or, at worst, out of habit, with no realization that we even said it. Thus, saying “thank you” is actually the least impactful part of being grateful. My spiritual director will often instruct me to “sit with a feeling”—not judge it or rationalize it, but instead just “sit with it” so I really feel it. What does real gratitude feel like? Here are the ingredients I can almost taste when I take the time to feel truly grateful.

First we taste two cups of humility. True gratitude instantly puts me in a place of realizing I am dependent on another. Whatever I have just received—whether it was a cup of coffee, a borrowed pen, or the deepest desire of my heart—someone beyond myself has just positively impacted me and made my life better. A western cultural mentality promotes the thinking that we somehow deserve whatever we have received, especially if money was involved. There is even a prosperity theology out there that asserts wealth is a blessing God bestows on some and not others. Don’t fall for it. God’s blessing comes in the way of life and love and is freely given to all. If you think money can take the place of your dependence on others, you are cheating yourself out of recognizing our interdependence and experiencing the humility true gratitude brings.

The second cup of humility in my recipe for gratitude comes from the Ignatian mantra that God is in all things. The enormity of God’s presence is easy to feel standing next to the vast ocean or staring up at a sky with a million stars, but even when I am heartbroken or scared, on the craziest of days or just standing in line at the department store, the moment that I reach for sincere gratitude I am bowled over by the enormity of God’s love and graciousness in my life. How is it that with all my faults and failings, one mere creature of the billions on this earth, the God of all, the Creator of all, longs for me? How is it I have come to have this moment? True gratitude affirms the paradox of our smallness and God’s grandeur.

Sitting in gratitude I can also taste a cup of relief. If you say “thank you,” but you don’t feel just a bit of weight lift off your shoulders or anxiety dissipate from your mind, chances are you aren’t really experiencing gratitude. Naming the concern or need that has just been alleviated instantly stirs the gratitude pot.

Finally, experiencing true gratitude always brings a taste of hope. Receiving is empowering. It allows you to take that next step down the road, to look to the future, and to keep going even when the road is hard. A barrier has been removed or a reinforcement has arrived, even if only in the form of smile from another.

Sitting in gratitude to experience this humility, relief, and hope need not take an extended hour of meditation. In mere seconds of awareness I can feel these ingredients all wash over me. St. Ignatius encourages us to begin and end all things with gratitude. Thus, when I say, “thank you” for taking the time to read this blog post and reflect on your own tastes of gratitude, you know exactly what I feel.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
11/17/15 10:52 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
We Cannot Stop at Thank You

Every November, my social media feeds are filled with posts and pictures of people doing “30 days of thanks.” At first glance, I appreciate the way people are intentionally reflecting on their lives to say thank you for what they name as gifts and blessings. It reminds me of one of the steps of the Examen, where we pause and thank God for what we noticed in the last 24 hours.

St. Ignatius, though, did not suggest we stop our prayer at offering thanksgiving. He invited us to bring our entire lives before God, naming with honesty our thanks, our moments where we feel God, our lives’ dark spots, and our sins.

The temptation to offer only prayers of thanksgiving to God is a common practice that I notice in my ministry of retreats and spiritual direction. We are afraid to bring our mess before God and fearful to be completely honest with God about what’s going on in life.

I wonder how many of our human relationships would last if we kept all of our conversations at the level of thanks, like we sometimes do with God? Relationships move to a different level when we risk being vulnerable, when we have a deep sharing of heart, and when we have a space to voice not only what we are thankful for, but also our lingering questions, our desires, and our struggles. We cannot stop at thank you.

I like to think of prayer like the words we read in the Psalms, where there is a mix of thanks, praise, anger, questions, frustration, and joy—sometimes within the same psalm. One minute we might read how the psalmist is crying out with joy and the next the psalmist is asking, God, why did you abandon me?

It’s tough to be this honest in prayer, to bring our thanks to God, but also our dark spots, the spots we are struggling with, the places of weakness. But if we hold back these places from God, how can God transform them with mercy? How can God help us forgive ourselves or others? How can God give us clarity if all we are bringing is our thanks and not our questions? God can direct our actions and guide us when we seek God’s help in all aspects of our lives.

Keeping only to thanksgiving would be like allowing ourselves to hang out in the preparation days of the Spiritual Exercises forever and never having the courage to enter Week One to look at our sinfulness and let God transform it, or not entering into Week Two to get to know intimately Jesus, who shared himself completely with us, or never entering Week Three and letting God transform our suffering. Week Four of the Exercises means nothing to us without the complete vulnerability of letting Jesus completely into our lives, which is the work of the previous weeks.

So this November, yes, let us shout with joy and sing songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. That is a vital component of a healthy prayer life. But what if, in addition to songs of praise, we committed this month to honest prayer and bringing our entire lives before God? My guess, based on my own life experience and on witnessing others’ prayer in spiritual direction sessions, is that this month of honest prayer will move us to an even deeper prayer of thanksgiving to God!


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
11/16/15 11:49 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Gratitude on the Difficult Days

My wife has a habit that I find both irritating and wise all at once. When I come home after a really bad day at work, the first thing she asks me is, “What are you thankful for today?”ť While she knows that she’ll be greeted with my pithy retort of, “I’m thankful it’s over,”ť she also knows that in that one quick exchange she has refocused me. That question forces me away from my bleak and self-pitying outlook on the day and reminds me that I ought to be thankful that I had the day to begin with.

Gratitude is quite possibly the greatest weapon God gives us against despair. When we take the time to be grateful, it diverts our gaze toward the light rather than the darkness. This theme of gratitude in the bleakest moments is all over the Bible. As they began their ministry, the apostles were persecuted, flogged, and threatened. Their response to this, though, was to rejoice that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of God. They saw the light in the midst of darkness, and it gave them what they needed to keep on with their ministry. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is described as “anxious”ť to eat the Passover meal with the apostles, and he gives thanks during that meal. He knew it was his last, he knew one of his apostles would betray him, and yet he found a little bit of light in that dark day.

St. Ignatius clearly recognized the power of gratitude. He suggested gratitude as a central part of the Examen, ensuring that retreatants, the Jesuits, and all whom they guide and teach come into the practice of seeing the good that God grants them each day of their lives. It’s perfect training for those periods of desolation—a light toward consolation.

I challenge you, the next time life seems to push you down at every turn or you’re just having a lousy day, to take some time to consider the question that irritates me: What are you thankful for today? It might seem like an insurmountable challenge in some circumstances. If that’s the case, Padre Pio offers you this ounce of hope, “The most beautiful act of faith is the one made in darkness, in sacrifice, and with extreme effort.”ť

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
11/9/15 10:49 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
We Cannot Stop at Thank You



Every November, my social media feeds are filled with posts and pictures of people doing “30 days of thanks.” At first glance, I appreciate the way people are intentionally reflecting on their lives to say thank you for what they name as gifts and blessings. It reminds me of one of the steps of the Examen, where we pause and thank God for what we noticed in the last 24 hours.

St. Ignatius, though, did not suggest we stop our prayer at offering thanksgiving. He invited us to bring our entire lives before God, naming with honesty our thanks, our moments where we feel God, our lives’ dark spots, and our sins.

The temptation to offer only prayers of thanksgiving to God is a common practice that I notice in my ministry of retreats and spiritual direction. We are afraid to bring our mess before God and fearful to be completely honest with God about what’s going on in life.

I wonder how many of our human relationships would last if we kept all of our conversations at the level of thanks, like we sometimes do with God? Relationships move to a different level when we risk being vulnerable, when we have a deep sharing of heart, and when we have a space to voice not only what we are thankful for, but also our lingering questions, our desires, and our struggles. We cannot stop at thank you.

I like to think of prayer like the words we read in the Psalms, where there is a mix of thanks, praise, anger, questions, frustration, and joy—sometimes within the same psalm. One minute we might read how the psalmist is crying out with joy and the next the psalmist is asking, God, why did you abandon me?

It’s tough to be this honest in prayer, to bring our thanks to God, but also our dark spots, the spots we are struggling with, the places of weakness. But if we hold back these places from God, how can God transform them with mercy? How can God help us forgive ourselves or others? How can God give us clarity if all we are bringing is our thanks and not our questions? God can direct our actions and guide us when we seek God’s help in all aspects of our lives.

Keeping only to thanksgiving would be like allowing ourselves to hang out in the preparation days of the Spiritual Exercises forever and never having the courage to enter Week One to look at our sinfulness and let God transform it, or not entering into Week Two to get to know intimately Jesus, who shared himself completely with us, or never entering Week Three and letting God transform our suffering. Week Four of the Exercises means nothing to us without the complete vulnerability of letting Jesus completely into our lives, which is the work of the previous weeks.

So this November, yes, let us shout with joy and sing songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. That is a vital component of a healthy prayer life. But what if, in addition to songs of praise, we committed this month to honest prayer and bringing our entire lives before God? My guess, based on my own life experience and on witnessing others’ prayer in spiritual direction sessions, is that this month of honest prayer will move us to an even deeper prayer of thanksgiving to God!


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
11/4/15 11:22 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Finding Your Perfect Point of Gratitude



November moves us toward the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving. Most of us will try to attend to this holiday before we get too crazy about our Christmas preparations. In some ways, Thanksgiving is the beginning of the long holiday we call the Christmas season. And it does make sense to practice gratitude for what has already happened before we move into hope for what is to come.

I grew up in a very small town in the heartland, with most of my extended family within a 20-mile radius. My mother’s family was especially close-knit when it came to holidays. During most of my growing-up years, we were at Grandma’s for Thanksgiving and also for a late midday feast on Christmas day. Grandma was the eldest among her siblings, and her home was the family center, so it was always interesting to watch the crowd converge. Many years, there was at least one new baby in the family. And many years, there had also been a death. So when we gathered around the table, it was rarely the same group twice. I would sit there and silently observe who was gone and who was new. Besides death, there was sometimes divorce, which took people from our table. And besides newborns, there were also new boyfriends or girlfriends, or new wives or husbands.

Thus Thanksgiving became a day of assessment, when I took a thoughtful look at my family. Some faces looked wearier and heart worn; one or two of our elders might have shown clear signs of illness and decline. We always had a prayer before the meal, and that prayer always gave thanks to God for every person present and for our many blessings. I’m not sure it’s possible to be grateful until we’ve been truthful. My family showed up at the holiday table having fought many battles against illness or loneliness or family conflict or troubled circumstances. Our gratitude came at a price. These same people would help one another decorate the family graves in just a few more months, after the spring thaw and before the lighter, warmer days of summer. We gave thanks because we understood that every good thing matters a lot.

I don’t believe gratitude is simply a smile-through-everything-and-ignore-what-h
urts mentality. I don’t believe gratitude looks only at what is going well. Rather, it bravely pauses and takes account of life—of everything going on—and chooses to say thank-you for the whole of it. Gratitude that issues from a Christian worldview recognizes that there is always a much bigger picture than the snapshot a person is working from on any given day. The Christian sees the redemption beyond whatever darkness we face right now. The Christian sees our capacity to endure great sorrow and trauma and grow in spite of it.

But growth and endurance don’t simply happen. God provides grace, but I make choices. I grow stronger and kinder—or I grow helpless and bitter. Sometimes I think the difference between those two outcomes relies on my willingness to give thanks every day. Somehow the gratitude then feeds the hope. And hope does not get along with bitterness; one of them has got to go.

So where is that perfect point of gratitude? Where is that balanced place at which we speak the truth without succumbing to sadness and anger? And at which we relinquish our fears and hurts and welcome the life we’ve been given?


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
11/2/15 10:27 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
The Burnt Cookie Examen

St. Ignatius taught the valuable spiritual practice of praying the Examen daily. When I sit down at the end of the day for my own Examen, I always wish my review would turn out like a little gift—all wrapped-up, tidy, and cute. I wish I could review my day and see my perfect actions and God’s very obvious actions throughout my day.

In reality though, this romantic notion is rarely met, because I’m not living in a spiritual fairy tale. In fact, some days, the only place I see God’s action is in the accomplishment of maintaining sanity and composure when things don’t go as planned!

St. Ignatius knew this. He encouraged his followers to examine the day honestly and urged them to see the workings of God even in the nitty-gritty aspects of daily life.

So some days, my “Mom’s Examen” goes like this:

Lord, here I am in your presence.

I’m having a hard time with gratitude right now so please, Lord,
help me to see past the burnt cookies,
spilt flour,
and milk too.

Piles of dishes, and
mountains of laundry too.

Soggy soccer gear,
bags of groceries on the floor.
Squeaky strings permeating the air.

Kids’ tantrums,
and grandpa’s too.

My breathless frustrations
and imperfections.

Because, Lord, I know that you are all good,
and you are with me through it all.
Each moment,
each day,
a gift.

I offer you myself,
my efforts this day,
so imperfect, yet
so true.

I offer them to you, my God,
who sees beauty
where I see mess.
Who makes all things whole,
and nothing less.

Remind me, Lord, of the privilege
I have in serving you
in the family,
in the mundane.

Remind me, Lord, of the gift of
food that makes the dishes dirty.
Machines and harnessed power
that wash the dishes
and laundry too.

You, Lord, who makes a symphony of a practice session.
Gourmet meals of burnt offerings.
Harmony from dissonance.
Open my eyes, Lord, to see you in the mud from the field.
You, in the warmth of those around the hearth.

Where I have failed today
help me to do better tomorrow.

For where your touch is,
there is Grace,
Life,
Beauty,
and Love.

And you know, Lord, I need your Grace,
your gentle caress,
for imperfect me.
Imperfect
and loved.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
10/30/15 10:40 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Five Reasons Not to Dismiss Halloween

Whether or not you have children, it’s hard to escape the Halloween decorations and festivities this time of year. Here are my thoughts on why we should attend to this holiday.

1.Halloween has become just another fun day for kids. Yes, there are some dark origins of All Hallows Eve, but the little folks that come traipsing up your sidewalk dressed as monsters, Disney characters, and comic book heroes do not connect their good time with anything but dressing up, playing scared, and pulling in a great load of sweets. Don’t burden children with your own ambivalence about the holiday.

2.It provides a way for you to get to know your neighbors. Be the really cool house with the good treats. Greet the trick-or-treaters with enthusiasm and identify them by name if that’s what they want (and often, the little ones want you to know who they are). Take a moment to chat with the mom or dad or older sibling who is accompanying the younger kids. Introduce yourself if there’s been no formal introduction. You might take it a bit further and make your living room or front porch a place for adults to come by for cider and treats and to sit for a bit.

3.It can become a teachable holiday. Kids might venture to ask spiritual questions around this time. Is there really a devil? Do ghosts haunt places? Should they be afraid of some stories they hear this time of year? Many of us follow a specific spiritual tradition, and this is a great time to connect our beliefs to real life. For Christians, Halloween is a good opportunity to talk about our tradition of saints, about our views of death and resurrection. And we can temper the more popular stories out in the culture. The Christian (and Jewish and Muslim) tradition does believe that evil exists, and we have guidelines for how to deal with it—and how to avoid it.

4.Halloween helps us confront life’s dark side. Or, we could put this in more psychological, Jungian terms and call this the shadow side. We play at being frightened on Halloween because fear is something we deal with every day. It’s especially important for young people to learn to confront their fears and name them rather than repress and deny them. We dress up like skeletons, ghosts, and ghouls in part because it helps us face death. Sometimes we use a costume to express an aspect of our personality that in a normal day does not feel so safe or comfortable. Halloween can allow us to do some work that is psychological and spiritual, and do it in a context that is safe and lighthearted.

5.It can open the door to faithful influence. Christians throughout history have made choices about how to be involved in the surrounding culture. Some feel that they must stand against the culture and provide a picture of life very different and identifiably Christian. Others try to blend in and be part of the culture so as to have easy access to people in order to love them as Christ loves all of us. And yet others try to engage the culture in order to change it to one more life-giving and God-honoring. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, cultural holidays present opportunities for engagement. Probably the least effective reaction to the culture is total silence, which to others appears as a lack of concern and the worst kind of indifference.

So, Happy Halloween to you all! As you encounter the ghosts and goblins, the heroes and outcasts, say a prayer of thanks for the great host of saints and angels who surround the scene, and for the ability of children to charade as pirates while warming your heart.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
10/29/15 2:48 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Invitations from God

There is a brilliant scene in the first Harry Potter book in which ten-year-old Harry receives a letter in the mail that his Uncle Vernon refuses to let him read, only to have another very similar envelope arrive the next day, and another and another and another. The letter, very clearly addressed as a formal invitation to Harry, keeps coming by every means possible—mail, owl, through the windows, even down the chimney, until hundreds of invitations are flying through the living room air, seemingly desperate to reach their intended recipient.

I sometimes recall this scene as I am finishing my daily Examen. The last movement is an opportunity to look forward to the coming day and prepare myself to receive whatever invitations God might have for me to experience His presence. If only I would get a letter saying, “You are hereby cordially invited to meet me at the corner of 72nd and Dodge—I’ll be the one holding the donation cup.” Or, “You are hereby cordially invited to breathe deeply and not let your work stress take priority over your relationships. I will be with you.” What will my invitations say today? I picture myself as eager as Harry, leaping to grab even just one of the invitations flying around me. Please, dear God, let me be aware of how you are constantly trying to connect with me, to invite me into your world.

I picture the Spirit Not of God as Uncle Vernon, desperate to keep me from grasping even one moment of connection with God. He is barricading the mail slot in the doorway with more things on my to-do list or filling my heart with fears of how those invitations to find God are bad for me. But to no avail. The invitations to experience the beauty and call of this life are too prevalent for a mere human (or muggle) to control. The invitations will keep coming, every day in a new form, inviting me to a whole new world beyond my imagination. These invitations are not to do magic, though, but instead to live love.

What invitations will you receive today?


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
10/21/15 11:01 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Gratitude and Guilt

Gratitude is a key aspect of Ignatian spirituality, and even when I don’t have much time for prayer, I do try to take a few moments each day to thank God for the blessings of the day. The problem is that sometimes when I look at the world around me, it seems so very dark for many, and I have to admit that my gratitude can be weighed down in guilt. I go to sleep each night in my warm house, never worrying that my neighborhood might be bombed as I sleep. I say good-bye to my husband each morning as we head off to work, never worrying that he may be taken by armed men never to return. I send my daughter to school each day, never wondering if her education might cost her life. I don’t know the pain of hunger or the loneliness of loss. Sometimes in considering the overwhelming blessings in my life, I wonder how it is that I could live such an easy life while others suffer so cruelly. Guilt takes over. In this affluent society in which we live, I suspect I’m not alone in feeling this.

Now, guilt is the natural result of our transgressions and normally leads us to remorse and apology. The fact that we live relatively comfortable lives, however, is not completely within our control. Consequently, it may not be something we should feel sorry about. It’s tempting to stop there and dismiss the feeling as “good ol’ Catholic guilt.” But what if the guilt is stemming from something deeper?

St. Ignatius encourages retreatants to pay attention to how they are feeling, so it would be wrong just to dismiss the guilt. Rather, Ignatius would have us spend some time in the messiness of such an uncomfortable feeling and see where it leads. Maybe the guilt does stem from something we can control; maybe it comes from something we are not doing—yet.

“Much will be required of the one who has been given much, and more will be asked of the one entrusted with more” (Luke 12:48). It’s interesting that just after this passage in Luke is the verse, “I have come to bring a fire upon the earth and how I wish it were already kindled” (12:49). That uneasy feeling inside is perhaps a call to action—the spark that will ignite that flame. In the uncomfortable feeling, amid our many, many blessings, what is God calling us to do?


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
10/15/15 10:44 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
What Stirs You to Love

St. Teresa said, “The important thing is not to think much but to love much; and do that which best stirs you to love.”

Divine love is beyond our comprehension, but we must begin somewhere. I think of Merry’s advice to Pippin in The Lord of the Rings: “It is best to love first what you are fitted to love.”

The hobbits were fitted to love the shire. Their deep roots and affection for the things of home enabled them to care for the troubles of the greater world that was beyond their grasp. We, too, can start at home and see the love for our families as a signpost to something greater.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
10/14/15 10:55 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
God Is Right in the Middle of Love

A friend of mine recently described specific people who had changed her life. They had changed her just by being themselves, by loving her in their particular ways of loving. They did not change her life by imposing any kind of plan on her or by trying hard to influence what she did—no, the change happened in the midst of daily tasks and conversations.

In a sense, that friend was meeting God in those conversations and in the hours spent laboring over projects. When we allow others’ love to affect us, we’re surrendering to a much bigger love. When people love one another, however imperfectly, God is right in the middle of that.

* I remember the grandmother who laughed a lot and who was so patient with me as I made mistakes and learned new skills.
* I remember the pastor who would make himself available whenever I, a teenager, imagined myself to be in spiritual crisis. His calm manner and optimism about God working in my life steadied me and my faith.
* I remember the piano teachers who kept showing up, the elderly next-door neighbors who consistently acted delighted to see any of us children in their yards or at their doors.
* I remember people in church, at school, and on the job who have made my life a friendly sojourn.
* I think of people now—whether my husband of nearly two decades or friends of just a few years—whose kindness has made lovely prints upon my life.

If you feel that God isn’t showing up much these days, remember the people who have showed up often and sometimes quietly, to enter your conversations, lend their help, and connect with you in real and helpful ways. See, God never left.

The post God Is Right in the Middle of Love appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
10/13/15 11:30 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Following Our Deepest Desires Like the Bees

Posted: 13 Oct 2015 03:30 AM PDT

Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved honeybees. My grandfather raised them on his retirement farm, and I used to love to help him out at the hives. We’d go to harvest honey or simply to check in on the bees’ health. Bees fascinated me for the way that their hard cooperative work could produce something so sweet and gratuitous.

This summer, in the midst of my summer retreat, I spent some time contemplatively watching bees, their heads nestled into the center of pretty yellow and purple flowers. At that point, I was discerning how to direct my time in the upcoming year. I have many interests and obligations, a lot of energy, and yet also a deep need for contemplation. I want my life to be generative and “for the greater glory of God.” Yet, how to choose?

Several bees were heavy with pollen on their legs as they moved from flower to flower. I felt God direct my attention to the fact that bees pollinate as they go about feasting on the nectar that they gather for honey. They do not intend to pollinate; rather, pollination is a side effect as they move from one attractive flower to the next. God’s invitation to me was to go to particular activities where I am drawn and to let go of my concerns about where I am being productive. Bees’ generative capacities accompany them as they follow their desires, and God was assuring me that following my own deepest desires at work and at home would be generative—whether or not I ever see the effects of my work as a teacher, mother, and writer.

Later, I shared this with my spiritual director back home, who shared an image from one of her own past directors. A bee often hovers above a gathering of flowers and then decides to focus in on one to which it then flies down. When the bee has finished with that flower, it again hovers and zooms in to feast on the next. Applying that to our lives, for example, sometimes we are faced with many different kinds of beautiful prayers to pray, but choosing one at a time allows us to go deeper.

Like the bee, we can take time to hover and to reflect: where am I drawn? We can then joyfully choose that to which God draws us, entrusting it to God that we “pollinate” as we go.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
10/9/15 12:47 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
The Dust Storm in Prayer

Have you ever felt like you are caught in a dust storm in prayer, where there is so much swirling around you that you struggle to see clearly? I feel like I am living in one such storm right now. There are abundant graces surrounding me at the same time I feel surrounded by many questions.

We are in a season of transition in our family, marked by our third move in seven years to a different city. This time we did not move to an unfamiliar city, but we returned home, to our beloved hometown of Baton Rouge, LA. Sheepishly I admit, I thought this move would be a piece of cake, because it did not have some of the challenges of our other moves: knowing no one, being unfamiliar with the city, and starting completely over from scratch. While this move includes returning to family, life-long friends, and a city I know like the back of my hand, it also holds many unanswered questions because of how quickly this move happened.

Daily I come to prayer, and as I try to quiet myself, I feel bombarded by numerous thoughts as I bring my last 24 hours before God. The gift of returning home feels like a shower of graces, which invigorates and confuses me at the same time as I seek to open myself to receive God’s overwhelming goodness. How do we live with this abundance, Lord? How are you calling us to embrace and return these gifts to you?

Then my brain turns to the pieces of our life that still feel unclear: all of the questions about finding a home, helping three children adjust to a new city and school, discerning invitations for ministry, and seeking God’s guidance for what work will look like here. I attempt to bring each piece of our life before God, but I feel like there is a dust storm, full of both consolation and uncertainty, swirling around me, making me struggle to keep my center in God.

What I know from past seasons of transition is that what feels like a dust storm now, clouding me from seeing everything clearly, will eventually settle. What will hold me steady right now, though? I continue to turn to the reminder from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Rejoice in hope…persevere in prayer” (12:12). The easier part right now is to rejoice in all the good and give thanks for every answered prayer and gift from God. The more challenging piece for me is to continue to persevere in prayer as my husband and I seek God’s guidance on the remaining pieces of this transition. I want to act and move things along quicker than they seem to be progressing right now.

I want out of the dust storm, but that is not where life has me right now. It has me standing in the cloud of dust while naming the gifts and holding the questions. I am not there alone, though, even though I feel like I cannot see clearly. I feel the infinite presence of God holding me steady.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
10/6/15 1:05 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
The Rich Young Man and the Look of Love

This story is inspired by Mark 10:17–22, Jesus and the rich man.

I had to walk away. Was he kidding? No way could I give up my comfortable life and spacious home! I love my clothes and collections and my small luxuries.

I love eating food others prepare and walking away from clean-up. I enjoy all sorts of entertainments—and none of these are bad. I am a God-fearing man who keeps every commandment. I just happen to have the ability to buy almost anything I want.

I take for granted going first. Perhaps it’s selfish, but we who are wealthy deserve our blessings, right? That’s what I learned growing up.

Why should I wait in line? I saw nothing wrong with running up to Jesus and interrupting. I had a burning question, and I needed an answer. It made perfect sense to seek an answer from Jesus, since I believe him to be the long-awaited Messiah.

I’ve slowly changed my attitude since I asked Jesus what I must do to achieve eternal life. I am different in a way that unsettles my daily choices.

He asked me why I called him good. Instead of answering that question, I asked another. Which commandments should I keep? In retrospect, I wish I had answered his question. I think our discussion would have ended differently. But I cannot undo my past.

When Jesus listed which commandments I should be following, he didn’t mention all ten. As I reflected later on the ones he did mention, I realized that I am guilty of small infractions against those very commandments. Jesus was gently pointing out areas for my growth.

I have killed—in the way I spoke about my neighbor, I killed his good reputation. I stole his good name. And for what? A chance to appear better before others.

I failed to honor the rabbi—a spiritual father to me. I treated his remarks with disdain and an arrogant pride unworthy of those who love God. I see now that I broke the commandment to honor my father—a person with authority over me.

I digress.

I told Jesus I had kept all the commandments, and he looked at me with love. Knowing my heart inside and out, knowing my failures better than I admit them to myself, he still looked at me with indescribable love.

That look burned itself into my heart. I had never seen or experienced such a love, communicated by a mere facial expression. I was hooked.

I walked away, yes, but his face! His face was indelibly printed on my memory.

In that moment, I had to walk away. I have many, many responsibilities and possessions. I couldn’t accept his offer to follow—not abruptly like that when I have so much under my control.

I wasn’t turning him down, exactly. I was turning down that crazy invitation to just drop it all and follow. No way could I do that.

Am I trying to justify my behavior and make excuses for myself?

Since that day, I have begun letting go, little by little. In small increments I am moving toward a final farewell to my disordered love for all things material. I am progressing towards finding Jesus on the road someday and accepting the invitation to follow. I keep seeing that amazing look of pure love on his face. I want to see that look again.

Wait for me, Jesus! I am coming. I just need a little more time.


----------------------------------------
----------------------------------------

Things to ponder:
If I were to meet Jesus face to face, what would my question to him be today?
Am I putting off following Jesus 100% by clinging to something or someone?


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
10/5/15 10:18 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Why Spiritual Direction Is Good for Anyone Who Takes Faith Seriously

Is spiritual direction intended only for a small elite group composed of clergy and nuns and a handful of laity with special vocations? Not really. Direction is for serious Christians generally, whether cleric, religious, or lay. But since that is seldom said these days, it needs explaining. Here goes.

Spiritual direction can be described many ways, but the best way is to emphasize its role in helping people see, accept, and live out God’s will in their lives. Speaking specifically of the laity, Pope St. John Paul II says the “fundamental objective” of their formation is “ever-clearer discovery of one’s vocation and the ever-greater willingness to live it so as to fulfill one’s mission.” Spiritual direction is a big help in that.

As the quote above (from St. John Paul’s landmark document on the laity, Christifideles Laici) makes clear, everybody has a personal vocation. It’s his or her unique role in accomplishing God’s redemptive plan through the life of “good works” which, as the letter to the Ephesians says, “God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2.10).

Spiritual direction doesn’t give you a personal vocation. The vocation is already there. But direction assists people in discerning their vocations and carrying them out.

Which, of course, is a lifetime job. People tend to imagine that a vocation comes whole and entire in a sudden lightning flash, and that’s the end of it. But the unfolding of a vocation is a lifelong process, and discerning it a daily task. As Cardinal Newman says, God’s call is “a thing which takes place now,” and the “accidents and events of life” are prominent among the ways in which “the calls I speak of come to us.”

One obvious conclusion is that there’s nothing esoteric or mystical about spiritual direction. It isn’t reading tea leaves or gazing into a crystal ball. Think of it as a conversation between friends. But, you may ask, a conversation about what?

There are lots of possibilities, but topics that typically arise include establishing and maintaining a plan of life—a program of spiritual practices helpful in the daily struggle, rooting out stubborn faults, spiritual reading, improving relationships and being of service to others. And that’s for starters.

Someone who’d read something I wrote on this subject remarked that if you took seriously what was said, it would mean even plans for the family vacation were potential material for spiritual direction.

My critic evidently considered the very idea absurd. I don’t. Although planning a family vacation usually doesn’t call for much soul-searching, there may be times when chatting with a spiritual director really will be helpful in making up your mind about what will be best for the others.

Note, though, that spiritual direction isn’t about telling people what to do. It’s about helping them to consider their options in the clear light of personal vocation. Then it’s up to them to make their own free choice.

Direction isn’t a form of confession either. If the director is a priest, sacramental confession may be involved. But spiritual direction and sacramental confession are two different things.

Finding a director isn’t necessarily easy. Prudence and sensitivity, availability and personal compatibility—these and much else are necessary. But it’s worth the effort. For as St. John Paul says, “personal vocation and mission define the dignity and the responsibility of each member of the lay faithful”—and spiritual direction can go a long way in helping us see what “personal vocation and mission” look like for us.

Russell Shaw is the author or coauthor of 21 books and numerous articles, columns, and reviews. He is a member of the faculty of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, and former Secretary for Public Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
10/1/15 10:37 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Prayer Is the Sharing of Presence

When I spend time with a friend, I want that person’s presence. After a while, a phone call or an e-mail just isn’t good enough—I want a body to hug, a face to gaze upon, the whole person behind the phone voice and the written words. God wants our whole presence, not just our thoughts flung heavenward when we have a second and just our emotional overflow when the day has gone sour. Prayer is the sharing of presence.

—Days of Deepening Friendship

One reason prayer can seem unnatural is that we don’t go about it naturally at all. We feel that we must assume a certain physical position, or that we must use some words and phrases but not others. It’s all right to feel joy and gratitude, but we try to push the anger and sadness back and out of the way.

Actually, sometimes we’re tempted to pray sort of the way we’d go through a job interview—putting out our best appearance and conversation, and presenting the self that we think will make the best impression.

Or, we are so used to other people judging and shaming us that we bring to God the self that is least likely to get us into trouble.

What do you bring to prayer? What language? What emotion? What facial expressions? What movements of body?

Are you entering a conversation with a tricky deity who is impossible to please? Or are you entering a conversation with someone who loves you better than the “bestest” friend?

Try this: After you have enjoyed a conversation with a friend, reflect on your part of the conversation. Write down what you said, what tones of voice you used, which physical gestures. Write about how you felt and how you expressed those feelings.

Then, when you pray, remember that marvelous self that you shared with your friend. Try to bring that self into conversation with the Divine friend, and see what happens.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/29/15 11:36 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Jesuit Astronomer

Posted: 29 Sep 2015 03:30 AM PDT

Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno has been named the new director of the Vatican Observatory. Brother Guy is a popular writer as well as a working astronomer. See his article “Astronomy, God, and the Search for Elegance,” a piece about the place of faith in science, which concludes:

God gives us any number of roadmaps to help us find the way. One is the ability to know what it is we don’t know; to realize that we always have more to be learned. That is the key and the essence of true science. Another is the confidence that, with God’s gifts and God’s help, we actually can learn. And another, most surprising aid we get, the compass that directs our intuition, is this yearning for truth, for beauty, for elegance, that directs our souls and needs to be nourished in every aspect of our human lives.

The equations that describe the colours of a sunrise are remarkable for being, in their own way, every bit as beautiful as the sunrise themselves. God wants to share the sunrise with us; that’s why He gave us eyes.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/28/15 10:39 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Zechariah 8:1-8
Psalm 102:16-18, 19-21, 29 and 22-23
Luke 9:46-50

I see two powerful statements in today’s reading from Luke. First, there is the argument among the disciples about who is the greatest. We can imagine that the character of this debate probably focused on the things we often think make us great: who was the “most perfect,” who did “the best,” who was the “most committed.” This kind of thinking is familiar to us. But Jesus turns it on its head and tells us, in no uncertain terms, that a child, the least among us, is the greatest. The criteria for greatness lies in becoming more like the least. I think one way to interpret this is to hear Jesus saying that the greatest are the ones who recognize the depth of their need. Children are entirely dependent on others to live; it is obvious that they have a great need. As we grow into adulthood, however, it’s easy to think that we become less dependent and have less need, and more of an ability to take care of ourselves. Jesus reminds us that this is indeed not the case, which is hard for someone like me who likes to think of myself as self-sufficient and able to take care of and deal with things on my own. The greatest among us are those who recognize their need for others, are able to allow themselves to rely on others, because it is those people who are most in tune with the nature of God and their own nature as beings dependent upon God.

This recognition leads directly to humility, I think, which is essential for considering the second important statement we get from Jesus in this reading: excluding others and having a “who’s in and who’s out” mentality is not the way that Jesus calls us to be. Again, we can imagine the disciples talking about this person who worked in Jesus’ name, but maybe did not think or act exactly as they did. This meant he was bad, or at least not good enough to be spoken of in the same breath as them, right? Wrong. The message Jesus offers does not seem to allow for a lived Christianity based on doctrinal or political orthodoxy, or only one viewpoint or way of thinking. Accepting this and being able to live within the tension of different people, different ideas, and different ways of doing things requires one thing above all: humility. When we humbly accept our dependence on God and each other, and accept our own incompleteness, brokenness, and imperfection, we are less likely to exclude and judge others who are different than us and who don’t live up to our own expectations, which we honestly often don’t live up to ourselves, either. When we begin along that path, then we will have at least begun to understand what it means to be the “greatest” in the eyes of God.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/25/15 10:40 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Holy Stretching



St. Ignatius opens his Spiritual Exercises with a comparison of the work of bodily exercises to the effort of our spiritual lives:

For just as taking a walk, journeying on foot, and running are bodily exercises, so we call Spiritual Exercises every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid of itself of all inordinate attachments. (SE 1)

I feel like there is something Ignatius forgot to mention in his comparison of physical exercises to the spiritual exercises of our lives—a little something I like to call “holy stretching.” Holy stretching is what I view as the warm-up exercises God gives us as we prepare to answer a new invitation in our lives.

How do I know if I am in a season of holy stretching?
Pause and take a quick survey of your life. Do you notice any of these things happening?

Your heart beats rapidly at the thought of trying this new thing.
You are invited to do something new that is way beyond your comfort zone.
You feel fear and resistance when you think of saying yes to this new invitation, but you simply cannot let this invitation go.
You feel like one foot is on the accelerator and the other one is simultaneously on the brake as you make steps towards acting on the new invitation.
If you notice any of these feelings or reactions occurring in your life, you just might be in a season of holy stretching. Goodness knows I am in one right now! I am being stretched far beyond my comfort zone these past few months as God invites me onto new waters. I oscillate between trusting God like Peter did when he walked on water to fearing as Peter did moments later, feeling like I am sinking.

How are we supported in the season of holy stretching?
The good news is that we are never alone in our holy stretching, since it is the Holy Spirit doing the inviting to stretch. God shows up in our lives to encourage us in a multitude of ways, such as:

Encouraging us through other people.
Affirming us in prayer through the gift of consolation.
Readying us with the tools we need.
Opening doors for opportunities to accept the invitation.
Giving us the means, gifts, and abilities to answer the call.
What do we do? Lean in!
While the season of holy stretching is full of hope, peace, joy, and faith, it can also be a season that feels scary and uncertain as the unknown looms before you. I suggest leaning into this season and using it as a season of warm-up for the new invitation for which God is preparing you, just like a runner would do a warm-up before his/her race. It’s up to us whether we will resist the gift of holy stretching or willingly participate as God readies us for the next invitation in our lives.



Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/24/15 10:42 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Haggai 1:1-8
Psalm 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b
Luke 9:7-9

Praying Ordinary Time
Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Today’s Gospel features King Herod the Tetrarch. He asks about Jesus: “Who is this about whom I hear such things?” His question echoes virtually the same question by many others earlier in Luke’s Gospel. Here are a few examples:

The Scribes and Pharisees react to the Lord's forgiving the paralytic's sins by saying, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies?" (Chapter 5). John the Baptist’s disciples ask Jesus, "are you the one who is to come?” They want to know who He is! (Chapter 7). A group of Pharisees at dinner with Jesus murmur among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" (later in Chapter 7). Our Lord is taking a nap in Peter’s boat, when treacherous storm arises, and it swamps the boat. Shaken and panicked, they wake Him up, and He calms the storm. They were “amazed,” and say to one another: “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him!” (Chapter 8).

Luke then narrates subsequent miraculous works of Jesus: He casts legions of demons out of the Gerasene demoniac, restores a young girl to life, and heals a woman who touched the tassel of His garment. He proceeds to mission His 12 apostles, and right after that King Herod, in today’s gospel, expresses his perplexity: “Who is this fellow, anyway?” He’s afraid this Jesus, attracting so many followers, might be a threat, might usurp his power. But he is curious too: “. . . he kept trying to see Him,” says Luke. He hears that Jesus heals others, performs miracles, and His followers say He is their Messiah, their King! “Who is this fellow, anyway?”

Then comes the pivotal passage of Luke’s Gospel: "Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him. He asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ They answered, ‘John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has risen.’ He said to them, ‘but who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered: ‘the Messiah of God’” (Chapter 9). You can imagine Jesus then looking into Peter’s eyes, thinking “He gets it!” From this point on, the “Messianic Secret” is broken, and the Lord sets His face towards Jerusalem where, openly, He will make known His identity as Messiah – to be fully revealed in His passion, death, and resurrection.

Peter’s confession, “You are the Messiah of God” and the Lord’s ownership of that identity answers the question, “Who is this man?” That title, “Messiah,” has roots in the Old Testament from the time of King David, and its significance develops increasingly through Old Testament times, into the time of Christ, and in early Christianity becomes a common designation for Jesus. From the Old Testament, through the Gospels, Paul’s letters, and into the writings of the early Church Fathers, the title “Messiah” provides a rich description of who this man Jesus was and is now: “The Anointed of Yahweh” – “King” – “Prophet” – “Priest” – “Servant of Yahweh” – “Suffering Servant” – “King of Israel” – “King of Peace – “the Christ” – “Messiah Christ” – “Savior” – “Redeemer” – “Irreproachable Lamb of God” – “The Promised One” – “Christ the Lord” – “Son of David” – “Son of Man” – “Son of God.”

The answer to Herod’s question, “Who is this Man?” is all the above. The Lord’s question to the Apostles “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter’s answer “The Messiah of God” are, it seems to me, a wonderful invitation for us to ponder the question and personally to answer it. The more we come to know Jesus, the Messiah of God, the more we will come to love Him and the closer we will follow Him.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/23/15 12:25 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
No Excuse for a Closed Heart

Another question I ask: in the evening, how do you conclude your day? With the Lord or in front of the television? How is your relationship with those who help you to be more merciful? That is, how is your relationship with the children, with the elderly, with the sick? Do you know how to reassure them, or are you embarrassed to caress an elderly person?

Do not be ashamed of the flesh of your brother (cf. Reflexiones en esperanza, ch. 1). In the end, we will be judged on our ability to draw close to “all flesh”—this is Isaiah. Do not be ashamed of the flesh of your brother. “Making ourselves close”: closeness, nearness, being close to the flesh of one’s brother. The priest and the Levite who had passed by before the Good Samaritan did not know how to draw close to the person who had been beaten by bandits. Their hearts were closed. Perhaps the priest had looked at his watch and said, “I have to go to Mass; I cannot be late for Mass,” and he left. Excuses! How often we justify ourselves to get around the problem, the person. The other, the Levite, or the doctor of the law, the lawyer, said, “No, I cannot because if I do this tomorrow, I will have to go and testify. I will lose time. . . .” Excuses! . . . Their hearts were closed. But a closed heart always justifies itself for what it has not done. Instead, the Samaritan opens his heart; he allows his heart to be moved, and this interior movement translates into practical action, in a concrete and effective intervention to help the person.

At the end of time, only those who have not been ashamed of the flesh of their brother who is injured and excluded will be permitted to contemplate the glorified flesh of Christ.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/22/15 11:04 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Ezra 6:7-8, 12b, 14-20
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5
Luke 8:19-21

The words of Jesus in today’s gospel strike us as strange – not at all what we would have thought Jesus might have said under the circumstances. When we experience that reaction, it’s a clue that the text is challenging us. What are we missing?

Rather than an incidental happening on Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, there is something here that the Church thinks is quite important. It’s worth noting that the incident is described in Matthew and Mark, as well as in Luke, and in a typical year, we will hear about this episode at least three times.

Rather than rejecting his mother and brothers, Jesus is emphasizing a new kind of relationship, even stronger than the relationship of biology – a relationship in which we are all brothers and sisters of Jesus, children of the Father, brothers and sisters of one another, and heirs to eternal life. We take this, perhaps, as a kind of figure of speech, whereas Jesus takes it very literally. This brother & sister relationship is a direct consequence of Baptism, which has to be understood as more than simply membership in a large, international organization. In Baptism, as the Catholic funeral rite proclaims, a person dies in Christ and takes on a new life, that is, is literally vivified by the spirit of God.

As with biological kinship in the Middle East, family membership carries heavy responsibilities for all concerned. In this case, it is not just any family, but being a part of the one family whose Father is God. Jesus is saying here that membership in that family is more important than and carries heavier responsibilities than mere biological kinship.

That has far-reaching ramifications for how we treat one another, how we respect one another, however much we may disagree, what our posture must be toward brothers and sisters who, for whatever reason, do not seem to abide by the rules that we hold sacred. As Archbishop Blase Cupich commented recently, our respect (for one another) “must be real, not rhetorical, and ever reflective of the Church’s commitment to accompanying all people”.

So, rather than rejecting his mother and brothers, Jesus is including everyone. Are we sufficiently challenged by that?


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/21/15 10:45 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Vacation Desolation

I recently returned from a wonderful family vacation. It was a great time. The natural beauty of the area we visited was breathtaking, and as I was taking it in, I frequently thanked God for the beauty of creation.

Despite this wonderful trip, though, I came back feeling somewhat empty. I felt like I was missing something. The vacation was great. My family was great. Yet something big was missing, and I just couldn’t “put my finger on it.”

It wasn’t until later, when I was talking with my spiritual director, that I realized that what I was feeling was what St. Ignatius calls desolation.

Confirming this realization, the reflection in my devotional that day was an excerpt from The Spiritual Exercises in which St. Ignatius addresses the action we ought to take in times of desolation.

Although we ought not to change our former resolutions in time of desolation, it is very profitable to make vigorous changes in ourselves against the desolation, for example, by insisting more on prayer, meditation, earnest self-examination, and some suitable way of doing penance.

When we are in desolation we should think that the Lord has left us to our own powers in order to test us, so that we may prove ourselves by resisting the various agitations and temptations of the enemy. For we can do this with God’s help, which always remains available, even if we do not clearly perceive it. (SE 319–320)

Reading this passage just a couple of hours after meeting with my spiritual director, I felt like St. Ignatius was speaking directly to me.

Spiritual desolation, as Ignatius taught, can happen at any time. It has little to do with our emotional state, so it can happen when we are happy. It can happen when we are actively seeking God or when we have forgotten God. In my case, I had forgotten to spend quality time with God. Sure, I did chat with God on the fly—I thanked God for the beauty of creation and for having fun and restful times with my family. But, being in relaxed vacation-mode, all discipline went out the window. I neglected integral parts of my daily prayer life; I didn’t take time to be alone with God, read Scripture, reflect on my day with the Examen, or crack open the spiritual reading I had brought with me. Also, not wanting to inconvenience my family, I didn’t try to get to Adoration, which for me is a most precious and fruitful time to meet up with Jesus. Bottom-line: I inadvertently took a vacation from God.

Fortunately, St. Ignatius and my spiritual director were there to help me get back on track. Ignatius reminds us that, like any relationship, our relationship with God needs to be nurtured. This takes time, discipline, and commitment. God, ever-present, offers us His presence and love at every moment. It is we who need to take God up on His offer to spend time with Him—even on vacation.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/18/15 10:36 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Goldfish Attention Spans

Goldfish have longer attention spans than humans. Kelly Schreckenberger takes that fact as the starting point for reflection.

Take a minute or two and listen to your thoughts. How many different directions does your mind take you?

We have grown accustomed to measuring our lives by how what we do, and how much we produce. “What did you do today?” is a common question… We tell ourselves how important we are by how full our calendar is…and we often tell others that too.

Our jobs, our friends, school, our family relationships—all of these things require our time and our energy. It is vital that we all take time out from our daily, busy lives to slow down, to pause, and to reflect. Do we remember to do that?

Take this as your reminder to take a pause and slow down today.

1 Timothy 6:2c-1
Psalm 49:6-7, 8-10, 17-18, 19-20
Luke 8:1-3

Today’s first reading is on the longer side, for a first reading. It follows readings from the three previous days and is followed by one more tomorrow, all taken from 1 Timothy, which consists of St. Paul’s exhortations to Timothy on how to shepherd his early Christian community. The oft-quoted “For the love of money is the root of all evils” is verse 10; likewise, the proverbial “For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it,” is verse 7.

The wisdom presented here is palpable and is just as applicable to our lives today as it was 2,000 years ago. My favorite verse is “If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.” So much truth and fodder for reflection lie in that one statement.

I might add a couple more “basics” to the list of essential needs, including shelter and education. But the point is, so much of what we think we need does not really add to our lives. In fact, always wanting the latest, the newest, the best, the smartest, the fastest, is really a losing proposition. As this letter to Timothy states, “Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction.”

To seek riches for their own sake, to desire to “be” rich in order to be able to have whatever we might possibly want, truly is a trap. We can never be satisfied and our lives will be dominated by the all-consuming continuous cycle, much like the hamster on the wheel.

On the other hand, if we find that money comes our way through hard work and using our God-given skills, that is something else. The money, or “riches,” was not the goal; rather, it was the work itself, the labor of love for other reasons, including often improving the lives of others.

This first letter to Timothy doesn’t leave us with only a list of “what not to do” statements. In verses 11-12, Timothy is told: “Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Being a Christian IS different. Our eyes are on a different prize than the world’s. We can’t be reminded of that too often.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/17/15 10:47 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Colossians 3:12-17
Psalm 150:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6
Luke 6:27-38

The readings for today, both from the New Testament emphasis God’s love for us and His forgiveness while charging us with the responsibility to do the same. Even the alleluia speaks of loving one another while the psalm urges us to praise God in all ways.

In the first reading, Paul is encouraging the people to show both compassion and gratitude. He points out that we as chosen ones who are so loved by God have an obligation to pass this love and compassion on to others. It means we must forgive just as the Lord as forgiven us. In the Lord’s Prayer we ask that we be forgiven our trespasses as we forgive others. The forgiveness is not just for us to receive but for us to give as well. I think about how readily I ask to be forgiven and then how I can hold a resentment against others for their actions against me. How can I expect mercy and compassion if I am not willing to give it as freely as I expect it? I love that St. Paul proclaims:

And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I am reminded of the motto of the Jesuits to do everything for the greater glory of God. If I can keep this in mind, then my actions and my words will ring true. I sometimes have to ask myself about my motives for doing things especially when my feelings are hurt for being ignored while others are complimented. Am I doing these things to serve God? Did I serve God with these actions? If I can answer yes to these questions, then I should be satisfied. While I may be stung temporarily by the slight or carelessness of others, I can refocus on the true purpose of my actions and remind myself that my Father knows my name and what I am doing. It is not about me, rather about serving Him and serving Him with love and gratitude!

The responsorial psalms echoes Paul’s words about

singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
If we love one another,
God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.

Daily Prayer This Week:

When we place Jesus at the center of our lives, as Paul calls the Colossians to do, two marvelous graces are given us. We experience God's love for us in the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus. As grateful sinners, we then are able to forgive others.

As we begin each day this week, we can let these two graces be part of our reflection. We can ask our Lord to show us his love. We can fearlessly ask to understand who we are as sinners, in the concrete ways each of us falls short, gets distracted, becomes uncentered and makes very unfree choices. We can ask to be forgiven and healed. We can beg for the grace to forgive others. This journey each day might take us into specific patterns, habits, ruts we're in. We may even want to prepare to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation this week, as we realize our need for forgiveness, and God's great love for us as sinners.

We can choose to focus carefully this week on those people we ask for the grace to forgive. Whose faults do I pay most attention to? Whom do I judge harshly? From whom do I withhold forgiveness? If we begin each day, asking our Lord to reveal the answers to these questions, throughout our day, our days this week will show us deeper places where the Lord can forgive us and where we can share that mercy.

In this week when we celebrate Mary's birth, we might ask her to gently guide us to trust her Son's love and to be more tender in loving those people her Son invites us to forgive and be a source of healing.

Throughout this week, we can also give thanks for the ways we are called to be Jesus' followers - not because we are extremely talented or because we are perfect, but because he saw in us something that he could heal and then send us to heal others. We can be especially attentive to the ways we are blessed in our poverty and in the ways we sometimes experience rejection as his disciples.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/16/15 11:10 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
1 Timothy 3:14-15
Psalm 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Luke 7:31-35

We have seemingly disconnected passages today. This chapter of Paul’s letter to Timothy contains advice on “how to behave in the household of God,” which I think means how to act as part of this faith community, but possibly arising from the cultural norms that people observed at the time when they were guests of the head of the household. The real purpose of the passage is what follows – Paul reminds the believers they are members of the household of the living God, manifested by Jesus, and proclaimed to the world. Verses 1 – 13 contain guidance to Timothy that details the qualifications for ecclesiastical ministers but, while thought provoking reading, are beyond the reflection for today.

For me the focus today is the section from Luke. When I reflect on these passages, in 2015, they mean something much different to me than they might have meant to the author and listeners when they were written almost 2,000 years ago. “Children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another” evokes images of a Starbucks with people on their electronic devices, tapping away, oblivious to all that is going on around them. And the image I take from the statements these children might be making is that they (the people) judge Jesus (and John before him) not based on the truth contained in what Jesus and John actually were doing, but on what the people conveniently (shallowly) judged them to be doing.

These verses are a reminder to me to avoid shallow distractions. I most treasure mornings when I rise early and greet the day in prayer outside. Listening to the birds and insects awaken and become active, seeing the deer browsing in our yard, watching the turkeys fly down from their evening roosts in our tall trees, and feeling the gentle breezes move the branches, is a wonderfully peaceful time. Waiting with anticipation for the sun to pop over the horizon, perhaps coloring puffy clouds with multiple shades of red, orange and crimson, adds to these special moments. I find myself able to clearly and more directly listen to God when I can feel part of, fundamentally at one with, God’s awesome creation.

Then I imagined I was out one morning with my iPad as I greeted the day. The dawn was coming but the stars were still out, and I was curious so I used an app to identify the names of Orion’s belt. I wondered when the sun would come up, so I checked the solar tables (after adjusting for our longitude and latitude using the GPS function) for the exact time it would rise, knowing that (since we are in a small valley) I would not actually see it rise at that precise time. I felt a chilly breeze, so I found out it was 54 degrees F. The birds were clamoring, and I wondered about a particular call, so I checked a birdcall web site to identify the Baltimore Oriole that I heard. Several different varieties of bees were visiting flowers, and so I checked to see that they were both ground bees and honey bees feasting on the flowers of the Echinacea purpurea and Nepeta racemosa that I had planted a year or two ago. I thought I would enhance the experience so I searched my iTunes library for Ferde Grofe’s “Sunrise” from his “Grand Canyon Suite.” I finally found it and started the music, and then I realized the sun had come up and I missed it. My curiosity had been satisfied as my mind had wandered, but since I was so busy with the iPad I missed the very reason I went outside in the first place!

I really do enjoy those sunrises, and I would never take my iPad out to “enhance” the experience. But I think we are so tempted today to use our ubiquitous technology for all things to make our lives better that we are like those people 2,000 years ago in the marketplace, calling to one another and judging what happens around us from the perspective of our digital devices, not being fully aware of what in fact is before us. We equate reality with artificial things instead of opening ourselves to the true experience of being alive in this beautiful gift from our loving God. We try to force our understanding of Jesus and His message into our preconceptions, instead of listening quietly and allowing the message He sends to resonate in our innermost being.

And don’t misunderstand – I am grateful to Andy and Maureen for using awesome technology to create this wonderful service for all our users and suspect some of you are accessing this reflection on your own iPhone!!

And so my prayer today is for the grace of quietness, of letting go of shallowness so I can more fully embrace the exquisite greatness of the works of God.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/14/15 10:26 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
One Word at a Time

The interior of the church* looked like it had been torn from the pages of Isaiah, “I lay your pavements in carnelians, your foundations in sapphires; I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.” The air was still, heavy with the heat of early summer and anticipation. I settled into my pew, tore my eyes from the distracting beauty that surrounded me to focus on the choral ensemble arrayed across the chancel.

Suddenly the tenors plunged as one voice into the soaring space, “Ave Maria…,” a line echoed by the baritones, then caught up into a complex harmony of overlapping phrases by the sopranos and altos. The music swirled above us and poured down the walls. Eddies of sound spun down the main aisle.

A word or phrase would surface in perfect clarity, then become submerged into the polyphony, only to re-emerge again on the next word. Gratia, grace. Benedicta, blessed. The depths of each phrase of the Hail Mary were sounded by threads of intricate harmony. My ear strained to follow the final note of the final Amen, until it too, was caught into the silence.

As I took the train home late that night, I was struck by how much like my prayer this setting of the Ave Maria had been. I gather myself in stillness to listen, plunge in with a word or two. Adsum. Here I am, Lord. God willing, I hear the music that ever surrounds us, but even with long practice the individual notes elude me. Words tumble about, caught in the currents of my thoughts. Sometimes, there are flashes of heart-rending clarity. And in the end, the transcendent Trinitarian chorus carries me into silence again, my heart straining to follow their lead.

Perhaps because this particular piece had been composed by a contemporary of St. Ignatius, I thought, too, of his Second Method of Prayer. (SE 252) Gather yourself comfortably before God, he advises, still your gaze, and don’t let it roam about. Take a familiar prayer, like the Our Father, or perhaps the Ave Maria—the Hail Mary. Say the first word, hold onto it, explore it, relish it, turn it about. When you’ve exhausted that word or phrase, go on to the next. Let each word pull you more deeply into the Divine mystery.

This morning, listening again to Robert Parson’s Ave Maria, I realized that this is the rhythm not only of my prayer, but of my life. There are moments when I am blessed with an utter certainty of God’s presence, followed by moments when I am so distracted by the complex cacophony that pervades my daily life I lose track of the underlying melody entirely. I can be befuddled by, entranced with, or simply carried away by the complexity of the sacred tune swirling through the universe. And there are so many times when I strain to hang onto the barest whisper of God’s voice, unsure if it is still there.

Gratia plena, indeed. I pray to be filled with the grace to hear God resounding through time and space, and the courage to follow him into the depths. One word at a time.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/11/15 11:10 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-14
Psalm 16:1b-2a and 5, 7-8, 11
Luke 6:39-42

The first reading in today’s liturgy reminds us of the call to the universal church for the upcoming year devoted to mercy. Pope Francis recently called for a special Jubilee Year of Mercy beginning with the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in early December and concluding with the feast of Christ the King in 2016. Francis calls the year of Jubilee in a papal bill entitled “Misericordiae Vultus”, the Face of Mercy.

The face of mercy invites each of us to receive the mercy and love of God and to be instruments of that received mercy for others; to be disciples of mercy after encountering Christ as our merciful brother.

St. Paul’s letter to Timothy points us in this direction when he writes about his former life as “a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man.” Paul, indeed, has a lot to make up for, and it all begins here with his insight into himself as a sinner. Despite his virulent pursuit of Christians to put them in jail for their violation of the Law, he is able to see clearly the truth about himself: “but I have been mercifully treated. The grace of mercy he receives is “abundant along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

Paul’s words (and realities in his life) become a fine expression of the role of mercy in our lives. Just as Paul had acted out of “ignorance in (his) unbelief,” so God’s grace sets straight that ignorance and unbelief. We know the rest of the story: Paul becomes God’s voice (or face) to the Gentiles in his preaching and founding of communities of faith in the known world. What a gift that is that we have inherited from him through God’s love which results in his life as missionary for Christ despite his life as persecutor of the church. God’s love and mercy is, to be sure, so much greater than Paul’s lack of insight and the arrogance he speaks of to his friend, Timothy.

Where might we fit into this scenario? What is our arrogance and blasphemy? How does God find us and to what does he call us? Asking questions like this need not result in an “I’m no good” attitude. The mercy of God doesn’t work that way. God’s mercy takes us as we are and invites us to see the fuller picture.

St. Paul did not get stuck in his arrogance but became the face of God’s care and concern for the churches he founded. He became an apostle. As I consider my failings and sinfulness I do not want to get stuck there either. I am invited to go even deeper: to see that I have been “mercifully treated” just like Paul.

Thus, I desire to look much deeper than my shortcomings and failings, to observe how God treats me, to see the mercy he extends toward me despite the sin. God’s grace is clearly so much more powerful than my particular and peculiar form of selfishness. Like Paul, I can be freed up to be a source of mercy for others. Paul the apostle can show me how to become the disciple I am called to be by encountering Jesus who invites me to be part of the universal face of mercy (love) in a world that cries out for compassion, mercy and love.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/10/15 11:08 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply


A Morning Offering

While on retreat this past summer, I spent a good deal of time praying for the grace of indifference and asking for the freedom to align my will more closely to God’s own will. Along the way, I read in Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits several versions of a Morning Offering, a prayer that offers one’s upcoming day to God. Inspired, I wrote my own version. Elements of it are based on Ignatius’s Suscipe; Psalm 119:10; and Therese of Lisieux’s image of coming to God with empty hands at life’s end.

Jesus,
As I look forward to face
Whatever the day may bring,
Joy or sorrow,
Health or sickness,
Success or failure,
Laughter or tears,
I recall your love for us,
Your faithful friendship to the entire world
And to me, personally.
Let me stray not from your commands.
Let me never be far from your heart.
Help me to share the gifts that I receive with all
And to see your face in all my brothers and sisters.
At the end of the day may I return to you
And surrender the day’s work, love, heartaches, and joy
With open hands and open heart.
Amen.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/9/15 12:48 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Colossians 3:1-11
Psalm 145:2-3, 10-11, 12-13ab
Luke 6:20-26

Seeing the reading from Colossians and the Beatitudes together really puts them in a different perspective. The Beatitudes are really about choices, not about circumstances. In Colossians Paul is saying that everyone has the opportunity for Salvation by following Christ. Anyone who chooses Christ, who chooses right, who dies to his evil past, can be saved in Jesus. The circumstances of birth do not matter here – Greek or Jew, slave or free, everyone has the choice to follow Christ. Anyone can choose charity over greed, can choose a spiritual path over a material path, choose love over anger, and can choose truth over lies. We must choose the right path, choose the way of the Lord, choose to die to our old evil ways, so when we do die, we will have salvation. And if we do not make that choice, salvation will not be ours.

In the Gospel Jesus says that the poor are blessed, but not just those who happen to be poor. I guess poor people can be selfish or angry or untruthful as much as the rich can. The point is in the choice of spiritual path. Those who have chosen to be poor, perhaps by being generous and charitable will have their reward in heaven for those choices. Those who choose hunger by sharing their food are blessed. Those who suffer because they follow Jesus, those who are persecuted because of their spiritual path, will get their reward in heaven. But those who are selfish and greedy – who are rich but do not share their wealth with those in need, those who eat and drink in excess while others starve at their door, who indulge with no compassion, woe to them. They laugh at others’ misfortunes, but they will not have salvation who have no compassion.

It’s not about circumstances. Being born poor or being born rich will not determine whether we get to heaven or not. I was born middle class – where would that put me? Neither here nor there? A poor person could still end up in Hell or a rich one in heaven based on choices. The rich man who is greedy, selfish and ruthless is not going to find salvation, but the charitable one might. Rich man, poor man, Greek or Jew, whoever puts away what is evil, angry, and selfish and chooses to live a charitable compassionate life will find salvation in the next.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/7/15 10:20 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
The goods that we offer
Are gifts from you:
Our lives with all their freedom,
our distracted minds,
our often weak wills,
and failing memories.
These are our gifts to you.
Hear our simple prayer:
When we are weak, be our strength;
when we doubt, be our faith;
when we’re discouraged, be our hope;
and when we’re lost, come and find us.
When we’re hungry, be our food,
when we’re thirsty, be our drink;
when we’re in darkness, be our light,
and when we’re sad,
be our comfort and joy.
Let us feel your touch in all we say and do.
Let us grow and blossom in your love.
Grant us this, Lord,
and there’s nothing more we want
until we see you face to face.
Take all we have and all we are;
give us your love and your grace,
with these we are full,
yes, we’re full.

Amen

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/4/15 10:45 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Prayer As Relationship

Our Friendship with God

Many of us remember the oldest and best definition of prayer: "raising the mind and heart to God." I suspect that most of us practiced the first part, raising our mind to God, better than the second part, lifting up our hearts. That imbalance can too often make the experience of praying "dry" or "unfulfilling."

What this definition probably intended to say was that prayer involves our whole person in a relationship with God. Using the various relationships of our lives as a guide, we can come to new insights about prayer.

A wise spiritual guide once said, "We are as good at praying as we are at the other relationships of our lives. If you want to get better at prayer, work on the key relationships in your life."

Take a close friendship or marriage, as an example. We wouldn't imagine that what makes the relationship work is trying to find a half an hour, early in the morning, to sit in a chair and close our eyes and think heavy thoughts about the other person. We know instinctively, even if we hadn't ever put it into words, that a key relationship in our life is a matter of the heart. The other person means a lot to me. I'm not just attracted to the other, but the other is someone whose desires and dreams and vision are very important to me. And, if this relationship is one that is growing in love, the other is one I want to serve - give of myself for.

It's a Matter of the Heart

Relationship always involves a strong desire to be with. A relationship will fade if we have no continuing interest in spending time with the other, or connect with the other. Even when our time together might be limited, we have feelings for the other which sustain the relationship. The closer the relationship, the stronger those feelings. In a marriage relationship, I might not see my spouse as much as I'd like, but I know that my job or my care for our children or time shopping - whatever I do when we are apart - is all done because of our relationship, to further the goals of our life together and our mission together. Intimacy in the bedroom is an important, but small part of the relationship's bond. If the other intimacy and connections are there, then the bedroom time is wondrous. If the relationship of the heart is not connecting us when we are apart, intimacy in the bedroom can become quite problematic.

Words, gestures and rituals express and give shape to the relationship of the heart. "I love you." "Thank you." "You are wonderful." "I need you." "I'm sorry." A smile, an embrace, a gesture of vulnerability, a self-revealing story, a gift full of meaning, doing something together. Our song, our favorite place, a special reading, a special menu, a tradition we've developed. These are just a few examples of the hundreds of ways a relationship develops and grows.

Finding Intimacy with God in Our Everyday Lives

How could prayer be a relationship with God, if it only remains a lifting of our minds to God? We need very special times of intimacy with God, but that time needs to be prepared for and built up to. To enrich our relationship with God, engages our hearts. That involves finding intimacy with God in the midst of our everyday busy lives, much like we do with the other important relationships of our lives. Perhaps as we pay more attention to what gives life and intimacy to these relationships, we might grow in the affective side of our relationship with God.

If this stirs a desire for that kind of relationship with God, one place to begin is to let God tell me about how loved I am. The God who says, "You are precious in my eyes and I love you." [ Isaiah 43:4] If I'm open to God's expressions of affection toward me, that can open my heart to stir up affection in the form of grateful response. Love needs only a spark to get started. It takes ongoing care to keep the fire from going out. With special care, it can become a long lasting, warm and comforting, life-long relationship.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/3/15 11:04 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Praying in Times of Crisis

In the most difficult times, God waits to love and comfort us

Times of crisis are, perhaps, the most important times to turn to God. Sometime we cry, "Help me!" or "Please!" or "Save me!" God wants to be there for us. God wants us to turn and ask for intimacy, comfort and help.

For many of us, this is a very difficult time to pray. We don't exactly know what to ask for. We feel like asking for a miracle, but experience might have shown us that asking for miracles in the past has left us disappointed. We may even have become cynical about God - having asked for help when I really needed it, and not getting what I asked for. Perhaps I prayed that my grandmother would recover from her illness and she didn't. Maybe I prayed that my biopsy would come back negative, but it didn't. I might have asked for a raise I desperately needed and didn't get it. Did I pray to rescue a deteriorating relationship, and my prayer wasn't answered?

Changing our Image of God

At some time in our lives we have to confront an image of God as a magician - an all powerful Superman, who can fix anything, if he only chose to. Part of the reason why this image is so difficult to give up is that we may not know what to replace it with. A path to prayer opens up when we let God be the tender, compassionate God of the scriptures and when we let Jesus reveal God's Good News to us. In this faith, God does not manage the world like a puppeteer, pulling strings to suspend natural laws in capricious response to individuals' prayers. In faith, God is revealed as a God of power, in the midst of those places where God is most power-less. In faith, God grieves with us at the tragedies of life. In faith, we are freed by the Good News that God has overcome the ultimate power of sin and death. God has not prevented sin and death from happening. When we believe in God's mercy and trust that our lives were created for eternal life in God, we are liberated from a fear of sin and death which can paralyze us.

Let's take some common crises and look at how we might turn to God in them. The word crisis comes from the Greek krisis, decision. It connotes a time of judgment when we have come to a juncture in our lives, which we call critical. It is a turning point, a time when the "bottom falls out" or everything seems "turned upside down." It is de-stabilizing, dis-orienting, and confusing. The experience "takes our breath away" and threatens to overwhelm us. We feel we don't know how to cope, where to turn, and fear grips us.

A Taste of Our Own Mortality

Death and disability bring the greatest crises into our lives. Most of us would say that the death or disability of a loved one is one of the greatest crises we can face in life. Our own disability or approaching death stops us in our tracks and threatens to take away our peace and hope. To the extent we live our lives in some "denial of death," the trauma this reality inflicts upon us can be quite severe. To the degree the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus gives us hope throughout our lives, the arrival of disability or the approach of death - still very difficult to face on a human level - fits into our faith and our expectation about life and our place in it.

Disability is something we all face with time. We age, we gradually face life with diminished capacities. Our body - and our emotional well-being that is so dependent upon it - are susceptible to breakdowns. Everything from arthritis to mental illness, from heart problems to a sexual or chemical addiction, from a leaky bladder to emotional insecurity are all tastes of our mortality, of our being limited human beings. In prayer, we can turn to God for help. These can be experiences that lead to despair, or they can be experience that lead to humility and deeper gratitude for God's love. In these diminishments, we can best experience God's love for us, for in our powerlessness, we can experience our need for a Savior and God's ready embrace.

The fear of death is itself quite traumatizing. A lump in the breast or a positive prostate antigen test can paralyze us with fear. The weeks of waiting for further results can be a time of stunned denial, acute depression, or deep grace. Fear of the unknown is appropriate, but it can be transformed by faith and a turning to God to beg for help. There is the fear of the dying process, but the fear of leaving loved ones behind or of leaving my life's work undone can be overwhelming. By turning to God during these times, we can enter more deeply into the profound mystery of our mortality and a humble sense of our fragility and powerlessness. Our gratitude for life itself, and our relationships in it, can become renewed and changed forever. Then, in the midst of a serious health crisis, our fear can give way to an inner peace and trust in the God who loves us.

=When the mystery of death visits us, it is like the world stops. In faith, we can turn to God and ask for the grace to understand how Jesus fell into God's loving hands. We can ask to surrender a loved one, or our own life, to God's loving embrace. We can ask to live in this life, with our hearts set on the life that will never end. Part of the trauma of death is the severing of relationships. In some cases, we can't imagine living without the other, or the pain of leaving loved ones is unbearable. Our faith gives us the opportunity to enter into a new relationship, beyond death's destruction of the body. We believe we can continue to be in communion and communication with loved ones, after death. Letting those relationships continue to grow, now liberated from the barriers that sometimes handicap our relating in this life, can give us real comfort and a foretaste of eternal life. Never seeing or touching a loved one again in this life is a profound loss. It takes faith and practice, but we can grow into a profound relationship with loved ones, after death.

Crisis in a Relationship

The breakdown of relationship or divorce is a time of tremendous crisis. During these times, there is not only a sense of loss, but we are overcome with a sense of failure or defeat or disillusionment. We may be feeling anger, guilt, revenge, worthlessness, depression or denial. If there are children involved, the messiness and pain extends to innocent ones we love, and often for a very long time. This can appear to be a most difficult time to pray. We might be either too ashamed to turn to God, too afraid of what God will say, or simply ready to blame God for not rescuing me from this terrible tragedy. And, if we have neglected our relationship with God in the "good times," it seems to be too much to try to "develop" in this time of crisis.

God's Desire to Love and Comfort Us

This is obviously the most important time to pray. The insight that makes it work is that God fully understands. The God who made me, who has been with me at every moment in my life, is not surprised or confused. God has only one desire - to console me when I'm in need of assurance and to challenge me when I'm tempted to run away. I don't have to explain it all to God. I can let myself say, "I know you understand. I know you grieve too. I know you alone can help me face the future after this." This is profound prayer. It opens the door to deeper dependence, deeper intimacy and deeper discernment. These kinds of crises can be powerful experiences of humility and honesty that can help me from becoming bitter and save me, heal me and raise me up to love again.

There are many other destabilizing crises that can happen in our lives and seem to be difficult times to pray. Financial crises, the loss of a job, the realization that I spoiled children I wanted to love, the crises that happen to loved ones. Then there is the non-crisis, but very uncentering chronic sense of a lack of fulfillment in what I'm doing. These, too, are very important times to turn to God and experience God's love and freedom. Nothing can take our peace away, unless we let it - unless we try to cope with it outside of the faith, hope and love God desires to offer us. When we have to say, "My life is in your hands," we find the deepest desire of our lives and the source of our greatest strength. All losses, all love is transformed when we live out of the dying and rising love of Jesus for us. All strength for heroic living and all passion for self-sacrificing love is born in the heart that has been stripped, loved and freed.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/2/15 10:44 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
The Truth of My Life

In my daily Examen, I often ask God to simply show me “the truth of my life.” I hope to be able to see things as they really are and not as I might think they are. I might think I’m being a great friend, but in reality I am needling someone unnecessarily.

So I need God. I need God to reveal to me what the real situation in my life is. Not what it might be. What it is. What exactly did I do today? How was I with myself today? Did I give things my best effort? Or did I languish?

I need to remove my own biases and pre-judgements of people in order to see them as they are and not as I suppose them to be. I can only do this confidently when I see the events in my life as they are.

I can remember sitting at a lunch table back in my radio days and having what I thought was a grand time with colleagues. But when I asked God to show me the truth of my life, I found that I often would get sucked into the drama of office gossip and found myself horrified by what I saw. I very nearly screamed “STOP!” as I saw the events unfold.

Or I can remember teaching a little boy how to shoot a basketball. I was a summer day camp counselor and this little kid, Mark, was so afraid of the ball. We practiced and got him to throw and catch. Then we got him to start to try to shoot a basket underhand. Up and miss. Up and miss. “A little harder!” I bellowed with a smile. “C’mon Mark!” Then it happened he hit the front of the rim! He gasped. “Almost!” I said. “See, you can do it! Just a bit more oomph!” The next shot he chucked toward the rim. I watched its trajectory moving upwards, looking right at the center of the basket and SWISH! Right into the net!

I turned and looked at little Mark, and his eyes grew wide and this huge smile fell upon his face. He ran and hugged me, and I lifted him over my head like the Stanley Cup, both of us in pure, unadulterated joy.

Talk about progress in meaningful work! And re-watching this revealed the truth of my life to me. Mentoring and coaching this child in fear of even a basketball, would speak to me for the next 25 years. What other fears might I help dispel in people? How might God be calling me to help people overcome fear so as to be free to see joy? Mark’s face was clearly the face of God calling me to pay attention to the truth of what I wished to become.

What is the truth of YOUR life? How might you look to engage understanding this? The Ignatian Examen is a clear way to begin to understand the patterns of our days, and more importantly, can lead us into finding God in the center of our occupations—waiting for us with a smile after a swish, but also with a look of love after gossiping, prodding us to change mercifully, if but only for our own good.

The post The Truth of My Life appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
9/1/15 12:30 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Just my favorite prayer for my entry today....due to lack of time.

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds hide me.
Permit me not to be separated from you.
From the wicked foe, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me
and bid me come to you
That with your saints I may praise you
For ever and ever. Amen.



Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/28/15 10:44 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
www.ignatianspirituality.com/22389/t
hr
ee-key-questions-for-discernment


This is a longer reflection than normal and includes a video which I found pretty good and worth the time Almost 30 minutes. While this was geared toward college students at Boston College, it has some great points for all walks of life.

Three Key Questions for Discernment.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/27/15 10:42 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
God Is Outside the Box


Do you ever imagine that your life is settled into nice, neat boxes? Here is my work box. Here is my family box. Here is my volunteer box. Here is my exercise box. And it seems the point is to keep all those boxes balanced, healthy, and safe. I faithfully do my Examen to find where God is present in each box as I go through my day. And just when I think I have life almost balanced and right where everything needs to be, that’s when the desolation of control sets in. The more I have life “figured out” according to my plan, ironically, the more desolation I seem to feel. My heart questions, “Is this it? I have all my boxes checked. Why am I still feeling empty?”

That emptiness tells me that no matter how good it feels to be secure and comfortable with my boxes, with my worldview and my way of doing things, God is outside the box. It is almost as if God were saying, “Oh, you think you have found Me? Try again. Now I’m over here!” with a Voice echoing from the far side of the warehouse of life.

Most likely the Voice is calling to me from the last place I’d like to look—the place I was positive I would never go. Maybe it is that group of people I had completely written off. Maybe it is in giving up something I thought I couldn’t live without. Maybe it is going places I have never been before. No matter how challenging it is, though, to move outside the comfort zone of my usual boxes, I must. It’s the only way to end the empty desolation of staying in the same controlled boxes all our lives. It is the only way really to find God, or at least, get a few steps closer.

Rather than staying in the safe box of Paris, St. Ignatius Loyola sent his companions all over the world. Even to this day the Jesuits are pushed to go to the margins of society and life. We’d like to think it is because those on the margins need us, so we are willing to sacrifice our comfort zones to reach out and serve them. Such heroics are good for the ego (and make great social media posts). What a shocker it is then to find that all those places we thought we had known God before pale in comparison to how we experience God outside the box. Ignatius knew very clearly that we go to the margins, outside of our boxes, not as much so the people we encounter will know God in us, but so we can find God through them.

What boxes do you need to get out of to get a little closer to that Voice calling out to you?

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/26/15 1:59 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Not Many Things But Much

A Latin proverb adds a spiritual dimension to the point: non multa sed multum, or “not many things but much.”ť Jesuits didn’t coin that phrase, though I’ve heard it attributed to them, probably because its spirit so closely aligns with other Jesuit ideals.

The quality with which a work is done—the “muchness”ť of it—can be more important than the sheer quantity of tasks a person completes. What value, for example, that a social worker counsels fifty people a day if each feels like a processed can rolling through an assembly line? Or what value is there in people parroting hundreds of prayers without real conscious engagement? We earlier quoted Archbishop Oscar Romero’s take on this theme: “We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something and do it very well.”ť Or as Mother Teresa put it: “We cannot do great things on this earth; we can only do little things with great love.”ť


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/25/15 11:15 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
How God Gets Our Attention

We know it’s important to pay attention in our spiritual life, but Erik Oland, SJ, ponders how God gets our attention:

Shifting the focus from “call” to the question “how does God get my attention?” allows for a more immediate and spontaneous discernment. An “in the moment” spirituality that often begins quite simply with questions such as: How is God trying to get my attention right now? How is God working even in the simplest activity? How am I open to pick up on these signs and nuances? Do I really want God to get my attention? And once God has my attention how does this relate to a particular call that I might be praying about today; whether in the simple things or the big things?


Behold
Posted on April 30, 2010 by Tim Muldoon in Poetry, Spirituality // 2 Comments
Back in my coaching days I learned to develop a particular kind of vision: I saw details of my athletes’ performance that others would miss. This one slouched a bit; that one overreached; and so on. The vision was the product of careful, attentive, even loving work. What others saw was just a boat full of rowers, either winning or losing.

I think that the Christian life involves a similar deepening of vision, of attentiveness. How else can we explain the ways we see the world and do what we do?

A few days ago I was walking from class, in a good mood on a beautiful day. Spring in Chestnut Hill is absolutely gorgeous, and I was just enjoying the walk. But I nearly stopped in my tracks when I saw something that moved me, almost to tears. A beautiful young woman had one arm around the back of a girl of maybe thirteen or fourteen, a student at the Campus School for children with severe disabilities. With her other arm she was holding the girl’s hand as she stepped up onto a curb after crossing the street. What struck me was how tender and intimate was this physical contact–in a word, how free. Christ was right there, in flesh.

Gerard Manley Hopkins once wrote about beauty that often goes unseen, “but the beholder wanting.” How I wish others could have seen what I saw that day! Such tenderness, such attentiveness to the need of the moment, to the opportunity to love.

Perhaps our prayer, our liturgy, our moral action, our practices of discernment–perhaps all these are simply the practices that make us ready to behold the opportunities to love. Perhaps the Christian life is about becoming better beholders, better able to see the lighting flashes of divine grace that erupt underneath the flesh of those around us.

- See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/5809/b
ehold#sthash.wJQNfdEn.dpuf

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/24/15 10:59 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
The Virtue in Playing Games

Posted: 24 Aug 2015 03:30 AM PDT

When was the last time you played cards or a board game, just for the fun of it? Matthew, who blogs as the Mountain Catholic, sees the virtue in playing games for fun, with not even the smallest of wagers at stake.

[G]ames are a means, not an end in themselves. They exist to build up the relationship between all players, not the livelihood of just one. And so we ought to fight against the urge to make games about a bet instead of about the bond between players.

We’ve lost, in large part, the ability to witness the uniqueness and wonder of true friendship and have replaced it instead with an odd form of mutual appeasement. Instead of risking discomfort to build up a lasting joy in our friendship, we opt for a quicker, less risky form of reward in the form of the friendly wager.

The time spent in playing friendly games, whether of the indoor or outdoor variety, goes a long way in deepening friendships. In our often overscheduled lives, maybe it’s time for a game break.

Wading into the Ocean
Posted on June 10, 2015 by Marina McCoy in Discernment // 6 Comments
wading in water

Ignatian spirituality often focuses on being attentive to the nature of our own desires, especially in discernment. Ignatius discovered that following God’s will is not a question of repressing our desires but rather of getting to know better what we really want. Our deepest desires sometimes are not what we initially think them to be. For example, many college students begin with a concern to earn good grades, to prepare to get a job, and to be accepted by their peers. There is nothing wrong with any of those desires, but over time Jesuit universities ask their students to consider their desires more deeply: About what subjects are they passionate? What sorts of activities enliven them? Where do they feel called to be more generous in relationship? Often this means trying out different majors or shifting friendships, and imagining themselves in different vocations or lines of work. Here the invitation is like that of Jesus to the apostles: “Come and see” (John 1:39).

At any age, this process of delving more deeply into our desires continues. The deepening of desire also characterizes our prayerful relationships with God. Over time, I have found that my desire to engage in talk with God, or in active and imaginative prayer, has softened although not disappeared. More and more often, I desire simply to “be with” God. Like spending time with a spouse or long-time friend, sometimes just being in one another’s presence is enough. Remarkably, in these times of mutual presence, other kinds of gifts unfold, and we are invited to plunge even more deeply into our desires for love, for communion and connection, and for God—who is both the object and the source of our very deepest desires.

I find that a useful image to describe the deepening of desire in prayer is wading into the ocean. Near the shoreline, the waves are plentiful, and their activity and energy is engaging—and sometimes overwhelming! As one walks further in, however, the waves become gentler. Eventually the depth requires us to stop walking and swim, allowing the water’s power—instead of only our own—to carry us. As we all experienced when we first learned to swim, there is an act of deep trust in surrendering ourselves to the water and letting its buoyancy sustain and carry us. In our prayerful surrender to God, too, we find a letting go of “self” and letting God carry us. In all this, God also opens us to be more present and deeply connected to others in the larger human family, and to the wider cosmos. Love of God and love of others are interconnected.

God invites us: “Come and see.” And then: “Go deeper.”

- See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/21841/
wading-into-the-ocean#sthash.5kHs8xrv.
dpuf

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/21/15 12:32 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
"Take, Lord, receive all my liberty..." These are the opening words of the prayer of St Ignatius Loyola SJ--also called the 'Suscipe' [pronounced 'SUE-ship-ay']. In the prayer, we offer all that we have and are to the Lord. We are invited to mirror the action that Jesus has already performed for us: "Take this, all of you-- this is my Body, given up for you." Christ has given Himself to us and for us. Moved by wonder and gratitude, we want to do the same: "Take, Lord, and receive me!"

When we have given ourselves to God, He never injures us. He may stretch us, purify us, and strengthen us-- which may feel painful at the time. But His goal is always to make our hearts larger, purer, and stronger.

In Sunday's Gospel, Jesus continues His discourse on the Bread of Life. He is the Bread of Life, given to us. He speaks to us words of eternal life-- for He is the Eternal Word, and He is Life. His words may challenge me. I may need to change things about myself and my life so that I live the way He lives. We must subordinate ourselves to Him-- always recalling that He loves us and gives Himself for us. His life is for me, His death is for me, His resurrection is for me, and the Eucharist is for me. Moved by wonder and gratitude, He calls me to offer myself, too: "Take, Lord, and receive me!"

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/21/15 10:33 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
When the Winds of Change Blow


My first weeks of college were a huge adjustment. I sat in the chapel feeling homesick and utterly alone. I cried my prayer to God, wondering what my life would hold.

As I knelt there praying, in my mind’s eye, for a split second, I could see from above the earth, as if through the Hubble telescope. I saw myself sitting there in the chapel praying and all of the other people on earth moving about with all of their concerns. We looked so small, like ants. Yet I had the impression that my concerns and each individual’s concerns were all of importance to God. Perhaps God used that split-second visual analogy to communicate with me because I was studying science at the time and had a lot of hours logged in on the microscope. Regardless, I knew without a doubt that God was near and that my concerns were dear to Him. In that fraction of a moment, I felt God’s nearness and love so deeply that it felt as if it were etched on my heart. I have frequently drawn strength from this memory when the winds of change have rocked my world.

Over two decades later, with a life trajectory that has gone in no way as I had planned, I look back on all of the moments that seemed to have been harbingers of the end of the world as I knew it, and I see God’s handiwork in each. Although I certainly could not see it at any of those times, I now see that everything has worked out for the best—not as I had planned, but as God had planned for me.

Every time I face big life changes, I still look to St. Ignatius Loyola for guidance as I did during my college years. Who better to advise on change than Ignatius? His life didn’t go in any way as he had planned either. He was severely wounded by a cannonball in battle. He likely did not foresee languishing away in a convalescent ward afterward. The young and dashing nobleman certainly didn’t plan on giving his wealth away and devoting his life to God. Yet, God had plans—plans that led to sainthood for Ignatius and spiritual direction for countless others that would follow after him.

I recall Ignatius’s wise admonition:

What we want above all is the ability to respond freely to God, and all other loves for people, places, and things are held in proper perspective by the light and strength of God’s grace. …In coming to a decision, only one thing is really important—to seek and to find how God is calling me at this time of my life. …God has created me out of love, and my salvation is found in my living out a return of that love. All my choices, then, must be consistent with this given direction in my life. (Spiritual Exercises, [16, 169, 23], as paraphrased by Timothy M. Gallagher, OMV, in The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living)

When the winds of change blow, I trust that God’s got my back. He’s got me covered. Even though I may not know the plan, God-Emmanuel, ever-present and all-knowing, certainly does. And I know that I, and all of my concerns, no matter how small, are dear to God.

And so, in the spirit of St. Ignatius, I pray:

Lord, I do not know where I am going or what you would have me do next, but I trust that you have a purpose for everything you do and that you are leading me to where you would like me to be.

I ask that you would give me the fortitude to follow you and the grace to trust you even though I do not know the way or what the future holds.

Send your Holy Spirit to guide and accompany me on the journey that you would have me follow so that my life may give greater glory to you always. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/20/15 11:00 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Robert McTeigue, SJ, says that when we are discouraged or feeling desolation in the Ignatian sense, we should follow St. Ignatius’s advice and insist more on prayer, meditation, and increasing penance.

It’s an interesting strategy, and many recognize the value of penance during Lent. Why not during other times of the year as a tool against discouragement?

How often do you suffer discouragement? We all face discouragement sometimes. We all have felt what the word “discourage” means, “a loss of heart.” We have all had that sinking feeling of fatigue and frustration that prompts us to ask, “Why bother?” I myself struggle against discouragement frequently, as I carry along what has been described as a “melancholic temperament.” And I try to put myself in good company and as I strive to ennoble, and perhaps even “baptize” my tendency towards gloom, by citing a passage from one of Tolkien’s many letters: “Actually I am a Christian, so that I do not expect 'history' to be anything but a 'long defeat'—though it contains (and in a legend may contain more clearly and movingly) some samples or glimpses of final victory.”

By grace, I see myself, like Tolkien, as a Christian and thus on “the winning side,” even as I often struggle against feelings of failure and futility. I know that I am not alone in this apparent contradiction between the tides of history and the biblical promise that “hope does not disappoint.” (Romans 5:5) I do know that if discouragement is not fought against immediately, vigorously and effectively, then the door is opened to temptations towards self-pity, self-indulgence and despair. So, even more important than the question, “How often do you suffer discouragement?” is the question, “What should you do when you are discouraged?”

Here, we can turn to Saint Ignatius Loyola and his Spiritual Excercises, specifically, his “Rules for Discernment,” to formulate a reliable plan of counter-attack when we find ourselves coming into the grip of dispiriting discouragement. (Some of my students have taken to reducing Ignatius’s advice to small print onto a card, laminating it, and keeping the card in their wallet or shirt pocket.)

What I’ve so far been referring to as “discouragement,” Saint Ignatius would call “desolation,” which he contrasts with “consolation.” Regarding the latter he notes, “I call it consolation when the soul is aroused by an interior movement which causes it to be inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord….” We might also here refer to “consolation” as “encouragement.” Describing “desolation,” Ignatius notes, “I call desolation…darkness of the soul, turmoil of the mind, inclinations to low and earthly things, restlessness resulting from many disturbances and temptations which lead to loss of faith, loss of hope, and loss of love. It is also desolation when a soul finds itself completely apathetic, tepid, sad, and separated as it were from its Creator and Lord. For just as consolation is contrary to desolation, so the thoughts that spring from consolation are the opposite that spring from desolation.” Can you imagine a better description of discouragement?

Why does God allow us to experience discouragement/desolation? Saint Ignatius says that there may be three reasons God allows it. In brief: 1) We are in desolation because of our own sin (e.g., we shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t have joy and peace when we’re not praying and are in mortal sin); 2) we are in desolation as a test of the purity of our motives (i.e., are we looking for the gifts-of-the-Giver or the Giver-of-the-gifts?); and, 3) we are in desolation for the sake of self-knowledge (i.e., to be reminded that consolation is always a grace and not the result of our own efforts alone).

What are we to do when in desolation? Saint Ignatius tells us that, “…it will be very advantageous to intensify our activity against the desolation. This can be done by insisting more on prayer, meditation, frequent examinations, and by increasing our penance in some suitable manner.” Our first step is to act against the desolation. (My students understand this when I remind them that this is akin to Homer Simpson carrying in his shirt pocket a card that reads, “ALWAYS DO THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT BART SAYS.”) Please note that Saint Ignatius says that we are to “insist more” on prayer, etc., not “insist upon more” prayer, etc. In other words, we are to be more concerned with the firmness of our resolutions and not with the quantity of our actions.

Let’s start with his advice regarding “frequent examinations.” If I’m in desolation, I will start by asking myself, “Have I been cutting corners on prayer? Have I dropped my guard against sin?” (By the way, the two are always related.) If I have, then I must admit that I’ve brought this on myself, need to repent, and with God’s grace, must start to clean up the mess that I have made. If I find that I have been faithful to prayer and vigilant against sin, and yet am still in desolation, then I know that the desolation is in fact a painful grace which, if lived faithfully, can bless me with purified motives and valuable self-knowledge.

Turning to “meditation”: When in desolation, I must recall—meditate upon—God’s past fidelity. In Scripture, in the history of the Church, in the lives of the saints, and in my own life, God has shown Himself to be faithful. By this meditation, I see that God Who was faithful then is still God now. God does not change, and my meditation may help me to trust that God is at work in my present darkness.

Regarding “prayer” in times of desolation: Even if in desolation I feel abandoned by God, I know that I cannot be. Mindful of God’s fidelity in the past, I know that I am not a spiritual orphan now. I am an adopted heir to God’s kingdom, and so may call out confidently in prayer, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:5) I may ask my Heavenly Father for what I need to endure and overcome in the moment. In my prayer, I must focus on the truth of my adoption, even if I feel like a spiritual orphan. Saint Ignatius notes that one in desolation, “…can resist with Divine help, which is always available to him, even though he may not clearly perceive it. Although the Lord has withdrawn from him His great fervor, ardent love and intense grace, He has nevertheless left him sufficient grace for eternal salvation.”

Although it seems counterintuitive, Saint Ignatius is wise to urge us when in desolation to “increasing our penance in some suitable manner.” But why? It’s not obvious why “I feel miserable” will be helped by “I will increase my penance.” When in desolation, the momentum is towards helplessness and despair. If I can do something—anything—even a very small penitential act like foregoing sugar in my morning coffee, then I have concrete proof that I am not helpless. If I can undertake even a small penance, I have proof that the desolation has not vanquished my freedom, my strength, or my hope. Such a penance can be a first step, a small victory that, over time, can lead incrementally to greater victories.

Especially at this time of year, when the secular frenzy of “the holidays” is accelerating, the crush of final exams is descending upon those in school, and the end-of-the-year financial statements seem more red than black, we need to be on the alert for the toxic effects of discouragement/desolation. Following the practical wisdom of Saint Ignatius Loyola, we can learn to persevere during those times of trial, growing in spiritual strength, and, above all, growing in clear knowledge and heartfelt love of God our Lord, Who is faithful, faithful, faithful—even in times of dim light and growing darkness.

When I write next, I will address the issue of what to do when you are not looking forward to going home for Christmas. Until then, let’s keep each other in prayer.



Father Robert McTeigue, S.J.is a member of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus. A professor of philosophy and theology, he has long experience in spiritual direction, retreat ministry, and religious formation. He teaches philosophy at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, FL, and is known for his classes in both Rhetoric and in Medical Ethics.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/19/15 10:34 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Accepting Grace

Posted: 19 Aug 2015 03:30 AM PDT

Ignatian spirituality appeals to people of multiple Christian denominations, as a recent post at Las Puertas Abiertas de Par en Par shows. Rosa reflects about what the Ignatian concept of indifference has meant to her and what she has learned in her life on a farm. These beautiful lines are worth noting:

This business of unclenching my hands is not just about surrender. It is also about accepting the small, never-ending and absolutely sufficient, gifts of grace.

Read more about indifference with these articles:

The Meaning of Detachment
By Margaret Silf

From Inner Compass

Ignatius urges us to seek the freedom of detachment or indifference. Neither of these words carries weight in today’s language or culture. Both sound cold and uncaring, which is far from the spirit in which Ignatius used them. A better word might be balance.

In his First Principle and Foundation, Ignatius talks about “making use of those things that help to bring us closer to God and leaving aside those things that don’t.”ť

bee in fuchsia flowerAt first this notion seemed rather exploitative to me, as if the whole of creation were only there for us to select from it the bits that seem to serve our purpose. It didn’t come to life for me until one day when I was sitting on a bench in a quiet, sunny courtyard, looking at a fuchsia bush. It was late August, and the bees were constantly visiting the fuchsia. They would land very gently on those flowers that were fully open to receive them. They made no attempt to enter a closed flower or to force the petals in any way. When they found an open flower they crept into its depths to extract the nectar. In doing so, of course, they also carried the pollen from flower to flower, bush to bush, thus ensuring further fruitfulness.

As I watched them, I realized that although the bees were choosing the fuchsia flowers and disregarding other plants growing in the courtyard, other insects were seeking their nourishment from different sources. In choosing what was exactly right for them, they were not only receiving their own nourishment but were also playing an essential role in the fruitfulness of their environment. And in choosing one plant rather than another, they were in no way rejecting or denigrating the others. The secret of this harmonious, cooperative life seemed to lie in each creature’s being true to its own essential nature. Each gained what it needed for survival and growth from the source that was right for it, and it did so without harm either to itself or to the flowers. In fact, after each encounter, both insect and flower were left in a richer state than before: the insect had been nourished and the flower had been pollinated.

I found this picture to be a very vivid illustration of what it might mean to “make use of what leads to life”ť and to leave aside what, for each individual, does not lead to life. It was a truly creative kind of “detachment.”ť It helped me to understand what God might be calling us to when he asks us to let go of our attachments. The bees, I noticed, made no attempt to “possess”ť the flowers, nor did the flowers attempt to trap and hold the bees. This was a free interchange, perfectly fulfilling the needs of the bees, the fuchsia, and the wider circle of creation around them.

Excerpt from Inner Compass by Margaret Silf.

Mary as a Model of Indifference

In many discussions of Ignatian indifference by Jesuit colleagues, the paradigmatic stories revolve around leaving behind jobs, projects, and relationships for the sake of mission. But I struggle to make sense of indifference in that way, since I live the life of a layperson where my intimate relationships are long-term. I’ve been married for 25 years, am the mom of two, and my closest friendships span many years. If life is not that of a soldier “on the road,”ť and instead our closest relationships are an extension of “home,”ť then what might indifference look like?

Mary can be a model of indifference in the context of long-term relationship. She exhibits two virtues needed for the freedom of continued intimacy over time: fidelity and flexibility as a response to change. When we are flexible, we have the freedom to let go of particular moments or phases of relationships while still continuing in the faithfulness that love requires.

When the angel first asks Mary if she will bear God’s son, she responds with faith, although she also feels confusion. Mary has no idea of what this life that she has promised to God will entail, yet her promise does not require knowing in advance so much as adapting to the pushes and pulls of changing relationships. As Jesus grows older, and Mary witnesses his growth, ministry, and finally his death and Resurrection, Mary remains faithful. But along with this fidelity is an ability to let go of different times in her relationship to her son. For example, when she and Joseph leave Jerusalem only to find Jesus has stayed behind in the Temple, they must learn anew to love a dramatically changed Jesus. Mary’s faithfulness is not limited to her family relationships; she is also a central presence to the disciples both in sorrow at the foot of the Cross and in the joys of Pentecost.

This fidelity and faithfulness can also be qualities that we can cultivate in long-term relationships. Moms know well that being a parent is a life filled with family fun and laughter and also putting up with the temper tantrums of toddlers or the sulking of teenagers. My husband and I find ourselves in periods of both mutual delight and boredom, while adapting over the years to the changes of being newlyweds, parents, or now, almost-empty nesters. My best friend and I relate differently now that she is married, but there are new possibilities for how we relate now married woman to married woman. Here the interior freedom to live out a life of love is found in flexibility within the context of a deeper, long-term fidelity.

Then there is heartbreak. Mary’s heart is pierced when her son suffers and dies. Loss is a part of life. Family members can die, friendships can be broken, or we can suffer betrayals. Here, too, Mary is a model. Mary loses Jesus not once, but twice, in his death and then again when he ascends into heaven, leaving her behind. Still, Mary remains faithful to God and does not abandon her faith. Instead, these piercings open her heart to greater compassion and faithfulness to others. Mary stands by us just as she stood faithfully at the foot of the Cross. Fidelity, flexibility, and faith are all parts of Marian indifference.


How Indifferent Are You?

Ignatius really means it when he says that we need to be “indifferent to all created things.” In his Principle and Foundation at the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises, he says “we ought not to seek health rather than sickness, wealth rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, a long life rather than a short one.”

To make it even more challenging, Michelle Francl-Donnay suggests that we write our personal version of that sentence, inserting things we especially love and loathe. This is hers:

I should not fix my desires on wet socks or dry feet, placemats or tablecloths, silence or noise, order or utter chaos.

Here’s mine:

I should not prefer Mozart to Lady Gaga, New York City to Las Vegas, steamed lobster to a tofu burger, baseball to soccer.

It’s very hard to be indifferent.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/18/15 11:14 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Today's installment you will need to watch a video from their site. A little different I know.

TOUR OF THE ROOMS OF ST. IGNATIUS IN ROME

Take a tour of the rooms of St. Ignatius in Rome with this video featuring Michael W. Maher, SJ. The video is almost 23 minutes, and it in Fr. Maher shares information about Rome at the time of Ignatius and the history of how the rooms survived a devastating flood. He then walks viewers through the rooms and points out artifacts from the years St. Ignatius lived in Rome. -

www.ignatianspirituality.com/22371/t
ou
r-of-the-rooms-of-st-ignatius


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/17/15 12:48 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Daring to Look Up

Posted: 17 Aug 2015 03:30 AM PDT

I recently took a ride on the High Roller, the observation/Ferris wheel in Las Vegas, which happens to be the highest in the world. The strange part of this is that I’m afraid of heights. My husband wanted to take the ride and for whatever reason, I agreed to go along without giving it much thought. I was not at all concerned until the doors closed in our little car and there was no turning back. I was in for 30 minutes of climbing to great heights whether I chose to enjoy it or not.

I found myself a seat and took out my phone to focus on something other than the view around me as we rose ever higher. Some children in our car, completely unbothered by our collective dependence on sound engineering for the next 30 minutes, gleefully danced around from window to window, thrilled with all of the lights dancing below them. I couldn’t bear to look—well, except that I kept taking little peeks.

The truth is that while I was busy posting on Facebook warning my friends of my impending doom, deep down I knew I’d be safe. That’s what allowed me just to take a peek every now and then. As I became a little more comfortable over time, the peeks turned into longer glances, and eventually I was able to stand up and walk up to a window and take in the beautiful scene before me. Of course, by that time we were nearly at the bottom, but it was still a nice view.

How very like my ride on the High Roller is our faith journey. We find ourselves along for the ride whether we want to get off or not. Few of us are so fortunate as to be like the children, instantly having faith and gleefully enjoying every moment of the ride, though that’s what we strive for. For many of us, we are faced with a choice. Will we simply coast through the ride hoping not to get hurt too much along the way? Or will we take a peek here and there, knowing deep down that God is with us and has a plan for us? With a little faith, we can take some peeks—chatting with the outcast, feeding someone who is hungry, praying for that coworker who drives us nuts day in and day out. With time those little peeks will grow, and we’ll see the world around us in new and beautiful ways as our view expands.

We’re all on this ride we call life and, indeed, where it ultimately takes us is out of our control. What is in our control is how we respond to what we see around us—assuming we dare look up at all. The view is constantly changing out there as the ride moves on, so peek often. Be not afraid; enjoy the ride!

Image by Nate Stiller under CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

The post Daring to Look Up appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/14/15 11:16 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Daily Examen for Parents



There are stretches of days and sometimes weeks when the boys delight us with their growth and learning and affection and wonder at the world. I was unprepared for all of this goodness. Maybe that’s grace.

But between moments of obvious grace, parenting is hard, too, which Greg Carpinello acknowledges. To help himself maintain perspective in his role as a father, he composed a Daily Examen for parents, available at the Ignatian Solidarity Network blog.

Carpinello wisely advises to take it slowly if parents want to start this prayer practice. The Examen should slow us down to reflect, not be an added pressure.

The Ignatian Examen: An Invitation to a Little Peace Along the Parenting Journey

July 30, 2015/2 Comments/in Just Parenting /by Greg Carpinello

peace-parentingParenting is one of the most rewarding and beautiful endeavors I have ever had in my life. It is also one of the hardest. I’m the Dad of two boys, both under the age of 4. I am convinced that no one is ever really prepared to be a parent. In many ways, I certainly wasn’t prepared. On the positive side, I have never experienced God more fully than participating in the process of bringing a child into the world and nurturing him. I was not prepared for how much my heart would grow in its ability to love. My sense of unconditional love has been transformed since the day my first son was born. There are stretches of days and sometimes weeks when the boys delight us with their growth and learning and affection and wonder at the world. I was unprepared for all of this goodness. Maybe that’s grace.

I was also unprepared by how hard parenting can be. Sometimes the stretches of days and sometimes weeks aren’t so much blissful as they are a grind. It is during these stretches that instead of affection, we get tantrums. Instead of wonder at the world, we get obstinate resistance. Instead of harmonious flow, life with kids can feel more like constant frustration. It is during these stretches that I know I’m not always my best self: not always as patient, kind, or loving as I know I could be. What makes it all more pressure-packed is the fear many of us parents carry: that what if these frustrating stretches and our own mistakes in handling them do permanent damage? What if these stretches of discord turn into patterns? What if we dig a hole with our kids that we cannot get out from?

Frequently I wish we could step away and take a class on how to do this parenting business, or I wish we had a daily parenting support group. If I were in high school or college, I would go on retreat to get away, reflect, recharge, re-evaluate. I often wish I had a catalyst like that to help me appreciate the blissful moments more and to change my approach to some of the negative patterns. The ability to do this seems foreign to me now though, in light of the daily demands of work and family life. And so I’m left, often wondering, how I can find the kind of space I need to get perspective and stay balanced?

Maybe as we approach the Feast of St. Ignatius, the answer is right in front of me, right in front of my Jesuit-educated worldview. In the ministry I do with college students, my colleagues and I often encourage them to engage St. Ignatius’ Daily Examen in those stretches of life when classes and homework and club activities and on-campus jobs add up to one-great-big-old life-sprint. The kind of life in which, if you’re not careful, you can look up at the end of it and a year has gone by and you’re unsure of what just happened, what you learned, even unsure of who you are now. The Examen, we tell them, is an easy way to create some space in their days to reflect, recharge, and re-evaluate. The Examen, we tell them, is an easy way to make space for God, for listening, for re-connecting with who they are at their deepest core. The Examen, we tell them, can be a spiritual life-preserver when we might otherwise drown in the bustle of daily life.

Substitute “house chores” for “classes.” Substitute “diapers and laundry” for “homework.” Substitute “meal planning and cooking” for “club activities.” Substitute “working parents” for “on-campus jobs,” and suddenly I realize I’m in need of that spiritual life-preserver too. Feels a lot like I could use a Daily Examen for Parents.

Here is a stab I have taken at adapting St. Ignatius’ Daily Examen into a daily practice specifically for harried parents who ultimately long for living and parenting in ways that reflect a belief in and a relationship with a loving God. I share it, not as an expert in getting this stuff right (neither the parenting nor the regular reflection), but as a fellow pilgrim along the journey with you, who is thirsty for ways to slow down, for ways to make meaning of the messiness of having children, and for ways to stay afloat when it would be far too easy to drown.

A Daily Examen for Parents *

THANKSGIVING
How am I grateful for my family today? How have they loved and supported me?

PETITION
Before I review my day, I ask for clarity and honesty as I search for God and as I look at myself and my kids.

REVIEW
From my interactions with my kids today today….

What did my kids do or say that made me smile, laugh, or pause in joy?

What did they do or say that challenged or frustrated me?

How did I respond to my kids with love and patience?

How did I respond to my kids out of frustration and impatience?

When did I feel closer to them? More distant from them?

How might my kids have tried to communicate deeper needs to me underneath the surface of their actions and words?

Have I noticed God’s presence in the midst of any of this?

What might God be inviting me to consider when I reflect on these experiences in my family?

RESPONSE
What is my response to God who is present in the life of my family?

A LOOK AHEAD
As I consider my family’s day tomorrow…

How can I be an instrument of God’s love in my family tomorrow?

How can I honor the gifts of my children more fully tomorrow?

If you’ve ever been educated by the Jesuits or studied Ignatian spirituality, then you know we’re called to be active and not called to merely just read about these practices. Ignatius Loyola himself might say: Don’t just think about it… live it. So I’ll challenge myself to do this Examen at least once this week – to truly listen to my days and to the voices around me, not as just the everyday din of the mundane, but instead as constant invitations to a life of joy and meaning. I will try to grow the practice into one that I do multiple times a week, maybe even daily sometime later down the line. But I also know that with all the other pressures of parenting, I don’t need to give myself another unrealistic one. So once this week. That’s where I’ll start. I invite you to join me and, more than that, I wish you peace along the journey that is parenting.

* Adapted from the Daily Examen for Cultural Diversity by Debra Mooney & Cheryl Nunez. Find more versions of the Daily Examen or other Ignatian-inspired resources at Jesuitresource.org.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/13/15 11:46 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Finding Infinity Within

What makes us human is precisely our experience of the infinite, the fact that we are never satisfied. We are the subjects of unlimited longing, finding infinity not outside ourselves but within. We ask questions about totality and ultimate meaning, and by so doing find that we are asking the question about God. God and humanity are not rivals. One does not love God less by loving someone more; in reaching out to love another person, we are reaching out for God. To speak about love for God and love for human beings is to speak of the same reality. And in the experience of ourselves as mystery, we experience the absolute mystery that is God.

—Excerpted from Ignatian Humanism by Ronald Modras

Wading into the Ocean
Posted on June 10, 2015 by Marina McCoy in Discernment // 6 Comments
wading in water

Ignatian spirituality often focuses on being attentive to the nature of our own desires, especially in discernment. Ignatius discovered that following God’s will is not a question of repressing our desires but rather of getting to know better what we really want. Our deepest desires sometimes are not what we initially think them to be. For example, many college students begin with a concern to earn good grades, to prepare to get a job, and to be accepted by their peers. There is nothing wrong with any of those desires, but over time Jesuit universities ask their students to consider their desires more deeply: About what subjects are they passionate? What sorts of activities enliven them? Where do they feel called to be more generous in relationship? Often this means trying out different majors or shifting friendships, and imagining themselves in different vocations or lines of work. Here the invitation is like that of Jesus to the apostles: “Come and see” (John 1:39).

At any age, this process of delving more deeply into our desires continues. The deepening of desire also characterizes our prayerful relationships with God. Over time, I have found that my desire to engage in talk with God, or in active and imaginative prayer, has softened although not disappeared. More and more often, I desire simply to “be with” God. Like spending time with a spouse or long-time friend, sometimes just being in one another’s presence is enough. Remarkably, in these times of mutual presence, other kinds of gifts unfold, and we are invited to plunge even more deeply into our desires for love, for communion and connection, and for God—who is both the object and the source of our very deepest desires.

I find that a useful image to describe the deepening of desire in prayer is wading into the ocean. Near the shoreline, the waves are plentiful, and their activity and energy is engaging—and sometimes overwhelming! As one walks further in, however, the waves become gentler. Eventually the depth requires us to stop walking and swim, allowing the water’s power—instead of only our own—to carry us. As we all experienced when we first learned to swim, there is an act of deep trust in surrendering ourselves to the water and letting its buoyancy sustain and carry us. In our prayerful surrender to God, too, we find a letting go of “self” and letting God carry us. In all this, God also opens us to be more present and deeply connected to others in the larger human family, and to the wider cosmos. Love of God and love of others are interconnected.

God invites us: “Come and see.” And then: “Go deeper.”

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
ELIZACG9's Photo ELIZACG9 SparkPoints: (206,201)
Fitness Minutes: (62,828)
Posts: 23,058
8/12/15 5:00 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
emoticon excellent ideas..

emoticon I love them... emoticon


Take time to THINK...It is the source of power.Take Time to READ..It is the fountain of wisdom.
Take time to PRAY..It is the greatest power on earth. Take Time to LOVE and BE LOVED..It is a God-given privilege.
Be FRIENDLY, It is the road to happiness.. take time to LAUGH..it is the music of the soul.
Take time to Give it is too short a day to be selfish.. Take time to DO CHARITY..
it is the key to heaven.
I live in El Paso, TX


Total SparkPoints: 206,201
200,000
212,499
224,999
237,499
249,999
SparkPoints Level 22
PLANTAGO's Photo PLANTAGO SparkPoints: (20,167)
Fitness Minutes: (27,748)
Posts: 2,211
8/12/15 4:48 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
One of my never ending sources of consolation comes from participating in the Mass. I see it as the amazing gift from God. I will try to remember during gray and dark time in my prayer life.

 Pounds lost: 2.0 
0
4.5
9
13.5
18
PLANTAGO's Photo PLANTAGO SparkPoints: (20,167)
Fitness Minutes: (27,748)
Posts: 2,211
8/12/15 2:59 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
Thanks for sharing. Excellent advice that I will need to look at often when the fall and winter come and I will have SAD hanging over me.

 Pounds lost: 2.0 
0
4.5
9
13.5
18
YENDUCHAKA's Photo YENDUCHAKA SparkPoints: (50,328)
Fitness Minutes: (20,555)
Posts: 712
8/12/15 12:58 P

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing it, Bob!

 current weight: 6.8  over
10
5
0
-5
-10
RHOOK20047's Photo RHOOK20047 SparkPoints: (590,640)
Fitness Minutes: (206,272)
Posts: 30,495
8/12/15 10:32 A

My SparkPage
Send Private Message
Reply
If You Lose Your Way in the Fog

If the worst happens, and the fog gets so thick that you really can’t move an inch, try using these tactics:

* Tell God, and maybe a human friend, how you feel, and ask them to pry you away from the negative force fields, even though you really want to stay where you are, in isolation.

* Force yourself to make contact with other people; go to town, walk around the market, make yourself a meal, phone a friend, even though you don’t feel like doing any of these things.

* Do just one thing that needs doing (perhaps some small practical task), and then enjoy the satisfaction of having done it. Give yourself a pat on the back; then look for the next “one thing.”ť

* Make a deliberate effort to reach out to the need of another person, maybe someone with similar difficulties, even though you really don’t want to know about anyone else right now.

* Pick up a project that really fired your imagination when you were in consolation. Let it refresh you with positive energy, even though you don’t actually want to do anything at all.

* Stay with the decisions you made, the dreams you dreamed when in consolation, even though you really feel like giving up on life.

* Remember moments of consolation when God seemed close to you, and reenact them in your mind, even though you are tempted to dismiss them.
—Excerpted from Inner Compass by Margaret Silf

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


 current weight: 295.5 
387
340.25
293.5
246.75
200
Page: 1 of (1)   1

Report Innappropriate Post

Other CC (Catholic Critters) All Things Catholic Posts

Topics:
Last Post:
12/25/2017 1:10:58 PM
9/1/2018 7:18:19 AM
3/27/2018 9:56:45 PM
12/27/2017 7:26:50 PM
9/3/2017 6:53:51 PM



Thread URL: https://www.sparkpeople.com/myspark/team_messageboard_thread.asp?board=25839x1017x62237566

Review our Community Guidelines