An Engaging Faith: July 27th-31st

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Real Life Radio daily at 4pm EST.

Enter To Win a Copy of  Love and Salt by Amy Andrews and Jessica Mesman Griffith (Courtesy Of Loyola Press Publishing)  

Where is God leading and meeting you today?

Continuing on our #31Daysof St.Ignatius..Tune in this week with.. Love and Salt: A Spiritual Friendship in Letters , Tony Agnesi of Finding God’s Grace in Everyday Life,  Paula Kowalkowski Loyola Chicago alumnae and faculty member of Music at Columbia College and Fr. Vincent Daily, pastor of a new parish collaborative in Massachusetts.

 

 
 

 
Monday: Amy Andrews and Jessica Mesman Griffith  authors of  Love and Salt:A Spiritual Friendship Shared in Letters. Amy has an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh and her spiritual writing has appeared in Creative Nonfiction,River Teeth, and the Bellingham Review. She teaches mathematics at Northwestern University and lives in Evanston with her husband and two children.Jessica has an MFA in writing from the University of Pittsburgh and has published essays in Elle, Creative Nonfiction, and Godspy. She lives in Michigan with her husband, writer David Griffith, and their two children.

Tuesday: Tony Agnesi, who is Finding God’s Grace in Everyday Life is the Senior Vice President of Rubber City Radio Group, WQMX, WONE, and WAKR in Akron and WNWV in Cleveland and member of Radio and Television Hall of Fame. A relentless storyteller, his Sunday blog and Wednesday podcast have an International audience in over 70 counties and has been translated in over 40 languages. Tony and his wife Diane have two adult sons and are members of the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Wadsworth, Ohio.

Wednesday: Fr. Vincent Daily pastor of the collaborative of St. Angela Merici Parish, Mattapan; St. Gregory Parish, and St. Matthew Parish, Dorchester is here to share a bit about his own vocation and discuss the challenges and joys of priesthood.

Thursday: Paula Kowalkowski, Loyola Chicago alumnae and faculty member of Music at Columbia College in Chicago joins us again to talk about bereavement and spirituality.  

 

Friday: Weekly Recap Join me as discuss the past week’s news, events, tweets and posts! And of course to celebrate St. Ignatius’ Feast Day!! 

 

Praying: Kataphatic or Apophatic?

How do you pray? Do you find your prayer overflowing with images, thoughts and conversations or instead find yourself wrapped in silence surrounded by God’s awe inspiring presence? While at various times we may find ourselves practicing both of these, understanding the shape your prayer takes helps us to simply understand how we personally connect with God.

The first form of prayer, kataphatic, is my own prevailing mode of prayer. At times our prayer begins in seeking God, in a desire to feel the immanence and closeness of God when our mind seems busied with the affairs of this world. In these moments, as I reflect on the presence, ministry and Passion of Jesus, as Word revealed, I recognize that I am being beckoned closer. In an instant, behind closed eyes, I am enveloped by the sights, sounds and scripture intended to speak to my heart. Aware of my own transgressions and surrendering, I find myself humbled by the love and grace so undeservedly but gratuitously given. A beautiful intimate conversation ensues, an exchange of wills- that of mine for His and a resolve to change.

While other times our prayer can be an exercise of self emptying and centering (apophatic), as Christ in the desert, in a desire to rest solely in God’s presence. Using a simple centering prayer, perhaps one word only, we can become immediately aware that there is no need to seek God for he is already here beside, within, and all around. Here, in this moment, we feel that images are incomplete for the magnificence of God simply transcends everything that we have ever known! Not an end but a beginning, in our seeking to understand God further, we realize that whatever our perceptions of God are that the Divine Other is so much more! Here we find a quiet contemplative aspect of our prayer whereby we are drawn into indescribable amazement at the mystery of God. When words are few, “How great Thou art!” sums it up pretty well.

On a very personal note, growing up without an earthly father figure in my life, I have often visualized Jesus welcoming me as a child to come and just “be” near to him. Amidst fields of tall grass, on a warm summer day and a light stirring breeze there is peace and joy. More than anything I could have ever asked for, this relationship has taken away the painful loss that I believe otherwise would’ve felt incapacitating. As an adult, I still experience this joyful purely childlike prayer, most often in those moments when God understands that I am most in need of a Father. And yet I find that as I have grown older so too have my conversations with Christ. In the desire for greater understanding, and the fullness of the gift that God has given through Christ, our responsibilities as a disciple continue to grow.

In a beautiful affective way, our experience of God’s love from both modes of prayer can be felt so strongly, that it seemingly overflows out from our prayer to praise for God and others. For through our daily activities, we are continuously invited to recognize God’s creative handiwork in the world around us, and celebrate its discovery in those we encounter. It’s a visible joy that sparks others to notice and ask, “So, what made you so smiley today?” It’s a deep sense of compassion that calls us to extend that love and mercy to those most in need. Be careful though, you’ll find its authenticity contagious and truly the best witness of faith that you can ever hope to give!

 Peace,

Signature

Examen-ing my day: God’s Reset Button

God's Reset Button

A few years ago, a good friend of mine made a comment about how thankful he was that God had given him a reset button that morning after a very trying day. Well, that image and my appreciation of it hasn’t left me since. We all have those days, mine was just yesterday, where very little is going as planned, no one is on our timeline, and our patience is slim to none. Honestly, I could not even get out of my own way! So, that Jesuit training came into play once again last night as I sat down to Examen where it all went wrong, as well as, how to get back on track.

 file3031348651890First, I had started my day by placing my own priorities ahead of my time with God. I know, “say it ain’t so”, but yes that was me. Seemingly too busy for mass, prayer or reflection- I plunged into the day’s events headfirst.  In doing so, I realize that I had let the events of the day control me, allowing them to dictate where and what I was to do next. Moreover, this was creating within me a growing exasperation,
at my ineptitude at getting anything done much less doing it correctly.

weather oddity MGD©Instead of giving God the space to meet these frustrations, as only God can, I was multiplying my mistakes and laying the path of destruction far and wide. Perhaps, this is a tad harsh but if you need a visual… just picture a funnel cloud.

-Father, help me!-

 

“Father, I need you!” Spoken, around 4pm, this prayer was the first good decision that I had made all day. “I need your help and guidance for I don’t want to do it alone anymore.” Yes! Finally, after having spun my wheels and stuck in the muck, I reached out for my lifeline.  God had heard me, and almost immediately I began to feel God drawing near to me. I say feel because God was there all along, simply waiting for the invitation to be a part of my day

“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAthings kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.” -from The Confessions of Augustine

And just like that, I had begun my Examen…1. Become aware of God’s presence. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  1. Review the day with gratitude. Certainly something that I could not have done adequately earlier, I could now meet God with a grateful heart. Initially, just simply grateful that God came so quickly, and my inner peace restored. Yet, I was grateful also to have been given this time for reflection and a new perspective.
  2. Pay attention to your emotions. Ahh, peace. Yet, just a few hours earlier I was anything but at peace. While these feelings aren’t what we wish to recall or dwell on, they are an important part of our spiritual growth. Merely glossing over them, or worse, avoidance, doesn’t allow for us the time to learn from our mistakes.
  3. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. Thank you, Father, for taking my frustrations and meeting them with peace. Thank you for not holding a grudge or saying I told you so – but hurrying to meet me when I called. While I slipped, you never let me fall. Your love is ever so faithful!
  4. God's Reset ButtonLook toward tomorrow. God’s great, big, awesome reset button – Oh, how I welcomed you today!Signature