At the beginning of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Andrew Milewski, S.J. reflects on how a language exchange turned into a place of encounter and friendship. In this place of encounter, he wrestles with how to pray and have solidarity with the diverse Asian-American community and his friends who are a part of that group.
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With all that’s happened in the past year, going back to normal can’t be a return to the way things were. That’s because the way things were wasn’t good enough. Everything looks different. Everything is saturated with a familiar unknown, and nothing has its place just yet. I need to be alert, to note how this newness feels, to take advantage of the ensuing energy.
It took me some time to learn what God was trying to teach me through Sinesio, the man who, for over 25 years, kept the novitiate grounds a paradise, more heaven than Hollywood, with his care and hard work. But, God eventually got through as God has a way of doing. God will offer life lessons where we least expect them, and sometimes, when we least want them.
I stopped drinking during the last semester of my regency, a stage of Jesuit formation where we work in a Jesuit institution. My last binge led me to see how my story with alcohol was going to end. If I kept on drinking, I would have left the Jesuits and continued deteriorating. In this “moment of clarity,” I decided that I needed to stop drinking in order to live. Though I am writing this anonymously, my story is a truth I carry with me. I am a Jesuit, and I am an alcoholic.
In this Holy Week, I remember Jesus’s words on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” I ask for forgiveness, for the damage that I have caused unknowingly, and I forgive those who have damaged me with their words and actions. Join me as I reflect how an ancient Greek philosopher and a late-medieval Spanish Basque Priest guide me on using social media for the greater good.
Our first meal was at a loud bar with gloriously cheap food. Our second meal was at our beloved parish, St. Ignatius Loyola on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. We kept having these two meals over and over again. On Sundays, though, the food didn’t change. His distribution of Communion was never an isolated sacramental act, but the moment that gave clarity to the rest of our encounters. Meet my friend Carlos, a dear friend who helped redirect my life.
Names are powerful. I had a professor in college who I have gotten to know well since I graduated, and I still cannot call her by her first name. Conversely, I have graduate professors who insist I call them by their first names. Then there’s my local parish priest back home whom I call “father” because nothing else fits. Names, what we call people, matter. Read how the names of Saints can inspire our lives.
While none of us can compare our suffering in the past year, we can learn a lot about grace and love through both King David and depression medication.
The morning is gentle. I’ve come at the perfect time to sit and pray near the old living room windows. The sign of the cross, coffee on the window sill, closed eyes. I’m opaque inside today. I pray about yesterday. And sometimes my prayer isn’t always clear.
I’ve been throwing pottery for over a year now. For a while, I had the technique down, or at least down enough to center the clay and build from there. But lately, I have had the worst time centering the clay. As I sit with my struggles to center the clay, my mind wanders to the world around me: does anything feel centered these days?