Seven of my Jesuit brothers and I were ordained as deacons on September 20th. I’m helping out at a great parish in South Boston and have been incredibly grateful to dive head first into ordained ministry. I love preaching, assisting at Mass, and chatting with parishioners. But the baptisms have been the highlight.
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I might be exhausted from the pandemic, or frustrated that I can’t control a math class, or anxious about the election, but that all pales in comparison to everyone I’m praying for. What my students have taught me, though, is that behind this faux-humility is my false belief that I can probably resolve my exhaustion or frustration or anxiety by myself. My students have taught me so much about prayer. Read and reflect with me about wisdom that can arise from seventh graders.
Perhaps, like me, you are discerning how you should spend your holidays? You are praying and asking God to show you how to be present to your loved ones and still keep them safe. As I pray with all my anger, frustration, loneliness, and hunger for loved ones this holiday season, I am reminded that God often provides for us in ways we don’t expect or even necessarily want.
November, we formally mark the recollection of our beloved dead, has passed away. Now we’re in the season of Advent, a penitential season, a time to take stock of what we need and whether we’re willing to wait for it. And, as if All Souls and Advent weren’t a reminder of death, we’re still living in this pandemic, which has claimed the lives of nearly 1.5 million people worldwide. This might sound dire, but we’re in Advent, so there is hope! Hope in our waiting. Take a moment and reflect with me on waiting!
“I love you” It just was the most believable utterance of that phrase I’ve ever heard, while sitting in an utterly unremarkable conference room transformed with incense and song into a place open to worship; somehow breaking through the stubborn habits of conventional self-assurance I felt forced to carry. For some, a vocation is automatic, an easy skin to fit into. For others, God’s call is great, the response is real, and yet it is something one must learn to love. Take a moment to read and pray with a reflection about my vocation, and maybe it will illuminate something about yours.
When the women’s and gender department first caught my eye, it was not just a passing, “Oh, look at that.” It was something more. It was the feeling that my mind and heart were on fire. Excited. Hopeful. Joyful. Captivated. Stirred. It felt like confirmation of what I already identified as: a feminist. The experience was what, in Jesuit lingo, we would call “consolation.” The Spirit was moving me. As I continue my studies, I continue to feel God calling me here. Read how all this has unfolded for me and my vocation, and maybe it might illuminate something in yours.
At eighteen, I studied theology and philosophy at the University of San Diego. After graduation I still wasn’t ready to join the seminary. So, I bounced over to Boston and earned a Master of Divinity. It’s there I first met the Society of Jesus. Even so, I was still hesitant to take the dive. So, I skipped back to San Diego and began a two-year stint as a hospital chaplain. And this is just the beginning of my vocation story! Take a moment to read more and maybe uncover – or perhaps rediscover – your own journey of God’s call for you.
I was a 22 year old kid from California, wore shorts and flip-flops, carried myself with an informal San Diego vibe, and spent my free time running around and playing sports. Bob was from the opposite side of the country having grown up in a small town in Massachusetts and had a much more serious persona, although he was a master of witty humor and clever word play. Sometime there are people who affect your life in ways that remain with you, even inspiring a vocation. Read how Bob influenced my life and my vocation, and maybe you will recall people in your life who have done the same for you.
I had helped to COVID-proof the school with the other faculty members. I had hustled my way through the first weeks teaching a new subject. I had experimented with masks to be sure my voice could be heard over New York City traffic. Suddenly, none of that mattered. I was thrust into something totally new. I no longer needed to wear a mask, but wrangle a group of thirteen-year-olds I could barely see through their tiny on-screen boxes. As soon as I finished my first online lesson, I complained to Jesus in prayer. And that prayer was raw and real. Find out happens when you start getting real with Jesus.
I found myself in the community garden here at Loyola University Chicago, where students and Jesuit scholastics volunteer. We harvest the crops and donate them to a local food pantry, I was told, and the idea of helping out appealed to me. So much more happens in the garden that day. Take a moment to read and reflect with me on an experience of a God who nurtures.