Enjoying the Right to Be Free and Work

On this Labor Day, my friend Paula Kampf reminded me of the rights of workers to be free. And that kind of reminded us of this song:

My book Loving Work has been published and released on this fine day when we celebrate work. It makes a great gift for all those who have worked hard to give you life, like my Dad (who the book is dedicated to along with my mother and my Jesuit Spiritual Directors), or those in your life who are seeking work and discovering who they’d most like to become.

Labor is always difficult. That’s why they call it work. However, it need not be draining. A job well done requires a bit of blood and sweat and tears. But that too, can bring joy and happiness at seeing a job well done.

So today, reflect on your work. Do you love what you do? Is it time for a change on the job? Might you discover something new about yourself and your vocation by just a brief reflection on it this fall. My book is just what you need to do that.

The 3rd Week: Stay with Him

In the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius the third week of the exercises are focused on the transformative experience of the cross. We reflect directly on the experience of the cross in our lives and often meditate imaginatively on Calvary.

A friend of mine once felt like he was stuck in the third week on his long retreat (the 30 day version–not for wusses). He said to me “He’s got to come off the cross sometime.”

And perhaps therein lies the deep challenge. Can we face our own cross knowing that the resurrection is surely to follow? Do we have hope that God will make all things new even when disastrous things happen?

I didn’t say this to him back when he mentioned that but I was reflecting on this today in my own personal prayer time and I thought to myself that Jesus didn’t come off the cross–though he very well could’ve. It must have been excruciating for His mother and the other Marys, Magdalene and Mary, the wife of Clopas, along with the beloved disciple to watch.

And when it was all over…he was taken down at the request of Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple and Nicodemus came to help anoint the body. Could any of us have had the guts to stay with Jesus then? Could we have removed the nails and let his dead body slink over our back and then place that body into the arms of his sorrowful mother. Could we have taken Mary’s place and become the pieta? Could we have dared to have that kind of faith.

Could we stay with Him and faced that kind of horror–the horror of seeing God’s death and yet keeping the paradoxical faith that God is somehow still alive as well?

In my imagination I imagine being one of those who carries Jesus down from the cross. I sit with him in a momentary lifelessness, wondering if after this experience I can have the faith to believe that He will rise on the 3rd day as He said?

In my own life, do I also have a similar question of faith? When all seems darkest, do I believe that Jesus will make a way out of no way?

We must stay with Him in this “third week experience” and in doing so, might we find the strength to believe? Can we see beyond the blood of the cross to find the wounded one alive again? Can we too rise from our wounds and believe that this experience is just a foreshadow of what God will also do for each one of us?

Can we hold a dead God in our arms and still believe that all will be well?

Facing the cross of Calvary enables each of us to see Jesus in a new way that ultimately provides us with the faith to get past our own crosses in our lives. It’s scary to look straight ahead at the cross and sometimes we might choose to look left and right in fear–but it is there we see Mary, who held Jesus lifeless, and believed anyway.

Do we have people in our lives who restore our faith? Who believe despite the odds mounting against them? Do we know those who have faced the death of loved ones but who can still rejoice in the resurrection despite their very real sadness–or even anger?

Staying with Him keeps things real. We cannot ignore the cross, for to do so also denies the resurrection. Our God understands our suffering and that is a beautiful thing for us to behold.

Nobody likes to suffer. If we don’t we never taste the rewards of growth. of learning, of being renewed. We might certainly be worse off if it were not for the cross.

We need the courage to stay with him, hold Him in our arms and believe.

Are We Weak Enough?

When looking for the best person for a job we often say that a person’s gifts or talents are what are most required for them to gain that position. But Jesuit Father Michael Buckley wrote a piece awhile back that challenges that assumption for the priesthood. I would challenge that this is true for nearly every vocation in life.

Take a peek at some of what Fr. Buckley offers:

There is a different question, one proper to the priesthood as of its very essence, if not uniquely proper to it: Is this man weak enough to be a priest? Is this man deficient enough so that he cannot ward off significant suffering from his life, so that he lives with a certain amount of failure, so that he feels what it is to be an average man? Is there any history of confusion, of self-doubt, of interior anguish? Has he had to deal with fear, come to terms with frustrations, or accept deflated expectations? These are critical questions and they probe for weakness. Why weakness? Because, according to Hebrews, it is in this deficiency, in this interior lack, in this weakness, that the efficacy of the ministry and priesthood of Christ lies.

So true. Our failures tell us far more about ourselves than our successes often do. When we see ourselves as small we often are then able to access where we can be most useful to others and we learn of our gifts and talents in a new way…through our weaknesses.

Two great examples from my own life:

So I enter a medical school three times a week on campus. And I realize that quite often intellectually, I’m the dumbest person in the room. These folks have better grades, better test scores and their brain probably can process information better than mine.

However, I still have something to offer them as a minister. How many of them can’t cry with a patient, or show sympathy or empathy? How many of them don’t like people and need to get their heads out of the book and into thinking on their feet—all things that I do very well.

How many might disregard a gross anatomy donor as another “bag of meat” instead of “a generous donor?”

Yeah, I’m weak enough to let myself feel those emotions and be changed by them and channel them into a different kind of energy?

The second one comes from making grand plans. I had many of them this summer for the semester and some of them went right into the crapper when a UB colleague I was working with up and left for another job. A second one was just implausible financially and a third had some time constraints that couldn’t be met.

I cannot always predict the future, but I am weak enough to be flexible and to look at the failures of the past and realize that I’m smart enough to get past this and rebuild. I’ve been broken and battered and the next time I’ll stand a bit stronger but for now, I’m weak enough to learn from all of it.

When I was a freshman in college, I failed a German course, the only course I’ve ever failed in my life. I ended up in the course because of poor guidance by a dean and it’s one of the only courses from my undergrad years that I still even talk about. I learned about the value of patience that semester because the dean of the language department at that time had none for me and forced me into the course when 2nd level Spanish was over my head and he refused to let me into the first level and insisted I start with a new language. I learned about how easy it is to fall behind when you get in a course late. I valued my health more because I got sick that semester missed two classes and fell behind even further. I learned about the value of trusted sources and administrators who can see beyond the rules, if we can but find those allies within the system.

And I learned humbleness after seeing that F on my transcript. I graduated 9th in my high school class and this was a big blow to my inflated ego.

But I also learned that one failure did not define who I was. I never failed another course. I ended up in graduate school later in life and graduated with honors.

A side note to this story. I also learned forgiveness. My German professor wouldn’t budge on the grade, despite my bargaining. She did write a letter to the financial aid office so that they wouldn’t cut my aid package. But I had some anger towards her regardless. She was nice enough and tried to help me, but German was clearly my Waterloo. I didn’t deserve a D, but I hoped she’d give me one anyway and when she didn’t I was really upset–especially when other students did less in other classes and were given passing grades.

Years later, I got my first job offer from WFAN just before graduation day. I was at the Campus Radio station and exited the building, Keating Hall, where it was housed.

And there she was, the witch that failed me. And she had boxes in her car–lots of them. Her and another dead (yes, she had been promoted) were standing there and our eyes met.

“Mike, might you be able to give us a hand with these?”

I looked into her eyes and my first thought was “You HAVE GOT to be joking! NOW you want a favor from ME!?”

But I also thought about how that failure didn’t define me. How much I had grown from that moment and how much more of a man I had become since being brought so low. I was about to go and work at the biggest All Sports radio station in the country. And her F didn’t stop that from happening. But more importantly, her F was stopping me from being open to her needs. And so, I told her, “Surely. Where to?”

We rode in the elevator together and caught up. She was happy to hear I was doing well and wished me well in my future.

I would only see her one more time since.

She read my name at my graduation that year, with a big broad smile on her face. I was weak enough indeed to graduate, learning so much from that single moment that the rest of my courses almost pale in comparison.

I’m not always the smartest kid in the class. But what I am is more than enough.

Even in all it’s weakness.

Great-Grandma in Her Stockinged Feet Talking to the Moon

I’m starting to hear stories from my father that he’s never shared with me before. Last night we talked on the phone for a long time. I had been worried about him because my mother’s been fairly sick lately and I know that gets him down.

He always has a story for me. And last night was no different.

He began; “I remember when I was home (Waterford, Ireland will always be “home” for him) and I was up at about 9 in the evening and I looked out the window and there was my grandmother outside in the frost with just her stockings on looking up at the moon for herself. I went out to my uncle (My father was orphaned at a young age, he remembers his mother but has no memory of a father) and asked him why grandma was out in the frosty night in just stockinged feet?

He told me I was crazy, “Grandma went to bed at 8PM and has been sleeping ever since.”

“I figured I must have been dreaming and so I went back to bed.” he said.

He continued: “The next morning I awoke and I went and made the tea and toast by the fire which I would bring to grandma every morning. We made toast by the fire then, no toasters at that time, y’know.”

“When I got to the room she was indeed sleeping and I called to her to wake her up but she kept right on. She never woke up. I ran to Mary (his older sister) and my uncle. Come quick! She’s gone! She’s gone!”

Hearing this story, made me think that my Father was a young man maybe in his late teens. So I asked him, “Dad how old were you when this happened.”

“Oh I guess I was about 7 years old.” he said flatly.

My dad is now 84. I’m amazed he can remember the scene with such vitality but then again, finding your grandmother dead in the morning at 7 after seeing a vision of her in the night air isn’t exactly the kind of thing you’d forget.

With the Irish, all of our stories are true and some of them actually happened. However, this is a story that I know is true and indeed it actually happened. It’s now one of the only memories I have of my great-grandmother and I have no personal experience of my grandparents on either side. So I see all this history through the eyes of my parents. My father had to hear stories of his parents from this woman who he found in the “thin place” that night as we Irish say, in the place between death and life, standing up looking at the moon on a cold Irish evening.

I’m often not one for these kinds of stories. But today I am. And I know that when I look to the moon tonight, I may just do so in stockinged feet and remember the woman who raised my father for just a short time, who helped him get over the death of his parents before she died herself. One of his only female role models and who gave my father the spirit of being a man for others, as he has been for me for more than 42 years and for my mother for more than 62 years of marriage.

The moon and my great-grandma will now be forever linked in my mind. We are truly all connected by God to one another. And perhaps when I look and find the moon in the sky I can pray a prayer to God for a woman I have never met, but who moves me to gratitude this day and who probably has prayed for me for decades.

Maybe we’ll even get to sing in the moonlight together.

Do We Wish to Leave? A Reflection on Sunday’s Readings 8/26

Many people leave the Catholic Church for a variety of reasons–in fact there are even some good ones. And that saddens me, our church, a human institution rife with flaws is sometimes not the best place.

But what saddens me more–is that people even within the church leave as well. They leave behind some of the sayings of Jesus that are too hard for them to handle. Sometimes don’t we just walk out of the church after Sunday mass and don’t pay a single bit of attention to where God has called us?

And maybe there’s something wrong with all of us regular churchgoers–because we don’t talk enough about how God is all we need. Maybe we don’t even believe that God could satisfy all our desires despite our commitment to a church community?

Can we really believe that God can be all that we need? It seems that many of the early followers had a hard time believing that.

Jesus even says that he’ll be our food, meaning that God’s boundless love for us can satisfy all our desires. It doesn’t mean that we’ll never have to eat again or that starving people only need to go to mass and that their problems will be over. What it does mean is that God always satisfies even in the face of struggle and discomfort. I saw this first hand in Nicaragua and in Kentucky where poverty is rampant. People lived in the garbage dump called Chureca, just a stone’s throw from Managua. Desperate people clinging to life and happy to get a few staples from us to tide them over. But it was our presence to them that they loved the most. After all, they are forgotten people. In Kentucky, it was more of the same. People happy to get groceries and other items from the local food pantry, but even happier to engage in conversation with those of us who worked as volunteers for the day.

The poor are often left out and Jesus understood that intimately. From a poor town Himself, Jesus took on the poor’s likeness and challenged the establishment not to forget them. In the polite society of the rich, hanging out with poor folks was akin to ritual impurity. I often say we’re not so different because many of us wouldn’t be caught dead eating with the homeless on the street–or even talking with them. So when Jesus says that all people will eat his flesh and drink his blood that was even more disgusting to them–never mind that all would be asked to do this, not merely the rich–who were often looked upon as God’s chosen people at the time. Poverty indeed was a curse.

And instead Jesus invites all. Come and eat my flesh and drink my blood. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

And it’s all too hard for many. So they do what most people do when they get overwhelmed by a challenging situation:

They give up and walk away, back to their comfy lives where these challenges do not bother them. They can’t comfort the afflicted so they choose to be the comforted themselves and hope to not be afflicted.

And when these people walk away, Jesus asks His disciples: “Do you, too wish to leave?”

And Peter has the line of the year. My loose translation is something like this:

“Where could we go? You’ve scared everyone else away! And YOU, after all, have the words of eternal life!”

I can hear the disciples laughing. And then Peter adds that in case Jesus didn’t notice it, they’ve been following Him and are convinced that He is the Messiah. So why would they go anywhere else? And even if they did it’s not like people are going to roll the rad carpet out anyway now after Jesus had some pretty hard words for them to hear. Some folks just might not have been ready to hear what God was asking of them.

And the question that remains then is for us. Do we too want to leave? Can we stand with the poor and know that God can change our hearts to help change their situation–so that desperate people will stop doing desperate things?

Where might God be calling you today–to have your heart stretch a bit farther than you think it can? We’re all challenged by time. There’s only so many hours in the day and we have so many responsibilities. Might we as Catholics, intentionally set some time apart even once a month to dedicate some time for those less fortunate than ourselves? I know sometimes I fill up my empty spaces of free time with things that are less than satisfying for me, but are still tempting nonetheless. Bad habits are hard to break.

But maybe that’s why we are here! We’re here because we know that we want just a bit more out of life than what we often think will satisfy us. And that God’s example of giving us all of Himself from this altar is the example that we need to learn from. Can we become what we receive and stretch ourselves farther than we think we can–even to the least of those in society: the hungry, the homeless, the unborn, the forgotten–or are they indeed too hard to give ourselves to?

Christ calls us to become what we receive here from this altar. And when we do others might find us just a bit odd. After all, at this university Community Service is often used as a punishment. We get to serve the poor because we got caught drinking in the dry dorm, or speeding, or violating one of 100 different campus directives.

But Jesus calls us to say that we are servants by design. Called to be with the poor always–not as punishment–but as human beings who care for each other.

May you come to believe that Jesus is calling you to somewhere or someone this semester—to become Christ for them.

And in so doing, may you not just become what you receive–but may you realize that you are satisfied by simply becoming all that God calls you to be.

I Set My Bow in the Pews

I went to spiritual direction earlier in the week and had a great conversation with my director Jesuit Brother Chris Derby, SJ. We have been talking much about desire and the need to think about what really brings us joy.

For me that comes from working directly with students and young adults. Before entering the Jesuit residence for my appointment I saw a group of Canisius students entering the chapel for 5pm Mass and it warmed my heart, not only because of their desire to be close to the Lord, but also because it was a weekday. Over at St. Joe’s we have a number of students who get up early and get to our morning mass. Some even say that when they miss it they find themselves out of sorts.

Working with students and young adults in spiritual direction and on retreats has brought me much joy. It’s enabled me to see more clearly who I am as a minister. More importantly, it’s reminded me that I’m in the experience-making business—that all the things we do at St. Joes centers on giving people an experience of the living, breathing God in their midst. Whether it’s a day away at Niagara Falls, a weekend retreat, Sunday or weekday masses or our new community service program…they would all be useless if there wasn’t an opportunity to find God lurking there–waiting for us to find Him in the occupations of our day.

I think that’s what I most try to help students, faculty and others to see–Where is God working in your life?

And in doing so, I often find God meeting me there, helping me see God working in my own.

After direction, I’m often able to see that more clearly, with Brother Chris’ help and at the end of our direction experience, I usually spend just a few minutes in the chapel on the Canisius Campus. The sun was hitting their rose window and in the darkness of the Chapel here is what I saw over the pews.

I found myself thinking about the story of Noah and how God placed his “bow” in the clouds as a sign of a covenant to care for all of humanity after the destruction of the world by the flood. Surely, this was ancient people’s story to explain how God will always care for us and how God promises to do so.

I will remember my covenant between me and you and every living creature—every mortal being—so that the waters will never again become a flood to destroy every mortal being. – Genesis 9:15

Perhaps that’s what I often need to remember as well. In the hectic days of a new semester, I too, need to make a covenant to be with our students and faculty and to be available to them–so that when it seems like they are drowning, I may be a safe harbor for them to land and remind them that God will not let them drown. Instead, God will help provide them with life, if they just notice His presence in their lives.

So where will God show Himself to you today?

Let the adventure of a new semester begin.

And don’t forget to notice the rainbow that always comes after the flood.

Holding on to a Taxing Agenda

Today’s Gospel gives us a bit to chew on from Matthew

When they came to Capernaum,
the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said,
“Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?”
“Yes,” he said.
When he came into the house, before he had time to speak,
Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon?
From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax?
From their subjects or from foreigners?”
When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him,
“Then the subjects are exempt.
But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook,
and take the first fish that comes up.
Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.
Give that to them for me and for you.”

What is the tax that people had to pay. Scholars debate this but it may be a punitive tax placed on the Jews to support either the Roman God’s temple or maybe a rabbinical school built on the backs of the poor.

Jesus seems to rail against this idea at first but then cooler heads prevail. This was probably an issue that his followers faced long after the Ascension and Matthew’s readers may have been familiar with this.

But what does it mean for us? The past few days I’ve been mulling over the hatred that seems to exist in our modern culture. Democrats and Republicans, Conservatives and Liberals, etc. As an old teacher I know used to say about Racism: “Whites hate blacks, the blacks hate the Puerto Ricans, the Puerto Ricans hate the Mexicans, the Mexicans hate someone else! It never ends!”

Jesus seems to say that not paying the tax is more of a bother because of what will come of it than the burden of paying the tax. Easy for him to say, he can create money in the belly of a fish! But there seems to be some wisdom in this. We need to be shrewd sometimes and pick our battles and try not to make enemies at first glance. There’s enough fighting in the world. Sometimes it’s just easier to pay the guy off and call it a day.

I find this often comes into my mind when I deal with those whom I disagree with. Sometimes it’s just easier to let them have their opinion and not worry about having them see the wisdom that I espouse to. They’ve heard me but don’t have to accept my opinion. It will be easier knowing how we see each other, for sure, but conversion might not be necessary–in fact, it might prevent any kind of reconciliation.

Today let’s look for the coin in the fish’s mouth that can bring us together and bring peace. Where might we need to sink our lines in order to keep people talking with each other just a bit longer before all hell breaks loose in a fight. That one little coin might just be enough to prevent a whole lot of heartache.

And that is bound to be worth it.

God always uses what is right at hand for us. In this case, fish are always attracted by shiny objects (like a hook, in this case a coin), perhaps Jesus knew where there was a coin that nobody was using and I’m sure it brought much relief to the fish to have it dislodged from it’s insides–even with the pain of the hook. Maybe Peter threw him back too? What do we have at our disposal that allows us to diffuse those who might even be trying to cheat us? What keeps us in conversation with little expense to us? Where might we be called to relieve a bit of pain from one of God’s creatures so that we might live a bit more harmoniously with others and not end up in a fight.

It may very well be an opportunity for us to listen carefully to the needs of those who we think might not have our best interests at heart. So we might see something good in them–or something that’s not as big of a deal to us as we thought. I know today, I found much relief in letting go of a big project so that I can pay better attention to other relationships in my life and my ministry. And that wasn’t that hard to do. In fact it was freeing.

What price might we pay for that freedom? Sometimes it seems the price we try to pay is what keeps us enslaved by our own bigotry, hatred, and inflexibilities. As the weeks move forward, perhaps we’d be better served by simply paying a bit of attention to what we really need, as opposed to what we think we want.

Now if we could only get congress to see it this way….

Your Pearl of Great Price

Warren Eckstein, the world famous pet expert, was once complaining to me about something that he didn’t like that was going on at the radio station we worked at together. He suddenly stopped himself mid-sentence…

“I should stop complaining. I could be digging ditches somewhere.”

This past weekend my colleague, Bonnie, who acts with me at the simulation center, made an astounding remark. We were both a bit sleepy on an early morning assignment and Bonnie said:

“You know, there are days I don’t want to go to dance class. But I then start to think how fortunate I am to be living in the United States and that I have the opportunity to go to dance class. Because if I were living somewhere else, I’d still be a dancer. I just wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Both Warren and Bonnie are people who make their living by engaging their passion. Warren’s been doing it for decades and Bonnie is just in the springtime of her career. But they both have made a decision to live for what keeps them passionate. Warren can’t imagine a life without animals and Bonnie couldn’t imagine not dancing or acting.

They found their pearl of great price and despite struggle they can’t imagine parting with it. To do so would negate an integral part of themselves, the way they have chosen to express their joy to the world.

I suppose I feel the same way about ministry. And it took me a long time to be able to say that.

Because you see many of us bury the pearl of great price that we find. For me, I was having all these rich experiences in retreat work and in parish life as a volunteer. I just never thought it was worth the risk to go into ministry full-time. Strangely enough, my media prowess didn’t come into full force until I made that switch to ministry.

My upcoming book, Loving Work, is about a month away from press. And we discuss this very topic, the subject of today’s Gospel parable from Jesus. I found this line interesting:

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

Well, sure! Of course the person does that. But what of the person who buried it to begin with? Why would he bury something so precious? Or perhaps it wasn’t so precious to him or her after all?

A lot of people thought that my great pearl was working in New York City radio. It was fun, to be sure. I was good at it, certainly. But I didn’t start setting the world on fire until I made a switch to ministry. Even later in my ministry career I had to realize that my passion is being a pastoral person and not a media guru. I use media now, for a pastoral means and not for media’s sake (or profit’s sake, for that matter).

What might your pearl of great price be? For many, it just might be right under their nose. We tend to complain about our jobs, our relationships, and a whole lot more. But deep down, haven’t some of us just forgotten how much we love the people and the careers that we have already? Where did we first stoke that passion? How might we recapture it now?

Or is something else beckoning, that treasure that we’ve hidden safely away and that we might be afraid to dig up again? For to do so would require risk on our part and perhaps a bit of painful change. I remember thinking that I wasted time by staying in my radio career so long. But I also think that radio prepared me for so much and I made so many great friends and colleagues and have some really rich stories and experiences now from those years. (Many in my new book, by the way).

What is your pearl? Where might God be calling you? Are you too frightened to follow that call? What else prevents you from doing so?

Yesterday was the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, my favorite saint. I leave you today with his words:

“Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly.”

Amen.

Happy Feast Day, St. Ignatius

Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, so a blessed feast day to all of my Jesuit friends and their collaborators. It’s so great to have been a part of “the family” for so many years, since my Fordham undergraduate days, through graduate school and beyond into other relationships.

One of the things I’ve admired about the Jesuits is their commitment to working with lay folk like myself. In fact, the first Ignatian retreat I went on I was invited to by a lay person. My resident director at the time was a guy named Steve DiSalvo. To brag slightly, Steve is now Dr. Steven DiSalvo and has become President of Marian University after a stint as the executive director of the Safe at Home foundation (better known as former Yankee Manager Joe Torre’s foundation to educate people about domestic violence).

I remember walking into McGinley Center at Fordham (the cafeteria and other central offices were here and still are) and finding Steve at a table that said “Peer Retreat” on it. He called me over when he saw me and said “You should go on this!” I looked at the date and it was the weekend of my 20th birthday.

“Um, you’ve got no shot in hell of me going that’s my birthday weekend!”

A lesser person than Steve would have given up right there. But instead he persisted confidently:

“Dude, you can go out to get drunk at Clarke’s anytime. Why don’t you take this weekend and look at what the last 20 years have been like and then think about what you hope the next 20 years will become?”

I looked at him and said, “You know, Steve….OK. I’m in!”

In fact the two guys behind me signed up as well. I invited them to celebrate my birthday with me away.

That weekend changed my life. It really beckoned me to ministry. The following year, Fr. John Mullin, SJ, came to Fordham and brought the Emmaus retreat program with him and it was a huge success with my generation of college students. He taught me how to lead retreats and encouraged my ministry even as a volunteer. Years later in my Ignatian Examen I noted that all of the things in my life that I was proud of has stemmed from these retreat experiences at Fordham with Steve and later with Padre John, as we called him.

But these men simply were being sons of Ignatius. They were true contemplatives in action both lay and ordained and led many into a stronger relationship with Jesus and with themselves. My friends from those retreats were among the best friends I had in college and I’m still very connected with many of them today nearly 20 years later. I’ve also developed retreats and led versions of the spiritual exercises and engaged with the exercises myself more deeply throughout these many years.

To think that it all started with the vision of Ignatius who simply wanted to go where people were. He went to the cities and wanted to be a resource for the spiritual experience of all people. He had a special love for the poor and through his experience of being in the world he led all of his followers into being sensitive to the needs of others.

And we are all better for his vision.

The Rainbow Connection

From Niagara Falls yesterday, a rainbow followed us!

God said: This is the sign of the covenant that I am making between me and you and every living creature with you for all ages to come:
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds,
I will remember my covenant between me and you and every living creature—every mortal being—so that the waters will never again become a flood to destroy every mortal being.
When the bow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature—every mortal being that is on earth.
– Genesis, Chapter 9

And THAT…kinda reminds me of a song…