Saints and seasons

From 'The Painted Life of Mary Ward', #28
Born on 23 January 1585, Mary Ward founded the congregations for women based on the Jesuit model that we now know as the Congregation of Jesus and the Loreto Sisters. She faced frequent and powerful disapproval as she pursued the path along which God was leading her. Theodora Hawksley CJ celebrates Mary Ward’s remarkable capacity to resist opposition and to hold on to the truth that she had discerned, and highlights five ways in which we can follow her example. One of the things I love...
In the final stage of the Examen, having reviewed the recent events of our lives to see how God has already moved us, we imagine, with increased hope, how we might move with God and for God in the time to come. Frances Murphy concludes our Advent Examen by reflecting on how this mirrors our Advent experience.  Read the guide to the Examen on which the format of our Advent Examen is based.Advent Examen: 1. ThanksgivingAdvent Examen: 2. Prayer for the lightAdvent Examen:...
Photo by Ben Stephenson at flickr.com
As we reach the fourth stage of our Advent Examen, the focus is on sorrow, but it is not about wallowing or self-condemnation, as Stephen Hoyland emphasises. The preceding steps of the Examen have created a context of gratitude in which our sorrow, when we engage with it properly, can create space for us to receive God’s love and can lead us to new ways of loving.  Read the guide to the Examen on which the format of our Advent Examen is based.Advent Examen: 1. ThanksgivingAdvent...
Photo by NeONBRAND via Unsplash
Examining your own experience might sound like a process of which you ought to be in control, but doing so in the Examen is not about trying to tell your own story. Instead, says Rob Marsh SJ, ‘we ask to hear a little of God’s story being woven from the fabric of our life.’ In third stage of our Advent Examen, take up St Ignatius’s invitation to ask an account of your soul.  Read the guide to the Examen on which the format of our Advent Examen is based.Advent Examen: 1. ...
Photo by Joanna Kosinska via Unsplash
The second stage of our Advent Examen is ‘Prayer for the Light’, in which we ask to be able to see what is truly important in our own lives, says Dushan Croos SJ. That prayer can have a particular feel to it in a season that asks us to look backward and forwards. ‘The light for which we wait in Advent illuminates not only the past of the chosen people with their Saving Lord, but also illuminates the new way by which he is about to offer salvation to all women and men as well as to all of...
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St Ignatius of Loyola, in his Spiritual Exercises, encouraged a form of prayerful reflection on our experiences and feelings, known as the Examen, as a way of discovering how God is at work in our lives. Thinking Faith invites you to let this Ignatian way of praying guide you in this season of preparation, as we undertake an Advent Examen. Ruth Holgate helps us to take the first step of the Examen, ‘Thanksgiving’. Why is it important for us to say ‘thank you’ to God?  Read the guide to the...
'The Great Amen' by Peter Bridgman
On 14 October, Pope Francis will declare Archbishop Oscar Romero a saint, along with Pope Paul VI and several other beati. Martin Maier SJ, who has a longstanding connection with El Salvador, traces Romero’s personal transformation up to the moment of his martyr’s death in the middle of a sermon. It has been a beatification and canonisation process dogged with obstacles and delays. In El Salvador, the vast majority of the population began venerating Archbishop Oscar Romero as a saint a...
© Traumrune / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons
After the discovery of the empty tomb, the disciples had only one instruction to follow in the midst of their fear and uncertainty: go to Galilee. That is still an instruction to us today, says Brian Purfield, because we are in the same place as the disciples: ‘This is where we live: after the resurrection but before the return, entrusted with a message that is wonderful, but the import of which we do not quite understand.’ Where is our Galilee, and how do we get there? As a general rule,...
Nativity scene
Contemplating the Nativity, for St Ignatius, is not just a cerebral exercise; engaging with the mystery of the Incarnation requires all of our senses. Teresa White FCJ considers how our meeting with the gentle Christ child can effect a powerful transformation in us if are alive to the many ways in which we can receive the gift of his coming. Ignatius of Loyola, at the beginning of the Second Week of his Spiritual Exercises, encourages the practice of what he calls ‘the application of the...
Statue of St Ignatius
The life of the saint whose feast we celebrate on 31 July was changed completely when he read the stories of the saints who had come before him. But tradition has it that Ignatius had a devotion to St Peter even before his conversion as a convalescent, and that it was Peter’s intercession that brought about his recovery. To mark Ignatius’s feast, Philip Endean SJ explores this tradition and how it may have played out, both in Ignatius’s own life and in the mission of the Society of Jesus ever...

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