Spirituality and Catholic Life

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At the beginning of Lent, Pope Francis asked us in his Ash Wednesday homily to think about where we are heading on the journey of life. Formed by our Lenten discipline and with Easter eyes, we now hope to be able to see more clearly the contours of that journey, for ourselves and others, says Joseph Simmons SJ. ‘No matter where we are in life, we are always somewhere on the Easter path.’ My childhood had many grand traditions. One of them was that every year on our birthdays, Grandma...
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‘Gratitude, being nearly the greatest of human duties, is also nearly the most difficult,’ wrote G.K. Chesterton. Luckily, St Ignatius is on hand to help us to cultivate gratitude, so that our hearts may be disposed ‘to receive more, to appreciate more, to love and be loved more.’ Sarah Broscombe views gratitude through psychological, spiritual and Ignatian lenses, helping us to see how and why growing in gratitude is a priority as well as a joy. Virtually every language has words for it,...
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:...
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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...
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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. ...
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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...
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The images of natural growth that are so prevalent in the Bible opened for Christopher Chapman a new way of thinking about spirituality, which he writes about in the July 2018 issue of The Way. ‘Rather than a movement towards perfection that is individual, self-generated and has overtones of personal achievement, rooting and grounding in God moves us into fruitfulness that is generous and expressive of mutual interdependence.’ Language and imagery have their own potency. They not only...
Pope Francis
13 March 2013 was the date of the historic election of the first Jesuit pope. Jorge Mario Bergoglio SJ took the name of Francis and in the five years since, he has captured headlines, imaginations and hearts worldwide. Nicholas Austin SJ looks at one of the foundation stones of Francis’ papacy and, indeed, his life as a Jesuit: discernment. What, according to Pope Francis, does it mean to be a discerning Christian? When Pope Francis was asked, in the famous interview published by Thinking...
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A new audio resource, Women of God, Women of the Cross, from the Jesuits in Britain introduces you to the women who encountered Jesus during his passion. Using our senses to enter into their stories as we listen to them is not an end in itself, says Gemma Simmonds CJ. The application of the senses, as Ignatius calls it, is an instrument of prayer and discernment, and one that extols faculties that have been – and, too often, still are – associated with women and disparaged. Of all the ways...

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