Friday, July 31, 2009

The Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola



















Peter Paul Rubens

Today is the feast day of St Ignatius of Loyola, who was the founder of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. One of his enduring contributions to the Church are his spiritual exercises, which in their original form consisted of a 4-week or 30-day retreat. Today, the Jesuits and others provide retreats to experience the spiritual exercises over a weekend.

Last weekend, I did just that. I was attracted to the fact that these are silent retreats ( you are not allowed to talk) from beginning to end (except at Mass). I wanted the time to relax and have the opportunity to think without distractions. It was a wonderful experience. I come home with a focus that I had not had in ages and a feeling that I am headed in the right direction.

Do yourself a favor, take the time to experience on of these retreats. You will come home refreshed with a better understanding of yourself and the world around you.

This evening, however, I plan on seeing the movie "The Mission". A story about the Jesuits in South America during the age of discovery. I saw it many years ago and I remember it as a beautifully filmed yet tragic story about the European conquest of the New World. If you have not seen it, check it out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hospice and Forgiveness

Two days ago I got a call from my cousin who told me that his mother, my Aunt Carole, was being transported to a hospice facility in McDonough, Georgia. I had not known she was sick (cancer), which should be a surprise to most anyone except that there had been a family "falling out" many years ago (that's another story). He told me to pass the news along to my siblings and my mother; there was no mention of my father. Of course my Aunt Carole is my father's baby sister.

After the call, I went to see my father. He was not aware of the move to hospice but he mentioned that she had undergone chemotherapy treatment for the past few years, which of course was news to me. I urged him to go see his sister "now". God bless him, he got in his car and made the drive to Jackson, Georgia to see his sister. After his visit, he called on his cell phone and talked for over 30 minutes about the visit (my previous "long" phone conversation with my father was ~2 minutes [he does not like phones]). As it turns out, the trip became an opportunity for a brother and sister to make peace.

This morning, I made the trip with my siblings and my mother. My Aunt Carole has lost 100 lbs and looks much older than her 72 years, but she was still as sharp as a tack and a joy to behold. We talked about family, history and travel. We told stories and we laughed. Every so often she had to move because of the pain, but she never complained. She talks of death as a transition and looks forward to her future life with anticipation. Her positive outlook is a joy and an inspiration.

On the journey home, I thought about why we wait until the last minute to let go of past injury in order to enjoy what little time we have together? There was joy and a deep wisdom in that hospital bed and I had missed out on that relationship for reasons that did not involve me.

I plan to make a pilgrimage to the hospice to see my Aunt as often as I can. I am looking forward to it being just the two of us. I look forward to learning as much as I can about life, love and forgiveness.

As they say, we should live today like we knew it was our last. Can you imagine how beautiful this world could be?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Retreat

I am off to a retreat this weekend at the Ignatius House in Atlanta. The title of the retreat is "A Friendship Like No Other". I am really looking forward to it.

It is funny how little things in our lives try to distract us from these opportunities to stop and listen to God. Just this week I have had an invitation to a party with my high school graduation class and the opportunity to see people I have not seen in 30 years; and a request to hang out with friends to watch the deciding stage of the Tour De France (to those who do not know me, bicycle racing is one of my passions). A few years ago, I may have opted to miss the retreat and attend these fun events.

Now, I cannot imagine being any other place.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Enjoying the Summer and Our Seminarians

Not much to post since I have been out of formation classes for a while.

However, the diaconate community (those in formation and those ordained) hosted a meal for the seminarians in the Archdiocese of Atlanta this week. What a wonderful sight to see. Dozens of young men at various stages of formation as priests. I am aware that there is a decrease in vocations across the country but something special is going on in North Georgia. IMHO, its not due to any particular attitude or inclination towards the Church as I have heard some suggest. These young men are coming from backgrounds as varied as one can imagine. They come from very traditional backgrounds to men who grew up with the Life Teen movement. They come from places as varied as Vietnam and Central America, but a majority are homegrown Georgians. One young man at the dinner had only been in the program for two days.

In North Georgia, there is a place where one can see all of these varied groups represented at one time. That one place is the Eucharistic Congress. It is a beautiful setting to see the wonderful tapestry that is our Catholic faith. Could this be the power that is the source of our vocations?

I like to think so.