All posts tagged: spirituality

The Body in Early Monasticism

If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” It was with the inspiration of this Gospel passage that St. Antony the Great took off to the deserts of Egypt to begin a life of arduous asceticism. Antony, who is commonly attributed the title of “founder of Christian monasticism,” and his legacy have continued to provoke new questions over the past seventeen hundred years. What exactly motivated him to move out to the desert? Who had preceded him, both before the coming of Christ and after? To what extent did later monastic fathers and mothers follow his example, and to what extent did they diverge from it? And ultimately, were his motivations and lifestyle choice authentic to the Gospel? Many critics of early Church monasticism will point to Manichean and dualistic tendencies in the teachings and practices of these desert fathers and mothers. The shift from eremitic to cenobitic monasticism after the time of Antony, initiated by figures like Pachomios and Basil, …

The Ignatian Spiritual Journey

For those who desire to learn more about St. Ignatius of Loyola, the first thought might be to read his Autobiography, which he dictated later in life. Yet the Autobiography of Ignatius is not a rich narrative full of stories, events, and insights. Those reading it for the first time may find the style terse, abrupt, and lacking details that would seem to bring the narrative to life. More than just a story of his life, the Autobiography reflects Ignatius’ understanding of the way God works with him, a pedagogy that Ignatius adopts in his Spiritual Exercises to assist others in their own journey with God. It is through experiencing the Spiritual Exercises that one comes to a fuller understanding of Ignatius and his spiritual journey. Following his injury and convalescence at Loyola, Ignatius experiences a profound conversion. Striving to free himself from the vainglory that dominated his first thirty years of life, Ignatius begins his new life with his confession and vigil at Montserrat. As his passion to serve the court as a knight …

Welcoming the Guest as Christ

“Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ” – The Rule of Benedict, 53:1 Before I entered the novitiate at Saint Meinrad Archabbey, I took part in candidacy, a three-month-long period of introduction to the monastic life. To determine if I wanted to undertake the rigors of novitiate, my superiors granted me a week off from the monastery. Since home is quite a fluid concept for me, my friend Sara—more of a sister; I met her during our time at Quincy University—invited me out to her home in Colorado. Since I had never been to Colorado, I thought it would be great idea. My trip was fraught with flight delays and mechanical issues. I also do not enjoy flying, as I do not have control of the plane. There was an issue with my rental car, preventing me from picking it up after a long day of traveling; I opted to take a cab the rest of the way. My trip was far from a disaster, but it was stressful. When I arrived at …

My Flight to Heaven

Charm me asleep, and melt me so With thy delicious numbers, That, being ravish’d, hence I go Away in easy slumbers. Ease my sick head, And make my bed, Thou power that canst sever From me this ill, And quickly still, Though thou not kill My fever. Fall on me like the silent dew, Or like those maiden showers Which, by the peep of day, do strew A baptism o’er the flowers. Melt, melt my pains With thy soft strains; That, having ease me given, With full delight I leave this light, And take my flight For Heaven. —Robert Herrick When I was a young kid, I often begged to be taken to the park at the end of our block. Going to the park required waiting until mid-evening. I had to wait until my dad came home from work. I had to wait as dinner was prepared. I would stare at the sizzling pork chops and think that it was quite likely that if I were not taken soon to the park, I would …

The Science of Love

A girl is standing in front of the teacher, a girl rather small for her age. The round face is quite childlike, while the slight body already betrays the early maturity of this southern race. The girl is clad in a peasant smock. She wears wooden shoes. But everyone, not the children only, wear them here, except those very few who belong to the so-called better circles. The brown eyes of the girl are calm under the nun’s gaze. Their expression is uninhibited and dreamy and almost apathetic. There is something in that expression which troubles Sister Marie Therese. ‘So you really know nothing of the Holy Trinity, dear child?” The girl keeps her eyes on the teacher and answers unabashed in a high, clear voice: “No, sister, I know nothing about it.” “And you’ve never even heard of it?” The girl reflects at some length. “Maybe I’ve heard about it…” The nun closes her book with a little bang. Real pain shows on her features. “I’m puzzled my child. Are you pert or indifferent …

The Secret Lives of Children

Since school has ended (and so too the endless number of meetings), I’ve been dropping my son off for his final days at preschool. Along the way, we listen to Caspar Babypants, the greatest of all child artists. After listening many times to Messy Face, his favorite tune at present, I drop him off. My son has never been one to bemoan school. Actually, as soon as we mention that the present day is a school day, he gets off the couch and waits at the door to leave. He loves to be apart from us, learning to write his name, to participate in circle time, and presumably to play an array of toddler games that we can only imagine. His mother normally must drag him away from school when it’s time to go home. Over the last semester since he began his scholastic career, I’ve noticed that our son has learned things that we didn’t teach him. He has become an expert at spelling and writing at least the first two letters of his name. He …

The Call of the Catechist: “Here I Am”

All of us have our own methods of coping when life presents us with a particularly challenging day. For my part, there is comfort in retreating to the kitchen (to concoct a big batch of homemade soup), comfort books, and comfort movies. One day recently, I had Exodus on my brain and based on my day, felt sympathetic to the Hebrews’ experience of either still being in Egypt or wandering around aimlessly in the desert. I wasn’t sure which sentiment I more closely identified with: slavery or aimless wandering in a desert. So upon arriving home, I dropped my bags and aimed straight for the kitchen. I pulled out herbs, veggies, a roasted chicken, and started on a chicken stock (comfort cooking, check). Then, I turned on The Prince of Egypt, a 1998 animated rendition of the story of Moses (comfort movie, check). Re-watching The Prince of Egypt  made me pause and consider the way God calls and the way we respond (or are at least supposed to respond) to God’s calling out to us. …