As part of our keeping of the season of Lent, a member of the Georgetown Prep community will offer an Ignatian thought, reflection, and prayer each Friday. These offerings are meant to encourage us to pray together over common themes and concerns.
At this time of year, the church invites us to test our inner freedom – concerning food and drink, complaining, gossiping, and so on. What habits make you hard to live with? Lent is about regaining control of our own lives, especially in those areas that damage other people.
-Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2017
The Irish Jesuits
We like beginnings. A month and a half ago, we began a new year, made resolutions, started doing our resolutions. With any luck, we haven’t given up on them!
And now we begin a new season of the church year.
The gospel reading for Ash Wednesday suggests actions for us to take as we prepare for Easter: give alms, pray and fast—but don’t let people know that you’re doing it. More resolutions, right? On the one hand, this may be a little depressing. Even if we’ve managed to follow through on our New Year’s resolutions, we may have slipped up a couple of times. And now the church is asking us to think again about the ways we can be better people in the world, better people for the coming of Christ at Eastertime.
But this is a hopeful outlook, too. We’re starting again. And we can always start again, to give more to people in need, to pray more regularly, to ease the things that interfere with our best selves out of our lives. “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart.”
Help me to see what parts of my life block me from serving you and the people around me;
and help me to move those blocks away so that I become closer to you and to the people around me.
In the Ignatian prayer of the Examen, we’re talking about being real in two senses. The first is the concrete reality of everyday life; this is the subject of the Examen. The second is the reality beneath the reality. We’re looking to strip away our disordered attachments and get at what we really want.
The importance of this reality in the first sense was impressed upon me by a Jesuit named Bernie Owens. At a workshop he gave on discernment of spirits, a meandering discussion developed about which circumstances were conducive to discernment and which weren’t. The discussion grew somewhat speculative—what if this happens, what if it’s that. Fr. Owens stopped that talk and said, “Let’s not forget: God works with what is.” He went on, “God doesn’t work with what was, or should have been, or what might be.” God works with what is.From A Simple Life Changing Prayer by Jim Manney
It is never easy to keep a Lenten promise (or to make one for that matter). To many, it is sort of silly. That said, we can’t help but recognize value in the concept of self-improvement. “Giving up” dessert after lunch or “making a habit” of getting to bed earlier will benefit us physically and emotionally. Over the long term, these “promises” serve to deepen our being, in a way, as we practice self-awareness and self-control.
To quote Jim Manney, I think every person “really wants” happiness, or to be happy as often as possible. But is that really possible for everyone? Each person lives a unique life; some are objectively more difficult than others. How can we really prescribe happiness to each individual? Between our unique pasts and undefined futures, we all share the present moment. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, whoever we are with, that is our moment. Praying the Examen reminds me that no matter how much we have been blessed with, we can always find a reason to resent the moment. That said, we can also find a way to appreciate it.
Lent reminds us to “give up” routine resentment. Lent reminds us to “make a habit” of embracing the moment in gratitude, messy as it may be.
- Mark “Bear” Altemus ‘13, Alumni Service Corps
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
God works and reveals himself to us every day in many ways: through the helping hand of a friend; through the beauty of creation; through the silence of reflection. God is always with us. When we spend more of our time looking toward the future rather than appreciating the present, we sometimes fail to recognize the beauty and blessings that surround us, and we fail to recognize God's presence in our daily lives.
During this Lenten season, I challenge us to try to look for God every day in our surroundings, to feel his loving presence in our lives, and to appreciate the beauty that each day brings to us - the sky, the trees, the sun. Reflecting on our day through the Examen is a simple and effective way to accomplish this. Praying the Examen allows us to become more aware of what's around us and allows us to recall how God has played a role in our lives.
- Joey Hooke '18
Lord, help me to live in the present. Allow me to be present to you, as you are always present to me, each moment of each day. Allow me to be present to the gift of each moment, no matter how ordinary, so that I can be present to the joy and wonder of your loving presence each moment of each day. Amen
Lord Jesus, we ask you now to help us to remain with you always,
to be close to you with all the ardor of our hearts,
to take up joyfully the mission you entrust to us,
and that is to continue your presence
and spread the good news of your resurrection.
In 1521, a talented, suave and confident man named Ignatius of Loyola was struck by a cannonball during battle. This young man had his entire life in front of him, and much like the young men at Prep, he had dreams of mighty accomplishments. These were all shattered along with his legs. It took a cannonball to wake Ignatius up to his true destiny, and only then was he willing to make the sacrifices necessary to strive towards it.
It is probably safe to say that Ignatius did not plan on being bed ridden for months as a result of cannon fire. He was quite set in his ways and had no intentions to change his womanizing personality, give up his wealthy lifestyle, form a new religious order, go back to school and, most notably, become a saint. But as almost everyone learns, sacrifices must be made in pursuit of destiny.
We all have unique gifts granted to us by God. These gifts should serve as a guideline to where God calls us to be in this world. Although we should not let these goals and ideas take possession of us, we are called to make sacrifices in order to fully commit to them. No matter how you define success, the most successful people have had to make multiple sacrifices, shut out distractions, and hone their focus to pursue their dreams and aspirations. These sacrifices must be made when aspiring to live as a Christian as well. During Lent, we are told to make sacrifices, or "give things up," to help us remember what is truly important. The root of this concept stems from the idea that it is hard to have a fully fulfilling relationship with God when we are possessed by worldly matters. "Giving something up," or sacrificing a routine or idea we value, is merely clearing an obstacle which stands between us and reaching the Kingdom of God. By fulfilling the task we have as God's children to put our hearts and souls into our passions and callings, we are bettering ourselves and growing closer to God at the same time. We must be willing to sacrifice the things we like and want in exchange for fulfillment of God's path for us.
- Austin Wedderburn '18
I invite you into my life today
and make myself available to you.
Help me to become the-best-version-of-myself
by seeking your will and becoming a living example
of your love in the world.
Open my heart to the areas of my life that need to change
in order for me to carry out the mission
and experience the joy you have imagined for my life.
Inspire me to live the Christian faith
in ways that are dynamic and engaging.
Give me courage when I am afraid,
hope when I am discouraged,
and clarity in times of decision.
Help me find my true path, as I walk it only in your name.