The Lenten scriptural passages today reflect on the issue of fasting and what kind is expected in God’s eyes and in our own estimation. Jesuit Vocation Director, Fr. Paul, speaking with enthusiasm on this first day of his presentation, reminds us of how good we are at being hard on ourselves. Yet, he insists–from what the scriptures tell us–God wants our focus to be “hard” on generosity to others. Keeping with what Barb had inaugurated yesterday with Jesuit spirituality, Fr, Paul gleaned from the history of Francis Xavier and his companionship with Ignatius of Loyola what marks a true vocation in the eyes of our patron who holds the banner of Christ. In seeking out qualified applicants for the Jesuits, Fr. Paul, looks for what Ignatius deemed were personal attributes of vocation, when a person truly hears God speaking to his or her heart: “joy, alacrity, and perseverance.” Though we do not seem to have grumpy priests at St. Ignatius, Paul has other apparent encounters and says the Church needs more joyful priests in her service. So listen to Fr. Paul’s soft, cheerful voice asking us to look into our hearts and see how we can keep our commitments with a more radiant peace.
“Devotion” is etymologically linked to “vows,” words expressive of promise. These sacred and holy words from the heart are uttered when one knows and feels deeply true love, infinite love. These are grace because they denote relationship, gift, and communion. And a joyful surprise! May this Novena of Grace enhance your life commitments, your vocation in unexpected ways!
Welcome on this first day of the Novena! Your prayers become ours as we realize God’s presence among us in healing and uplifting ways.
St. Ignatius Church wore the purple drapes of Lent and carried the deciduous branches that mirrored our own hearts awaiting a new spring. Two things were striking in the sanctuary this morning: Two black and white photos of parents and babies and a purple stole around the statue of St. Francis Xavier. These become our threshold for a liturgy and presentation on “belonging.”
True to our Ignatian charisms, Barb reflected on today’s gospel (Luke 9:22-25) utilizing our patron saint’s meditation on the Two Standards: Whom do we belong? To Christ or to the world? With carefully chosen words that penetrated outer circles of belonging, Barb probed to a deeper, more intimate sense of connectedness that came by historically profound experiences in her life (a shared college memory, childbirths, the death of her mother) when she heard the “subtle, tender murmur: “You are mine; you are my beloved.” As an artist writing her icon, Barb fashioned with words the architecture of a heart that had chosen the standard of Christ. In confronting the negative forces arrayed against it, this heart recognizes that in the struggle, prior to any action out of love, a prior, formative, commitment of belief was operative: to know that this heart, our heart is loved.
With the two “ebony and ivory” photographs of parent and child “saturated in love,” Barb went from these intimate faces to where we see the face of God among us. She remembered our common birth in the womb of God and how we as siblings now are also more connected than we culturally envisage. So what are we choosing: trust or fear? Listen to Barb’s presentation to see how she flushes out God’s incarnation among us. Will you belong with these she sees as the face of God? Can you, born of the same womb of God, take up this cross and follow him?
St. Ignatius Parish is excited to announce this year’s Novena presenters and theme. We welcome Paul Grubb, SJ, West Coast Vocation Director for the Jesuits; Barbara Scharff, mother, St. Ignatius parishioner, and citizen activist; and Jessica Seidman, parishioner, RCIA team member, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics and Humanities at Reed College.
They will give reflections on this year’s theme: Belonging to a Love So Wide and Deep: A Novena of Grace from March 2-10. We’re eagerly anticipating the Novena kickoff next month!