Active Lenten Journey

Each of us
has a song to sing
that is right for us
and a gift to others.
—Joan Chittister

Lent is a special time to spend moments thinking about your faith journey.  It is interesting to look back and see how your spiritual formation has taken root. Who are the important faces that come to mind?  What events have clearly made a difference in your life?  What losses and gains now shape your relationship? A faithful and/or faith-filled journey takes many paths—those twists and turns are ever present; indeed, the twists and turns are often our greatest teacher.

One path I had not anticipated as a protestant was working at a Catholic university.  Coming to Loyola University New Orleans, post-Katrina—now almost nine years ago, has been extremely important in my spiritual growth. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote:  “God is not remote from us.  He is at the point of my pen, my pick, my paintbrush, my needle—and my heart and my thoughts.”  St. Ignatius took the view that nothing was too small for God’s attention, and therefore we should pay attention to the world (lives of others) around us and make a difference.    My Christian faith deepened with the introduction of Ignatian spirituality; a spirituality that supports God being active in our world. 

In fall 2013, I had the privilege to be selected for the Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP) and was afforded the opportunity to participate in an 18-month study along with a concentrated immersion program and silent retreat.  The ICP program was a culmination of active learning and engagement, something as educators we want to happen with students and colleagues on a daily basis.

During my eight-day silent retreat, I practiced a prayer the Jesuits call “The Examen.”  What I like about the daily Examin is its powerful simplicity.  It changed the way I communicated with God on a daily basis.  The version I am sharing below comes from 

Five-step Daily Examen:

1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.

3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.

Ignatian spirituality is about paying attention and responding to needs when God calls us to action.  Here’s to our active Lenten journey—one that calls us to remember both God’s gifts and graces, in their purest and most meaningful forms.