Born Inigo Lopez de Loyola in 1491, the man known as Ignatius of Loyola entered the world in Loiola, Spain. At the time, the name of the village was spelled "Loyola," hence the discrepancy. Inigo came of age in Azpeitia, in northern Spain. Loyola is a small village at the southern end of Azpeitia.
Monday, July 31, 2023
Sunday, July 30, 2023
This morning Jesus offers a story – a parable of buried treasure which emphasizes the immense value of what is discovered and the single-hearted response that this discovery calls forth. The unimaginable joy and fascination of the discovery change everything. And the poor day laborer in the story does not hesitate for a moment. Totally captivated by the great value of the treasure, he has discovered by chance, he willingly sells everything he has to acquire the entire field where it’s buried. And in his greed to possess it, he does not bother to tell the owner of the field what he’s found. He’s a sneak. He’ll go to any extreme. And the excessive cost for this poor man is totally eclipsed by the incomparable attraction of the treasure that he wants so desperately, a treasure that to him is worth everything, even his underhanded maneuvering.
This is a parable of the kingdom. And we are given a glimpse of what life would be like if God’s will were always the driving force of our lives in the world, what our lives together might be like if we could consistently, joyfully find our treasure only in wanting what God wants and letting go of whatever impedes us as we seek God’s reign.
Best of all, today’s parable is about Jesus himself; he tells us his story. He is the One who has found his treasure in always doing the will of his Father. For the sake of the joy that is set before him, he does not cling to equality with God; he empties himself, lowers himself and comes down to us out love, to be hidden in our flesh, buried deep in the field of our ordinariness, its drudgery, confusion, humiliations, sinfulness and death.
When in the freedom of self-knowledge, we are brave enough to go down to these dark, lonely places in our hearts, we find him there waiting for us. For Jesus has found his treasure there, in our messy truth. In love he has come down to meet us there. And as we become more and more fascinated with him and his way of love and compassion, we too will “be seized and overcome by the joy of the reign of God,” the desire to do only what God wants.
Discovering Christ Jesus hidden in the field of our flesh, with us in all things, we have found the heart of our desire. But to keep on the way to the kingdom toward him, with him, in him, we need a kind of ceaseless desperation, constantly digging and discovering more. In the end desire is all we have; it is our place of greatest openness to God in Christ. That’s why we’ve come here. We want to know him more and more. Our joy and our love for Christ demand everything. God’s reign demands everything. He is worth everything.
Yet repeatedly, embarrassingly my heart wavers and wanders into other possibilities, lesser desires that intrude and encumber and pull at my heart - what I miss, who I could be with, what I could have, should have, might have done, all of it like so much rubbish caught in the dragnet of my wavering heart. And then sometimes a voice, “Am I not more to you than all of that?” And then better angels may arrive to help me sift through the mess and discard all that will impede my clinging to him alone.
Finally then we remember the story of an old lay brother on his deathbed in the infirmary at Our Lady of the Valley, it’s Christmastime and one of the monks brings him a little plastic manger scene, hoping to console him. The lay brother is suddenly alert, raises his hand. “Take it away,” he says. “What do I care about that, I want to see him face to face. Soon, soon.”
As we choose to remain here, our response becomes clearer and clearer: “Lord, you alone make me dwell in safety; it is you who are my portion and cup, you yourself who are my prize, my treasure. Nothing, no one else can outshine your beauty and truth. My happiness lies in you alone.” Then at best our life becomes incessant desperation for him. When we waver, distracted, daunted by the monotony, the humiliations and are tempted to turn back, Isaiah cries out: “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.” It’s all right here for us this morning.
Saturday, July 29, 2023
Thursday, July 27, 2023
On Opening the Heart
On Quieting the Soul
Just as it is impossible to see your face in troubled water, so also the soul, unless it is clear of alien thoughts, is not able to pray to God in contemplation. —
There were two old men who had lived together for many years, and they never quarreled. Now one of them said: “Let us try to quarrel just once like other people do.” And the other replied: “I don’t know how quarrel happens.” Then the first said: “Look, I put a brick between us, and I say, ‘This is mine’ and you say: ‘No, it is mine,’ and after that, a quarrel begins.” So they placed a brick between them, and one of them said: “This is mine,” and the other said: “No—it is mine.” And he replied: “Indeed—it is all yours, so take it away with you.” And they went away unable to fight with each other. —
On Staying in Place
If you happen to live in a community, do not move to another place, for it will harm you greatly. If a bird leaves her eggs, they never hatch. So also the monk and the nun grow cold and dead in faith by going from place to place.— Amma Syncletica
Wednesday, July 26, 2023
In the Scriptures, Matthew and Luke furnish a legal family history of Jesus, tracing ancestry to show that Jesus is the culmination of great promises. Not only is his mother’s family neglected, we also know nothing factual about them except that they existed. Even the names “Joachim” and “Anne” come from Catholic legend and the Gospel of James, which is an unsanctioned, apocryphal writing form the second century AD. We do know from scholarship that the Gospel of James was not written by James, the Brother of Jesus, despite its claim to be so authored.
The heroism and holiness of these people however, is inferred from the whole family atmosphere around Mary in the Scriptures. Whether we rely on the legends about Mary’s childhood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her a fulfillment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her people. The strong character of Mary in making decisions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devotion to the laws of her faith, her steadiness at moments of crisis, and her devotion to her relatives—all indicate a close-knit, loving family that looked forward to the next generation even while retaining the best of the past.