Dear Saint Anselm’s,
You know, this is a time of real hope for the Church.
How often do we think about that truth? What usually clouds our vision are concerns about numbers of churchgoers, numbers of dollars, and the like. These concerns are not without merit, for sure.
But behind all that is something more significant and of more lasting value and import: globally, across the Christian communions, young people are finding in the tradition of Christianity resources of unparalled value for living a happy, fulfilled human life. And more: for living a life that can expect and bear with suffering and the reality of death, and still and always rejoice.
These young adults are looking beneath the surface of church life. They are looking deep into a 2000-year old story that embraces proven ways of prayer, of building real community, of facing life’s challenges and changes. And at the beginning of that story, they are coming face to face and heart to heart with a real person, this Jesus of Nazareth whom they - along with those who have professed Christian faith before them - recognize and acclaim as the second Person of the Trinity, as God-with-us, God-made-flesh. And they find him alive, completely and brilliantly alive. In that discovery their own lives are being transformed.
One example I know of personally may help concretize this. I know a young woman, married now and a mother, whom I first met when she was a graduate student at Boston College. She has just published The Examen Journal. This offering to us all brings together two wonderful gifts: that of the Examen of Consciousness and that of journaling. The Examen, popularized by the spiritual genius Ignatius of Loyola almost a half-millennium ago, provides the invitation and the tools to live daily life with consciousness that we do so (always!) in the direct presence of God. Over the centuries, more and more men and women have found in Ignatian spirituality a key to living mindfully, with awareness of God.
My friend Mary, in designing and publishing The Ezamen Journal, has added one apparently simple element to that old tradition. The Journal invites us to write down what we pray in the Examen. That deceptively simple addition transforms what is already a powerful experience of prayer into something even richer.
How does one make a contribution like that to Christian life and Christian lives while caring for little ones and living the rigors of daily life? By living in the tradition, placing its gifts in conversation with 21st century life, and trusting in faith that God is still very much at work, in our individual lives and in the life of our community. Beautiful, and real. And there are many more examples like this.
So I say again, this is a time of real hope for the Church. Real energy. Real possibility. We can share all that right here at Saint Anselm’s, if we choose to do so.
If you would like to learn more about the Ignatian tradition of the Examen, visit this site to start: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen
To learn more about Mary’s initiative, visit http://www.creatingtolove.com.
Yours in Christ,