Dear Community of the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center,
Jesus’ message in this past Sunday's Gospel could not be clearer.
“The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments...You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind….You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
I have noticed that in these last months I have spent a lot of time asking, What should I do, what can we do, to respond to the injustice that plagues our country and world? These questions wake me up in the middle of the night and leave me with a good bit of anxiety. It’s nearly paralyzing. There’s so much to be done, where do we even start?
This week I realized I have been asking the wrong questions. Instead of focusing on the doing, the question is more about who do I need to become and who do we need to become at this time in the history of our world? As we, the Ignatian Family, continue our mission of being people for and with others, this question can be our guiding principle. As we journey together through life our greatest desire, as St. Ignatius says in the first principle and foundations of the Spiritual Exercises, is I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening God’s life in me (Translation: David Fleming, SJ). Embodying this desire in our daily lives will unfailingly and continually reveal to us our identity in God.
As we experience and witness God in our own identity, in the identities of all people and all of creation, then the “what should we do” piece will too be revealed. So, my sisters and brothers, reserve a moment today to contemplate, with God and your neighbors, and ask, who am I becoming? Who are we becoming? From here, the path, the what to dos and God’s dream will become clearer and clearer.
As we continue to discover and discern who we are becoming, I want to share with you a provocative question that was presented this week to a group of over 300 clergy, faith leaders and tribal elders gathered in Indianapolis, Indiana for a Prophetic Resistance Summit hosted by the PICO National Network. Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews and Ben McBride ask us this: Are you a chaplain to the Empire or a prophet of the Resistance, a midwife of a new Divine Creation?
Ignatian Family, who are we? Who is God calling us to be? I believe it is to be prophets and midwives. May the Holy Spirit ipmart on us the wisdom to know, live and breathe what “the whole law and prophets depend on.” And that, Beloved Community, is Love.
Dear Community of the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center,
It is with heavy hearts that we hear of fires in the North Bay that have resulted in the loss of life of at least 10 people, the destruction of over 1,500 homes and businesses and the forced evacuation of an estimated 20,000 residents.
To support our neighbors we would like to set up a spot where we can share ways to volunteer, donate and accompany all those impacted by the fires. Here are some ways to volunteer and donate funds or goods.
If you find out about other ways to help, post details in the comments section of this post and keep checking this page for updates.
Do you have friends or family members who have been impacted by the fires and need support? Let us know - Natalie@SaintAgnesSF.com
Donate to an evacuation center:
Donate or sign-up to volunteer with the Red Cross:
Places outside the North Bay accepting donations:
Places to Stay:
Dear Community of the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center,
Yesterday was International Day of Non-Violence, observed each year on Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. Today we mourn and lament the violence our country witnessed this weekend in Las Vegas when 59 people were killed and 527 people wounded in a mass shooting. Today, we are left with a lot of questions, a lot of sorrow, a lot of anger and with broken hearts full of God's love.
Today, I feel very numb and frankly, anxious about the state of the world and our country. Today, I feel grateful for the community at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center. The bonds that we share, the gifts and talents we freely offer and the love created by our gathering together shows us the work of the Holy Spirit and in turn, instills us with Hope.
In his monologue last night, Stephen Colbert said this, "By all means offer thoughts and prayers, but then think about what you should do and pray for the courage to do it." Let's pray for this courage. There is something we can do today, right now. In the wake of the shooting, California Senator Diane Feinstein made a statement about her commitment to proceed with supporting legislation that will help prohibit people from being able to make automatic weapons. The shooter in Las Vegas converted at least one of his semi-automatic weapons into an automatic weapon that can shoot between 400-800 rounds per minute. Let's call Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris this week to share our concern, encourage them to support gun control reform and ask them about their plans moving forward on this issue. (Read Senator Feinstein's full statement HERE)
Here's what we can do today, let's call or write to our Senators:
1) Find contact info for our Senators HERE
2) Reflect on the events of this weekend, what our faith calls us to and what you want to communicate to our political leaders about gun violence. To begin your reflection, pray with this pray from James Martin, SJ - Sad, Tired & Angry: A Prayer in the face of gun violence and article, Gun Control is a Pro-Life Issue.
2) Call and introduce yourself, share that you are part of the faith community in the Bay Area or write a letter to mail.
3) Ask what Senator Feinstein and Harris are planning on doing to introduce and support new legislation on gun control.
4) After you write your letter or make your phone call, let us know that you did and share your reflections with us. We are thinking more about how the ISLC Community can be engaged in advocacy and work around this issue and we would love to hear from you. (Send me an e-mail at Natalie@SaintAgnesSF.com or give me a call 415-487-8560 x225)
Let us offer this prayer from James Martin, SJ:
I come before you,
after another shooting...
I am sad over the loss of life,
tired of excuses for the loss of life,
and angry that we are paralyzed by the loss of life.
Turn my sadness into compassion.
Turn my tiredness into advocacy.
Turn my paralysis into the freedom to act.
(For full text of Jim Martin, SJ's prayer, Click Here)
As we gather at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center this month (see our full calendar HERE), we know and trust that the Holy Spirit will give us the wisdom, courage and ingenuity to love the world and work for justice.
With Peace & In Solidarity,
Dear Community of the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center,
As we enter into the month of September (how is it already September?!) we are excited about all the ways we will gather together this year at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center (ISLC) for prayer, conversation, community organizing and education. This month all of our weekly and monthly programs resume (Click Here for more info) and we will begin our first spirituality series of the season on our commitment to and desire for radical hospitality with spiritual director and writer, Colette Lafia.
With all that is going on in our world today, with the violence, natural disaster and division that we stand witness to, God invites us to dream. How does God call us to be part of bringing this dream to birth in the world? This year, let's explore this call, let's dream God's dream and let's stand together as God's children, tirelessly working for peace and justice.
On August 24, over 80 people from our community stood vigil on the steps of St. Agnes Church to pray for peace and to denounce all forms of white supremacy, anti-Semitism and violence. We normally have a monthly prayer for peace inside the chapel at the ISLC and the experience of praying together outside and in public was powerful.
We are constantly inundated with news about tragedy and injustice.We need and we desire to see and experience LOVE. Standing on the steps of St. Agnes that one night last month was a small and meaningful way to show our love and stand for peace. In light of this experience, we will now have our peace vigil outside on the steps of the church on the 4th Thursday of every month. Join us on Thursday, September 28 to pray for peace (for info HERE). My brother and sisters, God has entrusted us with a dream for the world - let's stand together this year (and every year) as God's dreamers.
We hope to see you soon at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center!
Director, Ignatian Spiritual Life Center
On July 22nd a group of women gathered for fellowship, to pray and celebrate the Feast of Mary Magdalene and the release of the ISLC Letter on Women Deacons. It was a beautiful morning filled with the joy of the gospel and hope for the Church. I’d like to share some reflections from the scripture readings from Mary Magdalene's Feast Day.
The first reading, Songs of Songs 3:1-4B, tells the story of the bride who seeks her beloved in the night. We hear that it is not always easy to seek and find the beloved. The bride must wander the city looking for her beloved. In the gospel for her feast (John 20:1-2, 11-18) we hear how and when Mary Magdalene seeks to find Jesus at the tomb she encounters deep sorrow at the death and absence of her friend. Yet in being her most authentic self, expressing her love and sorrow, she encounters Jesus. In the past six months our community at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center has expressed our sorrows, our pain, as well as our joys and our hopes for the ordination of women in the Church.
The discrimination of women in the Church has at times made me feel like the Bride in the Song of Songs who seeks her beloved but can’t find him. Yet, I am struck by the part of the story when the bride encounters the watchmen. It is mere moments after she leaves them that she finds her beloved. Sometimes we have to look beyond the watchguards - beyond the boundaries set in front of us. For me, this does not mean leaving the Church. Rather it means looking beyond those who live in fear, beyond those who act out fear, and speak out of fear to find that the beloved is already with us. Our letter is an expression of our longing for the beloved. To see the work of Jesus that is already active in the women saying yes to their call to the ministry of the diaconate.
Like Mary Magdalene, there are a multitude of women in the past and present who Jesus has called by name to serve the people of God. Jesus calls Mary by name and then commissions her to go forth and bear the good news. He tells her to “go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Jesus sends Mary, a woman, to be the first to share the news of the great miracle of the Resurrection of her beloved. Jesus knows Mary, Jesus loves Mary, and he chooses her, sending her into the world to preach, to proclaim, to lead.
Let us be not afraid, let us wander the city, let us leave the city guards behind, let us proclaim the good news of the beloved who has called us each of by name. Let us celebrate Mary Magdalene with our own proclamation that Jesus Christ, our beloved, our God, is in our midst, in our ministry, and in each woman called to follow the call of Mary Magdalene, the apostle and disciple, in service to the Church.
As we celebrate the Feast Days of St. Ignatius (July 31) and St. Mary Magdalene (July 22) we are reminded of the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us. St. Mary Magdalene walked with Jesus throughout his ministry and served as a witness to His resurrection. In announcing this good news to the rest of Jesus' apostles, she choose to respond to Jesus' call as St. Ignatius did when discovered his heart open to the transformation that comes when we begin to know Jesus as our friend and brother.
We gather at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center because of St. Ignatius' vision to gather the community that would become the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits. We know serve as members of this community, part of the Ignatian Family.
As contemplatives in action, as people who seek to bring about God's dream for the world, we are invited to make a commitment in our lives to seek justice for the earth, our neighbors (all people of the world) and ourselves. It is in this spirit that St. Agnes become a sanctuary congregation, committed to walking with our undocumented & refugee sisters and brothers, in January of this year. In these days, with all that is going on in our country, we know that we have a lot of work ahead to ensure that the human dignity of all people is respected. As Anne Lamott says in her new book, Hallelujah Anyway (which I highly recommend!), We wait and watch and work; we don't give up.
In July we began accompanying a family from Mexico and we want to share a community update on all that has been going on this summer (see below).
Community Update: Sanctuary at St. Agnes Church
A few weeks ago the St. Agnes Community began accompanying a family from Mexico who are seeking asylum in the United States. For the past six months the family, mom and five kids, have been homeless and navigating the shelter system in San Francisco. Several weeks ago one of the children faced a health crisis and required a hospital stay. When they left the hospital it was late into the evening and when they returned to the shelter where they had been staying, the beds were already full for the night and they ended up sleeping on the street. After this happened, St. Agnes & St. Ignatius Parishes were able to provide funds for the family to stay at a motel for a couple of weeks and since July 5, they have been staying with us for a respite so that they can be together as a family, begin a process of healing and have the opportunity to experience stability, safety, friendship and love.
Throughout the past two weeks there has been an outpouring of love from our community. Food has been delivered. Rides have been given. Donations have been made. Groceries have been picked up. Playdates have been made. Prayers have been prayed. Calls and e-mails have poured in about how we can walk together with this family. God has called us into this moment as a sanctuary congregation, Jesus gives us the wisdom to live into this call and the Spirit moves amongst us so that we may have the courage, ingenuity and love to live together as a community.
If you would like to find out more and get involved with the sanctuary movement at St. Agnes you are invited to attend our next Huddle for Justice meeting on Sunday, August 6 at 12pm and in the meantime, you can sign up at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center. While the family stays with us we are in need of gifts cards (Target, Lucky’s Market, etc) and financial support (earmark donations to ‘Sanctuary Fund’).
In August we plan on providing the family with more stable housing for 6-8 months while they wait on a list for affordable housing in San Francisco and await the last hearing of their asylum case in February 2018. We need help finding housing and if you have a place that might work, another possibility or an idea, please contact me (415-487-8560 x225).
During these weeks, let us all pray together, with full hearts, believing that - Our deepest desire is to make God’s dream for the world, a dream rooted in peace, mercy and compassion, a reality. (St. Agnes Sanctuary Statement - January 19, 2017)
"What you are in love with ... will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, … and what amazes you with joy and gratitude." This quote from Pedro Arrupe gets at the heart of Ignatian Spirituality, and at the heart of what brought me to work at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center this past year. When I was discerning where I would do my field education as part of my Masters of Divinity program at the Jesuit School of Theology I visited St. Agnes and immediately felt God calling me to this community.
In the past year I have fallen in love with the St. Agnes and ISLC communities, and as Pedro Arrupe says it affected everything. It got me out of bed in the morning to get to mass on Sunday morning. It helped me decide to spend many evenings at the ISLC, and even slept there during our 24 Hour Peace Vigil! It decided that I would read Women Deacons: Past, Present Future and have an amazing discussion of the future of women deacons in our Church. It decided that I would come to know so many of you, and find incredible joy in my time with this wonderful community.
I choose St. Agnes and the ISLC as my field placement site because the community inspired me by their dedication to social justice, encouraged me to share my gifts, and welcomed me with open arms. In the past year the ISLC has become my second home, and a place where I can be myself. Now, I am full with gratitude and joy that I have joined the staff at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center this summer!
If you’re looking to learn more from Pedro Arrupe, who led me here, join us for our screening of Pedro Arrupe: His Life and Legacy on July 20th!
Elaina Jo Polovick is a student at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California. She is currently in her third year of the Masters of Divinity program, and is very excited to be working at such a diverse and inclusive parish. Elaina Jo is originally from South Bend, Indiana but has spent time living in Chicago, Ann Arbor, and rural Montana. She is coordinating the Young Adult Group as well as assisting with liturgy and special programs.
You can contact her at ISLC@SaintAgnesSF.com
In celebrating Pentecost, Pope Francis reminds us that, the Spirit "rests on each and then brings all of them together in fellowship. To each (the Spirit) gives a gift, and then gathers them all into unity. In other words, the same Spirit creates diversity and unity, and in this way forms a new, diverse and unified people: the universal Church."
In a time when our country is so often defined by division, the Spirit instills in us unity in diversity, where all are neighbor, where all are loved by God and so also, by us. During our series on peacemaking last month, Fr. Ray and I came across a prayer from Daniel Berrigan, SJ that invites us to pray for those who await our love. Who awaits our love today? The Gospels teach us that we must spend our whole lives asking and answering this question.
As we enter into the 50th Anniversary Year of the Summer of Love, commit to asking, Who awaits our love today and spend time nurturing your relationship with God and our community. Join us at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center for a Summer Film Series and Meditation & Wellness Workshops.
Dear Community of the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center,
Blessings in this Easter Season! Alleluia!
We especially want to welcome the six new members of our St. Agnes Community who entered the Church at our Easter Vigil. As we move forward in the fifty days of Eater let us continue to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ!
I recently came across these words from Desmond Tutu, social activist and former Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa.
Dear Child of God, I write these words because we all experience sadness, we all come at times to despair, and we all lose hope that the suffering in our lives and in the world will ever end. I want to share with you my faith and my understanding that this suffering can be transformed and redeemed. There is no such thing as a totally hopeless case. Our God is an expert at dealing with chaos, with brokenness, with all the worst that we can imagine. God created order out of disorder, cosmos out of chaos, and God can do so always, can do so now--in our personal lives and in our lives as nations, globally.
In this Easter Season we are reminded of the unfailing, everlasting hope found in God, risen in Christ and shared with us through the Holy Spirit. Let's gather in these beautiful Spring days at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center to continue to build the beloved community. Join our spirituality series on Thomas Merton's advice to peacekeepers, stop by for a screening of the documentary, Screenagers: Growing Up in a Digital Age, participate in a workshop on what the Church can learn from the LGBTQ community and check out all of our programs on our calendar.
We look forward to seeing you soon at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center!
Peace & Blessings,
Happy Easter! He is risen!
Now that, like the two women, we have visited the tomb, I ask you to go back with them to the city...Let us go back with them to tell the news… In all those places where the grave seems to have the final word, where death seems the only way out. Let us go back to proclaim, to share, to reveal that it is true: the Lord is alive! He is living and he wants to rise again in all those faces that have buried hope, buried dreams, buried dignity. If we cannot let the Spirit lead us on this road, then we are not Christians.
Let us go, then. Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by this new dawn and by the newness that Christ alone can give. May we allow his tenderness and his love to guide our steps. May we allow the beating of his heart to quicken our faintness of heart.
-Pope Francis, Easter Vigil Homily 2017
For full text of Pope Francis' Homily, Click Here