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
"Good Friday: day of the cross, day of suffering, day of hope, day of abandonment, day of victory, day of mourning, day of joy, day of endings, day of beginnings...
I closed my eyes and could see his sacred body...I saw the immense suffering of humanity during the centuries:
people killing each other;
people dying from starvation and epidemics;
people driven from their homes;
people sleeping on the streets of large cities;
people clinging to each other in desperation;
people flagellated, tortured, burned, mutilated;
people alone in locked flats, in prison dungeons, in labor camps;
people craving a gentle word, a friendly letter, a consoling embrace,
people...all crying out with an anguished voice,
'My God, my God, why have your forsaken us?'...
Then with my minds' eye I saw a large crowd of isolate, agonizing individuals walking away from the cross together, bound by the love they had seen with their own eyes and touched with their own lips. The cross of horror became the cross of hope, the tortured body became the body that gives new life; the gaping wound became the source of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation."
-Henri Nouwen, Show Me the Way: Daily Lenten Readings
Dear Community of the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center,
As we enter into the Triduum, take a moment in these days to rest, to pray & to try and see the world with Jesus' eyes.
During Holy Week I use Ignatian contemplation to pray with the Gospel stories of Jesus' suffering, death & resurrection. In this way of prayer, you use your imagination to place yourself in the midst of the Gospel story and witness what unfolds. Through our imagination, we are able to see and discover more of who Jesus is and who we are in Jesus' eyes. Jesus is always ready to deepen his relationship with us, he is always ready to show us something new.
This week Jesus seeks to share his life and death with us. Ultimately, he shares his resurrection, his unwavering love and his unfailing hope. What it is that Jesus is inviting you to see, hear and hold this week? For some ideas about ways to reflect and have some "holy calm" this week check out Ignatian Spirituality.com's article: How To Do Holy Week. This week, as we always are as as the community of the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center, let's imagine God's dream for the world and come to know, even more deeply, how we can make God's dream a reality.
Would you like to try Ignatian contemplation this week? Here are some resources:
The Ignatian Workout for Lent Retreat: Holy Week
Arts & Faith: Lent—Holy Thursday Imaginative Prayer Exercise
Arts & Faith Lent----Good Friday Imaginative Prayer Exercise
During the triduum, Jesus invites us into his life in an incredibly intimate and vulnerable way. We, like his apostles and disciples, are asked to walk with Jesus in his suffering and we will also be asked to walk with him in his resurrection.
In the midst of his suffering, in the midst of persecution -- Jesus invites us to accompany him. In our yes to accompany him, we become his disciples. The Gospel we hear proclaimed today, the washing of feet that happens in all of our communities today-- is about reclaiming, revealing and remembering who it is that Jesus charges all of us to be for his church in the world.
Holy Thursday is about the institution of a priesthood of all believers, where through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we may bear witness to Christ in all that we do.
Holy Thursday is about the institution of a pilgrimage that the Lord set before Aaron and Moses in the 1st reading from Ezekiel.
Holy Thursday is about the institution of what Dr. King calls, “the beloved community. “
Holy Thursday is about the institution of a way of being in the world that is rooted in mercy.
We are continually called back to Holy Thursday... We are called back to Jesus' decision to wash his disciples' feet. And in that action we discover again and again who Jesus calls us to be in the Church and in the world.
For full text of Natalie's homily: Click Here
Catholic Women Preach is an innovative project designed to address some of the most pressing challenges facing the Church today by responding to Pope Francis’ call for broader and more active engagement of the baptized in the preaching mission of the Church. This project is a deeply faithful, hopeful and joyful initiative intended to build up the Church.