Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oil Spill

Today, I read an article in the newspaper about how the oil spill had affected the owner of BP gas station in my city. The owner said his sales were down 60%. His quote was, "I never thought I would see this day, that after working as hard as I have, that I would be facing an imminent possibility of going out of business." The story went on to tell about how this man owned this gas station to provide for his family. His connection to the oil company was "strictly for the rights to the logo and a contract to buy gas."

I was struck by this man's story. He, like all of us, is trying to provide for his family. This oilspill, which he did not cause is affecting his livelihood. I am from Louisiana, and I am frustrated and saddened at the impact this oilspill is having on the people in my home state. Many, like the owner of the gas station in Georgia, will not be able to remain in business due to the affects of the oil spill. Back home, the impact on wildlife is devastating.

As we all process this devastation, I feel we are left with some daunting questions, "What can we do to help? What is our responsibility in all of this? " As I continue to pray for all of those impacted and I discern the answers to these questions, I pray:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will.
All that I am and call my own. You have given it all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it. It is yours.
Do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Grad at Grad--What makes it Jesuit?

"What makes your Jesuit school Jesuit?"

I have the privilege of spending 48 hours with a group of people working at Jesuit schools in the Chicago-Detroit Province reflecting on this question. Gathered here are more than 50 teachers, administrators, and staff members from Chicago Jesuit Academy, Christ the King, Cristo Rey, St. Ignatius and Loyola Academy (in the Chicago area) and Brebeuf Jesuit (in Indianapolis). These dedicated people have spent at least a year working at their school and have come together to grow in their understanding of St. Ignatius, the Spiritual Exercises, and the mission of Jesuit schools.

They have a variety of reasons for why they chose to work at a Jesuit school. Some were Jesuit educated through high school or college and want to be at a school that upholds those values. Some were looking for a Catholic school where they could integrate their faith into their work lives. Some were simply looking for a job, and this is where they landed. Despite the variety of reasons, they all share a love of, and a dedication to, the mission of the school to form "men and women for others."

At Jesuit schools, there are 5 characteristics of their graduates that they want to see at graduation (known as "Grad at Grad"). Briefly, these graduates should be:
1. Open to growth
2. Intellectually competent
3. Religious
4. Loving
5. Committed to doing justice

For me, as someone who wasn't Jesuit educated, I strive to embody these five criteria now in my life, let alone when I was 17 and graduating from high school. These are the marks of people who are growing in their relationship with God and trying to live their lives as God is calling them to live.

At this point in my life, years after my high school graduation, can I say I am living out these ideals? How am I measuring up to these Grad at Grad goals?


Thursday, June 24, 2010

"The Revolution of the Heart Begins in Community"

My friend Jake wrote this thoughtful and challenging reflection that was published in Sojourners last week. He reflects on the oil spill in the Gulf through the lens of Dorothy Day's belief that "what is needed is a revolution of the heart". Day co-founded the Catholic Worker, a movement which strives to create a new society in the shell of the old through non-violent resistance and advocacy along with houses of hospitality. Furthering the movement, Jake is a co-founder and member of the White Rose Catholic Worker community in Chicago. Hope you enjoy the piece!

-Mary Ellen

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Adrift in the Gulf"

"The deep ocean is not merely a difficult site from which to extract resources; it is part of a beautiful, breathtaking gift for all generations to share, preserve and pass on. We have failed in our responsibility as its stewards."

This is a thought-provoking piece on the maddening and dismal situation of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. The editors of America Magazine challenge us to move deeper in our criticism of the spill, to look not only to oil executives for accountability, but to ourselves as consumers who are called to be good stewards of our resources, but who, oftentimes, are reckless and unintentional in our consumption. It certainly makes me examine how I must change my own habits to preserve these resources which are meant for all the world, and generations to come, to share responsibly.

-Mary Ellen

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Small bumps in the road

My greatest hope is to incorporate my faith in my daily life. I hope for this in my marriage, in my parenting, in my daily interactions with people, and in my work. I feel capable of doing this when all is well-- when there are no disagreements in my marriage, when my children are engaged and playing happily, when there is no tension in relationships, and when work moves along smoothly. The tougher question for me: "How do I live my faith in the small bumps that we daily deal with?"

How am I incorporating my faith in disagreements? in disciplining and teaching my child? in working out problems? How does my faith come into play when my three year old has a melt down because his piece of sausage broke in half at breakfast and my patience is very thin because this melt down has occurred three times during meals this week? What do I do when the same challenging problem arises again with a person I love? What do I do when I am a placed in a situation that requires me making a difficult decision? What do I do when I am tired and cranky because I was up all night with a child, and it is coming out in my interactions with my family?

My hope and prayer is that the roots of my faith will guide me through these small bumpy moments. How often, though, I fall short. With all my strength, I pray the prayer below:

God be in my head
and in my understanding.
God be in my eyes
and in my looking.
God be in my mouth
and in my speaking.
God be in my heart
and in my thinking.
God be at my end
and at my departing.
— Sarum Primer

Thankfully, when I do fall short, I know the same place I turn to for guidance, God, will give me the courage to reconcile, to apologize, and to try again with a heart and head rooted in faith.

How do I live my faith during the small bumpy times in daily life?
~Becky Eldredge, Everything is Holy Now

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What a difference a year makes

June 10 last year was my due date for my first child. One year ago, I had no idea who was going to make his/her entrance into the world, nor did I have any idea of when he/she planned to do so. Three days later, I met the little man who has changed the way I look at everything. It's hard to believe that a year ago, I didn't even know the gender of the little guy who now cracks me up when he smiles his six-toothed grin and tries to drink from any cup-shaped object he can get his hands on.

My son turns one this weekend and I can't believe all that has happened in just a year. Birthdays offer the chance to look back at a year and see how we have grown. As I take stock of my own life and habits, I find myself asking how I have grown spiritually? How is my faith stronger this year than it was a year ago? How am I more connected to God now than I was a year ago? What does my prayer life look like now compared to a year ago?

As I reflect on these questions, I am challenged to look at what I can do moving forward so that I will be have a stronger faith, a deeper prayer life, and a closer relationship to God next year than I do now.

~Lauren G

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lord, Save Me

Life continues to unfold in directions I never imagined happening. I find myself being called to new aspects of ministry, to new or different relationships with people, and to engage in life in a deeper way.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself asking, "How do I do all of this? How do I do what God is asking? How do Chris and I make everything work?" I felt unsure and afraid. Its not like I was called to mission work in a far off land or to anything extreme. Rather, opportunities were presenting themselves that pushed me out of my comfort zone a bit and at the same time were causing Chris and I to, once again, look at our priorities and determine if anything needed realigning.

As we moved through the period of discernment, I kept thinking about the scripture where Jesus and Peter walk on water (Matthew 14:22-33). The disciples' boat is rocking in the storm, when suddenly they look up and see a man, Jesus, walking towards them on water. Peter (oh, how I love cocky little Peter!!!)...asks, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come on the water." Jesus tells Peter, "Come." Peter began walking on water until,suddenly, he got afraid, and says, "Lord, save me". Immediately, Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him.

I think I saw myself a bit in ole Peter. On one hand, I trust God whole-heartily. On the other hand, sometimes when I begin to fill a bit unsure of unfamiliar territory, I become afraid. Peter, while a bit zealous at times, did have the common sense to cry out, "Lord, save me." As I discerned stressed about stepping into unfamiliar territory, that phrase did not come to my lips quite as quick as Peter's. I flailed around a bit. When it finally did come when I decided praying about it might be a good idea, I realized that just like Peter, Jesus came to help me. While I did not feel the physical outstretched hand of Jesus, I felt peace provided by Jesus' great advocate, the Holy Spirit, about the new directions after taking it to prayer over and over again.

Do we have the common sense of Peter to cry out, "Lord, save me"?

~Becky Eldredge, Everything is Holy Now