As we begin a new year, I’ve been thinking of some words of St. Ignatius of Loyola. In his Spiritual Exercises he talks about “progressing from good to better” in our service of God and others. He encourages us to ask for the grace to know Jesus more intimately, to love him more intensely, and to follow him more closely. He also often used the phrase, “for the greater glory of God,” or in Latin, ad majorem Dei gloriam. The four letters “A.M.D.G.” are used to indicate that aspiration. His focus on Jesus is often captured with the ancient monogram “IHS,” an abbreviation for Jesus’ name in Greek. The Latin term MAGIS means “more” or “greater” and is often used to refer to the Ignatian desire to be ever more passionate disciples of Jesus: “seeking the magis!” In this series of articles, I’ll be exploring some of the “holy discontents” that might stir greater resolution in us to seek the magis, to dream of how things could be better, to keep moving from good to better as disciples of Jesus, individually and as a parish community!
Part 1: We’re Looking for a Connection
We’re all looking for real connections with other people. But those connections can often be elusive. In some ways in our social media age, we’re more connected to more people around the world more quickly than ever before. Yet so many people struggle with feeling lonely and isolated, without others to talk to about the most important things.
You would think church would be the easiest place to make real connections. But that’s not always the case for everyone. I’ve heard from lots of people at St. Raphael about how they felt like they knew everybody at their previous, smaller parishes. But here they sometimes kind of feel lost in the crowd. Clearly some people at St. Raphael have found really great, even life-long friendships in faith – I’ve seen the goodness of those connections, in both joyful and difficult times. But my sense is that as the parish has grown, and as our culture has changed, it’s been harder for everyone to find those connections spontaneously. Imagine if everyone who came to St. Raphael were in real, deep, authentic friendships in faith!
Jesus, reveal the desire in our hearts to be connected with one another in real Christian friendships, and to help lonely people in our world find real connection with others through you. Give us a holy discontent when we see that people in our parish and in our area feel alone and isolated. Light a fire in us to imagine how this could be better!