Dear Loyola Parishioners & Visitors:
With the Ascension last weekend and Pentecost this weekend, we have the beginning of the missionary activity of the Church. We have the sending forth of “missionary disciples” into the world by Jesus. Missionary disciples, missionary discipleship, have become popular phrases in the last few years. Various books and formation programs have been written and created to transform ordinary ‘Church-going’ parishioners and members into extraordinary ‘Church-going out’ parishioners and members. But, from where does the impetus to go out come?
It could come from a general cultural ethic of activism and voluntarism which we experience in contemporary US society. To be engaged and active and public is a cultural value with which we have grown up. It could come from being taught the Catechism and Church Doctrines which is what the founder of FOCCUS told me was the foundation for the missionary discipleship of FOCCUS missionaries. He kept talking about an encounter with Jesus Christ, but when I pressed him on how FOCCUS facilitates that encounter, he went to the teaching of the Catechism and Church Doctrine. I must believe they do more, but he did not say so because the foundation for missionary discipleship is a personal encounter with the Risen Jesus Christ. Reading the Scriptures, studying Christology, knowing about Jesus, knowing the Catechism, knowing Church Doctrines is not going to get one there.
Ignatian spirituality offers a privileged way to experiencing the Risen Christ active in one’s life, first by recognizing how Christ has already been present throughout one’s life then by continuing to journey with Christ paying attention to how Christ is present and speaking to one currently through a series of personal conversations with Christ which is Ignatian prayer and contemplation.
As I mentioned before, there are multiple groups and individuals offering Ignatian spirituality programs, retreats, days of reflection, weekend retreats, etc. in the Archdiocese. Both Archbishops Chaput and Aquila have spoken positively about Ignatian spirituality and encouraged the priests and lay employees of the Archdiocese to become familiar with Ignatian spirituality. One of the sponsored Archdiocesan Priests’ Retreats this year is an Ignatian Retreat with Fr. Bill Watson, SJ who previously presented to the catechists in the Archdiocese.
As we move into the next fiscal year, one of the commitments we will make to the Province is to identify and offer a way for registered and non-registered parishioners to have an experience of Ignatian spirituality as a parish. We need to research what is available already, if anything, and figure out how we might offer something at Loyola. The Ignatian Spirituality Program already has a full schedule and calendar of offerings, so I am not looking to them or Paula to do something. I am most grateful that they offered to put together the Young Adults Retreat at
Sedalia in February 2018 and open it up to all young adults who may be interested. But, one of the ways we can solidify our Jesuit identity as a parish is to expand our experience and knowledge of Ignatian spirituality.