Parishioner’s Pen 12/2/2022


I skipped Mass the Sunday before I defended my master’s thesis. Through some sort of twist of fate or act of the Holy Spirit, the exact reading I had spent 20 weeks and 61 pages on was being proclaimed from ecumenical pulpits around the world. Insta DM’s busy with well-meaning friends and classmates sending me sleek canva graphics and feminist Christian hot takes, I suddenly couldn’t take it anymore. I was stuffed full with this story.  The Gospel of Mark was coming out of my ears. I felt like less a person and more of a compendium of facts and analysis of Koine Greek. So I skipped Mass. I shut my ears. And the next day I defended my thesis – turned it in – and then promptly never looked at it again in the intervening two years.

The thing about the liturgical cycle is that it is a cycle. I could shut my ears and my apartment door then but that reading will come back around and it would be unhinged of me to skip work over it. I’d wager that most of us have something like this – a story in the Bible, a part of the Mass – that we skip over, that we avoid lest we interrogate why it bothers us so much. We all come to Church with our own individual life experiences, our own baggage weighing us down like textbooks in a backpack. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius give us the tools to unload that backpack as it were, to examine our history and grow stronger through it.

Used by faithful Jesuits, Catholics, and Christians for over 500 years, the Spiritual Exercises are a series of meditations, prayers, and contemplative practices that help you unpack your relationship with God and to grow closer to Jesus. Ss. Peter and Paul is offering a free session of the Spiritual Exercises in early 2023. Participants will be matched with an individual spiritual director and a group for peer faith sharing. Check out the website for more information about the Spiritual Exercises and how to register. I hope you’ll consider participating. We all deserve to grow in our faith, to smooth out the rough edges of our faith, and to strengthen our shoulders for whatever else ends up in our bag.