Last Sunday in my preaching about the importance of having personal experience of the radical compassion of God, I mentioned the power of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola to help guide us into that life-transforming experience. The Spiritual Exercises are the foundation of so many things that people appreciate about Jesuit/Ignatian spirituality: the emphasis on personal experience as the place of encounter with God and Jesus, the confidence about “finding God in all things,” the service-oriented spirituality, the call to integrate faith and social justice.  That’s why I hope that every member of our Jesuit parish can have at least some introductory experience of the Exercises.

If you’ve never done the Exercises, now is your chance! (And if you have already done them, invite and encourage someone you know to participate.) We will be offering the Spiritual Exercises again this fall in a short 4-week introductory format; no months-long commitment required. We’ll host an online (Zoom) information session to learn all about it on Sunday, October 15 at 2:00 PM – sign up HERE.

and the days that follow present several seemingly-unrelated events that deserve our attention and reflection – but they all weave together for me.  This Sunday is the Church’s 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Next Wednesday, our own Rebecca MacMaster will depart for Rome as an invited young adult delegate to participate in the pre-Synodal discussions. The Synod on Synodality itself will run Oct. 4-29 – Pope Francis’s effort to bring together people from all over the world to search out a more collaborative way of being Church together (“Synod” means “walking together”). The input gathered from the entire world has surfaced, as a key element of “synodality,” a universal interest in augmenting the role of women in the church and incorporating their service in the diaconate.  Rebecca is part of a “Discerning Deacons” delegation. Watch our social media for her real-time reports from the Vatican. And pray for the success of the Synod in achieving the transformative goals the Pope has in mind.  The Pope’s message for this Sunday about migrants and refugees connects to the Synod: “The synodal path that we have undertaken as a Church leads us to see in those who are most vulnerable – among whom are many migrants and refugees – special companions on our way, to be loved and cared for as brothers and sisters. Only by walking together will we be able to go far and reach the common goal of our journey.”  (Read the full message HERE.)

This Sunday also begins Yom Kippur, the highest holy day of the year for our Jewish brothers and sisters.  And we are in the midst of the Season of Creation, when all the Christians of the world are called to renew their commitment to care for the environment and the earth.  These themes also run together in my mind!  I have benefited from recent scholarship on Yom Kippur (the “Day of Atonement” – perhaps better translated as Day of Restoration or Re-creation or Healing) that suggests that for the first generations of Christians who produced the New Testament, the rites of Yom Kippur were perhaps the most important metaphor for their understanding the meaning of Christ and what he had accomplished for the restoration not only of the human race, but of all creation. The more we recover this Yom Kippur focus in the New Testament, the more we discover the seeds of a creation-centered spirituality that might guide our way in our own times of climate and ecological challenges. On October 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi and the opening day of the Synod, Pope Francis will publish a sequel to his great work, Laudato Si’ on the care for creation. It all seems like one great circle: a season of care for creation that includes care for migrants and refugees, in turn kicking off the Synod which seeks the transformation of the church by “walking together” in communion, participation and mission.