December 2018
Photograph courtesy of Erol Ahmed
Dear Friends of LIS,

Every time I see brightly colored caution tape it is a reminder that I’m still “under construction.” The liturgical seasons always give me an opportunity to allow God to spiritually reconstruct those areas where I need to grow in understanding of His ways.

Last week, I was reading through a journal in which I had recorded notes from an Advent mission at my parish a couple of years ago. “Let this be your best Advent ever” was scribbled on top of the page. As soon as I read those words I immediately remembered the story. The priest presenting the mission began telling a story of his friend, our parish deacon who, after hearing the priest’s homily, was inspired to make the upcoming Advent the best he’d ever had. The priest revealed that after Mass the deacon excitedly shared what the Lord was prompting him to do to make the best of his Advent season. Soon after and without warning, the deacon succumbed to a heart attack a week into his best Advent ever.

The priest explained that he told this story because he wanted us to realize that we often forget to live intentionally. We assume we’ll have time to address personal concerns, to reconcile with family members, to pray more, to let go of burdens and to have meaningful conversations with others. As long as we think we have more time, we tend to put off addressing areas in our lives that are “under construction” and need our attention. Whenever I’m prompted to proceed in a direction that is rather challenging, I hear the words, “God can’t bless you unless you’re outside of your comfort zone.” Because it is only then when you’ll look to Him for strength, instead of relying on your own. Stepping out in faith will, in the end, take us to a place of surrender and into a state of God’s peaceful grace. Right before the mission ended, the priest encouraged us to live purposefully and with a resolve to follow the stirrings in our hearts.

My prayer is that we all can strive to make this Advent our best ever. St. Augustine of Hippo’s quote sums it up for us: “Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.” My father, Deacon Joe Stripling, is the deacon whom the priest referenced at our mission. I can’t help but think my father was taking care of his soul by resolving to have his best Advent ever. May our Lord give each of us the grace to do the same while we still have time.


Peace & Blessings,

Lori Stanley,
Executive Director ­
The gift of your own time, energy, finances, and devotion are most apparent. And naturally we go back to the well of our friends and supporters for their continuing support. Your support is crucial for our ongoing work of  bringing spirituality to life  through transformation, formation, and discipleship.
 
During these days of Advent expectations and Christmas hope, we ask that you consider LIS as one of your regular benefactions. 

AT A GLANCE
The LIS Office will be closed Monday, December 24, 2018 through Tuesday, January 1, 2019. We wish you and your family a blessed Christmas and New Year.

History of Christian Spirituality begins on Thursday, January 3, 2019. Don't miss this six-week course presented by Br. Charlie Jackson, S.J. More information can be found by clicking here. This course is the third course of the Ignatian Spiritual Formation Program, but may be taken alone.

Finding God in the Dark returns next month beginning on Friday evenings, January 11—February 15, 2019, 6:30–9:30 pm. For more information click here.
 
Save the Date for our next Ignatian Morning on Sunday, February 10, 2019. Look for details in our next e-newsletter.

The LIS Speaker Series continues on February 24, 2019. Fr. Pat Howell, S.J., will present "Desire as an Avenue to Mystery: Mental Illness, Stigma, and Healing." Click here for more information.
And Again We Say—Rejoice!
by Fr. David Robinson, S.J.

It seems that each year we enter into the shelter of Advent with a sense of potential release from the anxiety and spiritual exhaustion of a world that is turning wildly, often without an apparent center or axis. We yearn for a place of quiet, a stillness of heart that offers a promise of inner peace. This year appears no different. There is a longing for a world of godly yearning, of trust in the One who promises us a future of fulfillment, of freedom in a spirit of justice and compassion. In the liturgy, we eagerly hearken to the poetic lyricism of Isaiah as he points resolutely to the age of God’s reign throughout the world. The message of Jesus’ mission, the abundance of healing, and his revelation of the love of the Father console us with the richness of mercy in the birthing of the Gospel. Our hearts resonate with the familial simplicity and the divine grandeur of the Annunciation, the Visitation, and the Magnificat. We celebrate, individually and communally, a greater vision for our humanity. We experience a sense of respite, a harbor in the storms of life.

However, Advent is not our port, not our fortress of solace. It is our call to embrace the miracle of the coming of God with a sense of liberation and apostolic call. Pope Francis, in his recent Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, calls us to a holiness based on a faith that ‘rejoices and exults’ in the surprising outpouring of life which is our vocation, born with the nativity, and sent forth into the world. We are not world-weary warriors, summoning up yet again the resources to charge into the chaos that dims our fervor. Advent is our commissioning in joy, our birth in love, to move through life with a spirit of prayerful urgency, not the fruit of desperation, but of endless possibility. We are not invited to the manger to witness a miracle that will heal the world with the wave of a hand. We are family, blessed to celebrate the new coming of Jesus as the daily promise that we have been created by love to love. We are blessed in our blessing, and healed in our healing—we receive what we give away freely. Advent is not our release from the labor of faith. It is our unburdening from the illusion that our struggles could ever exist outside the tender touch of God, alive in our midst. We are born in love to love the world into the future promised in that simple day of divinity we call Christmas.
We wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas!
May your hearts be filled with joy and peace.
Our Mission

The Loyola Institute for Spirituality, founded in 1997, 
works to promote a faith that does justice, in the tradition of St. Ignatius.  

We declare our mission to be:
 
Setting hearts on fire with love of God for the world.
 
We bring spirituality to life by:
Inviting spiritual seekers to transformation.
Fostering Ignatian formation and education.
Nurturing discipleship.
LOYOLA INSTITUTE FOR SPIRITUALITY
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Orange, CA 92868
714-997-9587
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