Pray without ceasing…

December 16, 2011

Ever wonder how one could possibly fulfill Paul’s directive to the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17)?  I have, and I’ve also been asked by students how one manages such a feat.  (Does sleeping count?)

Apparently St. Augustine wondered the same thing because he gives a nice interpretation of the phrase in today’s Office of Readings, which I thought worth sharing.  His answer struck me as rather “Ignatian,” in the sense that Ignatian discernment trains us to be attentive to our desires and where they’re leading us.  And our desire for the coming of Christ is one of the great undercurrents of this quietly joyful season of Advent.

So here he is, the ever-profound, ever-insightful St. Augustine:

[T]he desire of your heart is itself your prayer.  And if the desire is constant, so is your prayer.  The Apostle Paul had a purpose in saying:  Pray without ceasing.  Are we then ceaselessly to bend our knees, to lie prostrate, or to lift up our hands?  Is this what is meant in saying:  Pray without ceasing?  Even if we admit that we pray in this fashion, I do not believe that we can do so all the time.

Yet there is another, interior kind of prayer without ceasing, namely, the desire of the heart.  Whatever else you may be doing, if you but fix your desire on God’s Sabbath rest, your prayer will be ceaseless.  Therefore, if you wish to pray without ceasing, do not cease to desire…



An Invitation Extended: The 2011 Ignatian Spirituality Conference

February 20, 2011

Friends and readers,


The Whosoever Desires community has recently received an invitation – being passed on by yours truly – to attend the 2011 Ignatian Spirituality Conference.  Conference coordinators Mary Haggerty and Sean Agniel wrote to us with the following invitation:

“I think it’s probably safe to say that attendees to this conference in years past may have outscored your average reader in years.  However, for 2011 we have built a program mindful of Gen X and Y.  The conference would be a richer event with your readers in attendance. Of course, we’d love to welcome you to St. Louis July 21-24, 2011.”

Given the summertime formation schedules of young Jesuits (and surely you can all attest to the fact that we need more formation…) it’s going to be very difficult for any of we bloggers to attend.  We’ll see what the future holds.  Regardless of our attendance, though, there will time during the conference for small groups on various Ignatian topics, and we thought it would be wonderful if one of those groups could serve as an excuse for gathering the Whosoever community in person.  So, below I’m copying the conference theme and putting links to the conference flyer and website.  If any readers are motivated to attend – even more to take on the leadership role of being a point person for gathering our community – just say the word (maybe in the comment section below?) and a conversation can be begun.  Could be exciting!

The Conference website can be found at:, and the flyer is here: 2011 Ignatian Spirituality Conference

Conference Theme:

The Spirituality Conference focuses on the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. The first talk: “From Death to Life: Bridging the Third and Fourth Weeks” will treat the natural disconnect between the Third Week of Jesus’ passion and death and the Fourth Week of his resurrection.

While the Fourth Week of the Exercises draws us deeper into relationship with the risen Christ, the cross remains. The second keynote talk of the conference, “LaStorta’s Risen Christ: Carrying the Cross in Life’s Ordinariness,” focuses on finding God in all things. Ignatian spirituality does not focus on suffering, pain, the cross, dark nights. Rather, we seek to follow Christ in all things, even as our following brings us to the cross. If we are to love God in all things we face the challenge of loving the cross in all things.

The gift of the Fourth Week is the invitation into a new relationship with Jesus. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we must learn to recognize Jesus in new ways. Their hearts were on fire as they recognized him in the breaking of the bread. This is a good description of Ignatian consolation. The third talk, “Were Not Our Hearts Burning?” We are Sent underscores the rhythm of the Ignatian way of proceeding: we are called, formed, sent out, called back, reformed and sent out again.”