November 28, 2012
Luke 21: 12-19
But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.
You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Get Out of the Way
The Church has looked to the Society of Jesus for spiritual direction throughout the centuries.
Many people come to Jesuits seeking sound spiritual wisdom and insight into how God is
at work in their lives. I recall with gratitude my own Jesuit spiritual directors—men of God
attuned to the Spirit working in the lives of those who desire to follow Christ in an intentional
way. As a spiritual director myself now, I am humbled by the trust people place in our hands.
God’s love frees us from the sins, illusions, and un-freedoms that hold us back in our response to
Him. And it is a privileged grace to serve the Church as a Jesuit spiritual director.
I am also aware of the poverty of wisdom that I bring to these intimate conversations. In the
interest of ‘helping souls,’ I desire to have the right answer or response that will really deepen
people’s prayer lives, or shed new light on God’s love. It is easy for this response of generosity
to become a point of pride.
When I begin to head down this road toward self-importance, I am reminded of the need to entrust these spiritual conversations to God, first and foremost. For a spiritual director, faith entails a trust that God is in fact working in the life of his or her directee, and that the faithful directee will receive God’s needed, if challenging, perspective. And so I pray at the start of each direction session that I may recognize God at work and not get in the way with my own words or plan.
This is a freeing act of faith, because it reminds us that God can and will use us in helping others along the Christian path. God does not ask of us slick proofs or persuasive conversations to bring people closer to Him. Rather, as our Gospel reminds us, He will give us the wisdom to
speak, if we would only trust in Him.
As the great Catholic apologist St. John Henry Newman once wrote, “I do not want to be
converted by a smart syllogism; if I am asked to convert others by it, I say plainly I do not care
to overcome their reasons without touching their hearts.”
—Joseph Simmons, S.J.
Lord, we turn over to you even our good intentions to serve you and others. Use our gifts this day
as you see fit, and free us from any pride that may interfere with your plan. Before we intervene with our insights and our recommendations, we will pause and ask for your Spirit to direct our thoughts, our hearts, and our actions.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Please share the Good Word with your friends!