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Three of a Kind: Taylor Swift, Bob Marley & Fr. James Martin

What do Bob Marley, Taylor Swift, and Fr. James Martin, SJ have in common? Indulge yourself and read on.

The cards I’ve been dealt with and the ones I’ve traded in have left me with an interesting hand.  Impulsiveness, sarcasm, and passive-aggressive actions are all cards I have held in the hold, in the bundle of pride. 

In my ministry zeal, I realize that I have been less compassionate and charitable in seeking justice.  I know, I know I need to trade these “cards” in.  I am a sinner searching for the right path.

Building a House of Cards 

These past few days I’ve found three of kind in my hand and there’s no way I’m going to fold.

I recently watched the Netflix documentary on Taylor Swift.  Miss Americana. I’ve appreciated her music, vulnerability and her talent to write and perform heartfelt songs. She has a gift and an Achilles’ heel which we see in the movie. As a young girl, she seemed to strive for stardom being the “Good Girl” ever seeking approval. Spoiler Alert: Taylor soon finds out her hopes are built on a house of cards. Attachment to adulation is a costly addiction. 

Gotta Love the Jesuits!

Last night I attended a book signing of “James Martin, In the Company of Jesus” by John M. Sweeney at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights.  My daughter Faith induced me more deeply to Jesuit Spirituality when she attended The University of Scranton, a nationally recognized Catholic and Jesuit University, and the writing of Fr. James Martin. I’ve had the privilege of meeting him twice and he’s been a tremendous example of faith in action. 

What struck me last night was the transparency and vulnerability he shared with us, particularly with his reaction to nay-sayers online and from a few in the Catholic Church. His recent mission of outreach to build a bridge to the most marginalized in our communities, particularly the poor, refugees and the LBGTQ community inspires us to understand Jesus’ itinerant mission to go out to the margins and meet people where they are. When asked a question from the audience on how he deals with hateful speech, appalling words like heretic, apostate, homo, fag and the like, he handed me a most welcome card.  He spoke about St. Ignatius’ instruction on the “Grace of Indifference”.  God calls us by our desires and if we are open to his voice he can lead us (me) in a new direction. Turning to prayer, Fr. Martin recounted an inner voice that said, “Must everyone like you?”. 

My being an insecure middle-aged man, this point struck me to the core, as I see my own obsessive need to be loved, liked and approved of.  St. Ignatius calls us to let go of that need which will open the door to freedom and a deeper relationship with the Divine Source of Love.  I now recognize all too well the searching for approval which I allowed to suit me in a spiritual straight jacket. I'm just seeing the tip of the iceberg on this as I continue to explore St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises as I stroll down the back nine of life.  

      Note: The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, “composed between 1522–1524, are a set of Christian meditations, prayers and mental exercises, written by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a 16th-century Spanish priest, theologian, and founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Divided into four thematic “weeks” of variable length, they are designed to be carried out over a period of 28 to 30 days. They were composed with the intention of helping participants in religious retreats to discern the will of God in their lives, leading to a personal commitment to follow Jesus whatever the cost” (from Wikipedia).

Happy Birthday Bob

Bob Marley 
Today is Bob Marley’s birthday and as a music aficionado, reminders have been popping up on my social media. Bob’s song of detachment has been playing in my head all morning.  “Don’t worry, about a thing, cause every little thing is going to be alright!”
My eyes are beginning to open and I see the hand of God in my life. Whether it is a needed correction from my dearly beloved, a documentary, a song, a book or a noted author who makes himself present to me and others, God reveals his cards for me, continuing to unfold. We're never sure of how many hands we have left to play so the urgency for action and self-correction are paramount in my mind.

So there’s my three of a kind. Bob, Taylor, and James. I’ve been blessed by a good hand. Now is the time to accept and dig into this “Grace of Detachment”.  I realize I’ve held onto “bad cards” for way too long. I am fortunate that I’m surrounded by good friends who can call me out on them from time to time.  

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
 -Reinhold Niebuhr

For those reading this, I welcome your comments and suggestions on how I can further explore this grace. If you like what you’ve read here, please explore this blog, leave a comment and consider subscribing.


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