Igniting Our Values
Igniting Our Values

March 24, Tuesday

Spiritual Discernment

At the heart of retreat director Mary McKeon’s reflection about openness and receptivity is a marvelous story about finding inspiration when (and where) you don’t expect it.

Scripture Readings

Sunday Readings - Week 5

JER 31:31-34
HEB 5:7-9
JN 12:20-33



A procedural note: our reflections and prayers will refer to the Sunday readings for the week, not the daily readings.

Daily Reflection

Your Heart Today
by Mary McKeon

One of the joys and challenges of serving as spiritual director at a Jesuit retreat house is guiding others through spiritual discernment, a process that leads to God-centered decision-making using the mind and, especially, the heart. In the almost ten years that I have had the honor of walking this journey with directees, the constant need to seek purification of my own heart has become glaringly clear to me. A few years ago, I spent the entire six weeks of Lent praying daily with these poignant words from Psalm 51, “Create a clean heart in me, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”

St. Ignatius encouraged repetition in prayer and I heeded his advice; I allowed myself to go deeper into this humble and sincere plea. I pondered my own choices, praying that my heart be open and receptive to the movement of God’s spirit within me. I prayed that my own discernment, and that of those I was entrusted to guide, would lead us closer to the very heart of Jesus.

One evening that Lent, as I was working late at my desk in the retreat house, I came across a file labeled “Prayers of Jesuits,” tucked away in the very back of a drawer. I found there a poem entitled “Your Heart Today” by Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ, which spoke volumes to me then and continues to challenge and inspire my approach to discernment.

My prayer today echoes a line from that poem: “that I may be your heart today.” May I be the clean heart, the pure heart of Christ for those who come to tell their sacred stories. Only with a share in the heart of Christ am I able to assist in discerning the prompting of the spirit in their lives.

Your Heart Today
by Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ

Where there is fear I can allay,
Where there is pain I can heal,
Where there are wounds I can bind,
And hunger I can fill:
Lord, grant me courage,
Lord, grant me strength,
Grant me compassion
That I may be your heart today.
Where there is hate I can confront,
Where there are yokes I can release,
Where there are captives I can free
And anger I can appease:
Lord, grant me courage,
Lord, grant me strength,
Grant me compassion
That I may be your heart today.
When comes the day I dread
To see our broken world,
Protect me from myself grown cold
That your people I may behold.
And when I’ve done all that I could,
Yet, there are hearts I cannot move,
Lord, give me hope,
That I may be your heart today.


Tu corazón hoy
Por: Mary McKeon

Una de las alegrías y desafíos de servir como directora espiritual de una casa de retiro Jesuita, es guiar a otros a través del discernimiento espiritual, el proceso que conduce a tomar decisiones centradas en Dios, usando la mente, y especialmente el corazón. En los casi diez años que he tenido el honor de caminar con mis dirigidos, la necesidad constante de buscar la purificación de mi propio corazón, se ha convertido en una manifestación muy clara para mí. Hace algunos años dediqué las seis semanas completas de Cuaresma, a rezar diariamente con estas conmovedoras palabras del Salmo 51, “Oh Dios, ¡pon en mí un corazón limpio! ¡Dame un espíritu nuevo y fiel!”

San Ignacio alentó la repetición en la oración y yo seguí su consejo; me permití llegar más profundamente a esta humilde y sincera súplica. Medité sobre mis propias elecciones, rezando para que mi corazón se abriese y fuese receptivo a los movimientos del espíritu de Dios dentro de mi persona. Recé para que mi propio discernimiento, y el de aquellas personas que me fueron confiadas para guiar, nos llevara más cerca del corazón de Jesús.

Una noche durante esa Cuaresma, mientras trabajaba tarde en mi escritorio, en la casa de retiro, descubrí una carpeta escondida al final del cajón, con un rótulo que decía “Oraciones de los Jesuitas” escrito por P. Manoling Francisco, SJ, el cual me habló extensamente entonces y continúa desafiando e inspirando mi enfoque al discernir.

Mi oración, hoy, es un eco de las palabras de ese poema: “Que pueda ser tu corazón hoy.” Que pueda ser el corazón limpio y puro de Cristo para aquellos que vienen a decir sus historias sagradas. Sólo con una participación en el corazón de Cristo soy capaz de asistir en el discernimiento del estímulo del espíritu en sus vidas.

Tu corazón, hoy
Por: P. Manoling Francisco, SJ

Donde haya miedo, que yo pueda mitigarlo,
Donde haya dolor, que yo pueda sanarlo,
Donde haya heridas, que yo pueda curarlas,
Y al hambre pueda calmar:
Señor, concédeme el coraje,
Señor, concédeme la fuerza,
oncédeme la compasión
Para que hoy, yo pueda ser tu corazón.
Donde haya odio, que yo pueda confrontarlo,
Donde haya yugos, que yo pueda eliminarlos,
Donde haya cautivos, que yo pueda liberarlos,
Y a la ira pueda aplacar:
Señor, concédeme el coraje,
Señor, concédeme la fuerza,
Concédeme la compasión
Para que hoy, yo pueda ser tu corazón.
Cuando llegue el día que temo
Ver nuestro mundo quebrantado,
Protégeme de volverme indiferente
Que a tu gente yo pueda advertir.
Y cuando haya hecho todo lo que pude,
Y todavía haya corazones que no he logrado tocar,
Señor, dame la esperanza,
Para que hoy, yo pueda ser tu corazón.


A graduate of Marquette University, Mary McKeon worked as a teacher and in the U.S. Senate before serving as the director of women’s ministry at the Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Bloomington Hills, Michigan. In 2012, she was invited to begin a program of ministry for women at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House near Chicago. She is a widow, mother and grandmother to two precious little boys.


Today, O God of all days,
give me an experience of your heart.
Draw me deep into your very being,
into the core of your love for me, others and the world.
Give me a glimpse of others the way you see others:
loving them, forgiving them,
and delighting in the way they give glory to God
through their very existence.
Help me to discern out of that open place of deep affection
so that I too might be a useful vessel of your love in the world.


I don’t know when it slipped into my speech
that soft word meaning, “if God wills it.”
Insha’Allah I will see you next summer.
The baby will come in spring, insha’Allah.
Insha’Allah this year we will have enough rain.

So many plans I’ve laid have unraveled
easily as braids beneath my mother’s quick fingers.

Every language must have a word for this. A word
our grandmothers uttered under their breath
as they pinned the whites, soaked in lemon,
hung them to dry in the sun, or peeled potatoes,
dropping the discarded skins into a bowl.

Our sons will return next month, insha’Allah.
Insha’Allah this war will end, soon. Insha’Allah
the rice will be enough to last through winter.

How lightly we learn to hold hope,
as if it were an animal that could turn around
and bite your hand. And still we carry it
the way a mother would, carefully,
from one day to the next.
: Danusha Lameris


Scene from THE MISSION (1986)

Your Heart Today (M. Francisco, SJ)

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