Igniting Our Values
Igniting Our Values

March 21, Saturday

Our Lady of Luján

During this Fourth Week of Lent, our contributors shared five very different insights into the nature of Apostolic Availability. They’ve advised us to…

  feel God’s love
    listen for God’s presence
      become un-busy, like Jesus
        savor, taste and remember our place in the
           human family
            detach from our preconceptions and
              self-imposed limits.

What do all these have in common?

Nuestra Señora de Luján

Today we honor Our Lady as Nuestra Señora de Luján, the patroness of Argentina (feast day May 8). Here is another instance of the Blessed Mother reaching out to the poor, the powerless and the indigenous. Our Lady of Luján’s story involves a terracotta statue in mid-transit, a pair of stubborn oxen (or in some accounts, mules), a spontaneous groundswell of affection and devotion and an important lesson: that our destinations and plans may not be God’s.

Jim McDermott, SJ, is a Jesuit priest and a Hollywood screenwriter; small wonder that his reflection on Our Lady of Luján has a delightful indie-cinema bent.

Daily Reflection

Feast of Our Lady of Luján
by Jim McDermott, SJ

When I was a sophomore in high school I got it in my head that I should try out for the lead in the school musical, “Oliver.”

This was a terrible idea. The closest I had come to acting was wearing a huge penguin costume in a grade school ice skating recital. And after spending most of grade school harassed by classmates, the last thing I needed was to provide a fresh stream of ammunition.

For the better part of a month, I debated the idea without coming to any clarity. Eventually I decided to throw the decision into the hands of fate. If I should try out, the world would show me a sign.

Almost immediately — I kid you not — “Oliver Twist” started appearing again and again on the book cart it was my job to shelve at the local library. When I still waffled, the title suddenly got posted on the library’s street sign.

Was that God? I don’t know. As an adult I can’t say that I recommend leaving big decisions in the hands of oxen or librarians. But I tried out for the play and landed a part.

I do know that play completely changed the course of my life, gave me a sense of self and voice and possibility. In fact, I don’t know that I’d be a Jesuit or writing this essay right now if not for that experience.

Maybe in the end availability is a little like being the caravan leader in the Luján story. As hard as you might try to work things out, at some point you really have to just trust your gut and take a leap. (And wow, what fruit can come when you do.)

Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Luján
Por: Jim McDermott, SJ

Cuando estaba cursando el segundo año del colegio secundario, se me ocurrió que debía participar de la audición para el papel principal de la obra musical de la escuela, “Oliver.”

Fue una idea terrible. Lo más cercano a actuar que estuve fue vestir un disfraz gigante de pingüino en una muestra de patinaje sobre hielo, en la escuela primaria.Y después de pasarme la mayor parte de la escuela primaria siendo acosado por mis compañeros, lo último que necesitaba era proveer una corriente fresca de municiones.

Gran parte del mes debatí la idea sin llegar a algo en claro. Eventualmente decidí dejar la decisión en manos del destino. Si debía participar de la audición, el mundo me daría una señal.

Casi inmediatamente — y no estoy bromeando — “Oliver Twist” empezó a aparecer una y otra vez entre los libros que debía guardar, en mi trabajo de la biblioteca local. Cuando todavía no tenía nada decidido, de repente el título fue puesto en el cartel de la calle de la biblioteca.

¿Era Dios? No lo sé. Como adulto no puedo decir que recomiendo dejar las grandes decisiones en manos de los bueyes o de los bibliotecarios. Pero hice la prueba para la obra de teatro y conseguí un papel.

Sé que esa obra cambió completamente el curso de mi vida, me dio el sentido de identidad personal, voz y posibilidad. En efecto, no sé si hubiese sido Jesuita o hubiera escrito este ensayo ahora mismo, si no hubiese tenido esa experiencia.

Tal vez, al final, la disponibilidad es un poco ser el líder de la caravana en la historia de Luján. Por mucho que trates de hacer que las cosas funcionen, en algún momento tienes que, sencillamente, confiar en tu intuición y dar el salto. (¡Y qué increíbles los frutos que recoges cuando lo haces!)

Jim McDermott, SJ, is a screenwriter and correspondent for America magazine living in Los Angeles. He can be found on Twitter: @Popculturpriest.


God of clear signs and inscrutable mystery,
give us the trust to see you in both.
Help us to enter into the conversation,
into the relationship with you
so that our lives are informed by a deep, abiding friendship
that grounds us no matter what.
When we have big choices to make,
we make them with you,
with the light you provide
and with your will in mind.


The ox-eyed land,
The muted lakes,
The cloudy groves that praise you,
Lady, with their blooms,
Fuse and destroy their lights
And burn them into gold for you, great Virgin,
Coining your honor in the glorious sun.

The skies speed up to meet you, and the seas
Swim you the silver of their crests.
If you delay to come, we'll see the meteors, by night,
Skimming before your way,
Lighting the time of death's dismay
In lights as lithe as animals.
And God will blaze your pathway with the incandescent stars.

But oh! Queen of all grace and counsel,
Cause of our joy, Oh Clement Virgin, come:
Show us those eyes as chaste as lightning,
Kinder than June and true as Scripture.
Heal with your looks the poisons of the universe,
And claim your Son's regenerate world!
: Thomas Merton

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.
: Maya Angelou


MOTHER’S SONG (Matty Brown)

To Zion (Lauryn Hill)

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Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House
Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House, located in Grand Coteau, La., has provided a beautiful setting for retreats since 1938.