Igniting Our Values
Igniting Our Values

February 25, Wednesday

Finding God in All Things

Another two-time Jesuit alumna and longtime professional colleague, Cassandra L. Agredo knows her way around Jesuit slogans. Her incisive look at the emotional ramifications of Finding God in All Things rings with the authenticity of hard-won experience.

Scripture Readings

Sunday Readings - Week 1

GN 9:8-15
1 PT 3:18-22
MK 1:12-15

English
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022215.cfm

Español
http://www.usccb.org/bible/lecturas/022215.cfm

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

Daily Reflection

Learning to Carry the World
by Cassandra L. Agredo, LMSW

“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.” -Andrew Boyd

As a two-time alumna of Jesuit higher education and an employee of a Jesuit institution for the last eight years, I am very familiar with the Ignatian sayings that pepper all of our interactions. Ad majorem dei Gloriam. Men and women for others. Finding God in all things. They seem, on their surface, to be uplifting, positive thoughts that encapsulate the progressive, education-and-justice-oriented values of the Jesuits.

But when you begin to unravel these sayings and dig a little deeper, the truth is that these values are not always uplifting. They are not always positive. They are not always easy. Sometimes they are hard. They hurt. They take the wind out of your sails. They make you wish you’d gone to that non-Jesuit university instead.

Finding God in all things sounds particularly easy. Just open your eyes and look, right? It’s the action of looking, of actively seeking, that is called to mind by this phrase, and it doesn’t sound so difficult. But what do you do with what you actually find? What do you do when God isn’t so readily apparent, or when you do find Him at His most humble, ragged, and oppressed? When you truly try to open your heart to others, it can hurt to find God in the darkest and deepest depths of the human spirit. It’s hard. It’s overwhelming. It’s pain and disappointment and anger and fear. Sometimes it feels like it would have been better if you hadn’t looked at all. Truly finding God in all things means taking on the burden of knowledge. They say ignorance is bliss and they are right — having knowledge means accepting the responsibility to act upon that knowledge. It means acknowledging that a connection has been forged between you and someone else and that you are bound to them in a covenant — a promise that you will work together and use your knowledge to make change, in the spirit of love and humanity.

Through my work at Xavier Mission I am asked to find God daily, not only in the people we serve but also in those who volunteer, who often are in as much pain and trauma as anyone else. On any given day, my heart and my mind can take a beating. Sometimes I feel like I’m not strong enough to love the world and I’m not empty enough to sit at the table with it. I don’t want to be bound to others. I don’t want to look for God, and I’m scared to find him. I’m scared because finding him means accepting that commitment, that covenant, to be with and for others, and sometimes I just don’t want to. Those are the days when I need to remember that God entered into a covenant with me and all living beings. In last Sunday’s first reading, God agrees to be there for me and to give me the strength and compassion I need to do this work on earth.

So, when it hurts and it’s hard and I just don’t want to, I know I’m not alone. I am reminded that, if I look hard enough and open myself up to whatever I find, I will find him — not in my own head or heart or in the solace of my room or the peace of a church. No, I find his love and his strength waiting for me in others — in their pain and suffering and trauma and hope and redemption and love. In the darkest moments, when I feel I can’t seek anymore, I remember that it is the act of seeking itself that will ultimately give me the strength to accept the knowledge I find, to enter into that covenant with humanity and love the world.

Aprendiendo a cargar con el peso del mundo
Por: Cassandra L. Agredo, LMSW

“La compasión duele. Cuando te sientes conectado a todo, también te sientes responsable por todo. Y no lo puedes evitar. Tu destino está atado al destino de otros. Debes aprender a cargar con el Universo o ser aplastado por él. Debes crecer lo suficientemente fuerte como para amar al mundo y a la vez sentarte a la mesa con sus peores horrores.” -Andrew Boyd

Habiendo sido alumna dos veces de la educación superior Jesuita y empleada de una institución también Jesuita, por los últimos ocho años, estoy familiarizada con los refranes Ignacianos que sazonan todas nuestras interacciones. Ad majorem dei Gloriam. Hombres y mujeres para otros. Encontrando a Dios en todas las cosas. A simple vista parecen pensamientos edificantes, positivos, que encapsulan los progresivos valores Jesuitas orientados a la educación y la justicia.

Pero cuando comienzas a descubrir estos refranes y a profundizar un poco más, la verdad es que estos valores no siempre son edificantes. No siempre son positivos. No siempre son fáciles. A veces son difíciles. Lastiman. Te quitan el viento de tus velas. Te hacen desear haber ido a cualquier Universidad que no haya sido Jesuita.

Encontrar a Dios en todas las cosas suena particularmente fácil. Sólo abre tus ojos y mira. ¿Verdad? Es la acción de mirar y buscar activamente en lo que nos hace pensar esta frase, y no resulta difícil. Pero, ¿Qué es lo que haces con lo que encuentras? ¿Qué haces cuando Dios no es tan aparente, o cuando lo encuentras en el más humilde, harapiento y oprimido? Cuando realmente tratas de abrir tu corazón a los otros, te puede costar encontrar a Dios en la oscuridad y profundidad del espíritu humano. Es difícil. Es abrumante. Es dolor y frustración, ira y miedo. Hay veces que siento que hubiese sido mejor si no hubiera visto nada. Verdaderamente encontrar a Dios en todas las cosas significa asumir la carga del conocimiento. Dicen que ignorancia es felicidad y tienen razón – tener conocimiento significa aceptar la responsabilidad de actuar en consecuencia. Significa reconocer que se ha forjado una conexión entre tú y otra persona y están juntos en un pacto – la promesa de que trabajarán juntos y usarás tus conocimientos para hacer cambios, con un espíritu de amor y humanidad.

A través de mi trabajo en Misión Xavier, me piden que encuentre a Dios diariamente, no sólo en la gente que servimos sino también en los voluntarios, quienes frecuentemente sufren tanto como cualquier otro. En el día menos pensado, mi corazón y mi mente pueden experimentar una paliza. A veces siento que no soy lo suficientemente fuerte como para amar al mundo y al mismo tiempo sentarme a la mesa con él. No quiero estar unida a otros. No quiero buscar a Dios y tengo miedo de encontrarlo. Tengo miedo porque encontrarlo significa aceptar esa responsabilidad, ese pacto de estar por y con los otros y a veces, simplemente no quiero. Estos son los días en los que necesito recordar que Dios ha establecido un pacto conmigo y todos los seres vivientes. En la primera lectura del Domingo pasado, Dios acepta estar conmigo y darme la fuerza y compasión necesarias para realizar este trabajo en la tierra.

Entonces, cuando duele, cuando es difícil y cuando simplemente no quiero, sé que no estoy sola. Recuerdo que si busco lo suficiente y me abro a lo que sea, lo voy a encontrar – no en mi cabeza, mi corazón o en el consuelo de mi habitación o en la paz de una Iglesia. No, encuentro su amor y su fortaleza esperándome en los otros – en el dolor y el sufrimiento, en los traumas y las esperanzas y la redención y el amor. En los momentos más oscuros, cuando siento que ya no puedo buscar más, recuerdo que es el mismo acto de buscar, el que me dará la fortaleza para aceptar el conocimiento que encuentre, para entrar en ese pacto con la humanidad y amar al mundo.


Cassandra L. Agredo is the Executive Director at Xavier Mission Inc., a non-profit community outreach organization at the Church of St. Francis Xavier in New York, N.Y. She is responsible for the administration, management, development and communications for the organization. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University, and is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in New York State. Cassandra lives in the Bronx, N.Y., with her husband and twin eight-year old daughters.


Prayer

Almighty, all powerful God,
create in me a strong walled empty space.
A space empty enough to hold your people
as you hold them,
but with strong enough walls
to support the rest of me around the work.
Give me even a part of your endless compassion for your people
and so help me to recognize you in strength and brokenness,
seeking you in the darkness knowing that finding you is my
deepest desire.
Amen.

Passages

Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless and the infinite worthlessness of that which is seemingly so valued.
: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I want a god
as my accomplice
a god
who hurts
to the last
bone and
bites the air
in pain
a jobless god
a striking god
a hungry god
a fugitive god
an exiled god
an enraged god
a god
who longs
from jail
for a change
in the order
of things
I want a
more godlike
god
: Francisco X. Alarcón


Multimedia

Video
Joan Halifax: Compassion and Empathy (TED Talk)



Music

Cypresses No. 2 (Dvorak)

Playlist (Spotify users login, then click)
https://play.spotify.com/user/beajesuit/




Questions about the program? Email the coordinator by clicking here.


Click here to download the announcement PDF for "Igniting Our Values".
















Publications
Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America 10/14/19

America 9/30/19

America 9/16/19





Jesuit Spiritual Center
The Jesuit Spiritual Center at Milford spreads over 37 park-like acres overlooking the Little Miami River, 30 minutes east of Cincinnati.