Igniting Our Values
Igniting Our Values

March 23, Monday

Spiritual Discernment

Contributor Wendell Laurent is a spiritual director and a singer. Perhaps this felicitous combination of skills is what leads him to recognize and value the grace-filled moments he describes as “attentive listening.”

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

Cultivating Presence
by Wendell Laurent

I once heard in a homily that grace should not be viewed as some sort of bank account whereby a person attempts to earn credit to keep in safe deposit. Rather, grace is more about “cultivating presence,” that is, cultivating an awareness of God’s presence and action in our lives. It is an image that resonates deeply with my experience of Ignatian prayer and discernment.

At the heart of Ignatian spirituality is the idea that we are all called to be co-creators with God, that God works with us and through us to bring the fullness of the kingdom into the world. This relationship with our creator requires us to be people of deep prayer and self-reflection, to become skilled at discerning how God is acting in our lives and how we are to respond to that action.

Spiritual discernment involves a type of attentive listening that seems to come easily in the silence of retreat, but is more challenging amidst the noise and distractions of everyday life. To meet this challenge, Ignatius gives us the Examen, a daily examination of events and feelings, which when done regularly can expose patterns of joy and sadness, consolation, desolation and longings of the heart. With this “data” in hand, we can order our lives according to the promptings of our loving creator.

While I find the busyness of everyday life often prevents me from being as faithful to the Examen as I would like, it is that same busyness that provides much fodder for prayer. So, as we continue our Lenten journey towards Holy Week, I pray for the grace to more intentionally cultivate an awareness of God’s presence and action in my life, and to be able to respond more fully and generously in gratitude to God’s salvific actions through Christ.

Cultivar la presencia
Por: Wendell Laurent

Una vez escuché en una homilía que la gracia no debe ser vista como una especie de cuenta de banco, donde las personas intentan ganar un crédito para guardarlo en una caja de seguridad. Más bien, la gracia es acerca de “cultivar la presencia,” o sea, cultivar el ser conscientes de la presencia y acción de Dios en nuestras vidas. Esta es una imagen que resuena profundamente en mi experiencia de oración y discernimiento Ignaciano.

En el corazón de la espiritualidad Ignaciana reside la idea de que todos estamos llamados a ser creadores con Dios, que Dios trabaja con nosotros y a través de nosotros para llevar la plenitud del Reino al mundo. Esta relación con nuestro creador requiere que seamos personas de oración profunda y de auto reflexión, para convertirnos en expertos en discernir de qué forma Dios está actuando en nuestras vidas y cómo debemos responder a esta acción.

El discernimiento espiritual requiere un tipo de escuchar atento que se obtiene fácilmente en el silencio de un retiro, pero es más desafiante en medio del ruido y de las distracciones de la vida diaria. Para llevar a cabo este desafío, Ignacio nos da el Exámen, una examinación diaria de los eventos y sentimientos del día, el cual puede exponer patrones de alegría y tristeza, consuelo, soledad y anhelos del corazón, cuando lo hacemos regularmente. Con esta información en la mano, podemos ordenar nuestras vidas de acuerdo a las sugerencias de nuestro amado creador.

A pesar del trajín de la vida diaria, el cual evita que yo sea fiel al Exámen de la manera que me gustaría, es éste mismo estar ocupado el que provee gran alimento para la oración. Entonces, mientras continuamos nuestro camino de Cuaresma hacia la Semana Santa, rezo por la gracia de cultivar más intencionalmente el ser consciente de la presencia de Dios y de sus acciones en mi vida, y de ser capaz de responder generosamente y sin reservas en gratitud por las acciones salvíficas de Dios a través de Cristo.

Wendell Laurent is the vocation team coordinator for the USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus. A long-time member of Xavier Parish in Manhattan, he is a spiritual director and member of The Ignatian Schola, a New York-based vocal ensemble composed of Jesuits and lay colleagues committed to exploring ways of praying through music. Wendell is also the associate producer of The Sunday Mass on the ABC Family Network produced by Passionist Communications.


you have given us your Son as our friend and redeemer.
Give us the openness to see Him as both
and to accept your gracious invitation
to participate in the ongoing creation of your world.
Help us to cultivate presence:
to be still enough in our activity to encounter you,
the source of all stillness,
of all presence.


O Lord, my God,
I cried out to you for help and you healed me.
Lord, you brought my soul up from Sheol;
you let me live, from going down to the pit.
Sing praise to the Lord, you faithful;
give thanks to his holy memory.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
his favor a lifetime.
At dusk weeping comes for the night;
but at dawn there is rejoicing.
Complacent, I once said,
“I shall never be shaken.”
Lord, you showed me favor,
established for me mountains of virtue.
But when you hid your face
I was struck with terror.
To you, Lord, I cried out;
with the Lord I pleaded for mercy:
“What gain is there from my lifeblood,
from my going down to the grave?
Does dust give you thanks
or declare your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, have mercy on me;
Lord, be my helper.”
You changed my mourning into dancing;
you took off my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
so that my glory may praise you
and not be silent.
O Lord, my God,
forever will I give you thanks.
Psalm 30: 3 – 14

Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town to another due,
Labor to admit to you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lovéd fain
But am betrothed unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again;
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
: John Donne


Presence 3.1

Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor; 1. Allegro ben moderato (Bridge/Rostropovich)

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