The mission of any institution is important to its vitality and role in the wider world. Whether in times of crisis or in everyday situations, a deep engagement with the Jesuit mission shapes our actions and underpins our transformative vision of higher education. The mission of our institution also binds us together as we educate global citizens of conscience, competence, and compassion.
This bi-weekly email series serves as an opportunity to connect with and celebrate the mission and tradition that unites our campus and the wider Jesuit network. Every other week we will offer a short reading or other form of content, a few key resources, and a brief reflection video from a member of the Santa Clara community.
FEBRUARY 28, 2022 | MONTSERRAT - IGNATIUS LAYING DOWN HIS SWORD
As Ignatius kept vigil at the shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat in 1522 he was at an inflection point. Having recovered from his wounds suffered at Pamplona and the unnecessary surgeries he endured in the wake of that event, Ignatius still held tight to his privilege and power, wary of a future without the certainties of his past. Despite his time during recovery reflecting on the life of Jesus and the saints, he was still dressed in fine clothes and carrying a sword in the manner of the Spanish aristocrats of his day. He knew the path to a more fulfilling life, but was unwilling to fully live out the inner movements of his soul.
As Fr. Luis Calero, the Rector of the Jesuits at Santa Clara, reminds us, it was in this moment that he was graced with the strength to acknowledge his past failings and commit to a new way of living despite the uncertainty of an uncharted future. This brought him to lay down his sword at the altar of Our Lady and give his fine clothes to a poor man. In their place he took up the simple clothes of the pilgrim and began his life anew. Rather than military glory or riches, he would pursue a life as a companion of Jesus.
This process of letting go of things which draw us away from our desire to build a more just world is not a single act. Again, Fr. Calero draws our attention to the continuous process of letting go and trusting in a better future. This ongoing process requires us to continually recommit ourselves to following our better natures and trusting those inner movements that call us to justice. Our future is always uncertain. In striving to lay down those things that lead us to think only of ourselves, we can at least be sure that our future will be filled with the graces of a life lived in search of peace and justice.
IMAGE FOR REFLECTION | Ignatius Laying Down His Sword
- Like Fr. Calero, have you ever had a moment of clarity in your life that brought you to a place of radical trust, even if the future remained highly uncertain? Take a few moments to return to that place and savor those graces.
- What 'sword' might you be invited to lay down at this stage of your life so that you can love more freely?
- As you reflect on Ignatius laying down his sword and putting on a pilgrim's cloak, what might you be invited to 'put on' in your own life?
JANUARY 24, 2022 | PAMPLONA - THE CANNONBALL MOMENT
When Ignatius of Loyola was wounded by a cannonball in Pamplona in 1521 the course of his life shifted in unexpected ways. As previous stops along our pilgrimage have reminded us, the events at Pamplona, the “cannonball moment,” led Ignatius to live a life in imitation of the saints and in search of the greater good. That trajectory was not a given for Ignatius in the initial period after his wounding. His initial desire was to return to his old way of living and he went through significant torment before being opened to new possibilities.
In the art for this month, we see Ignatius in those initial moments, still a soldier and laying wounded next to his compatriots. Ultimately, this was a moment open to a multitude of possibilities. Tony Cortese, Program Director for Ignatian Spirituality, offers several questions that lead us to think about our own moments imbued with potential for momentous change. Occasions of “fortuitous derailment,” according to Dr. Ahmed Amer, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, are opportunities and blessings that don’t fit with our well-laid plans. Yet, as he says in his video reflection, these moments often give us hope for the future for they exist as crucial instances in our past that led us to where we truly belong.
Dr. Amer’s reflections and Igaitus’s experience at Pamplona leave us with a recognition that our future is not yet determined. As we seek a community that is more inclusive and just, we can take the time to reflect on the ways that we, communally and individually, have experienced our own fortuitous derailments in the past two years. Rather than clinging to our old ways of understanding and being, hopefully, we can view them as chances to reassess our plans and expectations as a means to opening new possibilities for justice and the greater good. As we chart a path towards a more inclusive community, may we do so with the recognition that until we are all able to flourish none of us will. Let us seek to live not as self-interested aristocrats, but as saints.
IMAGE FOR REFLECTION | Pamplona
- Take a moment to reflect about something in your life that you could never have imagined would become as significant to you as it is now. How do you feel about that?
- Like Ignatius and like Dr. Amer, have you had any "fortuitous derailments" or "cannonballs" in your life? Take a moment to reflect in gratitude about those moments, even if they were hard at the time.
- Are you in need of a cannonball-like "wake-up" when it comes to inclusive justice? Have you lost hope or given up? Take a moment to ask for the grace to respond to injustice with freedom and intentionality.
DECEMBER 6, 2021 | LOYOLA - WHERE DO WE BEGIN?
Rosie Dillion ‘22, a 2021 Jean Donovan Fellow in the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, offers an important message in her video as we take the first steps of our collective journey. She reminds us that before we can begin we must ask, “Who am I?” In examining our internal sense of self, shaped by our positionality, we are called to further reflect on the baggage we all carry through life. Only in understanding how privilege or oppression shape our worldview and experiences, and those of others, can we meaningfully begin our journey towards a more just world.
This pilgrimage of transformation begins not only with our internal dispositions, but also in the geographic realities that structure our home here at Santa Clara, in Silicon Valley, and beyond. As Willie James Jennings makes clear in a recent interview, justice and wholeness are fundamentally tied to place and the way we structure and inhabit those places. He asks if we see how we are “born into the long story of land takeover and land seizure that continues with the configuration of neighborhoods that keep certain people in and push other people out?” For “we have to understand that all of our efforts at changing the social fabric of this country must begin with changing the geographic fabric.”
Reflecting on our social positionality and our physical locations, the places where we start this shared pilgrimage of justice, matters a great deal as we journey together. Just as it mattered for Ignatius in his pilgrimage from a “punkish swordsman” to the founder of an order which built institutions like Santa Clara that seek to transform the world into a more just and humane place.
IMAGE FOR REFLECTION | Azpeitia Loiola
- As you gaze upon this painting of Ignatius' childhood home in Loyola, what feelings arise in you?
- Ignatius had a very complicated childhood, marked by both tragedy and privilege. He carried this "invisible baggage" with him the rest of his life, even after he gave up everything he owned. What is some of the "invisible baggage" you carry with you even to this day?
- How does your "invisible baggage" impact the way you show up for a more inclusive form of justice
NOVEMBER 1,2021 | A PILGRIMAGE OF INCLUSIVE JUSTICE
The pilgrimage of St. Ignatius is the inspiration for our Mission Monday series this year. Our collective journey is rooted not only in the history of Ignatius' cannonball moment and his trek from Loyola to Manresa, but also in our own need to travel towards a more just and inclusive world. Each stop along our pilgrimage over the course of the next eight months will correspond to a location along St. Ignatius' journey 500 years ago.
While not losing sight of our ultimate goal of inclusive justice, our pilgrimage will be centered around the vision and inspiration that emerges from within our community in each month’s video reflection. Our shared trek will allow us the chance to pause and examine the sites within our own place and time where we need to focus our attention and care. We hope the varied moments of contemplation and discernment allow us to continue the ongoing work of inclusive justice with new insights and broadened horizons.
As we embark on our communal journey, we should proceed as Tony Cortese, Program Director for Ignatian Spirituality in the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, exemplifies in his video reflection: with the mindset of a pilgrim, ready to accept what comes with open minds and hearts. At each stop along our pilgrimage we will share: a short video from a member of the SCU community; an image or work of art to invite reflection; and a few resources related to each month's theme.
Welcome to our Ignatian year pilgrimage.
Renewing the Earth: Living Laudato Si' in the Year of Ignatius
The Office of Justice and Ecology of the Jesuit Conference and the Ignatian Solidarity Network invite you to explore themes from the life of St. Ignatius and the gospel in conjunction with ecological themes from Laudato Si each month throughout the Ignatian Year as we learn, pray, and act to renew the earth.
From Swords to Shoes: Encountering Grace on the Camino Ignaciano
This article by Hung Pham SJ and Kathryn R. Barush from the Jesuit School of Theology on their pilgrimage with a group of students following in Ignatius' footsteps is described as a "A visual travelogue describing our journey and some of the graces we received with a focus on four sacred sites: Loyola, Arantzazu, Montserrat, and Manresa."
Jesuits Global: The Ignatian Year
This website includes reflections, links, and resources to learn more about St. Ignatius and the Ignatian Year from across the Jesuit network.
- As you gaze upon this image of Ignatius' well-worn shoes, what sort of feelings arise in you?
- What do you think is the difference between living life like a tourist and living life like a pilgrim?
- In the spirit of St. Ignatius, what would it mean for you to live your life more as a pilgrim than as a tourist?
The mission of any institution is not defined simply by a set of texts or ideas that exist outside and independent from the community that comprises the organization. Emerging from the experiences, knowledge, and passions of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community partners, the mission of Santa Clara University blends the Jesuit, Catholic tradition with our particular community and context. This month, as we restart the Mission Monday series, we are excited to focus on our own institutional efforts to put into action a mission inspired by the Jesuit roots of our community and activated by all of us on a daily basis.
The 2020-2021 Bannan Mission Integration grants outlined below speak to a range of issues that are of importance both to the charge of any Jesuit, Catholic institution of higher education and to our wider community in particular. They are rooted in our context as a university committed to meaningful reflection and action. We are a community striving to become an anti-racist institution. We seek to fully incorporate the experiences of all residents of the Santa Clara Valley: from indigenous voices; to those of our students, faculty, and staff; and community members marginalized in the context of rising housing costs. We also recognize our relationship to the global migration and refugee crises that call out for greater understanding and more humane responses. Across all the projects there is an underlying desire to support the flourishing in mind, body, and spirit of our local and global community as a fundamental representation of Santa Clara’s mission.
We are called by the examples that follow to find our way of living out the broad and inclusive mission of justice and community that inspires our institution. If we are to make the world a more just, humane, and sustainable place, we must do so out of our own passions, talents, experiences, and effort.
Emotion, mystery, wonder, and beauty serve an important role in Jesuit education and Ignatian spirituality, both in fostering the conditions for human flourishing and in creating the conditions for the education of the whole person. In the featured essay for this week, Thomas Lucas, SJ brings our attention to the insight of Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins who reminds us, “that beauty, as expressed in art or in the elegance of a quadratic equation or a DNA helix or the sunrise, opens the heart to the deepest levels of our human experience: to ask the profound questions about meaning, value, goodness, dignity, and, ultimately, hope.”
The arts have been critical to Ignatian pedagogy from the very beginning. The Jesuit educational tradition, with its focus on actively engaging with and creating works of art, has consistently held that knowledge is not simply generated through reason alone. Diverse ways of knowing are required in our mission to develop well-rounded and transformative students. The visual and performing arts allow our students to understand new perspectives, grapple with difficult realities, and to move beyond narrow ways of seeing the world.
As Aldo Billingslea argues in today’s video, the arts allow us to relate to the world beyond ourselves from a variety of vantage points and another person's point of view. The shifting perspectives we experience through the arts allows our students to better engage and transform the world.
Our current moment is the perfect time to celebrate, experience, and listen to diverse ways of knowing and understanding the world. Doing so will help broaden our own engagement with reality as it is; with all its difficulty, complexity, and, even in the face of great injustice, its beauty and joy. Active engagement with the arts among students, staff, and faculty is fundamental to our claims to be a Jesuit university. Without the emotions, questions, and new perspectives they generate, we would be incapable of beholding the full mystery, joy, and beauty of our world.
The Spiritual Exercises and Art
Igniting Imagination Through the Arts | Connections, Jan 2020
Celebrating the Arts on Jesuit Campuses | Connections, Dec 2015
The Artistry of God | Peter Knott, SJ, Thinking Faith
How the First Jesuits Became Involved in Education | John O’Malley, SJ
As we prepare for tomorrow and the conclusion of the 2020 election season, we thought this was an important time to reflect on discernment in the Ignatian tradition. Grounded in St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises the process of discernment is about paying attention to one’s inner movements and emotions to be drawn closer to feelings of consolation.
As Fr. Andrew Rodriquez discusses in this week’s video, the process of discernment is about finding a greater freedom in our lives. A freedom that allows us to liberate ourselves from attachments and to choose the path that best aligns with a call to kindness, mercy, compassion, and generosity. For Christians, this is a call to align oneself with the example of Jesus’ life and message, but regardless of your spiritual or intellectual tradition it is a call to make choices, big and small, that serve the common good.
When we understand ourselves to be part of something greater than our own individual concerns and attachments, then we can begin to think about the way our choices connect to the wider community. In the reading for this week from Conversations Magazine, Stephanie Ann Y. Puen, examines the importance of looking outside of ourselves. In doing so, one might ask, “Is the community moving toward peace or toward disquiet? And what do these movements reveal about the situation of the community and its urgent needs? Communal discernment thus entails being able to have an honest conversation about how these movements are affecting both individuals and the community, probing their deeper meaning, whether positive or negative.”
Tomorrow’s national election will not be the end of our communal or individual discernment as we deal with our contemporary realities, but it is an important moment for us to reflect on how we make decisions, what values we try to align ourselves with, and what attachments keep us from taking the path that offers us consolation and brings about reconciliation in a broken world.
Fr. Andrew Rodriquez
On Communal Discernment and the Voting Booth
Contemplation & Political Action: An Ignatian Guide to Civic Engagement
The Jesuits reflect on our Gospel call to promote the common good in the public square
Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education's Election 2020 Coverage
Voting is an Act of Love
Ignatian Solidarity Network
Election 2020: Jesuit Schools Get Out the Vote
Connections Magazine, Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities
Buffeted by numerous challenges, injustices, and looming crises we are called to imagine a more just, humane, and sustainable world. To bring about this new world will require leadership across our institution and society, a role each of us can inhabit regardless of our particular title or unit. In living out Santa Clara’s mission of innovation and leadership, the Ignatian tradition offers important opportunities for us to think about what inclusive and transformative leadership looks like.
Whether it is as an individual or an institution, how we orient ourselves in relation to those around us is critical to innovative leadership. As Chris Lowney suggests, we have to see everyday as an opportunity to search for something more and something greater through the lens of our personal mission and values. In the Ignatian tradition, and many others, this mission cannot be in service of personal desires and attachments, but animated by the common good. Lowney’s words mesh with Professor Jennifer Woolley’s call to take the time to exercise our spiritual muscles and to reflect on our values as we seek to be more innovative leaders. Ignatian spirituality offers a number of practices that lead us through this process of discernment that will allow us to act from a firm foundation in a world that is often in flux.
If we individually and communally take the time to reflect upon and define our core values, we will be prepared to lead quickly and decisively when these daily opportunities for leadership emerge. We will be prepared to lead in this moment not in service of a return to “normalcy,” but to an innovative vision of a new more inclusive, fulfilling, and loving world.
A Closer Look at the Four Pillars of Heroic Leadership
Making Good Decisions
A collection of resources to help leaders make good choices and practices of discernment rooted in Ignatian spirituality
Ignatian Leadership Resources
Information on communal discernment, leadership-focused Examens, and other useful content from Jesuit Resource
What is Ignatian Leadership
Additional reading by Sarah Broscombe
The pressures of our current moment can often feel overwhelming and debilitating. Through the Ignatian ideal of cura personalis and tools within the Ignatian spiritual tradition, we can respond to these pressures and recognize the importance of mental health and well-being within our mission. For centuries the spiritual practices and ideals developed by St. Ignatius, and continually adapted by Jesuits and non-Jesuits alike, have offered practitioners a path to consolation.
This week Tom Plante, the Augustin Cardinal Bea, SJ University Professor in the Department of Psychology, offers us a short video reflection on the aspects of Ignatian spirituality that can benefit all of us regardless of our faith or spiritual background. This week’s reading examines an effort to integrate well-being and mental health into the curriculum at Georgetown through the Engelhard Project for Connecting Life and Learning. This project is a wonderful example of collaboration between Georgetown faculty and staff to address the well-being of students inspired by the ideal of cura personalis.
In the week ahead, try to create a space to focus on your own well-being. I hope that Ignatian spirituality can enhance that creative process, but no matter which practices speak to you, my wish is that you make time to care for your whole self in mind, body, and spirit. Care for ourselves and those around us is central to our mission, and I hope that the resources and reflections this week inspire us to recognize the importance of deepening those practices that enhance our individual and communal well-being.
Coping with Covid-19 and Distancing
American Psychological Association's Covid-19 Resources
St. Ignatius as Psychotherapist
Dr. Plante's article on how Jesuit spirituality and wisdom can enhance psychotherapy
Campus Wellness Resources
Wellness resources for SCU Faculty and Staff
At a moment that calls out for new ways of thinking to ensure the flourishing of all humanity, we can respond by formulating new questions and reexamining prevailing answers to existing questions. In “The Catholic University as a Pluralistic Forum,” the Jesuit theologian (and former Bea Professor of Theology at SCU) Michael Buckely argued that, among other things, the questions given the highest priority and “the spirit that pervades the academic life of interchange” give a university its particular character. For a Jesuit university inspired by the Catholic intellectual tradition, those questions necessarily center on what it means to be fully human and how we create a world where all of humanity is able to flourish in mind, body, and spirit.
This week we are sharing a short video from Boston College featuring Vincent Rougeau, Dean of Boston College Law School, on the Catholic intellectual tradition and the questions it raises in the study of the law and across our own disciplines and areas of expertise. The reading this week also comes to us from Boston College and offers an accessible way to begin an exploration of the Catholic Intellectual tradition in a Jesuit context.
As Fr. Buckley argued, the Catholic intellectual tradition requires us to ask difficult questions, seek answers through a diverse and inclusive range of voices, and to engage in discussion with conviction and a collaborative spirit. A pluralistic forum like Santa Clara will have moments of disagreement, but ultimately that is what makes it a Jesuit, Catholic university. For, despite our disagreement, we are all united and inspired by a mission of unbridled inquiry in the search for a more humane, just, and sustainable world.
Law of Social Justice
The Catholic Intellectual Tradition: A Conversation at Boston College
We often hear that Jesuit education is different and that our values call for higher standards and distinctive measures of excellence. While many of us might be familiar with the core terms often used to express this difference (e.g. cura personalis; magis; or contemplatives in action), it is important from time-to-time to return to the meaning and source of these ideals.
This week we are sharing an article from a group of faculty and staff at Regis University who sought to reexamine and reengage the core values of Jesuit education. In examining the roots of Jesuit education, they sought to not just understand them, but also to find ways of faithfully applying them at their institution. As we seek to redefine our work and teaching in order to respond to a global pandemic and our commitment to bring about a more just and humane society, especially as it relates to racial justice, we hope that this article offers a vision of how the centuries of Jesuit education and its values offer us a solid foundation as we move forward.
Juan Velasco, Professor in the Department of English, offers a reflection on the ideal of a community of “contemplatives in action” in the video this week. Of all the values highlighted in the article, the call to reflect and pray to bring fullness to our actions is particularly appropriate for our current moment. We cannot retreat into contemplation alone, nor act without prior discernment, if we wish to see Jesuit education transforming students and the world for another 450 years.
Revisiting the Promise and Foundations of a Jesuit Education
Do You Speak Ignatian?
A glossary of Ignatian and Jesuit terms
Conversations On Jesuit Higher Education
A magazine exploring a variety of topics through the lens of Jesuit higher education
AJCU Resources Page
A range of organizations, publications, and collections of sources relating to Jesuit higher education and Ignatian Spirituality
The values that underpin our mission emerge from a spirituality that challenges us to deconstruct systems of oppression, exploitation, and dehumanization. Many of us, myself included, have failed to fully commit to making the necessary sacrifices to answer this call to transformative action. If we had, we would not still be seeing women and men of color murdered in the street, in their homes, or while simply out on a run.
To decenter whiteness and eradicate the plague of white supremacy, we should heed the call of St. Ignatius of Loyola to cultivate our critical awareness, take responsibility for meaningful transformation, and commit ourselves to action. Our mission calls all of us, and in this moment especially those who benefit from white privilege, to be countercultural and revolutionary in our relationship to the existing reality.
As the theologian Monika Hellwig reminded us, by the criteria of Ignatian spirituality “radical change is not only possible but necessary, not only to be wished for but to be worked for in practical ways, not only to be an option for the remote future but a challenge in our present.”
If all we do in our work and life simply perpetuates the status quo and fails to challenge prevailing norms, then we have failed to meet the basic criteria of our institutional mission.
The reading this week from Fordham professor Bryan Massingale outlines the pervasive, wilful ignorance of the realities of racial injustice, particularly among white Americans, and the ways that our mission can guide our efforts to create meaningful change.
We must stand in solidarity while we actively work to change ourselves and our current reality.
The Ignatian Witness to Truth in a Climate of Injustice
Santa Clara University Racial Justice Resources
An evolving collection of resources to facilitate learning, taking action, and ways to stand in solidarity from the Santa Clara community
Ignatian Solidarity Network Racial Justice Resources
A constantly updated collection of Igantian and Catholic resources on racial justice
The centrality of the health of our common home to the mission of all Jesuit institutions was reinforced through two recent developments, the publication of Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis in 2015 and Fr. General Arturo Sosa’s announcement of the Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs) in 2019. As part of the UAPs, caring for our common home is one of the four areas where the Society of Jesus would like for Jesuit institutions to direct their focus for the next decade, and beyond.
Santa Clara adopted its first institutional commitment to sustainability in 2004 and since that time has become a leader within the Jesuit network on issues around sustainability and environmental justice. By actively engaging in the realities of environmental degradation and climate change, especially its impact on marginalized communities, work across the Jesuit network, and here at SCU, is opening opportunities to reconcile humanity with our natural environment.
The reading this week explores:
- the importance of Laudato Si’ and sustainability to Jesuit higher education
- the value of transdisciplinary work to addressing sustainability in higher education
- the ways that sustainability can be integrated with Igantian pedagogy to educate our students to be transformative and resilient global citizens
Katharine Rondthaler, Manager of the Forge Garden, offers a reflection this week on the ways that we are using resources like The Forge Garden to integrate sustainability into our curriculum and to activate our mission across the university.
In the midst of Laudato Si’ Week, we are called to reflect on how we can embrace and activate our mission to care for our common home.
Care for Our Common Home
Ignatian Pedagogy for Sustainability
Ignatian spirituality is a rich and deep tradition that offers a myriad of practices not just for Catholics but for everyone, regardless of their background and beliefs. The Examen is a perfect example of the accessibility of the Ignatian tradition: St. Ignatius continues to speak across the centuries to the contemporary world. Calling us to look back through our day, the Examen allows us time to pause and reflect on moments of joy and struggle as we seek to discern what Christians call the movements of the Spirit within us.
In looking for moments of gratitude, in exploring our inner movements, and in seeking to bring the lessons of one day to the next, we are able to ground ourselves in our experiences and feelings so that we may flourish in mind, body, and spirit. The Examen invites us to connect our values with our actions with greater intention. In this period of crisis when it seems as if so much is beyond our control, this moment of prayer and reflection offers respite and an opportunity to more fully live out our mission with each new day.
Rummaging for God: Praying Backwards through Your Day
Examen Resource Guide - includes multiple topical and daily versions for all people regardless of their religious or spiritual tradition.
The mission of any institution is always important to its vitality and its role in the wider world. In times of crisis a deep engagement with mission becomes essential as it drives members of an institution respond to challenges and make difficult decisions. In our current context of working from home and sheltering in place, it also serves an important role in binding us together in spite of our physical distance.
This new weekly email is meant to serve as an opportunity to connect with and celebrate the mission that unites an opinion rich environment such as ours. Each week will offer a short reading or other content, a few reflection questions, and periodically we will have a brief reflection video from a member of the Santa Clara community.
Dorian Llywelyn, SJ
The American Jesuit University: A Source of Reconciliation
- What do I contribute to the blessings of our “opinion rich environment” and to building a rich internal culture?
- Where am I likely to react based on mistrust and resentment?
- How do I react with real openness in these situations rather than by “circling the wagons”?
- How do I define reconciliation and its place in the mission of our university?
- How can I direct my work towards reconciliation within our university environment and beyond it?
- What partners, especially new, can I reach out to as I answer this call in the service of reconciliation?