Our Way of Proceeding

List of 5 news stories.

  • Intellectually Ambitious

    Brian Marana
    In 1524, St. Ignatius of Loyola went back to grammar school to study Latin.  He was 33.
    I wonder what his childhood friends – perhaps fellow noblemen who had fought in battle alongside him—might have said to Ignatius (then known as Iñigo).  I imagine them saying something like:
     
    “Iñigo, what are you doing?  If you don’t know Latin by now, you’re not going to get it. You’re a warrior, not a linguist, and you’re too old to be in school.  You’ll be sitting next to kids who are half your age!  Oh and have you forgotten that you’re already rich and powerful? A diploma is not going to help you get ahead in life…”
     
    To understand why Ignatius chose this countercultural path, it’s helpful to examine one of Loyola’s six grad at grad goals, which is the trait of being intellectually ambitious.  A line from Loyola’s mission statement explains:
     
    “The Loyola Blakefield graduate respects his intelligence as God’s gift, understanding its ultimate use is in the search for truth in the service of God and others.”
     
    Ignatius understood that his intellect was a gift that could be cultivated. He had what is now referred to as a growth mindset.  Recently popularized by the psychologist Carol Dweck, a growth mindset is a way of thinking that views intelligence as something that can grow and develop.  While he may have been more naturally gifted at military combat, Ignatius realized that with effort and patience, he could learn Latin.
     
    Ignatius also realized that we’re never too old to learn.  While he may have been significantly older than his grammar school classmates, he saw that there is no age limit to the search for truth.  Furthermore, since it’s impossible to learn all the truth that’s out there, learning is a life-long process.

    Finally, Ignatius sought to learn Latin not for his own merit or honor, but so that he could be a more effective servant to God and to others. He used his education to minister to others as a priest, to establish the Society of Jesus, and to encourage his companions working around the world.  Ignatius wrote over 7,000 letters in his lifetime, many of them in Latin.

    As we seek to cultivate intellectual ambition here at Loyola, let’s keep in mind the lessons of St. Ignatius.  Let’s remember that we can always improve upon our intellectual gifts, regardless of our natural talent (or lack thereof).  Let’s remember that intellectual ambition isn’t about reaching a grade, but about reaching for infinite, inexhaustible truths.  Most importantly, let’s remember that our intellectual endeavors are not meant to put ourselves ahead of others; they’re meant to put ourselves at the service of others and at the service of God.
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  • Religious

    Elizabeth Wise
    The Loyola Blakefield graduate understands that being fully human requires an active relationship with God. . .
     
    Perhaps this is the only grad at grad goal that for each of us is a matter of life or death (to get a little dramatic) – the one that asks you to accept the challenge of being fully human rather than merely alive. To be fully human, the goal states, requires an active relationship with God – to be in a word – religious – the words comes from the Latin religare which means to bind or fasten tight. Religion continually reminds us that God is present for us and for every one in every moment of time and in every place. If we are religious, we make a conscious choice to live in an awareness of that presence and be in relationship – to bind ourselves to God and by extension of his love, to one another. We can choose also to separate from God but as Saint Augustine said, who was once like you, an intelligent and passionate young man searching for a fully human life, “our hearts find no peace until they rest in you.”

    I bet if I asked you to, it wouldn’t take you long to think of something either at school or at home or in our country or the world that you feel very strongly is not right – that’s broken or painful. This is a sign that God is present, not absent! This awareness that you have is part of the truest part of you and you can use it to build a relationship with God and others. That is precisely what Martin Luther King Jr. did, and that loving response to the world’s brokenness is something that the communion of saints shares. I would very much encourage you to learn about some of the saints. They can be real companions in your journey of faith.

    While powerful, these moments of revelation are not enough to sustain an “active relationship” with God over a lifetime. The grad at grad goal states that faith is to explored through prayer and actions. Prayer doesn’t have to be reciting prayers you know by heart or kneeling down beside your bed at night (although it certainly can be) – prayer is an attitude of awareness that permeates everything you say and do.  An athlete does not become physically strong if he doesn’t get enough sleep, eat healthily, and train his muscles. Prayer is the way a person of faith learns about God and grows spiritually.  For a Christian that means reading or listening to the scriptures regularly and offering up petitions to God for people in need and in gratitude for blessings received; ideally this is done both privately and corporately at Mass or worship. Just as often, it should involve stillness and silence – the place where God recognizes that you are listening. While there are certain exercises an athlete must do to train particular muscles, prayer is more open. You will need to find a way to pray that feels right to you – and there is no one right way to pray. But pray we must.

    Your own awareness of God and the response you make to it will come to define the uniqueness of your fully human life, a life that God has never experienced before you were born and will never be repeated in all of creation. What a treasure the world has been given in you. God bless you.
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  • The Graduate at Graduation

    Brendan O'Kane
    Loyola Blakefield, a Catholic, college preparatory school, established by the Jesuits and imbued with the spirit of Ignatius Loyola, forms men to serve with and for others. The Loyola student is preparing to graduate as a man of integrity, who, because he strives “to find God in all things,” is open to growth, intellectually ambitious, religious, loving, and committed to diversity and doing justice.

    On our sixth-grade retreat often students are asked, “Who can name our graduate at graduation goals?” Even though it’s in the beginning of the year, they are usually able to name four or five of them. The challenge for our Dons is that by the time they are seniors, they can not only name all the traits, but that they are living them or are on their way to doing so.

    The language that describes the different graduate at graduation goals, part of our mission statement and more commonly known as the grad at grad, contains a blueprint for our Dons as they build their legacy. These words also speak to us – faculty and staff, parents and guardians, trustees and alumni.

    Let’s look at one of them:
    Open to Growth

    The Loyola Blakefield graduate accepts the obligation to develop his talents, and to grow emotionally, socially, physically, and spiritually, as well as intellectually. He seeks opportunities to stretch his mind and imagination, and to develop spiritual values.
     
    The word obligation has always challenged me. I think it’s because it reminds me of Luke 21:1-4 where the poor widow gave all she had. This type of radical response can be inspired by the recognition of the love God has for us and the blessings bestowed on us. When our students realize they are at Loyola Blakefied, that they deserve to be here and are capable of great things – they can embrace this noble obligation which is also an invitation to something more.

    Being open to growth is less about growth in popularity and more about growth leading to a life of compassionate service of others. Growth that leads to getting outside of comfort zones and striving for lofty goals.

    Being open to growth is important to our thriving as children of God. Whether it’s building homes on a service trip or building friendships with classmates, or better relationships with colleagues and family members, when it comes to building the kingdom of God, there will always be work to be done and room to grow.
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  • Leaving the Upper Room

    Brendan O'Kane
    Forgiveness and the benefit of the doubt – these are not the easiest ways of proceeding. As members of an Ignatian community, we are called to a challenging and transformational mission. One exemplified in the invitation at Pentecost.
    In John 20, we hear about the fearful disciples who retreated to the upper room. Jesus comes to them, and with the Holy Spirit, sets them free through his invitation.

    Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
    When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
    “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”


    In the opening of the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius writes on the presupposition of good will.
    In order that both he who is giving the Spiritual Exercises, and he who is receiving them, may more help and benefit themselves, let it be presupposed that every good Christian is to be more ready to save his neighbor's proposition than to condemn it. If he cannot save it, let him inquire how he means it; and if he means it badly, let him correct him with charity. If that is not enough, let him seek all the suitable means to bring him to mean it well, and save himself.

    Today we are tempted to condemn, ostracize and exclude. Jesus and Ignatius both knew this was a futile way to proceed. With forgiveness as the first invitation to the disciples, we are challenged, just as they were, to live this mission, illustrated in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi,

    for it is in giving that we receive,
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

    Ignatius, in the Principle and Foundation from the Exercises, reminds us –

    Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this to save their souls.

    The path to salvation begins with forgiveness. It is difficult, but clear and requires us to embrace the life breathed into us by God (Genesis 2:7) and the invitation breathed on us by Jesus with the Holy Spirit. (John 20:22)
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  • Spending the Summer with God

    Brendan O'Kane, Director of Ignatian Mission and Identity
    Jose Ignacio Tellechea Idigoras wrote a biography of St. Ignatius, titled Solo y a pie (Alone and on Foot) and an abridgment was published by Brian Grogan - I’ve always been struck by that title and after learning more about Ignatius, the title is both accurate and fitting. He spent great lengths of time walking and hiking in solitude. Alone on the bank of the Cardoner River, near the village of Manresa in northern Spain, was one time where he obtained great clarity, a new understanding of his life with God.
     
    With school ending for the year, we might find ourselves with opportunities for solitude this summer. One way to spend the summer with God, heeding the words of Ignatius in a letter he wrote to the entire Society of Jesus, is upon the conclusion of each day - unpack the day in prayer,
     
    Having to report about what one is doing from day to day can serve as a stimulus for being more alert to doing something that can be written about.
     
    This can certainly be done in community with family or friends as well, but the main point is that each day is noteworthy and full of blessings. When we check-in with God we become more aware of the opportunity each new day brings. This summer might not bring a moment of clarity like the one experienced by Ignatius, however, if we make space and embrace opportunities for silence and solitude we can find ourselves in good company, with our God.
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