Monthly Archives: October 2010

Holding Stock in God: The Ultimate Security

by Stephen Dynako, IPS Student

I attended Loyola University Chicago as an undergraduate from 1984-1989, majoring in communication. In addition to hosting the mid-day shift at Loyola’s WLUW radio station (which was then a top-40 station, nicknamed “Hitline 88-7 FM, if you can believe it.), I worked at a couple of commercial radio stations in Chicago. Immediately upon earning my degree, I ventured out into the corporate world, where I have worked for the past 22 years.

During most of my tenure in corporate America, I did not contemplate the presence of God with me in the midst of the deadlines, narcissistic personalities, variously inspirational and incompetent managers, celebrating the successes of closing the big deals, and lamenting the ones that slipped through our fingers. Don’t misunderstand me: If it seems I am putting it down, on the contrary, I have loved most every minute in working in “the business,” dysfunction and all.

In 2001, I had my own business – a small technology consulting practice, which I founded in 1993. The beginning of the end of that business occurred when the United States suffered through 9/11. In closing my business, I was compelled to seek a paying job elsewhere and entered the banking industry, where I continue to work full time while attending IPS. My dark night of the soul was the time in between shutting the business and finding the new job, which did not come quickly. It was during this time that I turned to faith in something greater than myself to encourage and strengthen me and ultimately to provide for me. (more…)

IPS Thomas O'Meara The Ministry of the Pope Photos

THE MINISTRY OF THE POPE: Crisis and Renewal

A Presentation by Thomas O’Meara, O.P. at Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Pastoral Studies, October 21, 2010.

Renowned theologian and Rahner scholar, Thomas O’Meara, takes a prophetic look at the ministry of the Bishop of Rome and at how that ministry has changed over time, particularly in recent centuries.

A sketch of underlying theological and political causes of the turmoil surrounding the papacy today will be followed by possible directions which renewal might take.

Who Inspires You? Brett Hoover


by Beth Orchard, IPS Social Justice


“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
Before you were born I set you apart…”
-Jeremiah 1:5[i]

The word ‘sankofa’ comes from West Africa. Literally translated from the original language it means, ‘it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot.’[ii] Essentially, what was left behind can be recovered, and what was lost can be found. This can also refer to how we review our pasts to inform our present and engage the future. ‘Sankofa’ also means there is always room to collect the ways and being which might have been forgotten to create a new mosaic composed of the old and the new.

It is easier to think of people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Gandhi and others as visionaries than it is to consider the same about ourselves. Although we herald them as modern day saints, each of these great leaders crafted their work over a number of years based on a vision.  This vision guided them towards the work they would do later in life and perhaps even adapted and changed over time as they looked back to bring the past into the present and future works they hoped to accomplish.

The question of ‘sankofa’ for me is ‘where have I been, where am I now, and to where am I going?’ Each day as I wake up, I quietly contemplate how great leaders craft their vision one day at a time, piece by piece. It is a great puzzle to look back and see pieces of myself and realize I can mold those into a newer, wiser, and greater vision of who I hope to be in the future.

I felt for the longest time before I began exploring faith, that I was a person without a name; just another person trying to create a life that made sense. As I began reading about visionaries, leaders and prophets like Jesus, I quickly realized that leaders are not born with vision. Vision is something which develops, is molded and shaped by our collective experiences. As I came to faith and developed a new vision and identity for myself, I realized I had not lost any of the insight or experiences I had previously. They merely became a part of a greater whole that God created me for. (more…)

Win “4” Eternity

Win “4” Eternity | Lake City Football

by Deacon Jim Siler, IPS MDiv student

“4” the Lake City Football program, winning has become so much more than just winning football games and winning the Highland Conference and State Championship. When one looks deeply in the eyes of these young men and the coaching staff “4” the weeks following the loss of their teammate it is to truly witness a spirit that goes beyond their physical presence and makes any and all of these team goals a real and optimistic reality. The tragic loss of teammate and friend Zach Peery #”4” on the morning of July 13th has “4” ever changed the purpose, drive and motivation of the football program, the entire Lake City School student body, faculty, staff, the community of Lake City and beyond.

At Zach’s funeral in my message I said, “The pathway of faith has divine purpose, and we’re to obey, no matter what. But even when God’s direction is perplexing, we can count on the fact that if God allows something to happen he will make good come from it. Walking obediently with Christ doesn’t guarantee an easy life, which is obvious when we consider what we are facing today.”  One reality has already taken place in the Lake City Football Program. I have had the opportunity to experience first hand “4” the last few weeks the fire of the Holy Spirit in Coach Peterson, his coaching staff and the entire squad from the “4” year seniors down to the first year freshmen. They have given a new meaning to the reality of hard work and determination in the face of such real and painful circumstances.

I shared with the team after their final two a day practice sessions my appreciation to them by their example “4” helping me to strengthen the resolve of this entire community to live the “Gospel.” This is truly the purpose of our being created and the reality of how Zach Peery lived in his short but fruitful life. Like the principles in winning at football we must fight the good fight, keep running the race and never give up! We must daily pick up our cross, put on the armor of Christ and finish the race despite the pain and agony! (more…)

Drones on Trial: Narrowing the Gap Between Law and Justice

by Jerica Arents, M.A. Social Justice

I received an education Thursday.

I wasn’t in a classroom. I wasn’t laboring over a paper, strategizing in a small group, poring over a textbook or hustling across campus. I was sitting as a spectator in the front row of Judge Jansen’s courtroom in Clark County, Nevada.

Fourteen peace activists were on trial for trying to hand-deliver a letter to the base commander at Creech Air Force Base in April of 2009. Their letter laid out concerns about usage of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, for surveillance and combat purposes in Afghanistan. The Creech 14 believe that the usage of remote aerial vehicles to hunt down and kill people in other lands amounts to targeted assassination and is prohibited by international and U.S. law. Soldiers carrying M16s stopped them after they had walked past the guardhouse at the base entrance and a few hours later Nevada state troopers handcuffed the Creech 14 and took them into custody.

The next day, they were charged with trespassing on a military facility and released. The charges were later dropped, then reinstated. Defendants, upon learning of a September 14, 2010 court date, had ten months to plan for their trial. They decided to represent themselves pro se and to call, as expert witnesses, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Colonel Ann Wright and Professor Bill Quigley, the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. What were the chances that a Las Vegas court that normally handles traffic violations and minor offenses would admit three expert witnesses to testify on behalf of defendants charged with a simple trespass? Slim to zero in the view of most observers. (more…)

Under Pressure

by Maggie Hendrix, IPS Student, Religious Education

This video has been making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter in the past 24-36 hours. Comedian Michael Ian Black posted it to his website, commenting, “This is the most awesome and depressing thing I’ve seen in quite a while … Watch the guy’s body language as he’s doing this. I say this in all sincerity: this country has to get its s–t together.”

It’s funny how often we walk by the homeless and don’t bat an eye, but when they put on a show with puppets, we are moved. I’m no better. I found myself bawling after watching this video, but I’ve grown numb to the homeless that I see so often in Chicago.

It’s not about reaching into our pocket and handing over cash every time we see a homeless person. If you can, great. But there are things that cost nothing, but still fall into Jesus’s command to love. Dignity doesn’t cost a penny. Recognizing the humanity in the homeless with a smile or a kind word doesn’t require you to open your wallet. Friendship, too. Maybe it won’t be as filling as a turkey sandwich, but it’s a start.

In the book “Jesus Before Christianity,” Albert Nolan, O.P. examines Christ’s choices, and what they should mean to us. Nolan posits that Christ empowered those around him not by handing over money, but by treating everyone as his equal. He washed the feet of his friends. He touched lepers. He stood up for the sinning woman. He saw the dignity in every person he met, and treated them accordingly.

Perhaps Jesus would have seen the same beauty in this video that the internet has. Our call as followers of Christ is to not just be moved, but act in the same way Christ would have.

Attending To Our Restlessness

by Ryan Hoffmann, IPS Enrollment Advisor

When you visit a bookstore what section do you gravitate towards?

Fiction? History? Religion? Travel?

Where do you find yourself? What is it you enjoy discovering – that which you just can’t get enough? That which you can’t can’t not do?

While we all attend to our deepest desires and callings differently, there exist manifestations of where we lean in the everyday all around us.  What topics catch our attention? What issues or topics beg for expression in and through our work? What is it we dream about? Underneath the “have to’s,” what is it I want to do with this one life?

These may be helpful prompts.

  • What are 5 things you used to enjoy doing?
  • What are 5 silly things you would like to try once?
  • What are 5 things you personally would never do that sound fun?

As the Enrollment Advisor at the Institute of Pastoral Studies (IPS) I’ve assisted prospective students who want to delve deeper into theology and ministry and sort out these types of questions.  Many speak of a restlessness, a burning feeling nudging them to explore where their “life trajectory” may be pointed.  To be sure, feelings of anxiety and fear abound.  If living into the depth of our questions, and trusting that something is out there calling me beyond myself were easy, it wouldn’t need attention or inner accompaniment.  Instead, we set out on a journey, like many before us, in search of meaning and purpose.

For those currently discerning a restlessness – something tugging and pulling and nudging – often times exploring who we are in community is helpful.  Seeing, hearing, touching, and just sensing in a supportive environment can “break through” the noise and confusion of what is lurking beneath.  At IPS we encourage those reflecting on ministry and theology, and a calling to work in these fields, to participate in an open house to “fill in” whether or not this is where your restlessness points.  It may.  It may not.  What’s important is gauging whether our questions are affirmed, perhaps even being able to acknowledge or identify a sense of consolation.  If the opposite happens you’ve discovered a lot about yourself, too. (more…)

Living a Non-Violent Life

by Beth Orchard, IPS Student, Social Justice

Ahimsa, or an expression of deep love and abstinence from causing pain or harm to others or self, was a large part of Gandhi’s practice. In his view, we must not punish those who do harm, but help them understand the injustice and transform them through love. Satyagraha was a large part of his movement for non-violence and simply means truth power, or the way of truth which brings us closer to what Martin Luther King, Jr. called the ‘beloved community.’

I think of this when I reflect back on a discussion we had in our Social Justice Leadership class about ‘living a non-violent life.’ I think ahimsa can be self-reflective of our love and tendency to cause ourselves harm or pain through our actions. When we are not mindful of what we say or how we act, the repercussions can be great not only for those around us, but ourselves as well.

Something that is difficult about living a life of non-violence is to commit with all one’s heart. It is not something that a person can only commit to half-heartedly, nor is it something which another person, say a partner, can just join alongside. It is a full commitment from both partners, or from a community as a whole, in order to be fully effective. Gandhi would never have achieved the success he did with his movement if nobody else believed in what he preached. Because he lived it, and it was a part of who he was, others also started to see how that could positively impact themselves and the world around them. This was his most powerful legacy.

Henry Nouwen wrote a book called ‘the Wounded Healer’ and spoke about how we must crucify ourselves in order to be like Christ. This sacrificial love is lived out in the life we lead of taking care of ourselves, and letting God be present within us. To live a life as fully and as loving as Christ was requires more than compassion, it requires releasing ourselves of all obligations to heal our own wounds and allow others to come alongside us in community to help each other repair the wounds the world bestows on us so we can thus go on to help heal others.

My life is about more than simply being present in the moment with those I’m in service to, it is about a lived experience of being a part of their existential crisis of faith, of despair, of lost hope and opportunity. It’s realizing the blessings we’ve been given in the midst of someone else’s loss. It is about carrying the cross and burden of sheltering the weak and shepherding the lost when nobody else will go near them. It is also about demonstrating a love that is so radical and life changing that it transforms hearts to a higher being of truly caring about what happens to others, and through that becoming cared for ourselves. (more…)