Finding God in painful moments

Mark Mossa SJ, Already There: Letting God Find You (St Anthony Messenger Press) $A22.95
Mark E. Thibodeaux SJ,
God's Voice Within: The Ignatian Way to Discover God's Will (Loyola Press) $A23.95

St Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, meant this practical spirituality to speak in all times, places, cultures and all life’s seasons. That original vision is fine-tuned and fresh in the hands of two very different Jesuit spiritual masters. 

Mark Mossa and Mark Thibodeaux, both US Jesuit priests who are creative teachers, directors and ministers, bring life to the ancient path. And it is good. Each author pins down for the reader a yearning, a sometimes disturbing voice, coming out of real stories, personal pitfalls and God’s sometimes puzzling response.

Mark Mossa, long a minister for young adults, seems to have spent most of his life growing up; he wants to help others through the same self-doubt, darkness and blundering. With chapters like Living in Palookaville, Taking the Scary Bits Out of the Freezer and Who Told You That You Were Naked?,  Mossa buttonholes the reader.

After stumbling through most everything in life (that’s his version of the story), he puts his practical insight to work for us.

Mark Thibodeaux is a well-known Jesuit novice-director, author and speaker who lives in Louisiana. He knows how to apply ancient teachings in hard cases. He knows how to wait and help others wait?when insight seems to fail, when darkness sets in and nothing adds up. That is what Ignatian discernment is about. 

Hearing God’s voice (maybe out of left field) or not hearing it. Listening or not listening. Living in the question, maybe even before the question can be framed, the question lying underneath.

There is a passage in Thibodeaux’s book that stands out: “Seek God’s presence in the painful moments of your past.” The author illustrates this with a story from a man who “unconsciously used his painful past to get in touch with the pain of those he counselled.” 

Was this a simple, artless revising of the tradition? Or something about a contemporary director’s understanding of the depth of the soul?

Or just God’s grace? Readers will also appreciate the book’s attempt to distill the process and make it work, encouraging readers with indexed stories, biblical examples, a glossary of such Ignatian terms as “desolation,” “consolation” and “indifference.”

FULL REVIEW: Listen, or Not (America)


GODsTALKed~ Pursuits of a Hypenated Priest (Fr Mark Mossa's blog)

Mark E Thibodeaux SJ (Loyola Press author biography)

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