The pursuit of power, money, and individual freedom supplant the pursuit of the common good. The least among us, defined by powers beyond our control, suffer injustice that is impossible to ignore. The COVID 19 pandemic continues, taking more lives than expected while many choose to ignore sound practices about masking and social distancing. The story has not changed in months. It is wearing on the psyche and the soul.
How did we get to this point of confusion, fear, and rhetoric that a few years ago would have shocked even the most callous among us? The list of things that might help answer this question is long, but the more important question is how can we bring calm and peace to our families and our communities? Few of us have the power to bring about significant change, yet collectively we can garner a voice that will make a difference.
In the spirit of bringing positive change to local communities Ignatians West has joined with other ministries within the vast Jesuits West Province in seeking justice for the least among us, those excluded, maligned, and treated unjustly. From a six month’s long discernment process across the ministries of the province CORE, Collaborative Organizing for Racial Equity, was born. CORE offers practical resources that include theological reflections, ideas for public action and resources for personal development as well as strategies to help institutions realize racial equity. Ignatians West is committed to post carding and phone banking to remind people to vote. Loyola High School is offering an online retreat for racial equity Spiritual Exercises for Our Time. This is a start, not an end game. There are countless issues that render so many as the least among us begging for attention.
In turbulent times we may question God. We want a cure, an end to violence, rational discourse over policies that affect citizens, justice for those so deliberately ignored or wrongly pursued, so we pray daily for all these things and others. Yet, it seems chaos increases, and prayers go unheard. God’s way is not our way. God gave each of us the gift of intellect and free will. God is not going to magically eliminate all the injustice, the poverty, the racism or the coronavirus, however, God gave us the ability to bring about change if we are willing to work for the common good of neighbors we know and those we will never know.
Ignatians West is committed to prayer and action to bring dignity, peace, and justice to our communities. We pray for leaders who are perceived to be among the first, given their status, but perhaps are in fact the least, as wealth and power do not guarantee compassion or happiness. As my 100-year-old father often says, “We are all children of God, even those we do not like or disagree with.”
Ignations West Staff
We are pleased to introduce our Administrative Assistant who is the power behind this newsletter as well as a valuable member of our team who will be offering her reflections in the future.
Martha Barajas started as part-time Administrative Assistant for Ignatians West in August 2019. She was born in Pomona, but grew up in the Inland Empire. She graduated from Pepperdine University with a degree in English in 1996. Her academic pursuits have included a year studying Opera Production at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU, several courses at CSU San Bernardino's departments of Public Administration and Theatre Arts, and most recently, Philosophy and Mathematics at San Bernardino Valley College. She moved to Los Angeles County last year to begin life as a graduate student in Theological Studies at LMU. Though baptized as an infant, she was not raised Roman Catholic. She came into full communion with the church in 2001, and has spent most of here adult life working for nonprofit agencies such as the Arts Council for San Bernardino County and the Diocese of San Bernardino. She plans to pursue doctoral work in Philosophical Theology, with an emphasis on the study of intellectual humility, human flourishing, and the work of the Frankfurt School. Her ultimate goal is the beatific vision, in this life and in the next. Presently, she lives in the Vermont Square neighborhood of the City of Los Angeles.