One of my friends and colleagues who helps make hope real for me is Andy Otto. I first met Andy when we were exhibit booth neighbors at a Catholic Conference. At the time, I was working for Charis Ministries, and he was working for a Catholic TV station in Boston. In the long hours of waiting in the exhibit hall, we discovered we were kindred spirits as we both had a heart for Ignatian spirituality. I find great strength in knowing he is out there as another married lay minister and parent helping others grow in their relationship with God using the gifts of Ignatian spirituality. His presence and courage in what he does helps me hope.
We exchange texts and emails often, seeking each other’s input on ways to bring the gifts of the Spiritual Exercises out into the world. We offer support and encouragement to each other as we seek to discern how God is asking us to minister in the ever changing seasons of life in marriage and parenthood. I can only chuckle that our books were published within a month of each other, both finding their basis in the principles of Ignatian spirituality.
A God with Skin:
A predominant theme of his book, God Moments, is a God with skin. This idea is so fitting to our series, Making Hope Real, because it reminds us of a multitude of ways that God takes on skin in our lives and offers us hope.
First, Andy shares about how God truly took on skin through the Incarnation. God fully entered our humanity and offers us hope through the person of Jesus, which offers us friendship with a person who lived and understands all that we go through.
Second, Andy invites us to look at what he names the “ordinary miracles” of life as sacred encounter in the ordinary. He invites us to consider how God takes on skin when we act in a Christ-like way to others or when God encounters through the ordinary miracles of day to day life. Each ordinary miracle is a sign of hope and of God’s ongoing presence in our lives. Andy explains what he means by ordinary miracles here:
“The last time you looked at a sunset or a playing, did you not sense in your heart something stirring that captivated you? That sensation may be God reminding you of the miracles of everyday. The sun rises and sets every day. These are signs of the incarnation: the things God sanctifies and which point to God” (p. 19).
Third, God Moments invites us to reflect on how we each help God have skin when we pray, discern, and act on the calls God places on our hearts. He unpacks what I mean more here:
“When we discern God’s desires for us, we become channels for God’s love and grace. Our skin becomes God’s skin. Our actions of love become God’s action of love. Every choice we make in line with God’s desires for our lives bring God a little more into the world. Incarnation was not just one brief on December 25. Incarnation continues daily as creation continues to unfold and as we make choice after choice.” (p. 75)
Andy is Ignatian to the core and lives the very principles that supported him as he discerned his way to join the Jesuits for formation, and as he later discerned his way to married life. He and his wife, Sarah, live and breathe the principles he writes about in his book.
To cultivate our awareness of the multitude of ways God takes on skin in our daily lives, he offers us the practical tool of the Examen. This prayer told helps us name all the ways God encounters us in the ordinary moment of our lives. From my own experience, I feel that when we notice God at work in our lives it increases our faith and our ability to hope.
One of the gifts of God Moments and Andy’s website is his gift of taking an Ignatian concept and turning it into a practical resource. I highly encourage you to check out some of Andy’s resources to support you on your faith journey and help you make hope real:
- Considering purchasing a copy of God Moments
- Check out his Morning Examen and Evening Examen reflection
- Get a deck of his Ponder Cards for Kids– My family loves these!
- Jn 1: 1-14: The Word become flesh and made his dwelling among us
- Roman 5: 2-7: We have peace with God through Jesus
- Titus 3: 4-8: But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared
Upcoming Conferences and Retreats:
- Trying to Say God Conference at Notre Dame Univeristy- Panelist for “Platform Building and the Foundations of Humility”
- USCCB’s Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America– Lead Panelist for “Moments of Return: Sunday Mass, Holy Days, and Sacraments in Evangelization”
- St. Joseph’s Academy Alumnae Retreat: Making Room for God in the Busyness (Open to any graduates of SJA in Baton Rouge)
- Rosaryville Women’s Silent Retreat: Everything is Holy Now (open to women ages 18 and up)