When visitors step into the Jesuit mother church in Rome, the Church of the Gesù, they all do the same thing: look up. The Baroque art and architecture are designed to do precisely that, to draw one upward, into the magnificent light of heaven portrayed in the ceiling’s frescoes.
“You must be born from above,” Jesus says to Nicodemus in today’s Gospel. This notion of “from above”—de arriba—is a central dynamic of St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, nowhere more so than in the “Contemplation to Attain Love.” Here, St. Ignatius invites the retreatant to consider “how all good things and gifts descend from above.”
In our secular age, it is easy to close the windows to the transcendent, to live, as it were, as if there were no “above.” Where and when today can I find a moment to look up and to consider how all good things come from above?
—Vincent Strand, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin Province, is studying theology in preparation for priestly ordination at the International College of the Gesù in Rome.