Thursday, April 26, 2018

Photo: Come Sail Away

Prayer: Peter Damian

Do not be depressed. Do not let your weakness make you impatient. Instead, let the serenity of your spirit shine through your face. Let the joy of your mind burst forth. Let words of thanks break from your lips.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Fifth Sunday of Easter

The Fifth Sunday of Easter
April 29, 2018
Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 22; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8

I am consoled by the tender way the community took care of Paul as a new member after his conversion to the faith. When Paul came to Jerusalem, Christians were afraid of him because he once sought to kill them. They mistrusted his intentions when he met with the disciples, but Barnabas stepped up and took Paul under his wings. The stature of Barnabas and the apostles gave credibility to Paul’s conversion. It told the Christians that Paul can be trusted.

Barnabas continued to invest in Paul’s development. He watched Paul masterfully debate with the Hellenists, but when Paul made mistakes and got himself into trouble, Barnabas and the apostles cared for his safety by removing him from harm and placing him in a quieter environment. Paul acquiesced. Paul was placed in a region where the church was at peace and he was able to flourish by a community that supported him. I want to raise two points from these readings. (1.) Each of us may need second chances, and (2.) we develop rightly when we have sufficient community support.

Let us look at the first point in the first reading. If Paul was branded as a troubled man that could not behave well in the community, we might not be here today as church. Jesus lit the flame of faith, but Paul brought the flame to other parts of the world that needed kindling. The community recognized Paul’s goodness but they knew Paul needed some pruning of his rough ends. The existence of the church owes a lot to Paul, but Paul initially did not fit into their categories, but they did not give up on him. Instead, they put him in an environment where he developed into the type of man who was destined to become the church’s greatest missionary. The moral is: never give up on one of our own. We might just need a different path to get to the same place.

The second point is that the community needed to discern together how to care for Paul. They instructed him, gave him safety, allowed him to see how others responded to the faith, and they entertained his questions. He needed a unique way of being taught, and the community committed their resources to him. The moral here is: we cannot have a cookie cutter approach to teaching and forming. The community needs to find a particular way to reach each person, and it takes both local and a wider community involvement. If someone is not responding as the community sees fit, then it is up to the community to alter its methods. We must never give up on anyone but find a way to stay involved in their lives.

The Gospel passage punctuates this message. We need to let God and the community prune us. It hurts, but it is for our own good. The church itself needs pruning, and together as we prune one another, we become the fertile branches of the vine, that is Christ. We allow Christ to grow more fervently when we prune branches whose energies need to be directed elsewhere. In this early spring, we are in the season for pruning. Can we as individuals and community allow ourselves to be pruned so that Christ, the vine, can flourish more abundantly in our lives?

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Acts 14) As Gentiles and Jews in Iconium were about to attack Paul and Barnabas, they fled to Lystra where Paul healed a lame man. 
Tuesday: (Acts 14) The crowds began to put their faith in Paul and Barnabas as gods, but the men protested and told the story of the Christ event. Opposition to Paul increased shortly afterwards and he was stoned. They left for Derbe to strengthen the disciples in those cities and encouraged them during their times of hardship.
Wednesday: (Acts 15) Some of Paul’s Jewish opposition raised the question of circumcision and adherence to the Mosaic laws. Along the way to Jerusalem to seek the advice of the Apostles, they told everyone of the conversion of the Gentiles.
Thursday: (Acts 15) After much debate, Peter and James decided that no further restrictions were to be made on the Gentiles.
Friday (Acts 15) The Apostles and presbyters chose representatives and sent them to Paul and Barnabas with word that the Gentiles were indeed welcomed into the faith with no extra hardships placed upon them. The people were delighted with the good news.
Saturday (Acts 13) In Derbe and Lystra, Paul heard of a man named Timothy who was well regarded by the believers. Paul had him circumcised and they travelled to Macedonia to proclaim the good news.

Monday: (John 14) In the Farewell Discourse, Jesus reassures his disciples that he will remain with them if they keep his commandments to love one another. 
Tuesday: (John 14) To punctuate his message of consolation, he tells them he will send an advocate to teach and remind them of all he told them.
Wednesday (John 15) Jesus leaves them with his lasting peace that will help them endure many difficult times. This peace will allow us people to remain close to him – organically as he is the vine and we are the branches.
Thursday (John 15) Remaining close to Jesus will allow us to share complete joy with one another.
Friday (John 15) Jesus once again proves his love to his friends by saying that the true friend, the Good Shepherd, will lay down his life for his friends. 
Saturday (John 14) However, even with the love of Jesus, his followers will experience hatred in this world, but as his friends and as God’s elect, their harm can never really harm the souls of a believer.

Saints of the Week

April 29: Catherine of Siena, mystic and doctor of the Church (1347-1380), was the 24th of 25th children. At an early age, she had visions of guardian angels and the saints. She became a Third-Order Dominican and persuaded the Pope to return to Rome from Avignon in 1377. She died at age 33 after receiving the stigmata.

April 30: Pope Pius V, Pope (1504-1572), is noted for his work in the Counter-Reformation, the Council of Trent, and the standardization of the Roman Rite for mass. He was a fierce conservative who prosecuted eight French bishops for heterodoxy and Elizabeth I for schism. The Holy League he founded defeated the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto whose success was attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

May 1: Joseph the Worker was honored by Pope Pius XII in 1955 in an effort to counteract May Day, a union, worker, and socialist holiday. Many Catholics believe him to be the patron of workers because he is known for his patience, persistence, and hard work as admirable qualities that believers should adopt.

May 2: Athanasius, bishop and doctor (295-373), was an Egyptian who attended the Nicene Council in 325. He wrote about Christ's divinity but this caused his exile by non-Christian emperors. He wrote a treatise on the Incarnation and brought monasticism to the West.

May 3: Philip and James, Apostles (first century), were present to Jesus throughout his entire ministry. Philip was named as being explicitly called. James is called the Lesser to distinguish him from James of Zebedee. Little is known of these founders of our faith.

May 4: Joseph Mary Rubio, S.J., priest (1864-1929), is a Jesuit known as the Apostle of Madrid. He worked with the poor bringing them the Spiritual Exercises and spiritual direction and he established local trade schools. 

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Apr 29, 1933. Thomas Ewing Sherman died in New Orleans. An orator on the mission band, he was the son of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. He suffered a breakdown, and wanted to leave the Society, but was refused because of his ill health. Before his death he renewed his vows in the Society.
·      Apr 30, 1585. The landing at Osaka of Fr. Gaspar Coelho. At first the Emperor was favorably disposed towards Christianity. This changed later because of Christianity's attitude toward polygamy.
·      May 1, 1572. At Rome, Pope St. Pius V dies. His decree imposing Choir on the Society was cancelled by his successor, Gregory XIII.
·      May 2, 1706. The death of Jesuit brother G J Kamel. The camellia flower is named after him.
·      May 3, 1945. American troops take over Innsbruck, Austria. Theology studies at the Canisianum resume a few months later.
·      May 4, 1902. The death of Charles Sommervogel, historian of the Society and editor of the bibliography of all publications of the Jesuits from the beginnings of the Society onward.
·      May 5, 1782. At Coimbra, Sebastian Carvahlo, Marquis de Pombal, a cruel persecutor of the Society in Portugal, died in disgrace and exile. His body remained unburied fifty years, till Father Philip Delvaux performed the last rites in 1832.