Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Poem: Mary Oliver from "The Swan"

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?...
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music - like he rain pelting the trees - like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds =
A white cross streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, it wings likethe stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you to finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

Spirituality: List of Feelings When Your Needs Are Satisfied

AFFECTIONATE
compassionate
friendly
loving
open hearted
sympathetic
tender
warm

CONFIDENT
empowered
open
proud
safe
secure

ENGAGED
absorbed
alert
curious
engrossed
enchanted
entranced
fascinated
interested
intrigued
involved
spellbound
stimulated

INSPIRED
amazed
awed
wonder

EXCITED

amazed
animated
ardent
aroused
astonished
dazzled
eager
energetic
enthusiastic
giddy
invigorated
lively
passionate
surprised
vibrant

EXHILARATED
blissful
ecstatic
elated
enthralled
exuberant
radiant
rapturous
thrilled

GRATEFUL
appreciative
moved
thankful
touched

HOPEFUL
expectant
encouraged
optimistic

JOYFUL
amused
delighted
glad
happy
jubilant
pleased
tickled

PEACEFUL
calm
clear headed
comfortable
centered
content
equanimous
fulfilled
mellow
quiet
relaxed
relieved
satisfied
serene
still
tranquil
trusting

REFRESHED
enlivened
rejuvenated
renewed
rested
restored
revived

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Prayer: Edmund Campion, S.J.

And touching our Societie, be it known to you that we have made a league – all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practices of England – cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned; the enterprise is begun; it is of God, it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted; so it must be restored.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Prayer: Charles Spinola, S.J.

Meanwhile, by night and day, we confirm our souls by exercises of piety, we chastise our bodies by scourging, haircloths, and other like mortifications; and what constitutes our greatest consolation, we minister at the altar daily. And it has surely been by a special providence of God, that vestments and other requisites for the holy sacrifices were introduced unseen by the guards, after we had been at first for several months deprived of them and unable to refresh ourselves with that heavenly bread of angels.

For my own part I am overjoyed at this special benefit of God, accomplishing the desire which chiefly brought me hither, and I esteem it above the splendor of all fleeting dignities. And justly, for St. Paul, after being once imprisoned triumphed more in the glory of his chains and bonds, than in his very apostleship, calling himself, ‘Bound in the Lord.’ I blush for shame when I think how by no merit of mine, I have obtained this great grace; how God, having before so many holy persons who have cultivated this vineyard with such admirable zeal, has cast his eyes on me, the last of all in the gifts of nature and merit.

I, who can aver that I now begin to be a disciple of Christ amid the greatest pain and confinement of prison, even when my strength seemed failing from hunger alone, I was always refreshed by such delights of consolation, that I deemed all my sufferings undergone in the divine service richly rewarded. Were I still to pass several years in this dungeon, the time would seem to me short in my intense desire of suffering for His love, who so lavishly rewards the labors of this life and makes even torture itself sweet and desirable. Yet God is to be served chiefly for himself alone, for He is the fountain of all goodness, and merits all our devotion without any hope of reward.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Spirituality:The Wonders of Dialogue

Before Mass this morning, I was cleaning up the sacristy and I came across some old papers that I wanted to discard. I asked, “Is there a waste basket nearby?” and a woman gave me a full explanation of how recycling works in the parish house. And so I asked, “but is there a waste basket nearby?” and another woman confirmed the previous woman’s comments about the recycling process. They both were beaming at the ways they were very helpful to this priest who was new to the ways of their parish. I thanked them for their answer, but I told them that they did not provide an answer to the question I wanted to hear answered. A minute later I asked a third woman a different question and I received another answer only tangentially related to my question. I was perplexed. Why did they answer a question that I didn’t ask? They must have thought I meant to ask different one. Did they think that I really don’t know what I want and they have to tell me what they think I really mean?

For all the requests I hear for an increase of dialogue in our church and world, I pause and wonder what people really want. I guess I first want to know if we have the same baseline definition of dialogue because it often doesn’t seem evident in our world. So many aspects go into our use of language and our ability to communicate and it becomes extremely unlikely that one can walk away from a conversation and say, “yeah, we both demonstrated we knew what the other person was saying and we both seemed to feel heard.” Isn’t that what we want: to feel heard and to convey that we can hear the position of another person?

It seems to me that when someone speaks, it is best to convey to the speaker that you understand what he or she is saying. You can simply paraphrase their words. Once that baseline is established, the second person has a chance to respond. At that time it is good for the first speaker to convey understanding by paraphrasing that he or she heard the second speaker. It is a good process to begin to clear up potential miscomprehensions. It may take a bit of time at first until we get the hang of it, but it eradicates frustration.

Of course, style, body language, deeper meaning, expressing feelings and desires, positions of authority or hierarchy and other aspects provide a richer context for our communication. If we are to be people of dialogue, we need to return to the basics and master that art before we move forward.

As an exercise this week, notice the frequency that someone gives an answer to one of your questions that you did not ask. Just take note of it and how you feel about his or her response. See what interesting movements come up within you.

Article: KAIROS God's Friendship

A talk used on the KAIROS Retreat on “God’s Friendship.”

My talk is on God’s friendship and I played this song (Up On The Roof, In My Room, Out in the Country) because it is positive and reflective and because I have a private place where I first developed my friendship with God – in the middle of a state forest where my family lives. The place is incredibly pristine and isolated. We all need a place where we can escape and be who were truly, authentically are – whether it is in the safe confines of your room, up on the roof, out in the country, or any other special place.

Since my family lives seven miles away from town, I was always able to find a special spot deep in the forest where I could get away from the crazy demands of life and the dysfunction of my family. I realized that I had great magical places to discover, much like the films “The Lord of the Rings” or “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” where the forces of good would come to aid me and defend me from the malevolent enemy. The forest and fields and the lake would be my source of refuge and a place where I could be free.

I would find that I would begin to escape to the forest because I could sit among the trees and tell my story. At that time, I did not know that I was telling my story to Jesus, but as I look back on it, it was indeed a time in which I came to know the God made flesh, the God who is my brother. My family story, like most family stories, was very difficult and fraught with a lot of pain. I would escape to the forest to let the sting of my pain subside and there were times when I felt like I was talking with someone who listened and would reassure me. At first it felt like talking to air and I wondered, “Is anyone really listening?” or are these just voices in my head? Am I answering myself? But I noticed, that when I came to a certain point, I knew I could return home and I would be comforted in some way. I could go on for another day. It would be bearable. And I realized that I was beginning to trust my experience. And isn’t trust a big part of any relationship? I knew that stepping into the forest would help me do two things – to build up the walls around myself to protect me from harm, and to tear down that walls in my life that were destructive to my well-being. And this other voice, the voice that I now know was Jesus, was there to guide me. Jesus became an important friend. What are friends anyways? They are people who you like and like you back, but they see things differently from you and provide you with a different perspective. Friends don’t always agree with you or do exactly what you want them to do. Friends share a bond, but remain as individuals.

If friendships are nourished and grow after a period of time and testing and absence, is it possible to develop a friendship with Jesus.? Let’s look at this. With friends, we have an initial curiosity about the other and we ask questions to find out what the other likes – the way he thinks – the ways she chooses – what the other values. We see if it lines up with what we like. If so, we hang out together sometime and we don’t do much of anything – we just exist and we play and we tell stories. We have fun with one another. We then listen and support and encourage and finally our support for one another begins to take risks. When we show compassion, we risk pain and suffering to ourselves as we hold someone else’s story with respect. That is when we know that we have grown to a new level of friendship and intimacy. We behold another person and are filled with appreciation. We cannot betray another person’s story. We build bonds that will last forever. We have to learn to do these very things with Jesus because he is the silent voice in the forest or up on the roof or in whatever place were you retreat and find consolation – just waiting to develop a deeper friendship with you. I suggest that when we go back into our favorite, private places, we spend time just being with Jesus, having no real objective, but to tell our own story to him. And as you know, you can tell him about not only your dreams and hopes, but also the areas of pain and shame that debilitate you. Anything goes in this talk.

A fruitful time for me was when I made my silent thirty-day retreat when I prayed over the hidden life of Jesus. No scripture exists for this period and I had to imagine what Jesus’ life was like between the ages of 12 and 30. I thought I was completely lost. Well, as soon as I got into this prayer, I began to relate to Jesus better than I ever had. I imagined that I was 12 years old and he was 14 – a little older and wiser. He did things like go down to the lake and swim and ride bikes and scoop up pollywogs and frogs and look for snakes and glide on tire swings and cook over a campfire. We just had a blast. No parents were around and we spent all of our days together. This went on for some time and I realized Jesus liked me and I liked him back. In my prayer, I can return to the campfire to be with Jesus so we can just be in one another’s company and tell these stories of our day to one another. The grace is “spending time with one another.” During this time around the campfire, I was able to tell Jesus all the stuff that hurt me or concerned me or the things that I kept walled up from him and others. You know what? He accepted me. He accepted all that I had to tell him – even those areas of my life where I may feel shame. And then he told me lots about his life that I hadn’t known. We built a solid friendship because we told each other our stories, but he always asked me to integrate who I am and what I think into my public life. Integrity is key. Today, I can still share my hurts and concerns and my hopes and joys and he appreciates them, but he challenges me at times to open my heart to others, to myself, and to him.

So it doesn’t stop there. We need our place of refuge, but we need to go back home or to our community and live the life to which Jesus calls us. If the forest is merely a place of escape, we risk losing the battle. The forest, or your favorite safe place, must be that fortress that gives us courage to persevere. Life is not easy; life is not fair and there are many destructive qualities to life and we must be in search of that which helps us find life and hold onto it tightly. Life has a way of helping us build walls around us, especially in those areas where we feel embarrassed or shamed. Those are areas where we need healing, not forgiveness, but healing. It comes from all angles - parents, schoolmates, friends and romantic interests, and many other places. What are some of these possible walls?

o Do you add a brick to the wall by trying to manage or hide the fact that you or your parents are alcoholics, or that you are fond of drugs, that you are intrigued by pornography, that you are an overeater or have an eating disorder or find that you don’t like part of your body, that you are unlucky in love and you wonder if you will ever find someone to share intimacy with you.

o Do you add another brick to the wall because by hiding yourself behind a false role because you are frustrated that you are not taller, more athletic, popular, wiser or more intelligent. Perhaps you compensate by cheating on exams. Perhaps you find that you are embarrassed by your family or someone in particular, that your brother has a mental illness or your sister is disabled.

o Maybe the wall gets higher because you have been honest in a relationship and feel betrayed by someone else and don’t know how to get healing; that you have been violated in a date rape or forced to have sex against your will or better judgment; perhaps you took advantage of another sexually. Perhaps you have been a victim of another’s bullying power.

o Perhaps you add another brick because you don’t want to feel like you stand out because you are of a certain race or nationality, that you are a gay man or lesbian, that you don’t feel like you have equal opportunities in life, that you are poor and are ashamed of choices your parents have made.

o Do you add another layer of brick to protect yourself from more hurt because you feel unloved by one or both of your parents, that you don’t belong to a certain social group or class, that you are the reason for your parents’ divorce, that you are adopted.

The list can go on and on. We have to be conscious of what we are building or taking down. Most times, we don’t even know that we are building a fortress around ourselves and we lose control of just how high it is. Many times we don’t even see the shame we carry – or hide – or deceive ourselves about. That is why we need friends. We need to learn how to listen to our friends and parents, to our teachers and coaches, to our guides and mentors, and most importantly to Jesus. He is the only one that can feel your deepest hurts. He is the one who can give you courage in your special place together, because you were made for the world, not for isolation. Step forth into this journey of life and tear down the walls you are creating before they get too high and too foreboding. It takes courage to take a hammer to what has protected us and served us well and what we have created. We have to take down the walls the debilitate us and keep us from being the most authentic person we can be.

Pink Floyd’s The Wall is about a young man who is unknowingly taught to build a wall that nearly destroys him. People in his life who are well intentioned cause him to build the wall higher and higher, but in the end, self-acceptance and salvation are what is important. This young man, beaten down by life, has to face the judge who conducts a trial where teacher, mother, and lover stand as accusers and the accused. And for the love of this man’s life, taking sympathy for all the wrong that was done to him, the judge orders the man to tear down the wall that binds him. And he cannot do it alone. Nor can we do not do it alone, because, as the story progresses, we see that there are people outside the wall trying to reach us.

People outside the wall are trying to stay in touch with you and keep you connected, and they will work until they drop until they reach you. They are not going to stop trying. Reach out to them in response. Together we stand, divided we fall. As the words to the story ends, we are told that “All alone or in two’s the ones who really love you walk up and down outside the wall. Some hand in hand. Some gathered together in bands, the bleeding hearts and the artists make their stand. And when they’ve given you their all, some stagger and fall, after all it is not easy banging your head against some mad bugger’s wall.” My friends, tear down the wall. Tear down the wall.

Reflection Questions:

1: Do I have a favorite place where I can go and tell my secrets?
2: I build a wall around myself when I feel….
3: Is there a brick in the wall I need special courage to take down?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Song: Lyrics to Everyday God by Bernadette Farrell

Earth's creator, Everyday God,
Loving Maker, O Jesus,
You who shaped us, O Spirit,
Recreate us, Come, be with us.

In your presence, Everyday God,
We are gathered, O Jesus,
You have called us, O Spirit,
To restore us, Come, be with us.

Life of all lives, Everyday God,
Love of all loves, O Jesus,
Hope of all hopes, O Spirit,
Light of all lights, Come, be with us.

In our resting, Everyday God,
In our rising, O Jesus,
In our hoping, O Spirit,
In our waiting, Come, be with us.

In our dreaming, Everyday God,
In our daring, O Jesus,
In our searching, O Spirit,
In our sharing, Come, be with us.

God of laughter, Everyday God,
God of sorrow, O Jesus,
Home and shelter, O Spirit,
Strong and patient, Come, be with us.

Way of freedom, Everyday God,
Star of morning, O Jesus,
Timeless healer, O Spirit,
Flame eternal, Come, be with us.

Word of gladness, Everyday God,
Word of mercy, O Jesus,
Word of friendship, O Spirit,
Word of challenge, Come, be with us.

Gentle father, Everyday God,
Faithful brother, O Jesus,
Tender sister, O Spirit.
Loving mother, Come, be with us.

Our beginning, Everyday God,
Our unfolding, O Jesus,
Our enduring, O Spirit,
Journey's ending, Come, be with us.

Alleluia, Everyday God,
Now and always, O Jesus,
Alleluia, O Spirit,
Through all ages, Come, be with us.

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 27, 2010

Paul frames our state of life in some amazing words: For freedom, Christ set us free. Too often the lectors at Mass speak too rapidly and we do not get to digest the import of the words we have just heard. Did we hear what was just spoken? Christ has freed us. Our questions become: from what and for what? For Paul, we are set free from the slavery brought on by sin and death and is most in evidence by own desires of the baser earthly life rather than the life of the spirit. When Paul writes about the life of the flesh, he is not writing only about sexual acts committed outside of one’s primary relationship, but about those behaviors that bring down another person, like gossip, lies, slander, or anything that causes division among peoples. Paul says that we are free, but we have to use our freedom responsibly, that is, through serving one another through love and loving your neighbor as yourself. The whole law for Paul is summed up in this statement.

Jesus catches on fire with his mission as his determination to enter Jerusalem builds even as opposition to him increases and hospitality is denied him. He is focused when he encounters three potential disciples who ask to join him and he outlines stringent consequences of joining him on mission. His first response stresses mobility and itinerancy (having no place to call home), the second is to be urgently immediate in moving forward to care for more people than only one’s family (and letting the dead bury the dead), and the third, unlike the prophet Elisha who receives his mission in the first reading, is told to resolutely look forward (not even to say goodbye to one’s parent) in order to insistently proclaim the imminent arrival of the kingdom of God. For Jesus, discipleship means an abrupt and complete halt from one’s earlier life so that he or she can give it entirely to the service of the kingdom. Discipleship is difficult and one has to be resolutely available for the inherent unexpected demands. The change one will experience will be irrevocable.

While many preachers reflect upon vocational stories from these passages, I think of it as our personal degree of receiving Christ into our midst. To what degree are we hospitable to Christ? The Samaritans, who were ancient enemies of the Jews because of competing scriptural interpretations including the proper location where God is to be worshipped, adamantly refused hospitality to Jesus. Two of the potential disciples who approach Jesus are given exacting consequences of following him. Jesus practices truth-in-advertising. His responses ask them to consider whether they can do it. Jesus asks the other to follow him, tells him to forget the past, and to go on mission. We have no idea if any of these people accepted the invitation. Discipleship, whether it is a religious vocation or one manifested in other ways, demands that we fully receive Christ’s mission into our lives as our own and that we are essentially changed by the degree of our response to him. He is asking us, “how much does the fulfillment of God’s vision to mean to you” and “how much do I mean to you?” I wish I knew the answer the three potential disciples eventually gave. I wish I knew your answer.

Quote for the Week

Vatican archaeologists announced an image of Paul was found as part of a square ceiling painting that included icons of three apostles – Peter, John and Andrew – surrounding an image of Christ as the Good Shepherd. "They are the first icons. These are absolutely the first representations of the apostles," said Fabrizio Bisconti, archaeology superintendent for the catacombs.

Inside the intimate burial chamber, its walls and ceilings are covered with paintings of scenes from the Old Testament, including Daniel in the lion's den and Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. The gem is on the ceiling, where the four apostles are painted inside gold-rimmed circles against a red-ochre backdrop.

The images in the catacomb – with their faces in isolation, encircled with gold and affixed to the four corners of the ceiling painting – are devotional in nature and are the first known icons. They are the most antique testimonies we have. The images of Andrew and John show much younger faces than are normally depicted.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In the book of Amos, the Lord God declares that he will keep his word and will not be like the unfaithful Israel who cares not for God or each other. The Lord wants the people to seek the good and hate evil. This will bring about life. Amos explains the origins of his vocation as prophet saying that the Lord told him to prophesy to Israel that its wife shall be like a harlot and its sons and daughters shall fall by the sword. A great exile will occur. The Lord will scatter the people and will cause a famine of food, but mostly because the people will crave to hear the word of the Lord.

Gospel: Jesus tells potential disciples that the Son of Man has no place to lay his head and a disciple’s home is wherever Jesus leads them. His mission brings him to the area of the Gadarenes where he exorcises two demoniacs and causes great havoc in the town. Jesus crosses the sea by boat to his home town where he cures a paralytic and causes more havoc by forgiving his sins. He creates more distress by summoning Matthew, a dreaded tax collector, to follow him. He spends time with sinners and betraying tax collectors.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Irenaeus, bishop and martyr, was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John the Evangelist. Irenaeus was first a missionary to Lyons, but on a mission to Rome, the church back in Lyons was facing severe persecution. Upon his return he was made bishop. He is known for combating heresies in the early church and for declaring that creation is good, but made sinful by fallen human nature.

Tuesday: Peter and Paul, apostles, are two of the great apostles upon whom the church was built. Both were martyred in Rome. Peter is regarded as the chief of the Apostles and Paul is the Apostle to the Gentiles. These two men are celebrated for their significant contributions of dealing with internal and external church conflict.

Wednesday: The First Martyrs of the Roman Church are honored today because they were the first to be killed during Nero’s persecution after the great fire that burned down the city. Christians were made the scapegoats so they could be mocked and brutalized. A monument in Vatican City honors their lives.

Thursday: Junipero Serra, priest, was a Franciscan missionary who founded missions in Baja and traveled north to California starting in 1768. The Franciscans established the missions during the suppression of the Jesuits. San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Clara are among the most famous. Serra’s statue is in the U.S. Capitol to represent California.

Saturday: Thomas, apostle, is thought to have been an apostle to India and Pakistan and he is best remembered as the one who “doubted” the resurrection of Jesus. The Gospels, however, testify to his faithfulness to Jesus during his ministry. The name, Thomas, stands for “twin,” but no mention is made of his twin’s identity.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jun 27, 1978. Bernard Lisson, a mechanic, and Gregor Richert, a parish priest, were shot to death at St Rupert's Mission, Sinoia, Zimbabwe.
• Jun 28, 1591. Fr. Leonard Lessius's teaching on grace and predestination caused a great deal of excitement and agitation against the Society in Louvain and Douai. The Papal Nuncio and Pope Gregory XIV both declared that his teaching was perfectly orthodox.
• Jun 29, 1880. In France the law of spoliation, which was passed at the end of March, came into effect and all the Jesuit Houses and Colleges were suppressed.
• Jun 30, 1829. The opening of the Twenty-first General Congregation of the order, which elected Fr. John Roothan as General.
• Jul 1, 1556. The beginning of St Ignatius's last illness. He saw his three great desires fulfilled: confirmation of the Institute, papal approval of the Spiritual Exercises, and acceptance of the Constitutions by the whole Society.
• Jul 2, 1928. The Missouri Province was divided into the Missouri Province and the Chicago Province. In 1955 there would be a further subdivision: Missouri divided into Missouri and Wisconsin; Chicago divided into Chicago and Detroit.
• Jul 3, 1580. Queen Elizabeth I issued a statute forbidding all Jesuits to enter England.

World Cup

The World Cup is certainly a world event that has gripped the attention of all sports enthusiasts, even in the United States. Much drama has unfolded and many stories of honor and respect have been witnessed. While I’m half-Italian, I’m sorry to see Italy drop out of the competition, but I’m thrilled that my host country, New Zealand, has remained undefeated (though they did not advance.) All eyes remain fixed on the generous hospitality of the host nation of South Africa, as it represents the continent of Africa. May tons of goodwill be generated by the good sportsmanship and high levels of competition involved in these games.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Prayer: Pope Clement I of Rome

It is to the humble-minded that Christ belongs, not to those who exalt themselves above their flock…. The Lord Jesus Christ did not, for all his power, come clothed in boastful pomp and overweening pride, but in a humble frame of mind.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Prayer: John Cassian

The objective of our live is the kingdom of God, but we should carefull ask what we should aim for. If we do not look very carefully into this we will wear ourselves out in useless strivings. For those who travel without a marked road there is the toil of the journey and no arrival at a destination.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Poem: St. John the Baptist by William Drummond, earthy 17th century

The last and greatest herald of heaven’s king,
Girt with rough skins, hies to the deserts wild,
Among that savage brood the woods forth bring
Which he than man more harmless found and mild:

His food was locusts, and what young doth spring,
With honey that from virgin hives distilled;
Parched body, hollow eyes, some uncouth thing
Made him appear long since from earth exiled.

There burst he forth: “All ye, whose hopes rely
On God, with me admist these deserts mourn;
Repent, repent, and from old errors turn.”
Who listened to his voice, obeyed his cry?

Only the echoes which he made relent,
Rung from their marble caves, Repent, repent.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Prayer: Ade Bethune

Who offers food, offers self. This is true of my giving a sandwich to a person at the door; or of my entertaining friends in the kitchen or dining room. It is also true of banquets, where the servers are the ambassadors and representatives of the host who gives the food. It is true of farmers who raise food, of butchers who dress meats, of bakers who make bread, of grandmothers who put up preserves, of anyone who peels, cooks, or prepares food for others. It is also true of every Christian who offers the bread and the wine at the sacrifice of the Mass.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Poem: From “All Desires Known” by Janet Morley

…and I was nothing but letting go and being held
and there were no words and there
needed to be no words and we flowed…
and I was given up to the dark and
in the darkness I was not lost
and the wanting was like fullness and I could
hardly hold it and I was held and
you were dark and warm and without time and
without words and you held me.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Poem: Opunake's First Light

Quiet. No, still. Silence. Dark. Alone. Sneakers squeak. Fog. Mist. Clouds. Grey. Sea. Lost. Rush. Wind. Blown hat. Here. Where? Hush. Sleep. Wonder. Wander? Stirring. Where are you? Dawn. Rays. Mountain. Peaks. Snow. Ridges. Gasp. Climb. Majesty. Green. Bright. Mist. Mystical. Journey. Walk. Desolate. Fool. Unicorn. Irish hills. Stones. Hills. Castles. No, homes. Castles. Lamb. Comfort. Settled. Peace. Relax. Cows. Earth. Soil. Clean. Strong. Virulent. Fragrance. Pure. Walk. Ponder. Step. Another. Forward. Time. Long. Place. Upside-down. Remote. Rural. Coastal. Smile. Warmth. Firm. Hands. Warmth. Stoic. Strong. Silent. Light. Stillness. Presence. Laughter. Dig. Deep. Down. Penetrate. Alone. Connected. Flush. Same. Honor. Music. Routine. Another Day. Forward. Hover. Always. Near. Still. OK. Movement. Fine. Friend. Longing. Who? Steadfast. Abiding. Consoling. Now. Now. Grace. Still. Quiet.

Prayer: Aloysius Gonzaga

Holy Mary, my Queen, I recommend myself
to your blessed protection
and special keeping,
and to the bosom of your mercy,
today and every day
and at the hour of my death.
My soul and body I recommend to you.

I entrust to you my hope and consolation,
my distress and misery,
my life and its termination.
Through your most holy intercession
and through your merits
may all actions be directed
according to your will and that of your Son.
Amen

Memorial: June 21

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 20, 2010

The question that Jesus asks his disciple is brilliant in its penetrating depths. He asks them this rephrased question: “How does my presence in your life transform it?” It surely is good to ponder and it is not an answer we want to give without reflection. The 62nd Psalm is cleverly selected today as it answers the same question: “O, God, you are my God whom I seek.” Our answer changes as we grow in maturity and wisdom, and we can’t answer the question without imagining we are looking at Jesus squarely in the face for if we can’t experience him, it is difficult to give a personal answer. “What does your presence in my life mean for me today?” As I personally answer for today alone, he is the reason I am in a remote, rural, coastal, country town of New Zealand three thousand miles away from my Jesuit brothers who are dispersed throughout Australia and I am half a world away from my province, friends, and family. I feel united with them through him and because of that, I do not feel alone.

The Gospel in integrated with Paul’s Letter to the Galatians as it explains that putting on Christ means that we become essentially different from those of pagans and others who do not believe in Christ. Christ brings us into a new family and a new social system that is free from the normal constraints of the varying societies in which we find ourselves. We are bound to be different when we imitate Christ, but we learn to free others from terrible societal restrictions, mostly from unjust designations, that a dominant culture has imposed upon them. For salvation in Christ, we all have equal status, even though we retain our differences. It gives us pause when we encounter layers of stratification within our church structures (parish-wide or otherwise) or when we find the use of authority that does not further one’s hope of sanctification. If Christ frees us from our bonds, we would not be acting in Christ to impose bonds upon others.

It is amazing how our Eucharist is both a leveler and a vehicle for raising up a person. When we begin Mass, each of us confesses that we are a sinner before God and that we need God’s grace to live in holiness. As we look around, one’s wealth or poverty, achievements or failures, honor or shame just doesn’t matter. What is important is that God has called us to be together to share in the life of Christ of whose body we are a part. We are equal in status in God’s eyes. If only we could learn to see as God sees. This is one of the goals of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius – to come to love the world and one another in the way that God loves us and all of creation. We have a lot to learn and if we follow Christ’s ways we may face hardships and persecutions, but what other choice to we have if we answer the questions he poses to us today: Who am I to you? What difference do I make in your life? Beware that answer this question leads to a deepening and risky discipleship.

Quote for the Week

As we celebrate the Nativity of John the Baptist this week, we remember Zechariah’s song as he gazes upon his newborn son.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; He has come to His people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of His servant David. Through His holy prophets He promised of old that He would save us from our enemies,from the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant. This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham: To set us free from the hands of our enemies, free to worship Him without fear, Holy and righteous in His sight all the days of our life.

You, My child shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our Lord the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In 2 Kings, the Lord God sends the Assyrians to conquer Samaria because they did not keep the covenant and turned to the ways of other nations. Hezekiah hears of Sennacherib’s plans to conquer Israel but the Lord hears the prayers of Hezekiah and during the night an angel of the Lord strikes down 185,000 men and sends them back to Nineveh. Hilkiah, the priest, gathers the king and the people, assembles the holy books, and reads the entire contents of the book of the covenant aloud. The king declares he will follow and observe all the ordinances, statutes, and decrees, thereby reinvigorating the covenant. During Zedekiah’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar and his Chaldean forces besiege the city for months and captures the king and the people who are brought into exile. The book of Lamentations punctuates in song the loss the people were experiencing.

Gospel: The Sermon on the Mount continues with instructions on refraining from making judgments when you have judgments that can be made about yourself. Treat what is sacred with great respect and follow wisdom’s counsel even though it is a more difficult road. Be aware of those who will lead you astray. You can tell a prophet or shepherd by the work he produces, just as a good tree produces good fruit. When the sermon was finished, Jesus comes down from the mountain and cures a leper, thereby placing himself on the outskirts of society by coming in contact with a ritually unclean person. Heading into Capernaum, Jesus encounters a Centurion with a servant paralyzed by illness. The Centurion places his trust in Jesus and finds his servant is healed. Jesus, showing he is powerful in words, reveals his power in deeds by healing many people and driving out evil spirits.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Aloysius Gonzaga, is one of the youthful Jesuit saints. He was born to a noble family in Lombardy and after much family pressure joined the Jesuits in 1585 in order to go to the newly settled missions. However a plague hit Europe and Aloysius went to Rome to care for the sick and dying in a hospital. Unfortunately, he caught the plague and died within three months.

Tuesday: Paulinus of Nola, bishop, became a Christian convert because of his wife’s faith. He was ordained a priest and moved to Nola in central Italy to live a semi-monastic lifestyle and to help the poor with his riches. He was a friend to many of the Fathers of the church. John Fisher, bishop and martyr, was imprisoned for treason because he would not sign the Act of Succession in 1534 that would have granted a divorce to King Henry VIII. The Pope elevated John to the rank of Cardinal, which infuriated the King who decided to behead John. He was a great friend to Thomas More. Thomas More, martyr, was beheaded nine days after John Fisher because he would not consent to the King’s divorce. He was originally courted by Cardinal Wolsey and King Henry VIII to serve at court, to which he reluctantly agreed until the Act of Succession forced him in good conscience to resign.

Thursday: The Nativity of John the Baptist is celebrated around the summer solstice, which is six months from the winter solstice, which became to signify the victory of light over darkness, hence the birth of Christ. In the readings, John’s father, Zechariah, is struck dumb when he asked for a sign to confirm the angel’s message that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son in her advanced age. Zechariah’s tongue was loosened when he indicated that his son was to be called John. The great Benedictus followed.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jun 20, 1626. The martyrdom in Nagasaki, Japan, of Blesseds Francis Pacheco, John Baptist Zola, Vincent Caun, Balthasar De Torres, Michael Tozo, Gaspar Sadamatzu, John Kinsaco, Paul Xinsuki, and Peter Rinscei.
• Jun 21, 1591. The death of Aloysius Gonzaga, who died from the plague, which he caught while attending the sick.
• Jun 22, 1611. The first arrival of the Jesuit fathers in Canada sent at the request of Henry IV of France.
• Jun 23, 1967. Saint Louis University's Board of Trustees gathered at Fordyce House for the first meeting of the expanded Board of Trustees. SLU was the first Catholic university to establish a Board of Trustees with a majority of lay members.
• Jun 24, 1537. Ignatius, Francis Xavier, and five companions were ordained priests in Venice, Italy.
• Jun 25, 1782. The Jesuits in White Russia were permitted by the Empress Catherine to elect a General. They chose Fr. Czerniewicz. He took the title of Vicar General, with the powers of the General.
• Jun 26, 1614. By a ruse of the Calvinists, the book, Defensio Fidei by Francis Suarez was condemned by the French Parliament. In addition, in England James I ordered the book to be publicly burned.

World Cup Let’s pray for those who have traveled to South Africa to watch the World Cup. May South Africa represent the potential of all Africa and Madagascar in grace and dignity. Through these games may we come to understand one another better and be enriched by learning new cultural traditions. I am delighted that all eyes are on Africa as it showcases its warm hospitality.

Happy Father’s Day (Father's day is September 5th for Australia and New Zealand)

We pray today for blessings on the many dads, grandfathers, and uncles who are celebrated on this day to honor the paternal care given to our children. Let us also remember those couples too who want to become parents but find that they are unable to conceive. Though it does not take away their pain, I’m sure many of these men have been a positive father figure to someone who looks up to them in gratitude for their example and concern.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Prayer: Teresa of Avila

Although I have often abandoned you, O Lord, you have never abandoned me. Your hand of love is always outstretched towards me, even when I stubbornly look the other way. And your gentle voice constantly calls me, even when I obstinately refuse to listen.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Prayer: Francis Borgia, S.J.

Whoever wishes to accomplish these spiritual works of the Society needs to be on the cross, that is, on the mortification of the cross. (1) To feel the cross of Christ. (2) To grieve at not suffering. (3) A cross when there is not cross. (4) To feel the cross with my life, for not having given it for Christ. It is madness to believe that without the cross, without hardship, without suffering, we can accomplish the type of spiritual works our Society aims at.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Homily: Matthew 6 - The Lord's Prayer

I worked at a men’s maximum security prison for a year and when I met with them for weekly prayer, one of the guys would start out by shouting out a question, “Whose Father?” to which everyone responded “Our Father, who art in heaven.” At first I thought it was a bit hokey, but it stayed with me because of the unity that it signified in their worship. This is certainly Our Father who we come to worship each day at Mass.

The first reading shows great unity in worship as the author of Sirach sings praises to the great prophet Elijah. This reveals a community that is happy and at ease with itself.

As I reflect upon the unity that we have under our Father in heaven, I look at ways in which we come to worship. We do so much of it as individuals rather than as a community and we have to strive to bring the community dimension to the foreground. Let’s look at some of the ways we act as individuals.

• No one knows if we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation because it is a private affair.
• We schedule infant baptisms to be held after Mass.
• Weddings have become private celebrations.
• At Mass, we might not joyously greet our brother or sister by extended arms of peace. Some of us might withhold it for only those we care for most closely. Some won’t even smile or look at each other in the eyes.
• We sit in rows where we don’t have to look at another person and we certainly would get bent out of shape if someone sat in our seat.
• We stand in line to go to communion while in the past we lined up side by side and we knew our neighbor would receive the bread of life (not that we ought to return to this way.)
• We choose which celebrant we want to hear; we drive to go to a parish that suits our needs.

When did our communal worship become privatized? These are not necessarily negative aspects, but it creates a challenge for us to realize that we are of one family, one community under God, who is our Father, or as some experience, Mother, loving creator, and this God wants us all to do better than just get along. This God wants us to share the song of praise of one another just like the author of Sirach has for Elijah. We can come to see the world and love the world in a way that resembles how God sees the world and its people. This is the purpose of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.

I invite you to glance around the chapel today and really take notice of your neighbor because he or she has been invited by God to be here with you. Reflect upon the goodness of the person next to you or across the room from you. Appreciate that you are not alone and that God is working thoroughly through your fellow disciple of Christ. We do this together. Put on the mind of Christ as we go to the table in a few minutes and do the same when we pray the words that he taught us. It is our Father in heaven who provides for all of our needs and has given us the perfect prayer as strength to live joyfully as a united family.

Spirtuality: On Mysticsm by Anthony de Mello, S.J.

"How does one seek union with God?"
"The harder you seek, the more distance you create between Him and you."

"So what does one do about the distance?"
"Understand that it isn't there."

"Does that mean that God and I are one?"
"Not one. Not two."

"How is that possible?"
"The sun and its light, the ocean and the wave, the singer and his song

-- not one.
Not two."

Prayer: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.

The greater humanity becomes, the more humanity becomes united, with consciousness of, and master of, its potentialities, the more beautiful creation will be, the more perfect adoration will become, and the more Christ will find, for mystical extensions, a body worthy of resurrection…. The star for which the world is waiting…. Is necessarily Christ himself, in whom we hope.

The universal Christ… is none other than the authentic expression of Christ of the gospel. Christ, renewed, it is true, by contact with the modern world, but at the same time, Christ becomes even greater in order still to remain the same Christ.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Prayer: Walter Ciszek, S.J.

After twenty-three years inside the Soviet Union, fifteen of them spent in Soviet prisons or the prison camps of Siberia – I have been asked… “How did you manage to survive?” … To me, the answer is simple and I can say quite simply: Divine Providence. But how can I explain it?

I don’t just mean that God took care of me. I mean that He called me to, prepared me for, then protected me during those years in Siberia. I am convinced of that; but then, it is my life and I have experienced His hand at every turning.

I had decided I was going to be a Jesuit, so one morning I caught the train to New York without telling anyone. Somehow, I found my way to the office of the Jesuit Provincial. The brother in charge of the door told me the Provincial wasn’t in. I wouldn’t tell him what I wanted; I just asked when the Provincial would be back. He said the Provincial would return that evening, and I asked if I could see him. The brother shrugged his shoulders and I left.

At 7:0 I returned to the Provincial’s residence and asked if he had returned. The brother told me to take a seat in the parlor. About eight o’clock, Father Kelly, the Provincial, came into the parlor and asked me what it was all about. I told him who I was, and that I wanted to be a Jesuit. He looked at me for a moment, then sat down. He wanted to know about my parents. I told him I was twenty-four years of age and the decision was mine to make. Then I reminded him of St. Stanislaus’ walk from Warsaw to Rome to see the Jesuit Provincial there. Father Kelly just stared at me, so I rushed on, trying to explain why I wanted to be a Jesuit…

Father Kelly returned to tell me things would probably work out all right, but that I should go home and wait for his answer…. It was more than joy – it was a deep and soul-satisfying peace. It was something more, too, than just the quiet and release from tension that follows the settling of any emotional problem – it was a positive and deep-seated happiness akin to the feeling of belonging or of having reached safe harbor, but deeper than that and a gift from God.

Spirituality: What is Your Theme Song?

On various retreat workshops, I have asked participants to consider their theme song. What song would you like played over a public address system to announce you as you walk into a large room? What song best speaks about your relationship with God?

Jim Croce's song "I Got a Name" is the song that best reflects the events in my life that led me to trust more fully in God.

I liked the tune when I first heard it in 1973 on the radio because it is peppy, upbeat, and has great movement to its theme.

The other times when I heard it in a meaningful way were:

  • when my family collected my disabled sister at the end of her summer residential program and brought her home. My sister was in her teens and it was her first time away from home. Each weekend we would travel to see her, but my parents were heartbroken when we left her there and throughout the week. I recall hearing this song on the ride home after we picked her up to be with us once again.
  • when my parents and I took care of my niece when she was in an unhappy home environment. My sister (my niece's mother) was not ready to be a mother and we looked at the unhappiness of my niece during a visit. She was happy to see us. We asked permission to take her home with us and to my credit, my sister said 'yes.' I recall on the drive home, my parents handed my toddler niece to me. It felt right to collect her and I heard the song on the radio once again. Everything felt right.
  • when I left my job at a human service agency for a career in banking - it meant that I would leave the expectations of a small textile mill behind and strike out on my own. In some ways for me, it meant giving up on my sister, but at the same time, I had to begin my life. I had a promising career in human services and left for the complete unknown. The day I left my job, as I drove home, I felt confirmation once again that it was the right thing to do when I turned on the radio and I heard the words, "and I'm gonna go there free."
  • and finally, when I posted my application for the Society of Jesus just as I was awarded the Presidents' Circle Award at Eastern Bank. I spent 10 years in banking and I did well with that type of work. Early on in my career, I began my faith crisis when I won an award for the bank and was given job offers double and triple my salary, but I did not want to accept them because I thought my life was asking more of me. After a day off from a snowstorm in which I wrote my application, I brought it to work, was greeted with the news of my award, and had to discern which way God was calling me. After several days, I had the courage to post the application. Feeling relieved, once again somewhere along the drive the song came on the radio. I was beginning to understand the importance of this song to my life.
Each time I heard this song I was assured of the rightness of our/my decision. It seemed to be a confirmation from God about the choices I was making.

I especially likedthe middle part of the song that says, "And I'm gonna go there free." My life with God has been about growing into new freedom.

The song seems to tell me that I've got a name, I got a dream, I got a song.

Click on the link below to hear the song.

Jim Croce's 1973 Classic "I Got A Name."

What is your theme song?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Prayer: James F. Maguire, S.J.

But the more basic explanation of my contentment and happiness in the Jesuit way of life is spiritual. Slowly – ever so slowly – over the fifty-seven years of my life as a Jesuit, I have been coming to experience in a most modest yet gradually deepening way the companionship of Christ.

It is at Mass especially that Christ’s presence has been becoming real for me. In my early years as a priest and before that as a scholastic, there were occasional moments of realization that the Christ of Gethsemane, of Calvary, and of that first Easter morning was actually on the altar before us. Slowly – distressingly slowly – this awareness has gradually become more pronounced, especially in the moments following the consecration.

Along with this growing awareness of the living and loving Christ in the Mass, there is experienced a growing closeness to him in and out of prayer outside the Holy Sacrifice. Under these conditions prayer ceases to be simply a duty to be discharged. One feels drawn to prayer – or rather to Christ who may be found in it.

As the sense of Christ’s closeness becomes more continuous, one experiences deep personal fulfillment; but also an ever increasing amazement. Faith calmly accepts, but it is a clause of endless wonder to mind and heart that Christ continually seeks us out in such a personal and intimate fashion. Gradually – again with maddening slowness – one senses a lessening of disquiet over the inevitable frustrations, disappointments, and trials of our human condition.

The ideal of the novitiate then is not entirely beyond realization. In time, We Jesuits do approach in some measurable degree the Society’s ideal and become gratefully conscious of Christ’s continuing companionship. As my years multiply, the thought of death occurs with frequency, but with little if any disquiet of the soul. One is increasingly sustained by and finds deep satisfaction in the guarantee of our Catholic faith that the growing sense of Christ’s presence that we now experience is but the merest suggestion of the eternal intimacy with Christ that is awaiting us.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 13, 2010

Love makes us act in crazy ways. Loving another person involves great risks and makes you feel very vulnerable. Recall a point in your life when you wanted to say to another person “I love you” and to have the person respond in kind. It can be very frightening and you can risk great interpersonal loss because you can never predict what the other person is feeling. How does one cope if he or she is rejected after bearing the depths of one’s feelings to the other? It is quite a vulnerable action, but love propels a person to cross over those boundaries and take the risk. We see a sinful woman crossing over social and interpersonal boundaries when she anoints the feet of Jesus as he has dinner with Simon the Pharisee. She not only humbles herself at the feet of Jesus, she breaks all social conventions by entering into a house uninvited, which brings much negative attention to herself - a woman who may have already been battered down by society for years. However, nothing else matters for her. She has found the one who makes everything all right.

This forgiven woman wants to show Jesus her gratitude for his great act of mercy and inclusion. She realizes that she wants to express her joy in return for being freed from her guilt. She can live in true freedom where the conventions of society no longer hold much weight. Her life can begin anew. It reveals the divine power hidden within forgiveness and it shows how deeply the risen Christ can live in us. We have new life when we accept forgiveness. Unfortunately, the Gospel passage doesn’t tell us what happened with the other characters. The Pharisees invite Jesus to the meal to test him and they murmur about the power Jesus professes to forgive sins. Simon intellectually understands that great love flows from having been forgiven much, but the nameless woman lives this particular truth. Forgiveness brings about an expansive love.

The Gospel ends with a significant passage about naming the women who were close friends and disciples of Jesus. The Twelve are with Jesus and are sharing in his ministry, and Jesus dignifies the women by spending time with them. The new family of faith is being born. Those who are forgiven and cured merely want to hang out with the one who has done good thing for them. They become his companions and learn about his thoughts and visions. As you ponder this passage you may be able to sense the joy that they feel about being with one another with no real agenda or objective in mind. They like each other and want to spend time with the one they love. Discipleship can be so simple if we just take the time to be with our friend and Lord. Once we become more familiar with Christ, we naturally tell our stories and seek the forgiveness that leads to the exponential expansion of our love. We become inextricably changed.

Quote for the Week

O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of your presence, your love, and your strength. Help us to have perfect trust in your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to you, we shall see your hand, your purpose, your will through all things.

Attributed to Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: When Naboth refused to cede his ancestral property to Ahab, Jezebel arranged to have him accused and stoned to death. Elijah confronts Ahab as a murderer who has unjustly taken Naboth’s vineyard, but Ahab humbles himself and the Lord spares him, but promises doom upon his son. When Elijah was to be taken up into heaven, Elisha asks for double the spirit of Elijah and takes on his ministry. The Book of Sirach recounts how the flaming chariot divided Elijah from Elisha and Elijah was enveloped in a whirlwind. Jehoiada anointed Joash as the king, made a covenant, and then demolished the temple of Baal. The city lived in peace as its enemies were vanquished. When Jehoiada died, his son Zechariah became prophet, but the princes forsook the temple of the Lord and killed Zechariah. For this, the Lord sent a small band of Arameans to vanquish the much larger forces of Judah and Jerusalem. The devastated Joash suffered greater calamity as his servants rose against him and killed him.

Gospel: Matthew’s Beatitudes continue with Jesus reversing the ancient Jewish law of an eye for an eye by turning it into a teaching about the proper attitude for behaviors in the face of evil. Jesus overturns the teaching about love your neighbor by asking them to love their enemies just as God loves all people and things. One’s righteousness has to be done because of its rightness in which we will get God’s affirmation, not the glory of humans. He then teaches them how to pray – a startling new way in which we can address the Lord God as Abba, Father. We are to search for the imperishable treasure that lies in our life with God. We can only have one God and we have to choose which god to follow and then conform our lives to it, but the choice we make has eternal consequences.

Saints of the Week

Saturday: Romuald, abbot ran the Camaldolese Benedictine monastery that began in 1012. He was from a royal family in Ravenna. He is remembered for combining the monastic community life with the solitary life of hermits. The Camaldolese have a monastery in the hills of northern California next to the Big Sur.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jun 13, 1557. The death of King John III of Portugal, at whose request Francis Xavier and others were sent to India.
• Jun 14, 1596. By his brief Romanus Pontifex, Pope Clement VIII forbade to members of the Society of Jesus the use or privilege of the Bulla Cruciata as to the choice of confessors and the obtaining of absolution from reserved cases.
• Jun 15, 1871. P W Couzins, a female law student, graduated from Saint Louis University Law School, the first law school in the country to admit women.
• Jun 16, 1675. St Margaret Mary Alacoque received her great revelation about devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
• Jun 17, 1900. The martyrdom at Wuyi, China, of Blesseds Modeste Andlauer and Remy Asore, slain during the Boxer Rebellion.
• Jun 18, 1804. Fr. John Roothan, a future general of the Society, left his native Holland at the age of seventeen to join the Society in White Russia.
• Jun 19, 1558. The opening of the First General Congregation, nearly two years after the death of Ignatius. It was summoned by Fr. Lainez, the Vicar General. Some trouble arose from the fact that Fr. Bobadilla thought himself entitled to some share in the governance. Pope Paul IV ordered that the Institute of the Society should be strictly adhered to.

Prayer for Middle East Christians

Pope Benedict this week calls upon all Catholics to remember the plight of Middle East Christians who are largely forgotten by the world community. We pray for Christians in Israel who do not have full rights of civic and religious freedom. We pray for Christians in Palestine who have little daily sustenance. We pray for those in Iraq, once a thriving middle class of professionals, who have been forced to abandon their professions or to flee to the north to live in greater security. May Pope Benedict continue to call upon Christians frequently to remind us of our fraternal responsibilities to our brothers and sisters.

The New England province once had a thriving mission in Baghdad, Iraq operating Baghdad College (high school), Al Hikma University, and a Spirituality Center. Every several years, the alumni of these schools gather in the U.S. and Canada for a spirited reunion. We have often prayed for the Iraqi Chaldean community and other Christians who have faced difficult times. May our prayers for them continue.

Father’s Day

May God’s blessings fall upon all fathers for the ways they have shown care and protection to their children. May God also bless grandfathers, uncles, and all who have acted paternally to provide for the needs of others. May St. Joseph continue to watch over those who watch over the young, the needy, and the poor in society.

Graduations

Congratulations to all graduates of high schools and universities. Celebrate your accomplishments well and with great safety. The world needs well-informed, conscience-developing, wisdom-inspired men and women to lead us into a more caring and compassionate world.

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest, until your good is better and your better is your best.”

Jesuit Ordinations

Across the United States, Jesuits who have been trained in theological schools will be presented for priestly ordination by their provinces. Five men from the New England, New York, and Maryland provinces will be ordained on Saturday, June 12th. The church is very fortunate to receive these men to the orders of sacramental ministry.

Ecology

Our prayers remain with the people and the habitat of the Gulf of Mexico coastline as the oil spill, though slightly improving, still has no end for recovery in sight. The immense harm to our ecological world reminds us of the fragile balance of our environment.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Prayer: Jerome Nadal, S.J.

When Father Ignatius came to Rome with Fathers Faber and Lainez, while he was praying, Christ appeared to him in a vision carrying the cross; and as God the Father placed Ignatius with Christ in his service, he said: ‘I shall be with you’ (Ego vobiscum ero), by which we clearly meant that he chose us to be companions of Jesus. And this is a special grace granted to the Society by God. For this we must realize that, while Christ who rose from the dead dies no more, he still continues to suffer and bear his cross in his members. It is to this therefore that God the Father calls us, so that in this company we may follow Jesus, each one carrying his own cross, suffering for Christ; and we ought to find courage and comfort in this thought that we follow Christ, having been made his companions through the cross. For what else did Christ want or have in this world but labors, persecutions, and the cross for the glory of God the Father and the salvation of all of us? Let us therefore wish for the same, risking if necessary our lives for the salvation of our brothers and sisters.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Homily: Matthew 5 - On Reconciliation

I gave this homily at daily Mass on Thursday, July 10th on the subject of reconciling one's anger with one's brother or sister before approacing the altar of the Lord.

I have a bit of Irish blood in me so it is very natural for me to hold onto grudges. Sometimes I feel hypocritical about my actions as I pit it against this reading. How about you? Are you all in right relationship with meaningful people in your lives? Does anyone here have a grudge they are harboring against a neighbor?


I would feel hypocritical if I was in total agreement with the Gospel passage. I am not saying that Jesus got it wrong, and I will say that I am in fundamental agreement with the deeper meaning he is trying to convey. I guess I differ in how I hear people interpret how our actions should look as we fulfill this teaching. The church teaches us that we are to be a reconciling people, but I contend that we do not fully comprehend the intricacies of reconciliation and we make it seem all too simple – and we are made to feel that there is something wrong with us if we can’t reconcile. The point is the Jesus wants us to be in right relations with our brothers and sisters, with a clear conscience, with a clean heart, as we approach the altar. Our right relations will be testimony to the integrity of our worship. That’s the deeper part. Our right relations will be testimony to the integrity of our worship. T

There are two problems our interpretation of the passage:

1. We fail to recognize the complexity of reconciliation and the fact that it is really a gift from God. Since we are only one part of the relationship, and we can seldom accurately predict how another person will respond, we can only do our part, and then place it in the hands of God. Reconciliation may be a lengthy process that is largely out of our control, yet we have to be as active as we can be to bring about the unity that God wants. God, though, is steadfast and patient, and God knows these types of problems aren’t solved overnight.
It takes great effort first to:

understand our feelings,
deal with our emotions,
hope for some good in the future,
have courage to take an initial step,
wait for a response,
enter into true meaningful dialogue in which we listen to the other person,
and become enriched through his vulnerable process.

It is quite complex, which leads me to my second and the more important point.

2. I would never get to the altar if it was left entirely to my control to reconcile first. The point is: I need the altar. I need to go to the altar day after day – so that I can reconcile with my brother or sister. I need the altar to make sense of my life so that I can become the righteous person God wants me to be. I need God to make sense of the chaos that I can’t comprehend. I simply can’t wait.

I go to the altar because I meet God there. I bring my hopes and joys, my struggles and chaos. I bring my very self – at my best and at my worst – and I let God work through me. As I age, I realize just how much I need God. As I mature, I realize that life is much easier when I let God work through me.

So, how about you? Are you ready to join me at the altar – with all our warts and beauty – with the incompleteness of our efforts - to let God more deeply enter into our lives? I hope so.

Father Predmore

Prayer: Rose of Lima

O good Jesus, I know not even how to love you. What advantage is it to have a heart, unless it be quite consumed with love for you?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spirituality: “Mature religious generativity” from Christian Life Patterns

Growth into mature religious generativity results in a new combination of virtues in the personality. Charity, matured into less controlling care and a broader concern, is now joined by detachment. Charity is manifested in the generative person’s contribution to the community and society. In middle age this self-giving is informed by greater self-knowledge and less restricted by one’s personal ambition and the need to succeed. Detachment is that peculiar virtue that allows one to let go of control. It is rooted not in a stoic indifference but in a conviction – perhaps new for the adult – that God rather than oneself will see to the destiny of future generations of believers and nonbelievers. The energetic self-investment in Christian service characteristic for many in the twenties and thirties may be transformed in the forties and fifties into a self-investment complemented by a new self-engagement. Control can now be shared and passed on as one becomes able to trust more fully both in God and the next generation. This virtue of detachment does not manifest itself in a decrease in one’s involvement or creativity but rather in a growth in trust, patience, and an ability to share responsibility. The religious insight which allows such mature generativity is that the human and Christian enterprise extends beyond my strengths and limitations. Thus I learn to give myself to something that transcends me. And in giving myself away, I find myself again, now in a new relationship with God and the community.

Evelyn Eaton Whitehead and James D. Whitehead

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Poem: The Plain Facts, By a PLAIN but AMIABLE Cat, Ruth Pitter, 20th century

See what a charming smile I bring,
Which no one can resist;
For I have a wondrous thing –
The Fact that I exist.

And I have found another, which
I now proceed to tell.
The world is so sublimely rich
That you exist as well.

Fact One is lovely, so is Two,
But O the best is Three:
The fact that I can smile at you,
And you can smile at me.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Poem: from Israfel by Edgar Allan Poe, 1831

In Heaven a spirit doth swell
‘Whose heart-strings are a lute;’
None sing so wildly well
As the angel Israfel,
And the giddy stars (so legends tell)
Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
Of his voice, all mute.

Tottering above
In her highest noon,
The enamored moon
Blushes with love,
While, to listen, the red Levin
(With the rapid Pleiads, even,
Which were seven)
Pauses in Heaven.

And they say (the starry choir
And the other listening things)
That Israfeli’s fire
Is owing to that lyre
By which he sits and sings –
The trembling living wire
Of those unusual strings.

But the skies that angel trod,
Where deep thoughts are a duty,
Where Love’s a grown-up God,
Where the Houri glances are
Imbued with all the beauty
Which we worship as a star.

Therefore, thou art not wrong,
Israfeli, who despises
And impassioned song;
To thee the laurels belong,
Best bard, because the wisest!
Merrily live, and long!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Spirituality: Praying with Scripture

God speaks to us First

This fundamental truth makes it possible for us to pray: God has been concerned for each of us before we became concerned for ourselves. God desires to communicate with us.

God speaks to us continually, revealing Himself to us in various way:

1. Through Jesus Christ, His Word,
2. Through the Church, the extension of Christ in the world,
3. Through other people (because we are joined together in Christ),
4. Through the visible creation all around us, which forms the physical context of our lives,
5. Through the events and experiences of our lives,
6. Through Holy Scripture.

God invites us to Listen

Our response to God’s initial move is to listen to what God is saying: this is the basic attitude of prayer.

How to Go About Listening

What you do immediately before prayer is important.

• Normally, it is something you do not rush right into.
• Spend a few moments quieting yourself and relaxing.
• Settling yourself into a prayerful and comfortable position.

In listening to anyone, you try to tune out everything, except what the person is saying to you. In prayer this can be done best in silence and solitude.

Select a short passage from Holy Scripture. Read through a few times to familiarize yourself with it. Put a marker in the page. Try to find a quiet place where you can be alone and uninhibited in your response to God’s presence. Try to quiet yourself interiorly. Jesus would often go up to a mountain by himself to pray with his Father.

In an age of noise, activity, and tensions like our own, it is not always easy or necessary to forget our cares and commitments, the noise and excitement of our environment. Never feel constrained to blot out all distractions. Anxiety in this regard could get between ourselves and God.

Rather, realize that the Word did become flesh, that he speaks to us in the noise and confusion of our day. Sometimes in preparing for prayer, relax and listen to the sounds around you. God’s presence is as real as they are.

Be conscious of your sensations and living experiences of feeling, thinking, hoping, loving, of wondering, and desiring. Then, conscious of God’s unselfish, loving presence in you, address Him simply and admit: “Yes, you do love life and feeling into me. You do love a share of your personal life into me. You are present to me. You live in me. Yes, You do.”

God is present as a person, in you through God’s Spirit, who speaks to you now in Scripture, and who prayers in you and for you.

Ask God for the grace to listen to what the Spirit is saying.

Begin reading Scripture slowly and attentively. Do not hurry to cover much material.

If it recounts an event in Christ’s life, be there in the mystery of it. Share with the persons involved, e.g., a blind man being cured. Share their attitude. Respond to what Jesus is saying.

Some words or phrases carry special meaning for you. Savor these words, turning them over in your heart.

When something strikes you, for example:

• You feels a new way of being with Christ,
• He becomes for you in a new way (for instance, you sense what it means to be healed by Christ),
• You experience God’s love,
• You experience new meaning,
• You are moved to do something good,
• You are peaceful,
• You are happy and content just to be in God’s presence,
• You are struggling with or disturbed by what the words are saying,

This is the time to pause….
This is God speaking directly to you in the words of Scripture.
Do not hurry to move on. Wait until you are no longer moved by the experience.
Do not get discouraged if nothing seems to be happening.

Sometimes God lets us feel dry and empty in order to let us realize it is not in our own power to communicate with Him or to experience consolation. God is sometimes very close to us in His seeming absence. (Psalm 139: 78) God is for us entirely in a selfless way, accepting us as we are, with all our limitations – even with our seeming inability to pray. A humble attitude of listening is a sign of love for Him, and a real prayer from the heart.

The Spirit, too, comes to help us in our weakness, for when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words. (Romans 8:26-27)

Relax in prayer. Remember. God will speak to you in His own way.

“Yes, as the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.” (Isaiah 55: 10-11)

Spend time in your prayer just being conscious of God’s presence in and around you. If you want to, speak with God about the things you are interested in or wish to thank God for – your joys, sorrows, aspirations.

Summary: The Five “P’s”

Passage from Scripture. Pick none and have it marked and ready.

Place. Where you are alone and uninhibited in your response to God’s presence.

Posture. Relaxed and peaceful. A harmony of body with spirit.

Presence of God. Be aware of it and acknowledge and respond to it. When you are ready, turn to the

Passage of Scripture. Read it slowly (aloud), attending carefully and peacefully to it.

Pause.

Read aloud or whisper in a rhythm with your breathing a phrase at a time with pauses and repetitions when and where you feel like it.

Do not be anxious. Do not try to look for implications or lessons or profound thoughts or conclusions or resolutions. Be content to be like a child who climbs into its parent’s lap and listens.

Carry on a conversation (Colloquy) with the Lord concerning what you hear or feel or what you need or what you have experienced.

Review

After the period of prayer is over it is helpful to reflect back over the experience of prayer. This will help you notice what the Lord is doing in your experience.

From Joseph Sobb, S.J. of the Australian province

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Song: Lauda Sion by Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas wrote the Lauda Sion, the song used in the sequence to the Mass preceding the Gospel proclamation. His words in this hymn show deep reverence for the gift of the Blessed Sacrament as a life-nourishing presence in our liturgical world.

Click on the link to hear the Sequence.

Lauda Sion

Sion, lift thy voice and sing:
Praise thy Saviour and thy King;
Praise with hymns thy Shepherd true.

Strive thy best to praise him well,
Yet doth he all praise excel;
None can ever reach his due.

See today before us laid
The living and life-giving Bread,
Theme for praise and joy profound.

The same which at the sacred board
Was by our incarnate Lord.
Giv’n to his apostles round

Let the praise be loud and high;
Sweet and tranquil be the joy
Felt today in every breast;

On this festival divine.
Which records the origin of the glorious Eucharist.
On this table of the King

Our new paschal offering
Brings to end the olden rite.
Here, for empty shadows fled.

Is reality instead:
Here, instead of darkness, light.
His own act, at supper seated,

Christ ordained to be repeated,
In his memory divine;
Wherefore now, with adoration,

We the Host of our salvation
Consecrate from bread and wine.
Hear what holy Church maintaineth,

That the bread its substance changeth
Into flesh, the wine to blood.
Doth it pass thy comprehending?

Faith, the law of sight transcending,
Leaps to things not understood.
Flesh from bread, and blood from wine,

Yet is Christ in either sign
All entire, confessed to be.
They too of him partake,

Sever not, nor rend, nor break,
But entire their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousands eat,

All receive the selfsame meat,
Nor the less for others leave.
Both the wicked and the good

Eat of this celestial food;
But with ends how opposite!
Here ’tis life, and there ’tis death,

The same, yet issuing to each,
In a difference infinite.
Nor a single doubt retain,

When they break the host in twain,
But that in each part remain,
What was in the whole before.

Since the simple sign alone
Suffers change in state or form,
The signified remaining one

And the same for evermore.
Lo! upon the altar lies,
Hidden deep from human eyes,

Bread of angels from the skies,
Made the food of mortal man:
Children’s meat, to dogs denied:

In old types foresignified:
In the manna heav’n-supplied,
Isaac, and the paschal Lamb. Jesu!

Shepherd of the sheep!
Thou thy flock in safety keep.
Living Bread! thy life supply;

Strength us, or else we die;
Fill us with celestial grace;
Thou, who feedest us below!

Source of all we have or know!
Grant that with thy saints above,
Sitting at the feast of love,
We may see thee face to face. Amen.

Corpus Christi 2010

The Body and Blood of Christ June 6, 2010

The feast of Corpus Christi began in Christendom during the late 13th and early 14th centuries to honor the institution of the Eucharist in a more joyful time than Holy Thursday when the Passion of the Lord is the predominant focus. In the mid-14th century, grand processions accompanied the feast when both religious and civic officials sought the blessings that the real presence of the Blessed Sacrament would provide. Farms, fields, houses and business were blessed during these processions to provide good fortune while Christians would receive indulgences. Today only a few churches organize ceremonial processions and the feast has been more universally recognized as the Body and the Blood of Christ – bringing significance to the saving nature of the chalice and blood.

Eucharistic elements appear in each of our readings today. In gratitude for the blessing of Melchizedek over the bread and wine, Abram provides a tenth of all his endeavors for the priest. Paul passes onto us in 1 Corinthians 11 that Jesus blesses the cup with bread that is to be broken while further commanding us to remember him when we celebrate the meal. Jesus asks us to reach into our resources and to provide for those who are hungry in Luke’s account of the multiplication of the five loaves and two fish. Many people will claim that the true miracle is that the 5,000 men transcended their self-preserving nature to provide for others. While this is possible, we have to keep our attention focused on the nourishing self-giving aspect of Jesus. It is from him that we receive our nourishment. While the people who were cured and listened to Jesus were able to eat plenty, they decided to remain with him that evening as they recognized that he is the source of all that sustains us.

We cannot underestimate the role we play. Jesus tells the disciples, “Give them some food yourselves” and Paul tells us that he is freely handing on what he has freely received. We have received a command to feed one another and to pass on our faith. Both are extremely difficult to do within today’s climates. We constantly have to ask ourselves ‘who is my neighbor’ and ‘to whom do I assist’ in a world that is wracked with devastating calamities every week. We just have too many mouths to feed and we come up with answers just like the disciples. No, Jesus will send us back so we can evaluate our own resources – spiritual and otherwise – so we can feed others and bring them to his heart. It is ironic that in a time in the world where we can all benefit from the Eucharistic nourishment, our church attendance is dramatically low. Are we freely and generously passing on what we have been freely handed? Give them something to eat.

Quote for the Week

Prayer to the Sacred Heart by Saint Francis De Sales, founder of the Salesian Orders.

May Thy Heart dwell always in our hearts!
May Thy Blood ever flow in the veins of our souls!
O sun of our hearts, Thou givest life to all things by the rays of Thy goodness!
I will not go until Thy Heart has strengthened me, O Lord Jesus!
May the Heart of Jesus be the King of my heart!
Blessed be God. Amen.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: We meet the prophet Elijah who learns to trust in God’s providence by waiting at the Wadi Cherith while bread and meat is brought to him each day. He was commanded by the Lord to go to Zarephath where he met a starving widow who served him her last morsel of food. For this, Elijah stayed for a year and the woman’s food supplies never ran out. The sole Elijah sets us a competition with the 450 prophets of Baal and the Lord God answered Elijah’s offering by sending fire to the sacrifice at the altar. The people fell prostrate and worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. During Elijah’s next prayer in front of Ahab, he asked for rains and God sent it. Elijah then sets out and comes to meet Elisha who leaves his fields to come follow Elijah as his attendant.

Gospel: Matthew’s Beatitudes begin the Sermon on the Mount by describing the present state of the poor people who have come to hear the words of Jesus while also describing the conditions for discipleship. All followers are called to be special examples (salt, light) for others through their moral choices, and he urges them to respect, uphold, and promote the fulfillment of the law, which will bring about the day of the Lord. One’s righteousness is to communicate lasting impressions to others; one’s desire to reconcile with a brother will be a condition for entering into the family of God.

Saints of the Week

Wednesday: Ephrem, deacon and doctor, was from the area now known as Iraq. He wrote scriptural commentaries after the fall of the Persians in 363 and is one of the first to evangelize through music – writing many hymns for public worship. He spent most of his time in a cave at Edessa.

Friday: The Sacred Heart of Jesus has a long-standing devotion traced back to the Middle Ages that shows the three-fold (human, spiritual, divine) love contained within the heart of Jesus. In 1899, Pope Leo XIII consecrated the world to the Sacred Heart – a tradition that began with the Jesuits. Claude La Colombiere, S.J., as a spiritual director to Margaret Mary Alocoque, established the feast as a liturgical celebration in the 17th century.

Saturday: The Immaculate Heart of Mary falls the day after the Sacred Heart of Jesus feast to recognize Mary’s love for us as the Mother of God. Just as the world has been consecrated to the sacred heart of Jesus, similar devotions were made to Mary’s protection by various popes and religious leaders.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jun 6, 1610. At the funeral of Henry IV in Paris, two priests preaching in the Churches of St Eustace and St Gervase denounced the Jesuits as accomplices in his death. This was due primarily to the book De Rege of Father Mariana.
• Jun 7, 1556. Peter Canisius becomes the first provincial superior of the newly constituted Province of Upper Germany.
• Jun 8, 1889. Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins died at the age of 44 in Dublin. His final words were "I am so happy, so happy." He had written "I wish that my pieces could at some time become known but in some spontaneous way ... and without my forcing."
• Jun 9, 1597. The death of Blessed Jose de Ancieta, Brazil's most famous missionary and the founder of the cities of Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro.
• Jun 10, 1537. Ignatius and his companions were given minor orders at the house of Bishop Vincenzo Negusanti in Venice, Italy.
• Jun 11, 1742. The Chinese and Malabar Rites were forbidden by Pope Benedict XIV; persecution broke out at once in China.
• Jun 12, 1928. Fr. General Ledochowski responded negatively to the idea of intercollegiate sports at Jesuit colleges because he feared the loss of study time and the amount of travel involved.

Our Ecological Concerns

Many in the U.S. and Mexico are terribly concerned about the oil spill caused by oil giant, BP. The spill has gone on for far too long without any solutions seemingly in place. We wonder how companies like this can drill without any relevant safeguards in place. With the many steps we have taken forward to make our world more eco-friendly, spills like this one seem to put us far back in our efforts. We need solutions. I pray that such a solution comes quickly as our natural habits are threatened with harmful pollution.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Poem: Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

Thou art that She by whom our human nature was so ennobled that it might become the Creator to create Himself His creature.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Prayer: Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J.

“You would not be searching for me unless you had already found me,” as Pascal suggests. In this sentence, the question posed already contains an answer of a sort. The question brings to mind and experience of a famous abbot in the Middle Ages. I see myself more or less in his story. The abbot used to speak very well, every morning to his monks, on finding God, on searching for God, on encountering God. He carried on until the day on which a monk dared to ask him if he himself had ever encountered God. After a bit of embarrassed silence, the abbot frankly admitted he never had a vision or a one-on-one meeting with God. Nothing surprising about that, since God Himself had said to Moses, “You cannot see my face” (Exodus 33:20). But this very same God taught Moses that he could see His back as He passed across his path. “You will see me pass.” And thus, looking back over the length and breadth of his life the abbot could see for himself the passage of God.

For the One, who wishes to write together with each of us our individual history, comes and abides to live life with us – often despite us. Without these respectful, but definitive passages of God, our life would not now be what it is. In this sense, it is less a matter of searching for God than of allowing oneself to be found by Him in all of life’s situations, where He does not cease to pass and where he allows Himself to be recognized once He has really passed: “You will see my back.”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Prayer: Dr. Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross

If we make our goal to live a life of compassion and unconditional love, then the world will indeed become a garden where all kinds of flowers can bloom and grow.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Poem: The Good by Brendan Kennelly, 1967

The good are vulnerable
As any bird in flight,
They do not think of safety,
Are blind to possible extinction
And when most vulnerable
Are most themselves.
The good are real as the sun,
Are best perceived through clouds
Of casual corruption
That cannot kill the luminous sufficiency
That shines on city, sea and wilderness,
Fastidiously revealing
One man to another,
Who yet will not accept
Responsibilities of light.
The good incline to praise,
To have the knack of seeing that
The best is not destroyed
Although forever threatened.
The good go naked in all weathers,
And by their nakedness rebuke
The small protective sanities
That hide men from themselves.
The good are difficult to see
Though open, rare, destructible;
Always, they retain a kind of youth,
The vulnerable grace
Of any bird in flight,
Content to be itself,
Accomplished master and potential victim,
Accepting what the earth or sky intends.
I think that I know one or two
Among my friends.

Song: Everyday God by Bernadette Farrell

Bernadette Farrell's prayerful tune "Everyday God" with lyrics

Prayer Slideshow to Farrell's song Everyday God.