Thursday, June 30, 2011

Const.: GC 34, Decree 4: “Our Mission and Culture”, par. 21

There is a fragmentation of Christian faith in God in post-modern culture, in which human spirituality becomes detached from an explicitly religious expression. People’s spiritual lives have not died; they are simply taking place outside the church.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 3, 2011 Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30

The prophet Zechariah rejoices because an earthly king in the near future will inaugurate a peaceful reign. This king is not to take the shape of a mighty warrior, but as a meek and just savior who is content to ride on a colt. Jesus also introduces an unexpected leader. This leader is one who is filled with wisdom and is not regarded according to the world's standards of accomplishments, conquests, and might. God works in an altogether different manner. God reveals to the one who has an open heart and is not occluded by logic, learned reasoning, and the honors that come with holding credentials.
Jesus appears as a revealer of divine wisdom in line with Jewish Wisdom literature. He can been seen as Wisdom personified with her feminine characteristics of giving rest and comfort and as the one who invites others to her way of life, as in Proverbs 8. Jesus is more than a prophet within the wisdom tradition. He is one who sees himself as a unique revealer of the divine. Jesus sees himself as the Son of the Father, an important development in his self-understanding.

Jesus reveals that he is on intimate terms with his Abba, Father and that God communicates to the simple and the unlearned. God's revelation remains a mystery. Even though study of theology and of metaphysics are important, they in no way assure God's special revelation to learned students. Mysteriously, God chooses to elect some to salvation. All authority for this revelation has been handed over to Jesus who has unique access of knowledge and love of the Father.
As a wisdom teacher, Jesus tells his students that discipleship is a life-long lesson and they are to turn to him in times of crises or moral challenges. He has replaced the Sabbath as a place of rest and the Torah as the interpreter of what is good and holy. What Jesus teaches is easier than the Torah because it is shorter and easier to remember, but it is more difficult because the demands of loving God and one's neighbors are complicated and ever-expanding.

In all the Gospels, Jesus only asks us to learn two unexpected things from him - gentleness and to be humble of heart. Since he asked it of us, we might want to take him seriously. So many aspects of our world are based on might, winning, being number one, or being the champion. The third place ball team never gets any recognition. Our culture tells us to be stronger, better, more youthful than our neighbor. If we can't win, then we are determined to vanquish our opponents. We intend to wipe them out. Our language towards them shows no charity. I dare say this is not the message Jesus wants us to hear.
Force is not the answer. Firmness can be effective if it is balanced by an invitation that permits and encourages freedom. Gentleness always wins out. Elijah learned this lesson in the cave when he went out to meet the storm God, but could only encounters him in the whispering wind. Humility is simply knowing who we are and then acting out of our true selves. We no longer hold onto ourselves as a particular type of god. We no longer have illusions about our identity, but we see ourselves as one who is limited and, at the same time, blessed. We see that we are responsible for our choices that reveal our selves to others. When we have a grasp on our identity, we can accept the words and power of the divine to give us the rest and consolation we need. We can reach a point where we can let Christ take care of us - because he will do a better job than we can. It is at this time that we can accept his invitation to profit from his wisdom.

Themes for this Week’s Masses
First Reading: Jacob dreams of a stairway to heaven where God's angels ascend and descend to the earth. The Lord offers Jacob protection on his journey and Jacob responds by setting up a shrine. During the night, Jacob crossed over the river where he met a man who wrestled with him. As the man could not overcome him, he named his Israel for Jacob wrestled with both divine and humans. The story fast-forwards to Joseph receiving his eleven brothers in Egypt because of a drought. Joseph asks to see his younger brother, but when the brothers reveal their difficulty in separating him from his father, Jacob, Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. Joseph offered his brothers and father sanctuary in Egypt. As Jacob nears his death, he asks for his bones to be buried with Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebekah in the fields of Ephron. Joseph likewise asks that his body be buried in the promised land of milk and honey.

Gospel: Jesus brings the official's daughter back to life and he cures a woman who suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years. A fierce demoniac witnesses demons being driven out of him. Jesus went from town to town to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom and he had pity of them because they are like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus calls his Twelve friends together and gives them instructions over unclean spirits and the power of heal. He gives them instructions on how to proceed and tells them to proclaim the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. He warns them of the dangers they will face and he tells them his Spirit will be there teaching them what to say. He encourages them to be courageous because their reward will be greater than any hardship they will face.
Saints of the Week

Monday: Elizabeth of Portugal (1271-1336), was from the kingdom of Aragon before she married Denis, king of Portugal, at age 12. Her son twice rebelled against the king and Elizabeth helped them reconcile. After he husband's death, she gave up her rank and joined the Poor Clares for a life of simplicity.
Tuesday: Anthony Mary Zaccaria, priest (1502-1539) was a medical doctor who founded the Barnabites because of his devotion to Paul and Barnabas and the Angelics of St. Paul, a woman's cloistered order. He encouraged the laity to work alongside the clergy to care for the poor.

Wednesday: Maria Goretti, martyr (1890-1902) was a poor farm worker who was threatened by Alessandro, a 20-year old neighbor. When she rebuffed his further advances, he killed her, but on her deathbed, she forgave him. He later testified on her behalf during her beatification process, which occurred in 1950.
Saturday: Augustine Zhao Rong, priest and companions, Chinese martyrs (1648-1930) were 120 Chinese martyrs that included priests, children, parents, catechists and common laborers. Christians were persecuted throughout Chinese history. Augustine Zhao Rong was a diocesan priest who was brought to the faith after the example of the French missionary bishop Dufresse. Zhao Rong was arrested in 1815 and died in prison.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Jul 3, 1580. Queen Elizabeth I issued a statute forbidding all Jesuits to enter England.
·         Jul 4, 1648. The martyrdom in Canada of Anthony Daniel who was shot with arrows and thrown into flames by the Iroquois.
·         Jul 5, 1592. The arrest of Fr. Robert Southwell at Uxenden Manor, the house of Mr Bellamy. Tortured and then transferred to the Tower, he remained there for two and a half years.
·         Jul 6, 1758. The election to the papacy of Clement XIII who would defend the Society against the Jansenists and the Bourbon Courts of Europe.
·         Jul 7, 1867. The beatification of the 205 Japanese Martyrs, 33 of them members of the Society of Jesus.
·         Jul 8, 1767. D'Aubeterre wrote to De Choiseul: "It is impossible to obtain the Suppression from the Pope [Clement XIII]; it must be wrested from him by occupying papal territory."
·         Jul 9, 1763. The Society is expelled from New Orleans and Louisiana at the bidding of the French government.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Prayer: Bernardine of Siena

There is a general rule concerning all special graces granted to any human being. Whenever the divine favor chooses someone to receive a special grace, or to accept a lofty vocation, God adorns the person chosen with all the gifts of the Spirit needed to fulfill the task at hand.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Prayer: Thea Bowman

Maybe I'm not making big changes in the world, but if I have somehow helped or encouraged somebody along the journey then I've done what I'm called to do.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Corpus Christi Homily

          I have a keen attraction and a likewise repulsion to this Gospel passage. The attraction is my desire and movement to profoundly be united with Jesus in the most sensible, tangible ways; the repulsion is that I don't want to see the feelings of Jesus get profoundly hurt as many people leave him as they his words distasteful. I fear for his vulnerability as he gives his true self to others. It hurts badly when people turn away from you when they realize you are a disappointment to them. I can sense that his invitation makes them sick to their stomachs. Deep down, they have a "yuck" reaction. I can imagine the hurtful, disappointed look on his face as many walk away and I simply want to ask Jesus to tell me what he feels. I want him to know that he is not alone. Because of their response, I want to tell Jesus that I will stay with him even though what he asks of us is hard to take, and yet I want my response to be a positive one because of what he offers us.

          We meet Jesus after he tells the crowds who witnessed his miraculous feeding of the 5,000 that if they are to be his believers, they are to eat his fleshy body and drink his coursing blood. He tells them they must be like cannibals who are to chew on the meat that makes up his body. This eating is real 'crunch and munch' grinding and chomping of flesh and blood. Understandably, this idea was revolting to many partial followers that turned away from Jesus.

          Every friendship has a critical moment when we choose to remain friends or to end what we thought was going to be a satisfying relationship. After periods of intrigue and curiosity, infatuation and testing, and a safe, but mostly superficial revealing of our outer selves to the other, a relationship moves to a decisive vulnerable point when we reveal something about ourselves that we fear the other might not like to know. If we are going to be real friends, we cannot avoid this juncture. We are to choose from our gut. Will we accept this man, Jesus, as a personal companion even though we know the stakes for friendship will take more out of us than we think we can give. It is going to cost us and we will likewise feel vulnerable and get hurt.

          Jesus gives us a good model of ministry - perhaps a different model than we expected when we first signed on. If we are to minister in today's church, we are to do so from a position of vulnerability - from a position where we acknowledge our fears, our hesitations, our weaknesses, and our hurt feelings. We minister by giving our true selves away just as Jesus did. We are to reveal who we truly are to others who are in search of Christ. It does no good to hide it because people who are seeking the truth can see right through it, and the truth is, what we keep hidden is going to come out sideways with unintended consequences.

         Ministering from our vulnerabilities gives us credibility that makes us sensitive to the yearnings and desires of others. It means not that we are capable of doing or saying the right things, but that we can express compassion and care to those who are in fear or are suffering. It means our heart breaks at their broken hearts and that we rejoice when they come to a new level of freedom. The people of God aren't seeking credentials and accomplishments, but rather a heart that chooses to walk with theirs on a journey of uncertainty. They seek a companion of Jesus who is ready to share their true selves in freedom.

          I saw this type of moment earlier this morning from 2-4 a.m. as I couldn't fall asleep. Ironically, it came in a scene from the remake of the Karate Kid when the trainer, Mr. Miagi, was angrily grieving the loss of his son and wife from a car accident he inadvertently caused. As he slumped in his car as a broken down man, his twelve year old student had enough compassion to reach out to him and be with him in his grief. His training gave him a technique to be still enough to reach inside another person and mirror their feelings without moving them to another place. The student honors and respects his teacher's suffering and showed him that he could hold his pain for him. When Mr. Miagi knows he is not alone in his suffering, his recovery begins. He is teased to move away from his self-directed anger and pity to be led to the person who he truly is becoming. The inside stuff has to emerge until it finds solidarity with the other self. By radically being "with" someone, we become "for" that person. This is precisely what Jesus does for us.

          Jesus gives us himself in body and blood so he can nourish us onwards and upwards in a world that is both redeemed and fragile, but we are not to keep what he has given us to ourselves. The Eucharistic chewing and ingesting is fundamentally an action done for us so we can give our fragile selves away. While our Eucharistic liturgies are a place for us to be nourished by gathering and worshiping, we are sent on mission to the world to enact the Mass for others. Mass unfolds when we leave the chapel or church. We become who we eat. Day after day, year after year, as we consume the flesh and blood of Christ, we can't help but become like him. It is not something we can effect, but we learn the contours of his heart and we feel the depth of emotions he experiences. We see through his eyes, create with his hands, and hold the pain of others as gentle companions with a radical solidarity. By doing so, we become contemplatives in action and friends of Jesus.

          What does it mean to be a companion of Jesus today? We simply want to be friends of Jesus who, through his grace, become our true selves,revealed through our desires and emotions, the positive and negatives ones, to others so they may come to know the liberating freedom of Christ in their tiny corner of the world. We give to others (because we first give to Christ) all our liberty, memory, understanding and our entire will. We become this always-giving person by sharing all that we have and possess knowing that we are gifts given to ourselves by God for our enjoyment and happiness. No one has ever become poor by giving to the needy. The grace of Christ, that he freely offers to us in his body and blood, becomes all that we need for every movement in our lives.

          Be weak enough and vulnerable enough to give away those parts of yourself that you hold onto most strongly. Begin my bringing those areas to the Lord's table today as he gives his very body and blood to you. He will transform all you give him so he can be more present to you and our fragile world. Come. Let us feast on his invitation to friendship.

Const.: GC 34, Decree 4: “Our Mission and Culture”, par. 20

The problems of working in these post-modern, post-Christian contexts need no elaboration here, because the boundary line between the Gospel and the modern and post-modern culture passes through the heart of each of us. Each Jesuit encounters the impulse to unbelief first of all in himself; it is only when we deal with that dimension in ourselves that we can speak to others of the reality of God.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Our Father - translated from Aramaic by the Nazarene Essenes

O cosmic Birther of all radiance and vibration. Soften the ground of our being and carve out a space within us where your Presence can abide.

Fill us with your creativity so that we may be emboldened to bear the fruit of your mission.

Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with our desire.

Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share what each being needs to grow and flourish.

Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us, as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes.

Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true purpose, but illuminate the opportunities of the present moment.

For you are the ground and the fruitful vision, the birth, power and fulfillment, as all is gathered and made whole once again. Amen.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Short Form of the Sequence "Laud, O Zion" for Corpus Christi

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.

Prayer: Gregory of Nyssa

Just as at sea those who are carried away from the direction of the harbor bring themselves back on course by a clear sign, such as a tall beacon light or a mountain peak coming into view, so Scripture may guide those adrift on the sea of life back into the harbor of the divine will.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spirituality: Love of Enemies as a test of the faith

Jesus’ teaching runs directly counter to the Psalmist’s cry that God’s enemies are his enemies too, and so deserve destruction.  Martin Buber comments:  ‘All in all, the saying of Jesus about love for the enemy derives its light from the world of Judaism in which it stands and which he seems to contest; and he outshines it.’

Faithfulness to Jesus’ command to love one’s enemies provides a critical test, then, of whether one stands within or outside the realm of God. To accept love of enemies as credible involves altering one’s inter-subjective attitudes. On Jesus’ reckoning, and Buber’s too, failure to love an enemy means failing to know the true God, and so declaring oneself an unbeliever. But St. Paul is right on the most important point: God’s love is luminous in embracing those at enmity with God.

Adrian Lyons, S.J. from Imagine Believing

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Body and Blood of Christ Sunday

June 26, 2011
Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58

In a highly dramatic scene, Jesus tells the crowds who witnessed his miraculous feeding of the 5,000 that if they are to be his believers, they are to eat his fleshy body and drink his coursing blood. He tells them they must be like cannibals who are to chew on the meat that makes up his body. This eating is real 'crunch and munch' grinding and chomping of flesh and blood. Understandably, this idea was revolting to many partial followers that turned away from Jesus. He claims that a person who does not eat and drink of him will not have true life and cannot be raised on the last day.

The Evangelist John portrays Jesus to be greater than Moses. We get another example of the way Jesus supersedes the great lawgiver in the Bread of Life discourse. Deuteronomy depicts the Hebrews in the desert after their emancipation from slavery in Egypt. They are being tested to see if they will keep the Lord's commandments. The Lord provides them each day with a food to sustain them that is unknown to their ancestors. The great lesson is to depend upon the Lord for all things and you shall have life.
Jesus tells the crowds he is the new manna from heaven, but this food is greater than the one the Hebrews ate for they died. Jesus gives life. His body is true food and his blood is true drink. The people are to depend upon him the ways the Hebrews relied upon the Lord's providence. Jesus provides the bread that brings eternal life.

I find it helpful to remind myself of the old saying, "You are what you eat." In this case, each time we eat we become more like the one we consume. If we admire a trait in someone, we emulate it and incorporate it. This trait becomes our own. If we participate in the Eucharist, something happens to us over time. Some days, I can sit during Mass and draw a blank on the Gospel proclaimed or on what the homilist said, but I recognize I am still sitting in the presence of Christ. In whatever way I am present, I am still relating to him and observing something about him - even if I'm not conscious of it.
I find it more consoling to think of the type of person I am becoming by eating the body of Christ and drinking his blood over a period of months and years. Somehow, I am mysteriously changed and I depend upon the Eucharist as a source of salvation and nourishment. It is a melior esse - something greater that is going on that is inexplicable. I hunger for Christ if I am unable to attend Mass. Not every Mass is going to be a earth-shattering event for me, but I choose to show up and be in the presence of the one whom I adore.

Sometimes, a calm, stable, uneventful Mass is what I and the world needs. With horrific violence, wars of upheaval, and gruesome disasters, the stability and regularity of Mass becomes consoling. It communicates to me that Christ is always present - steadfast in his desire to feed us and care for our woes.
The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ permits me to think of the myriad of people who participate in Mass each day, month, year, and century. God is charitable in answering our prayerful needs. God has provided since the advent of time and it is completely remarkable that so many people have turned to God to have their prayers answered. The billions upon billions of people who have eaten of Christ over the centuries shows to me the magnificence of his gift to us. I want to eat of him and drink his blood so I can become more like him.

Themes for this Week’s Masses
First Reading: Abraham protests to the Lord as they gaze upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah whose great sin was a violation of hospitality. The Lord would not destroy the city if only 10 righteous men were found in it. As the cities were being consumed, Lot's life was spared. He took refuge in Zoar, but his wife looked back and was cast into a pillar of salt. The Lord then asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a show of fidelity. As Abraham readies to do so, a ram is caught in a thicket and the Lord permits its sacrifice instead. The story of Isaac bestowing his blessings on Jacob instead of Esau is now told.

Gospel: Jesus begins to gather followers, but he warns them that he has no place to lay his head until his work is accomplished.  Jesus gets into a boat while a violent wind kicks up. To ease the fear of his disciples, he stills the storm and raises questions in the minds of his followers. Jesus infuriates the religious authorities because he cures and heals, but also forgives sins - an action reserved only for God. The feasts of Peter and Paul, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary supersede the Gospel passages for the day.
Saints of the Week

Monday: Cyril of Alexandria, bishop and doctor (376-444), presided over the Council of Ephesus that fought Nestorian the heresy. Cyril claimed that since the divine and human in Jesus were so closely united that it was fine to say Mary was the mother of God.

Tuesday: Irenaeus, bishop and martyr (130-200) was sent to Lyons as a missionary and he was charged with combating the persecution the church faced there. He was a disciple of Poycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John. Irenaeus asserted that the creation was not sinful by nature but merely distorted by sin. As God created us, God redeemed us. Therefore, our fallen nature can only be saved by Christ who took on our form in the Incarnation.
Wednesday: Peter and Paul, apostles (first century) are lumped together for a feast day because of their extreme importance to the early and contemporary church. Upon Peter's faith was the church built; Paul's efforts to bring Gentiles into the faith and to lay out a moral code was important for successive generations. It is right that they are joined together as their work is one, but with two prongs. For Jesuits, this is a day that Ignatius began to recover from his illness after the wounds he sustained at Pamplona. It marked a turning point in his recovery.

Thursday: The First Holy Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (c. 64) were martyrs under Nero's persecution in 64. Nero reacted to the great fire in Rome by falsely accusing Christians of setting it. While no one believed Nero's assertions, Christians were humiliated and condemned to death in horrible ways. This day always follows the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Friday: The Sacred Heart of Jesus is set on the Friday following Corpus Christi. The heart of Jesus is adored as a symbol of divine, spiritual, and human love. Its devotion grew during the Middle Ages and was transformed in the 17th century when Mary Margaret Alocoque and her Jesuit spiritual director, Claude La Colombiere, reinvigorated the devotion.

Saturday: The Immaculate Heart of Mary began as a devotion in the 17th century. In 1944, the feast was extended to the Western Church. Her heart signifies her sanctity and love as the Mother of God.
This Week in Jesuit History
·         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.
·         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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Prayer: Madeleine L’engle

There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the incarnation.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Prayer: Gregory of Nyssa

The person who fails to comprehend God’s grace is blind. After receiving a great pearl, that one throws it away as a common pebble, thereby being deprived of its possession through ignorance of the beautiful.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Poem: "Golden Retrievals" by Mark Doty

Fetch? Balls and sticks capture my attention
seconds at a time.
Catch? I don't think so.
Bunny, tumbling leaf, a
squirrel who's - oh joy - actually scared.
Sniff the wind, then
I'm off again: muck, pond, ditch, residue
of any thrillingly dead thing. And you?
Either you're sunk in the past,
half our walk, thinking of what you never can bring back,
or else you're off in some fog concerning - tomorrow,
is that what you call it?
My work: to unsnare time's warp
(and woof!), retrieving, my haze-headed friend, you.
This shining bark,
a Zen master's bronzy gong, calls you here,
entirely, now: bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day

Let us pray for our fathers today that they may receive special graces from the Lord to continue the lifelong role of shaping the lives of their children. As we mature, we sometimes have ambiguous relationships with our dads and from him we learn to how to deal with authority - especially our own personal effectiveness. We pray that we learn to exercise our authority justly and with great concern and compassion for others. Let's give thanks to our fathers for the positive ways they shaped our lives and cared for us. We pray that our fathers can continue to support us in helpful spiritual, emotional, and psychological ways. As he continues to age, let us find ways to support him as he faces life's challenges. May we all strive to do our best for one another. Let's say thank you to our fathers for doing their best with us.

Question: Importance of Pentecost

How festively do you celebrate Pentecost? Christians in the U.S. place great emphasis on Christmas and Easter and they seem to forget about the great role of the Spirit in our faith. Pentecost seems to be an afterthought. I wonder if its changeable placement on the calendar conflicts with summer secular activities like graduations, proms, and weddings. Does its diminished signficance reflect something more fundamental about our faith and our image of God? What are you thinking?

Prayer: Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Strive to love your neighbors actively and indefatigably, and the nearer you come to achieving this love, the more convinced you will become of the existence of God and the immortality of your soul.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Closing homily for retreat on June 17

Listening to St. Paul’s litany of adversity fills me with admiration and honor for the man who persevered in his mission to bring to Good News of Jesus Christ to many peoples. In a quick count, he lists twenty-six categories of multiple, severe calamites and adversities. It is mind-boggling. If we slowly absorb all his hardships, we would be astonished with the remarkable character of this man. I know I ought not to boast, but I am eternally grateful and proud of him.

I am proud of you as well. Though your stories of chaos and suffering are different from Paul’s, they are equal in dignity and worthiness. In other words, your pain and suffering are as real and as important as his, and thanks be to God that you came on this retreat to be with Jesus Christ. It takes real courage to do that and to let yourselves be vulnerable to the one who heals and saves. I don’t know what happened with each of you this week. God may have done numerous things with you. Perhaps Christ has saved you from something; perhaps he has saved you for something. All I know is you are here and you sought to be with the God who continues to create, to save, and to sustain you. I pray that you treasure this time with the Lord as you move forward into your summer season. I hope you can be like the mom of Jesus who treasures all these things in her heart and lets her song of joy emerge naturally from her core self.

Saint Ignatius, at the end of the Spiritual Exercises, hopes that retreatants are to see themselves as gifts by God to their very selves. We are to delight in these gifts, which means that we are to delight in our own goodness, worth, and dignity just because we are created and loved by God. As God is generous, we are to imitate God and give ourselves away to one another because love gives itself to others freely. Love consists in sharing what one has and who one is with another. Love expresses itself more fully in action than in words.

When we see the exhaustive way that God loves us, we can begin to love the world the way God does. What we see, what we acknowledge, what we affirm and praise becomes a way to see through God’s eyes. The lamp of the body is the eye and if your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light. So how do you see your retreat? What will Christ save for you to hold onto? We know from the first reading that our trials and toils are far from over, but I would gather we don’t feel so alone in our struggles. The Trinitarian God will work many angles to let us realize they are providing us with many spiritual resources.

We return to our daily lives – some of us to an empty house, others to a religious community, and some to spouses and families – and we all return to a larger community. What will we bring them? They will want to know what happened our own retreat – and more specifically, if we have changed. To be precise, they want to know if they have a valued part in our lives – even the person who rubs us the wrong way and annoys the Hades out of us. They want to know, in whatever unusual way, whether you still care for them and have a place for them and their chaos. Please. When you return to your home, community, or work, tell the people you missed them – even if you don’t mean it. Let them see in action how the retreat has worked within you. Let it emerge gracefully and with longstanding patience. Christ will be with you to gently let it unfold before you and them. Your retreat will be impelled to move outward like Mary’s song of praise that could no longer be contained when she saw her kinswoman, Elizabeth. Her song burst forth only after letting matters simultaneously settle and stir for a few months. Be patient. This special time is just about to bloom, and we can boast, but our boasting will be of those things that show our weakness because in that weakness, Christ hides and reveals himself. Our vulnerabilities that make us feel weak are what Christ uses to make him and us strong.

As we leave this sacred place, let us remember to save the treasures we have encountered here this week. We know these treasures are ones whether neither moth nor decay can touch. Bully, oppressor, victimizer, religious official, boundary transgressor, and unjust abuser of authority cannot touch these treasures. No one. Jesus Christ will save these for you. When we treasures these things, the Lord will save us from all distress because no harm or ruin can come to us. Give them over to Jesus and he will give them back to you in due time. He calls us to live as fully as we can with great joy, praise, and dancing. Our souls will be glad because it will receive what it most needs and desires – the presence of God through Jesus Christ and his Spirit. Our souls shall find the joy that stills all the turmoil around us and our lips shall praise the wonders of the Lord who remains steadfast and in radical solidarity with us.

Prayer: Rose-Philippine Duchesne

We cultivate a very small field for Christ, but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self…. One who has Jesus has everything.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spirituality: Our Possessions by Anthony de Mello, S.J.

Most people tell you they want to get out of kindergarten, but don't believe them. Don't believe them! All they want you to do is to mend their broken toys. "Give me back my wife. Give me back my job. Give me back my money. Give me back my reputation, my success." This is what they want; they want their toys replaced. That's all. Even the best psychologist will tell you that people don't really want to be cured. What they want is relief; a cure is painful.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Holy Trinity Sunday

June 19, 2011

Exodus 34: 4-6, 8-9; Daniel 3: 52¬-55; 2 Corinthians 13: 11-13; John 3:16-18

On this feast of the Holy Trinity we find God from the very beginning desiring to enter into a deep relationship with us. We encounter Moses walking up Mount Sinai to meet the Lord as he was commanded. The Lord cries out his own name before Moses and reveals that he is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and rich in kindness and fidelity. On behalf of the Hebrews, Moses invites the Lord into their company. God never uses force, but responds to and initiates invitations to relationships.

John’s Gospel further reveals the radical characteristics of God’s nature. This is a God who loves the world so much that God will send his Son into it so that he can bring them to a new and eternal life. God intensely desires that we live in relationship with him through his Son, and God is far from vengeful. In fact, God will go to great lengths to save everyone, but especially those who know his Son and believe in him. God’s design in creation has not stopped, but continues to bring the entire world into eternal life. All of creation groans in labor pains as it strives towards its fulfillment in Christ.

The feast of the Trinity celebrates the flourishing of healthy relationships. When we love God through his Son, Jesus Christ, his Spirit brings about the positive relationships Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians. We reconcile easily with others and reform our lives. We offer freedom and encouragement in friendships. We seek peace and discover new ways to perpetuate peace even though we know it takes diligent efforts. We look upon one another as a child of God and find great dignity and honor in both friend and foreigner. We offer an unheard of degree of hospitality when we celebrate others who we know will enrich us. When we act in this way, says Paul, we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit will be with us.

Paul’s belief makes everything sound so idyllic and easy. It is far from easy, but it shows a fundamentally positive attitude about trust in God. Too often we think we can do everything on our own and we refrain from giving up crucial control, not because we are always resistant to it, but because we don’t think of inviting God into our decision-making processes. We fail to see the spiritual resources we have at our disposal for every choice we make in our lives – whether we see it as a large spiritual decision or a small daily choice. Father, Son, and Spirit are always working with us to create an environment where we are making the healthiest, most loving choices possible. If we could learn from Moses who invited the Lord into his people’s lives despite their waywardness, we would be able to accept the powerful resources at our disposal. God’s love for us is radical. God will go to great lengths to be involved in our lives, but we do have to invite God into our world. We have to relinquish our illusion of control.

As I spend time with people who pray, I am intrigued about their images of the Trinitarian God. Many people like to pray to a Creator God, who can at times be impersonal. Others don’t feel a need to pray to Jesus Christ because they want to go directly to the big God. Still others have little regard for the Spirit’s animating presence in the world. It is good and right for us to contemplate the nuances of God and the various ways God relates to us. We see the fullness of the intense love God has for us and we allow in the various mean and ways that God will be present to us to help us. God is going to pull out all the stops. God has already placed within us the desire to be with God. Now God merely wants to reveal his true self to us.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Genesis, Abram is called by God to go forth to an unknown land to be blessed my many descendents. Lot goes with him. Abram sets up an altar to the Lord in the land given to him. Abram grew rich in livestock; so did Lot. They quarreled over the use of the land so they decided to equitably divide the land. Abram settled the land of Canaan and Lot took Jordan Plain. Abram had a vision from the Lord that he would have offspring from his own issue. God made a covenant with Abram promising his protection. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham and Sarai became Sarah. As Sarai had no children, Hagar bore Abram a son called Ishmael. Hagar mistreated Sarai who was humiliated that she could not bear children. The Lord again appeared to Abraham by the Terebinth at Mamre. When Abraham provided hospitality to three mysterious guests, the Lord rewarded Abraham with the promise on an heir. Sarah laughed when she heard she would become pregnant and would bear Abraham a son.

Gospel: As the Sermon on the Mount continues, Jesus warns against judging others because the measure by which one measures will be the measure used against him or her. Further sayings exhort people to keep sacred what is holy and to pass through the narrow gate instead of the one that leads to destruction. You will know a person by his or her actions just as a tree can be known by its fruits. One’s faith is to be rooted in the person of Jesus. Faith is like a house built on solid ground that can withstand strong winds and buffeting rains. When Jesus finishes the Sermon, the crowds are astounded with his wisdom and power. Jesus then goes to Capernaum where he meets a centurion whose servant is paralyzed by an illness. He asks Jesus to cure his servant but only needs to heed the words of Jesus to believe in his power to heal.

Saints of the Week

Tuesday: Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J., priest (1568-1591), gave up a great inheritance to join the Jesuits in 1585 in his dreams of going to the missions. However, when a plague hit Rome, Gonzaga served the sick and dying in hospitals where he contracted the plague and died within three months. He is a patron saint of youth.

Wednesday: Paulinus of Nola, bishop (353-431) was a prominent lawyer who married a Spaniard and was baptized. Their infant son died while in Spain. He became a priest and was sent to Nola, near Naples, where he lived a semi-monastic life and helped the poor and pilgrims.

John Fisher, bishop and martyr (1469-1535) taught theology at Cambridge University and became the University Chancellor and bishop of Rochester. Fisher defended the queen against Henry VIII who wanted the marriage annulled. Fisher refused to sign the Act of Succession. When the Pope made Fisher a cardinal, the angry king beheaded him.

Thomas More, martyr (1478-1535) was a gifted lawyer, member of Parliament¸scholar, and public official. He was reluctant to serve Cardinal Woolsey at court and he resigned after he opposed the king’s Act of Succession, which would allow him to divorce his wife. He was imprisoned and eventually beheaded.

Friday: Nativity of John the Baptist (first century) was celebrated on June 24th to remind us that he was six months older than Jesus, according to Luke. This day also serves to remind us that, as Christ is the light of the world, John must decrease just as the daylight diminishes. John’s birth is told by Luke. He was the son of the mature Elizabeth and the dumbstruck Zechariah. When John was named, Zechariah’s tongue was loosened and he sang the great Benedictus.

This Week in Jesuit History

• 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 by all Jesuits.
• 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 St 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 there 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 of the 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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Prayer: Anthony of Egypt

There is no need for us to go abroad on account of the kingdom of heaven, nor to cross the sea for virtue. For the Lord has told us before, the kingdom of God is within you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Prayer: Willa Cather

The miracles of the church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Prayer: Joseph Campbell

Be willing to relinquish the life you've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for you.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Prayer: Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Things were in God’s plan which I had not planned at all. I am coming to the living faith and conviction that – from God’s point of view – there is no chance and that the whole of my life, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God’s divine providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God’s all-seeing eyes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Prayer: Apostleship of the Sea in the United States

Let us thank God, the giver of all good gifts, for seafarers who leave their families, friends and homes to bring us the good for our table, the cargoes for industry and commerce, the coal and fuels for our country. May we in our turn care for them and their families, and hold them in our prayers so all may sail in safety, and return home to their loved ones.

We pray for all who work in shipping, in management, in unions, in support industries and services. May their work be valued and rewarded with success and a greater understanding by those who benefit from their gifts and skills.

 We pray for all who are in darkness or despair, at home or at sea, in hospital or in prison. May be do everything we can to bring the love of God, the light of Christ and the comfort of the Holy Spirit to them. May they find light in their darkness and hope in their despair.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Prayer: Julian of Norwich

But in our intentions we wait for God, and trust faithfully to have mercy and grace; and this is how in goodness God opens the eye of our understanding, by which we have sight, sometimes more and sometimes less, according to the ability God gives us to receive

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


June 12, 2011
Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 12: 3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23

Pentecost is portrayed by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles as a momentous event where believers from many nations are gathered together to receive the powerful gift of the Holy Spirit. It is an image that captured the attention of many iconographers and artists. On the other hand, John’s Gospel links the sending of the Holy Spirit, a Pentecost moment, with the Easter appearance of Jesus in the Upper Room. While Luke’s account is filled with tremors, earth-shaking winds, and miracles of speaking in tongues, John’s portrayal is gentle as Jesus appears to his fearful disciples in hiding and wishes them a consoling peace that takes away all fears. When we hear these readings back to back, we wonder which version is correct. How could the accounts be so far apart?

Luke’s version gets all the attention because everyone wants to see the mighty power of God. People want tangible, dramatic expressions that God is present among us (as if the Resurrection isn’t enough!). The storm wind and fire represents the heavenly origin of the Spirit. Luke is attempting to depict not the charismatic power of the early disciples, but to broaden the dynamism of the community’s mission. The Spirit is the principal mover of Pentecost that opens up the church to the uncircumcised. The gathering of Jews from many nations reveals the inclusive nature of the ministry. The Spirit’s reach is as far west as Crete and eastward to the Arabs in the known world. He links it with the Spirit of Christ to dispel any notion that the Spirit is merely Christ’s surrogate on earth. The Spirit provides the continuity between Jesus and the mission of the church. The ministries of the church are continuous with his own ministries – not something that happens at the time of his departure.

John shows the promises of Jesus’ return are fulfilled at his “hour,” which is his exaltation/glorification. The joy Jesus promises is evident in the consolation of the disciples and they receive “peace” as a gift. Just as in Luke, the disciples are sent on a mission, John equates the breathing of the Spirit upon the disciples as their mission. They are to go forth and be the representatives of Jesus. Jesus is the source of eternal life and the Spirit is an expression of the divine indwelling. The disciples are sent to preach forgiveness through the power of the Spirit of Jesus. They can bring others into the community through the Spirit’s baptism. John, therefore, links Pentecost with Easter. Jesus mediates Pentecost through true gentleness, which is more powerful than the most dramatic events.

Paul tells the Corinthians that the Spirit is given uniquely to each person for a specific benefit. The source of these gifts is always from Jesus. Pentecost is always a good time to take stock of the spiritual gifts we received and to check ourselves to discern how well we use these gifts. As we contemplate what we have been given, let’s remember the One who is the source of these gifts. I find it uplifting to contemplate God and to say thanks for the way God has richly rewarded me. I recognize the gifts are particular to us becausee we are believers in a generous God who cares deeply for us.

Sometimes we may not fully understand our gifts and our calling. We may not see that we have a great effect upon those around us because we compare the smallness of our contributions to the greatness of others. We diminish the importance of what we have been given. We ought not to do that! We are to cherish even the tiniest of our gifts; when we do that we glorify God and we let the gifts enlarge themselves in manifold ways. Besides, John’s point is that God’s work is seen most powerfully in the tiny, small, unnoticeable ways. True greatness comes from rejoicing in the tiniest of details or the gentlest, most undetectable acts – like the silent, unseen breath that gives life to others.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: While in Corinth, Paul outlines the manner by which we are to morally live as Christians - recognizing that our way will be counter-cultural. God's grace overflows in a wealth of generosity upon the Macedonians and Paul praises their spontaneous service to others as a sign of grace. God will bestow greater abundance on those who give generously to those in need. Paul cautions them to beware of false teachers who present a different Gospel. Paul's actions testify to the authentic message he gave them. While no one is to boast, Paul boasts only in the Lord because of the marvels through adversity he worked in Paul's life. He is fully aware of his weakness and challenges, as he was given a thorn in his side, that tries to keep him from proclaiming his message from Christ.

Gospel: Jesus transforms the justice principle "an eye for an eye" to one of exceeding mercy - as this is the way God deals with our transgressions. He does the same with the teaching on dealing with enemies declaring that we are to love them. Our radical way of life will be an example to many others. We are not to trumpet our goodness for others to hold up, but we are to do it because God in heaven will see our good works in secret. The test of our relationship with God is shown in the ways we relate to him. Jesus teaches the disciples to pray a simple Jewish prayer of dependence upon God. The treasures we store up are to be the ones that we carry into heaven, not the ones we covet on earth. Life is simpler is we live freely and without care like the birds or the lilies in the field. God takes them of them similarly to the way God cares for us.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Anthony of Padua, priest and doctor (1195-1231), became a biblical scholar who eventually joined the Franciscans. Francis sent him to preach in northern Italy, first in Bologna and then Padua. He very especially beloved because of his pastoral care, but he died at age 36.

This Week in Jesuit History

• 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.
• 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.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Prayer: Augustine of Hippo

The apostles saw Christ and believed in a church they did not see. May we who see the church believe in Christ, whom we do not yet see.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Prayer: Monika Hellwig

We are called to collaborate with God in continuing the task of creation, to exercise stewardship of our own lives and of the unfinished world. We are God's guests, invited to make the most of the divine hospitality and to mediate it to one another and to the rest of creation.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Prayer: A Blessing for the Suffering by John O’Donohue – from Eternal Echoes

May you be blessed in the holy names of those who carry our pain up the mountain of transfiguration.

May you know tender shelter and healing blessing when you are called to stand in the place of pain.

May the places of darkness within you be surprised by light.

May you be granted the wisdom to avoid false resistance and when suffering knocks on the door of your life, may you be able to glimpse its hidden gift.

May you be able to see the fruits of suffering.

May memory bless and shelter you with the hard-earned light of past turmoil, may this give you confidence and trust.

May a window of light always surprise you.

May the grace of transfiguration heal your wounds.

May you know that even though the storm might rage, not a hair on your head will be harmed.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Prayer: John de Brebeuf, S.J.

Jesus, my Lord and Savior, what can I give you in return for all the favors you have conferred on me? I will take from your hand the cup of your sufferings and call on your name. I vow before your eternal Father and the Holy Spirit, before your most holy Mother and her most chaste spouse, before the angels, apostles and martyrs, before my blessed fathers Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier – in truth I vow to vow, Jesus my Savior, that as far as I have the strength I will never fail to accept the grace of martyrdom, if some day you in your infinite mercy should offer it to me, your most unworthy servant.

I bind myself in this way so that for the rest of my life I will have neither permission nor freedom to refuse opportunities of dying and shedding my blood for you, unless at a particular juncture I should consider it more suitable for your glory to act otherwise at that time. Further, I bind myself to this so that, on receiving the blow of death, I shall accept it from your hands with the fullest delight and joy of spirit. For this reason, my beloved Jesus, and because of the surging joy which moves me, here and now I offer my blood and body and life. May I die only for you, if you will grant me this grace, since you willingly died for me. Let me so live that you may grant me the gift of such a happy death. In this way, my God and Savior, I will take from your hand the cup of your sufferings and call on your name: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!

My God, it grieves me greatly that you are not know, that in this savage wilderness all have not been converted to you, that sin has not been driven from it. My God, even if all the brutal tortures which prisoners in this region must endure should fall on me, I offer myself most willingly to them and I alone shall suffer them all.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Prayer: John Henry Newman

God has created me to do him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission – I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do his work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling. Therefore, my God, I will put myself without reserve in your hands. What have I in heaven, and apart from you what want I upon earth? My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the God of my heart, and my portion forever.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Poem: Eastern Point Retreat House

This is a place to fall in love again, those voice in the wind we've heard before;
the psalms of David shout and say,
Amen: The Spirit weeps at our October door.

This is a place where the Gloucester sea
bangs my heart like dolphins,
God dives me deep;
He bindeth me with weeds --;
soaked and salted I am cod.

O fabled, Christian fish of old,
Leviathan or minnow, great and small,
swim the troubled waters of my soul,
take my bait, be my haul,
riding down this summer bay
-- do not be the one that got away.
Leonard McCarthy, S.J.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Seventh Sunday in Easter

Ascension of the Lord
June 5, 2011
Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23; Matthew 28:16-20

The Ascension is one of those inexplicable biblical moments that cause confusion about the actual progression of real events. Matthew tells us the Eleven Disciples went to Galilee as Jesus ordered them to do, while Luke in Acts tells us that Jesus was taken up in bodily form near Jerusalem. For Matthew, the mountain is a place of revelation where Jesus touches the lives of the disciples. The ascension is correlated to the resurrection, but this scene is a partial fulfillment of Daniel's vision of the Son of Man who ascends to heaven on the clouds. Although the disciples see the risen Jesus, his words rather than his appearance are stressed. The disciples worship Jesus even though doubt creeps in.
The farewell of Jesus tells us that God has bestows divine authority over the kingdom on Jesus as the Son of Man. It also contains a general command to go forth and make disciples of all people in different cultures - including the Jews. The disciples are to carry on the teaching ministry of Jesus that lays the foundation for Christian education, theology, and other intellectual work, which includes interpreting the Sermon on the Mount that renews the Old Testament.  Lastly, Jesus promises to be with them now and in the future. He fulfills the meaning of his name - Emmanuel - that is, the divine presence as they make decisions, study, pray, preach, baptize, and teach. His spirit will be present until the kingdom of God comes in its fullness.

Luke stresses the Ascension as the beginning point of the church while his Gospel tells of the life, teaching, and deeds of Jesus. The Acts of the Apostles is both a continuation and a new beginning. Easter is not the end, but a beginning. Jerusalem's centrality marks the continuity between Israel and the church even though the people fulfilled the role of prophet-murderer. The church is founded amidst successive persecutions and receives a refinement of its mission - Israel is to be recast in its mission to the ends of the earth - even to Rome (the new cultural and political end of the earth)- where it will restore all things according to the kingdom of God.
Luke's passage re-enacts Elijah's ascension into heaven. Although there are witnesses, the ascension of Jesus is not to be conceived of as a event within history. The "two men" and "the cloud" are both present in the Transfiguration that was attended by Elijah and Moses. Christ is seen as the ultimate prophet - greater than the two venerable Old Testament figures. Jesus will be the "Son of Man" at his coming and has a direct link with his coming to us again. Therefore, the ascension acts as a reminder that Christ will come again to complete his kingdom, which will end the time of the church's mission.

As with all events in the life of Jesus, it is better for us to consider the meaning rather than piece together the disparate details, although the details always matter. We don't want to be caught short like the disciples who were looking up in the sky trying to figure out what just happened. No, we have to look around us to see where the presence of Jesus is active. The work of the kingdom has been given to us to advance. We are to proclaim the saving work of God in and through the person of Jesus until the kingdom comes in its fullness. Too many people need to hear about the risen Jesus. In our actions and words, we are to make ourselves so desirable that people will envy what we have - the risen Lord in our midst. Our lives are to testify to his saving and sustaining actions and like Mary, his mom, our whole being needs to sing out in song the goodness of the Lord. This song has to reverberate to the ends of the earth.
Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Paul went to Ephesus introduced believers to the Holy Spirit. Paul recounts the ways he served the Lord with humility, tears and trials, but he is to return to an uncertain fate in Jerusalem. As Paul says goodbye, he urges them to keep watch over each other and to be vigilant about those who pervert the truth of the Gospel. Paul was brought to trial. The Pharisees and Sadducees were so divided that armed forces were sent to rescue Paul from their midst. The Lord told Paul that as he was faithful in Jerusalem, he must go to Rome and be faithful there as well. King Agrippa heard Paul's case and determined Paul was to be tried in Jerusalem, but Paul, as a Roman citizen, appealed to be held for the Emperor's decision.

Gospel: The disciples realize Jesus is returning to the Father and that he is strengthening them for the time he is away. Jesus prays for the safety of those given to him by God. He wants them to be safe as they testify to God's steadfastness in the harsh world. He prays for unity, "so that they may be one just as we are one." He consecrates them to the truth and wards off the Evil One. He also prays for those given to him through the testimony of others. The love Jesus and the Father share is available to future disciples. ~ After the Farewell Discourse ends, Jesus is found at the seashore with Simon Peter who professes his three-fold love of Jesus. Jesus forgives him and asks him to take care of his people even though the authorities of this world will eventually have their day with him.
Saints of the Week

Monday: Norbert, bishop (1080-1134), a German, became a priest after a near-death experience. He became an itinerant preacher in northern France and established a community founded on strict asceticism. They became the Norbertines and defended the rights of the church against secular authorities.

Thursday: Ephrem, deacon and doctor (306-373), was born in the area that is now Iraq. He was ordained a deacon and refused priestly ordination. After Persians conquered his home town, Ephrem lived in seclusion where he wrote scriptural commentaries and hymns. He was the first to introduce hymns into public worship.

Joseph de Anchieta, S.J., priest (1534-1597), was from the Canary Islands and became a leading missionary to Brazil. He was one of the founders of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiero. He is considered the first Brazilian writer and is regarded as a considerate evangelizer of the native Brazilian population. Alongside the Jesuit Manuel de Nobrega, he created stable colonial establishments in the new country.

Saturday: Barnabas, apostle (d. 61), was a Jew from Cyprus who joined the early Christians in Jerusalem to build up the church. His name means "son of encouragement." He accepted Paul into his community and worked alongside him for many years to convert the Gentiles. He was stoned to death in his native Cyprus. He was a towering  authority to the early church.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Jun 5, 1546. Paul III, in the document Exponi Nobis, empowered the Society to admit coadjutors, both spiritual and temporal.
·         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.