Friday, August 31, 2012

Spirituality: Time of Convalescence for Ignatius

They gave him a life of Christ and a collection of the lives of the saints written in Spanish. By constantly reading these books he began to be attracted to what he found narrated there... While reading the life of Christ our Lord or the lives of the saints, he would reflect and reason with himself, "What if I should do what Saint Francis or Saint Dominic did?"

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Poem: "Primary Wonder" by Denise Levertov

Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions
jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber
along with a host of diversions, my courtiers,
their colored clothes; caps and bells.
And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the throng’s clamor
recedes: the mystery
that there is anything, anything at tall,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything,
rather than void: and that, O Lord,
Creator, Hallowed One, You still,
hour by hour sustain it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 2, 2012
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; Psalm 15; James 1:17-18-21-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

          As Moses is laying down the law in Deuteronomy, he pleads with the Israelites to follow the decrees and statutes because they lead to greater life. He begs them not to add or subtract anything from the laws because he does not want to dilute divine laws with fickle, changeable human laws. Strict observance to the law will make other nations exclaim in admiration, "This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people." Though these laws are difficult to follow, they are designed to lead the people lovingly into freedom and they encapsulate the care God has for each individual. Upholding the letter of the law respects the spirit of the law.

          The Letter of James reinforces the gift of relationship we have to one another through God. All good giving and every perfect gift is from God and these gifts are to be received, given, and not changed. By keeping religion pure and undefiled a person remains unstained by the tyrant of sin. Law is designed to care for orphans and widows and for all those who are marginalized because God has preferential care for the poor. The law not only gives freedom, it protects society's vulnerable ones.

          Jesus willfully breaks the law. The Pharisees protest the reckless actions of the disciples who eat their meals without first washing their hands. It makes sense that cleanliness reduces possible diseases caused by ill-prepared foods. The Jews had no agency other than the religious authorities who acted like the U.S.D.A. that serves as a clearinghouse for diseased-free food. Jesus not only flaunts the well-established customs that protect himself and the community, he begins to interpret the Mosaic laws that are to be respected without blemish. To the community, Jesus and his disciples appear reckless and disrespectful.

          His point is a good one: "The things that come out from within are what defile." The evils that come from within people's hearts are evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, and folly. These are weightier sins that lead to a soul's destruction. The Pharisees and scribes show concern for only human tradition and they neglect matters of life and death.

          The social concerns of our age raise the same questions Jesus deals with in the Gospel. What is the purpose of the law? When, how, and why do we change laws? The Pharisees realize the Mosaic Law is to be unchanged. The Bible says so. New circumstances arise in daily life that the law does not cover and people are seeking answers about their level of complicity in a sinful event. Fundamentally, people want to live a good and caring way. Jesus points out the shallowness of the Pharisees' interpretation and begs them to look deeper. Laws and customs are always to be rooted in God's mercy, care for the underprivileged and marginalized, and respect for one's neighbor. If a law is not based in loving concern for another's welfare, it is no law at all.

          In the U.S., national conventions for Republicans and Democrats are being/have been held. Each party interprets the U.S. Constitution through a different worldview, which dictates their foreign and domestic policies. It can be a useful enterprise to examine the ways each party develops their policies. Are they defensive and restrictive or are they trying to make greater connections with the society around them? A defensive policy is based on fear and lacks freedom. Fear is not faith. A policy that deals only with ideals and not the ordinary realities of its citizens creates futile frustration. A policy that is in an easy dialogue with the world around it will flourish, learn, and be enriched by those who are allowed to be at the table. As it goes in politics, it goes in our church as well.

          Many in the church say that public revelation has reached its fullness in the person of Jesus. To them, private revelation does not carry the same authority. Jesus gave us a model for dealing with unchangeable laws and customs. He changed them. He changed them because he was more concerned with matters of greater magnitude. He did not hold onto traditions that existed for thousands of years as the basis of authority. He examined them prayerfully and made his best choices with regards to the salvation of a person's soul. He came to bring them greater freedom within the context of the laws, but those laws had to change to more adequately represent God's care for the poor and marginalized. Do we hold onto traditions merely because they are traditions? If so, let's look at the attitudes that lie underneath to determine if those laws are working or need to be updated. God's loving concern will shine through if it is a just law.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In First Corinthians, Paul tells his people that he did not come to them speaking with smooth words or great wisdom, but with weakness, fear, and great trembling. His message was not one of cogency, but a demonstration of God's spirit and power so their faith rests is God's grace. The Spirit scrutinizes everything - even the depths of God. It uses a different vocabulary and the natural person cannot understand it. Only one who lives in the Spirit can judge according to the spirits. Paul reminds them that there is a progression of growth from natural foods to spiritual nourishment. He gives an illustration of Paul planting, Apollos watering, but God causing the growth. He tells them the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God. We are to be regarded as servants of Christ and stewards of the mystery of God. Therefore, refrain from making judgments until the time the Lord comes for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and he will manifest the motives of our hearts. ~ Saturday is the feast to commemorate the birth of Mary.  

Gospel:  Jesus reads a scroll from the prophet Isaiah in the Nazareth synagogue. After declaring captives have liberty, the blind see, the oppressed go free, he says that in their hearing this scripture passage is fulfilled. He was immediately driven out of town. He then heads to Capernaum where people were astonished by his teaching authority. A man with an unclean spirit is cured by Jesus. These spirits know his name and that Jesus wants to destroy them. He visits Simon and cures his mother-in-law. At sunset he heals people with various diseases and at daybreak he moves on towards other towns to proclaim the good news because preaching, not healing, is his mission. With the crowds pressing in on him, Jesus spots two boats coming in from their commercial activities. He asks one of the fishermen, Peter, to put out a short distance from the shore. When Peter makes a large catch, he recognizes the power of Jesus and exclaims, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinner." The scribes and Pharisees begin to question Jesus about his dietary practices. John the Baptist's disciples fasted often and were seen praying, but the disciples of Jesus eat and drink. Jesus responds to them by saying that the wedding guests have no need to fast when the bridegroom is with them. That day will come when they will mourn and weep, but today is not that day. ~ Matthew's genealogy of Joseph is recited on the feast of Mary's birth.

Saints of the Week

September 3: Gregory the Great (540-604) was the chief magistrate in Rome and resigned to become a monk. He was the papal ambassador to Constantinople, abbot, and pope. His charity and fair justice won the hearts of many. He protected Jews and synthesized Christian wisdom. He described the duties of bishops and promoted beautiful liturgies that often incorporated chants the bear his name.

September 7: Stephen Pongracz (priest), Melchior Grodziecki (priest), and Mark Krizevcanin (canon) of the Society of Jesus were matyred in 1619 when they would not deny their faith in Slovakia. They were chaplains to Hungarian Catholic troops, which raised the ire of Calvinists who opposed the Emperor. They were brutally murdered through a lengthy process that most Calvinists and Protestants opposed.

September 8: The Birth of Mary was originally (like all good feasts) celebrated first in the Eastern church. The Roman church began its devotion in the fifth century. Her birth celebrates her role as the mother of Jesus. Some traditions have her born in Nazareth while others say she hails from outside of Jerusalem.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Sep 2, 1792. In Paris, ten ex-Jesuits were massacred for refusing to take the Constitutional oath. Also in Paris seven other fathers were put to death by the Republicans, among them Frs. Peter and Robert Guerin du Rocher.
·         Sep 3, 1566. Queen Elizabeth visited Oxford and heard the 26-year-old Edmund Campion speak. He was to meet her again as a prisoner, brought to hear her offer of honors or death.
·         Sep 4, 1760. At Para, Brazil, 150 men of the Society were shipped as prisoners, reaching Lisbon on December 2. They were at once exiled to Italy and landed at Civita Vecchia on January 17, 1761.
·         Sep 5, 1758. The French Parliament issued a decree condemning Fr. Busembaum's Medulla Theologiae Moralis.
·         Sep 6, 1666. The Great Fire of London broke out on this date. There is not much the Jesuits have not been blamed for, and this was no exception. It was said to be the work of Papists and Jesuits. King Charles II banished all the fathers from England.
·         Sep 7, 1773. King Louis XV wrote to Clement XIV, expressing his heartfelt joy at the suppression of the Society.
·         Sep 8, 1600. Fr. Matteo Ricci set out on his journey to Peking (Beijing). He experienced enormous difficulties in reaching the royal city, being stopped on his way by one of the powerful mandarins.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Spirituality: For Relatively Young Men


The Society of Jesus

Men alert, alive, aware…

daring and dependable,
warm-hearted and generous,
honest and sincere,
detached and still committed,
with initiative
a sense of humor,
who will question and yet obey,
ready for strenuous work
and a hard life,
wishing to exploit
all talents and resources
for the service of others
for round-the-clock job

for the greater glory of God

no pay, no rewards, no honors.
I want to make you an offer you can’t refuse.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Spirituality: For Lay Men and Women


The Society of Jesus

Adventurous women and men who are: 
bold and courageous, 
brave and devoted, 
compassionate and charitable, 
trustworthy and earnest, 
interested and ingenious, 
enterprising and resourceful, 
with a sense of humor, 
who will discern and test the spirits, 
read the signs of the times, 
see everything with new eyes, 
relish the things that are of ‘above’ and 
to communicate them to others, 
desiring to engage 
all talents and opportunities 
for the service of faith, 
the promotion of justice, 
the greater glory of God

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Prayer: Clement of Alexandria

The truly righteous are set apart from the world because they produce the fruits of grace in their actions.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Prayer: Eusebius of Caesarea

May I be no one's enemy and may I be the friend of that which is eternal and abides.
May I love, seek, and attain only that which is good.
May I wish for all people's happiness and envy none.
May I never rejoice in the ill-fortune of one who has wronged me.
May I win no victory that harms either me or my opponent.
May I, to the extent of my power, give all needful help to my friends and to all who are in want.
May I be able, by gentle and healing words, to soften the pain of those in grief.
May I respect myself. May I always tame that which rages within me.
May I never discuss who is wicked and what wicked things they have done, but know good people and follow in their footsteps.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Prayer: Marguerite D'Youville

Learn from the heart of God the attitudes of love, tender concern, and compassion that you need to have to serve the poor, the sick, and the orphan. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Prayer: Petitions for Healing

For my own personal health and for strength in time of crisis
         Be near me, O Sacred Heart.

For continuing or renewed health for all those I love,
         Strengthen them in your mercy, Lord.

For all struggling with life-threatening illness,
         Be their source of comfort, O Good Shepherd.

For all weakened by age or infirmity,
         Strengthen both their limbs and their spirit, O God.

For all suffering from mental or nervous afflictions,
         Be their calming presence, Lord Jesus.

For all with disabling handicaps,
         Give them courage and patience, O Lord.

For all struggling with spiritual anxiety, depression or addiction,
         Shower them with your love and mercy, O God.

For all who feel alone, for the lonely, the marginalized, the homebound, the shunned, and those who feel on the edge of society,
         Let them feel your comforting presence.

For all close to death,
         Ease their pain and grant them your peace, O Sacred Heart

For doctors, nurses, hospice workers, and caregivers,

        Guide their healing actions and inspire their words and spirit,
        most Loving Lord.

For those among the living who need our prayers in a special way.  
         Show them your consoling care.

For those who have died to this world and are born to eternal life:  What names shall we remember?
         Bring them eternal peace in your heavenly kingdom.

And let us pray:

Sacred Heart of Jesus,
 you invite all who are heavy burdened
 to come to you and find rest.

Teach me to reach out to you in my need;

Teach me to lead others to your Sacred Heart;

Teach me with your compassion for others;

Teach me with your courage and love for all;

Teach me with your wisdom and grace;

Touch gently my life with your healing hand. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 26, 2012
Joshua 24:1-2; 15-18; Psalm 34; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69

          Joshua gathers the twelve tribes of Israel together at Shechem to find out if they will serve God their Lord or the god of the Amorites in whose country they now live. It is quite difficult to get two people to agree on anything and Joshua tries to get consensus from the elders, the leaders and judges, and their officers. He declares that he will serve the Lord who brought them out of Egypt and sustained them through miracles. Recognizing what the Lord has done for them, he cannot turn away, but he gives the tribes a chance to reply in full freedom.

          Paul is calling Christians to be the best person they can be. A shallow reading of this passage turns many people away from Paul as they think he is a misogynist for he starts out "Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord." Today we see it as an unfortunate choice of words that prevent us from noticing the spirit of the texts. However, it reveals the great anger and disparity that exists between the sexes. Paul is really calling us to perfect love that puts the other person before ourselves - just as Christ did for us. As we want and deserve dignity and respect, we are to treat the person we love most with the type of love that honors us. We provide the other with the greatest intimacy we can garner. This is what Paul wants: a warm, respectful love that mirrors God's radical care for us.

          Many turn away from Jesus when they hear his words declaring his real flesh and blood is the food that leads to eternal life. Many of these disciples have seen the incredible works he had done and have listened to inspiring words. In fact, the hungry crowd just ate bread and fish that Jesus miraculously provides. They recognized the miracle, but find his current saying too difficult to accept. They walk away completely from the relationship.

          I am left examining the overwhelming sadness of Jesus. For some, nothing that he says or does will be able to penetrate their self-interested positions. He faces a Herculean task in getting them to believe. Jesus is at a point of his greatest vulnerability to date in his ministerial life. His disciples are fleeing and going to someone else. He fears that even his best friends will desert him and he asks them baldly, "Do you also want to leave?" Peter, knowing their common history, replies, "To whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life."

          Authentic friendships always go through a period of testing. It determines whether the relationship is real and strong, but it is fraught with great risk and vulnerability. A friendship has to posses freedom (as Joshua and Paul point out.) There comes a point in the friendship when a person has to reveal something fundamental about himself or herself that the other person might not like, but is willing to accept. The person, the relationship, stands more important than a subset quality of the person.
          I wonder what it is like for those disciples of Jesus who walk away from him. The disciples in John 6 witnessed many special events. How did they feel as they no longer had him in their lives? I wonder if they felt incomplete as they move through the rest of their lives. I can almost feel the sadness of Jesus as he watches them leave. It must hurt him, but he gives them freedom.

          In northeastern U.S. churches, the faithful are moving away from the church in large numbers. They insist they are not taking themselves out of the relationship with Jesus, but they no longer want to listen to harsh judgmental pronouncements from an authority that lacks credibility for their role in sexual abuse of minors. The U.S. nuns reiterate the same sentiment when they say they will stay in conversation, but they cannot abandon their religious charisms or the decrees of Vatican II. They are saying: "We will remain with Jesus because he has the words of everlasting life." It is a critical point because the church mediates the presence of Jesus, but he also tells us the kingdom of God exists wherever two or three are gathered in his name. During these difficult times, it is all the more important to devote time in prayer to deepen the relationship with Jesus.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Second Thessalonians, Paul praises the people for their adherence to their faith and their loving care for one another. God is at work in his faithful ones who will make themselves worthy of their calling and will bring to fulfillment every good purpose and effort of faith. Paul reassures his people that they are to remain firm in the belief that Jesus is coming at the end times when he will take up his faithful ones to himself. They are to hold fast to traditions they were taught and to refrain from disorderly behaviors. They are to pass on what they have received. The elders have acted as models for the community and others are to imitate them - as they imitate the Lord. ~ In First Corinthians, Paul thanks the community and blesses them because they have been enriched by God in many spiritual gifts. They have been sanctified and will remain holy with the grace of God. Paul tells them that he has been sent to impart the wisdom of God, which in inconsistent with the wisdom of humans. For instance, the folly of the cross reveals God's hidden wisdom. Who is the wise one? The one who proclaims Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles. Think back on your own calling. Many were not wise by human standards, nor powerful nor of noble birth, but God chose the foolish to shame the wise, and the weak to shame the strong, and the lowly and despised to shame those who have status. No human is to boast before God. Whoever boasts should boast in the Lord.

Gospel:  Jesus lashes out at the scribes and Pharisees as their actions are contrary to their teachings. He catches them in many inconsistencies: improperly swearing oaths, paying tithes on herbs while neglecting matters of judgment, mercy, and fidelity, and cleansing outward appearances while the interior matters are full of plunder and self-indulgence.  Jesus implores his friends to stay awake because we do not know the hour that something will happen unexpectedly. The faithful and prudent servant will have enough resources to live in the ambiguous time of not knowing when his master will return. The prudent servant will be like five of the ten virgins who wait for the bridegroom's return. Those who conserve their lamp oil will be ready to greet him; those who lavishly expend their resources will find themselves bereft. The prudent servant will be like the steward who used his talents well and earned interest on his investment; the foolish person hides away his talent and returns it intact - without having experienced any growth or development.

Saints of the Week

August 27: Monica (332-387) was born a Christian in North Africa and was married to a non-Christian, Patricius, with whom she had three children, the most famous being Augustine. Her husband became a Christian at her urging and she prayed for Augustine's conversion as well from his newly adopted Manichaeism. Monica met Augustine in Milan where he was baptized by Bishop Ambrose. She died on the return trip as her work was complete.

August 28: Augustine, bishop and doctor (354-430),  was the author of his Confessions, his spiritual autobiography, and The City of God, which described the life of faith in relation to the life of the temporal world. Many other writings, sermons, and treatises earned him the title Doctor of the church. In his formative years, he followed Mani, a Persian prophet who tried to explain the problem of evil in the world. His mother’s prayers and Ambrose’s preaching helped him convert to Christianity. Baptized in 387, Monica died a year later. He was ordained and five years later named bishop of Hippo and defended the church against three major heresies: Manichaeism, Donatism, and Pelagianism.

August 29: The Martyrdom of John the Baptist recalls the sad events of John's beheading by Herod the tetrarch when John called him out for his incestuous and adulterous marriage to Herodias, who was his niece and brother's wife. At a birthday party, Herodias' daughter Salome danced well earning the favor of Herod who told her he would give her almost anything she wanted.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Aug. 26, 1562: The return of Fr. Diego Laynez from France to Trent, the Fathers of the Council desiring to hear him speak on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
·         Aug. 27, 1679: The martyrdom at Usk, England, of St. David Lewis, apostle to the poor in his native Wales for three decades before he was caught and hanged.
·         Aug. 28, 1628: The martyrdom in Lancashire, England, of St. Edmund Arrowsmith.
·         Aug. 29, 1541: At Rome the death of Fr. John Codure, a Savoyard, one of the first 10 companions of St. Ignatius.
·         Aug. 30, 1556: On the banks of the St. Lawrence River, Fr. Leonard Garreau, a young missionary, was mortally wounded by the Iroquois.
·         Aug. 31, 1581: In St. John's Chapel within the Tower of London, a religious discussion took place between St. Edmund Campion, suffering from recent torture, and some Protestant ministers.
·         Sep 1, 1907. The Buffalo Mission was dissolved and its members were sent to the New York and Missouri Provinces and the California Mission. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spirituality: Ignatius after his imprisonment in Salamanca

Ignatius was released from his 22 days of imprisonment in Salamanca with the stipulation that he is prohibited from catechizing on certain subjects because he was not ordained and lacked formal training.

He found great difficulty in remaining in Salamanca, for in the matter of helping souls it seemed to him that the door had been closed by this prohibition....

The same desire that he had to help souls, and for that reason to study first and gather some others for the same purpose and to keep those he had, did not fail him. Resolving to go to Paris, he arranged with [his companions] to wait there while he went to see if he could find some means by which they could study.

Many important persons strongly insisted that he should not go, but they could never dissuade him. ... When he arrived in Barcelona all those who knew him advsied him against the journey to France because of the great wars there, recounting many specific examples, even telling him that they put Spaniards on roasting spits, but he never had any kind of fear.

(Olin and O'Callaghan, Autobiography, pp. 70-71)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Spirituality: Ignatius at the Cardoner (Autobiography)

While Ignatius was still at Manresa, he had an experience on the banks of the river Cardoner that proved to be a decisive moment in his life.

He was going out of his devotion to a church a little more than a mile from Manresa; I believe it was called St. Pauls. The road ran next to the river. As he went along occupied with his devotions, he sat down for a little while with his face toward the river which was running deep. While he was seated there, the eyes of his understanding began to be opened; though he did not see any vision, he understood and knew many things, both spiritual things and matters of faith and of learning, and this was with so great an enlightenment that everything seemed new to him. Though there were many, he cannot set forth the details that he understood then, except that he experienced a great clarity is his understanding. This was such that in the whole course of his life, through sixty-two years, even if he gathered up all the many helps he had from God and all the many things he knew and added them together, the does not think they would amount to as much as he had received at that one time.

(Olin and O'Callaghan, Autobiography, pp. 39-40)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Prayer: Alphonsus Liguori

All the goods of this world cannot content the heart of the human person, who has been created to love God and can find no peace out of God.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Prayer: Augustine of Hippo

What does love look like?

It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of humankind.

This is what love looks like.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Prayer: Thomas More

Lord, give me patience in suffering and grace in everything to make my will conform to yours, so that I may truly say, "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Spirituality: Pedro Arrupe - Advice to a Young Man

To a young man who wishes to be a Jesuit, I would say:

"Stay at home if this idea makes you unsettled or nervous.

Do not come to us if you love the church like a stepmother, rather than a mother;
Do not come if you think that in so doing you will be doing the Society of Jesus a favor.

Come if serving Christ is at the very center of your life.

Come if you have broad and sufficiently strong shoulders.
Come if you have an open spirit, a reasonably open mind, and a heart larger than the world.

Come if you know how to tell a joke and can laugh with others and.... on occasion you can laugh at yourself.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 19, 2012
Proverbs 9:1-6; Psalm 34; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

          The Jesus portrayed in the Fourth Gospel has often drawn parallels to Lady Wisdom, the feminine side of God, in the Book of Proverbs and Wisdom literature. The early Christians had a solidified understanding of her role in creation and in helping a righteous person stay on the path to eternal life. In Proverbs 9, Lady Wisdom built her house and prepared a feast for those who accept her invitation. In the previous chapters, she stood on the busy street corner near the markets summoning the simple ones to come to her. She promised to give them God's wisdom and understanding and to provide for those under her care.

          As she spread her table with dressed meat and flowing wine she calls those who have ears to come and eat of her food - for her food leads to life. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians echoes the benefits of eating together as a community in the kingdom. Paul calls others to the path of righteousness and to avoid those behaviors that lead to perdition and foolishness. He tells them that a person must observe his or her own behavior and to try to understand the will of the Lord. Refraining from improper drinking of wine that leads to debauchery will help the person. If the person is to get drunk, get drunk on the Spirit of the Lord by singing spiritual songs, playing instruments to the Lord with your hearts, and giving thanks in all things. The two ways of Lady Wisdom are still to be followed.

          The banquet of Jesus is similar to Lady Wisdom's, but it is much greater. The food of Lady Wisdom will sustain a person on the path to righteousness; the nourishment of Jesus is the food of eternal life. "The Jews" (who are forming the rabbinic strain of Judaism) are beginning to understand more what Jesus means. He is self-sacrificing his own body for his believers. For a Jew, anyone who participates in human sacrifice makes himself unclean and is cut off from the community. They fail to understand how this act of Jesus will lead to greater communion. They do not comprehend that he means to feed his people with his real flesh and drink.

          This food is "crunch and munch" flesh and bones. For some, this cannibalistic tendency is gross and they will turn away out of disgust. For the followers of Jesus, it is the greatest, warmest caring act imaginable. Jesus will go to great lengths to make sure his followers are nourished and connected to others through himself. It is the ultimate act of self-sacrifice when others are allowed to feed off of him. When we eat of his meal today, it is the same flesh and bones that he is giving us through faith. We become what we eat. We become like the one we adore and admire. As we incorporate his body into our own, we become increasingly more like him.

          It is important for us to stay close to the Eucharist today. Jesus will keep us close to his heart, especially in these confused times in the church. Just as in the days of old, we have the two paths to follow. In days past, it was the road to righteousness or folly. Today, though we are supposedly on the same team, the bishops and hierarchy seem to be on a different road than much of the church that is epitomized by their conflict with women religious. While some may not know which path to choose, the answer lies in remaining close to Christ who continues to call us to himself and feed us. His Spirit has given us the Second Vatican Council as our modern-day constitution, which is the highest teaching authority in the church. We are to remain close to Christ who will let us know which is the path to salvation. It is often marked by a self-sacrificial love that cares radically for the other - not for one's own interests. We will know deep in our hearts which path to choose  because Christ cannot betray himself. Stay close to him. Go to the Eucharist and eat his body and drink his blood. Don't just sip. Drink. Don't nibble. Eat. He desperately wants us to partake of him. He leads us to real life.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Ezekiel is told by the Lord that he is taking away all the delights of his world and he is not to groan or make his troubles known. He and his family shall rot in silence because of their sins. The prince of Tyre the Lord will bring down because he is making himself to be like God. He is exalting his attitude and stature at the expense of the Lord and he fails to see that he is a mere mortal. The Lord addresses the false shepherds of Israel. Because they have exposed the sheep to danger and have caused them to go astray because of hunger and want, they shall be cut off from the Lord. In fact, the Lord is coming after them to strike them down. After the Lord has taken care of the false leaders, he will reach out to the sheep and will bring them back to the fold. He will replace their stony hearts with ones made of flesh. The Lord will prove his holiness and they will be his people and he will be their God. The angel then leads Ezekiel to the east gate where he sees a vision of the Lord much like the one that foretold destruction. However this vision leads to the glory of the Lord filling the Temple once again. The Lord is restoring his people and their worship to magnificent dignity.

Gospel:  A young man approaches Jesus wondering what he must do to enter eternal life. He has been a righteous, law-abiding man all his life and he realizes there is more to salvation than just keeping the commandments. Jesus tells him to follow him after he has given away all his possessions. Jesus then tells his friends that entrance into the Kingdom is very difficult because a person has to give up everything for the sake of the Kingdom with the Son of Man as its judge. Jesus then describes what the kingdom is like. He says God is like the landowner of a vineyard who hires workers at different hours of the day and grants the same pay to each laborer. While it is unfair by human fairness standards, God is delighted that more people are coming to the vineyards. The kingdom is also like a wedding banquet where guests are invited. Some don't come; others are improperly dressed. God wants everyone to respect the honor he gives to his Son. Jesus also instructs his followers to pay attention to the studied word of the scribes and Pharisees. They possess schoolbook knowledge, but they are lured away by riches, honors, and power.

Saints of the Week

August 19: John Eudes, priest (1601-1680) preached missions, heard confessions, and assisted the sick and dying. He founded a new religious order for women, which includes Our Lady of Charity and the Good Shepherd Sisters. He eventually left the Oratorians to found the Congregation of Jesus and Mary. 

August 20: Bernard, Abbot and Doctor (1090-1153) became a Benedictine abbey in Citeaux because of its strict observance. He was sent to set up a new monastery in Clairvaux with 12 other monks. He wrote theological treatises, sermons, letters, and commentaries that dominated the thought of Europe. His writings had a tremendous influence of Catholic spirituality.

August 21: Pius X, pope (1835-1914), was an Italian parish priest for 17 years before he became bishop of Mantua, the cardinal patriarch of Venice, and eventually pope. He urged frequent communion for adults, sacramental catechesis for children, and continued education for everyone. He is known for rigid political policies that put him at odds with a dynamically changing world that led to World War I.

August 22: The Queenship of Mary concludes the octave of the principal feast of Mary as she celebrates her installation as queen and mother of all creation. This feast was placed on our calendar in 1954 following the dogmatic proclamation of the Assumption.

August 23: Rose of Lima (1586-1617) was the first canonized saint of the New World. She had Spanish immigrant parents in Lima. Rose joined the Dominicans and lived in her parents' garden to support them while she took care of the sick and the poor. As a girl, she had many mystical experiences as she practiced an austere life. She also had many periods of darkness and desolation.

August 24: Bartholomew (First Century), according to the Acts of the Apostles, is listed as one of the Twelve Disciples though no one for sure knows who he is. Some associate him with Philip, though other Gospel accounts contradict this point. John's Gospel refers to him as Nathaniel - a Israelite without guile.

August 25: Louis of France (1214-1270) became king at age 12, but did not take over leadership until ten years later. He had eleven children with his wife, Marguerite, and his kingship reigned for 44 years. His rule ushered in a longstanding peace and prosperity for the nation.  He is held up as a paragon of medieval Christian kings.

August 25: Joseph Calasanz, priest (1556-1648), was a Spaniard who studied canon law and theology. He resigned his post as diocesan vicar-general to go to Rome to live as a pilgrim and serve the sick and the dying. He used his inheritance to set up free schools for poor families with children. He founded an order to administer the schools, but dissension and power struggles led to its dissolution.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Aug. 19, 1846: At Melgar, near Burgos, the birth of Fr. Luis Martin, 24th General of the Society.
·         Aug. 20, 1891: At Santiago, Chile, the government of Balmaceda ordered the Jesuit College to be closed.
·         Aug. 21, 1616: At Pont a Mousson in Lorraine died Fr. William Murdoch, a Scotchman, who when only 10 years of age was imprisoned seven months for the faith and cruelly beaten by the order of a Protestant bishop. St. Ignatius is said to have appeared to him and encouraged him to bear the cross bravely.
·         Aug. 22, 1872: Jesuits were expelled from Germany during the Bismarckian Kulturkampf.
·         Aug. 23, 1558: In the First General Congregation, the question was discussed about the General's office being triennial, and the introduction of Choir, as proposed by Pope Paul IV, and it was decreed that the Constitutions ought to remain unaltered.
·         Aug. 24, 1544: Peter Faber arrived in Lisbon.
·         Aug. 25, 1666: At Beijing, the death of Fr. John Adam Schall. By his profound knowledge of mathematics and astronomy, he attained such fame that the Emperor entrusted to him the reform of the Chinese calendar. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Prayer: Claude de la Colombiere S.J.

It is an error to think that faith is so entirely a gift of God that it is not in our power to increase and strengthen it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Poem: by Margaret Clitheroes

The Christ-ed beauty of her mind
Her mould of features mated well.
She was a woman, upright, outright;
Her will was bent at God.

She caught the crying of those Three,
The Immortals of the eternal ring,
The Utterer, Uttered, Uttering,
And witness in her place would she.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Prayer: Socrates

Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Spirituality: Rules for Making a Good Choice

In his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius outlined two ways of making a good "election" or choice. These rules describe the second way.

First Rule:  The Love the moves and causes one to choose must come from above, that is, from the love of God, so that the one who is making the decision first feels the the greater or lesser attraction to the objects of choice is actually love for the Creator and Lord.

Second Rule: I should imagine a person whom I have never seen or known, and whom I would like to see practice all perfection. Then I should consider what I would tell that person to do and choose for the greater glory of God.... Then I will do the same, myself keeping the rule I have proposed for another.

Third Rule: This is to consider what procedure and norm of action I would wish to have followed in making the present election if I were at the moment of death....

Fourth Rule: I should picture and reflect on myself standing in the presence of my Judge on the last day, and consider what election in the present matter I would then wish to have made. I will now choose that rule of life that I would then wish to have observed, that on the day of judgment I may be filled with happiness and joy.

(Tetlow, Spiritual Exercises, pp. 60-61)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spirituality: Letter of Ignatius to Sr. Teresa Rejadell

May the grace and love of Christ our Lord be our never-failing protection...

I will call your attention briefly to two lessons which our Lord usually gives, or permits. The one of them He gives, the other He permits. The first is an interior consolation which casts out all uneasiness and draws one to a complete love of our Lord.... When this divine consolation is present all trials are pleasant and all weariness rest.... The consolation points out and opens up the way we are to follow and points out the way we are to avoid....

But when this consolation is absent the other lesson comes to light. Our ancient  enemy sets up all possible obstacles to turn us aside from the way on which we have entered. He makes use of everything to vex us, and everything in the first lesson is reversed. We find ourselves sad without knowing why. We cannot pray with devotion, or contemplate, nor even speak or hear of the things of God with any interior taste or relish. Not only this, but if he sees that we are weak and much humbled by these harmful thoughts, he goes on to suggest that we are entirely forgotten by God our Lord, and leads us to think that we are quite separated from Him and that all that we have done and all that we desire to do is entirely worthless. He thus endeavors to bring us to a state of general discouragement. We can thus see what causes our fear and weakness: it is a too-prolonged gaze at such times on our miseries. We allow ourselves to be laid low by his misleading suggestions. For this reason it is necessary for us to be aware of our opponent. If we are in consolation, we should abase and humble ourselves and reflect that soon the trial of temptation will come. And when temptation, darkness, or sadness comes upon us, we must go contrary to it without permitting ourselves to pay any attention to the unpleasant impressions caused in us, and hope patiently for the consolation of our Lord, which will cast our all our uneasiness and scatter all the clouds....

June 18, 1536

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Spirituality: Ignatius and the Presence of God

Ignatius's profound experience of the presence of God is exemplified in the following excerpts from one of his letters. Father Brandao had submitted a list of sixteen questions regarding the spiritual life and practices of men who were living in the Jesuit House of Study. Ignatius responded,

Considering the end of our studies, the scholastics can hardly give themselves to prolonged meditations. Over and above the spiritual exercises assigned for their perfection - namely, daily Mass, an hour for vocal prayer and examen of conscience, and weekly confession and Communion - they should practice the seeking of God's presence in all things, in their conversations, their walks, in all that they see, taste, hear, understand, in all their actions, since His Divine Majesty is truly in all things by His presence, power, and essence. This kind of meditation, which finds our Lord in all things, is easier than raising oneself to the consideration of divine truths which are more abstract and which demand something of an effort if we are to keep our attention on them. But this method is an excellent exercise to prepare us for great visitations of our Lord, even in prayers that are rather short. Besides this, the scholastics can frequently offer to God our Lord their studies and the efforts they demand, seeing that they have undertaken them for His love.

(Young, Letters, p. 240)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 12, 2012
1 Kings 19:4-8; Psalm 34; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51

          Elijah is a leading prophetic figure for the early Israelite community. This is no surprise because he is able to perform some extraordinary actions in ordinary life. Some events in the life of Jesus hearken back to the prophetic actions of Elijah and Elisha. For all he is able to do, Elijah gets worn down in his attempts to restore the people to their covenantal commitment. With his weariness and the threats to his safety, he flees to the wilderness's sanctuary and away from the people who disappoint him. After one day's journey to the desert, he prays that his life be taken from him as he lay down to sleep. He awakens to find a hearth cake and a jug of water that replenishes him, but he lay back down to sleep. When he rises the next day, he is strengthened by more food and drink and he is instructed to journey forty days and nights to the mountain of Mount Horeb.
          The Gospel selection is the third of four passages we read in consecutive weeks of John 6 - The Bread of Life Discourse. Next week's Gospel shows a major fracture that leads to a split within the Jewish community. After declaring he is the Bread of Life, the Jews begin to murmur about his origins. "The Jews" are those members of Judaism that are beginning to trend toward the modern-day rabbinic strain, while John's community is becoming the Catholic Christian community. This is the beginning of the fissure of the faiths in the Greek world. "The Jews" stand in opposition to this community during every major feast that is celebrated 'in' and 'through' the person of Jesus. They are primary antagonists of the fledgling Christian community.

          Jesus draws everything to himself. He makes one of his "I am" statements that eventually reveal the he and the Father are one and the same. He foreshadows the institution of the Eucharist when his nourishment is made available to all who call upon him. He is the one who will provide for everlasting food. All who eat of his body and drink his blood will live forever. This food that is available from his own flesh is much different from the nourishment God provided the exiled community through perishable manna. The one who attaches himself or herself to Jesus will share in eternal life.

          Notice how human nature discounts mystery. The Jews who have just witnessed an incredible event begin the discount Jesus who was the origin and initiator of the miraculous deed. Often when we look at the humanity of Jesus, we see his divinity. The Jews, however, contemplate the divinity of Jesus and can only see his humanity. They acknowledge that they know his earthly origins as he was born of Joseph and Mary. (These words are in the present tense and they may convey that both Joseph and Mary are alive at the time of this event.) Stubborn hearts will refuse to look at the possibility that something greater may be at work here.

          It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Jesus certainly makes the claim he is God and that he is the one who intercedes for us to the Father. At the same time, we have the capacity to learn from God in daily life. God who is always close to us instructs us through our conscience. We can never betray it. It resides deep within us and teaches us right from wrong. It is primary in our moral development. It is the part of us that keeps us open to receive God's many graces. We are to remain open to these possibilities that seem too mysterious and inexplicable for us. Our conscience allows us to see divinity shine forth from humanity and behold the mysteries from God. It transforms our vision and dreams and brings us to a deeper, enriched faith through Christ. All is possible when we keep our minds, imaginings, and daydreaming alive and open. Dream aloud this week and marvel at the ways your week unfolds.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Ezekiel has a vision of four living creatures whose forms are human and their animal wings create a loud buzz. This vision is the likeness of the glory of the Lord and is like the Son of Man. The Lord asks Ezekiel to obey him by eating the unrolled written scroll that is marked by lamentations, wailing, and woe. After he eats it, he is to go to the house of Israel to speak the word of the Lord to them. Ezekiel is told to observe his people to see the ways they became a rebellious group; he himself has become a sign for the house of Israel shouldering their burdens, setting out in darkness, going through a hold dug into a wall, and covering his face so no one sees him. Ezekiel insults Jerusalem for their abominations. The Lord remembers how Israel grew into a beautiful woman who was captivated by her own beauty. She turns from the Lord, but the Lord continues to love her and keep the covenant. The Lord no longer makes wholesale condemnations; instead he judges individually. The one who keeps his commandments will surely live; the unjust one will taste death. The Lord meters out judgment. Return to the Lord and live!

Gospel: Jesus tells his friends that he will undergo his Passion and they are overwhelmed with grief. Temple tax collectors tease Jesus with the question about whether he is to receive a religious exemption. He answers by saying that the faithful ones are treated like foreigners, but he asks his disciples to give no offense to the authorities. His disciples question him about who is the greatest in heaven. Surprisingly, he calls children to himself and lets them know that the young and vulnerable are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus then gives a parable to illustrate the necessity for reconciliation and forgiveness. He tells of a man who was forgiven a large debt by the master, but would not forgive a man who owed him a small amount. The wicked man is condemned to harsh judgment for his closed, cold heart. Jesus then addresses the human mocking treatment of divorce. He takes a hard line on the attitudes that lead toward divorce citing the God brought the two people together to work out their lives together. Children are then brought to Jesus. When the disciples try to stop their advance, Jesus permits them to come to him.

Saints of the Week

August 12: Jane Frances de Chantal, religious (1572-1641), founded the Congregation of the Visitation with her spiritual advisor, Francis de Sales. This congregation was for women who wanted to live in religious life, but without the austerity of the other orders. Jane was married to a Baron with whom she had six children and she sought religious answers to her suffering. Her order established eighty-five convents dedicated to serving the poor before she died.

August 13: Pontian, pope and martyr and Hippolytus, priest and martyr (d.236). Pontian's papacy was interrupted by a persecution when the Roman Emperor Maximinus arrested him and his rival, Hippolytus, and banished them to Sardinia. Pontian resigned so another pope could succeed him. Hippolytus, who formed a schismatic group and claimed to be the real pope, reconciled with the church before he and Pontian were martyred.

August 14: Maximilian Kolbe, priest and martyr (1894-1941), was born in Russian-occupied Poland. He entered the Franciscans in 1910 and preached the gospel with his devotion to Mary in Poland and Japan. When the Nazis conquered Poland in 1939, he ministered to thousands of refugees. He was arrested, sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. When a prisoner escaped and retaliation was sought, Kolbe offered himself to replace one of the ten randomly chosen men to be executed.

August 15: The Assumption of Mary is the principal feast of Mary with her Queenship celebrated at the end of the octave. This feast celebrates that she was taken up to heaven, body and soul, at the end of her earthly life. The Council of Ephesus in 431 proclaimed her Mother of God and devotion of her dormition followed afterwards.

August 16: Stephen of Hungary (975-1038) tried to unite the Magyar families and was able to establish the church in Hungary through Pope Sylvester II's support. Rome crowed Stephen as the first king in 1001 and he instituted many reforms in religious and civil practices. He built churches and trained local clergy.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Aug 12, 1877. The death of Fr. Maurice Gailland. He was an expert in languages and spent many years at St Mary's Mission in Kansas. He wrote a 450 page dictionary and grammar of the Potawatomi language.
·         Aug 13, 1621. The death in Rome of St John Berchmans. He died while still in studies, preparing for a public disputation.
·         Aug 14, 1812. Napoleon I and his army arrived at Polosk, in White Russia. They plunder the property of the Society and violate the tombs of the Generals.
·         Aug 15, 1821. Fr. Peter DeSmet sailed from Amsterdam to America. He hoped to work among the Native Americans. He became the best known missionary of the northwest portion of the United States.
·         Aug. 15, 1955: The Wisconsin Province was formed from the Missouri Province and the Detroit Province was formed from the Chicago province.
·         Aug. 16, 1649: At Drogheda, Fr. John Bath and his brother, a secular priest, were shot in the marketplace by Cromwell's soldiers.
·         Aug. 17, 1823: Fr. Van Quickenborne and a small band of missionaries descended the Missouri River to evangelize the Indians at the request of the bishop of St. Louis. On this date in 1829, the College of St. Louis opened.
·         Aug. 18, 1952: The death of Alberto Hurtado, writer, retreat director, trade unionist and founder of "El Hogar de Christo," a movement to help the homeless in Chile.
·         Aug. 19, 1846: At Melgar, near Burgos, the birth of Fr. Luis Martin, 24th General of the Society.