Sunday, March 31, 2013

Prayer: Clement of Alexandria

Martyrdom means bearing witness to God. Every soul that seeks in pureness of heart to know God and obeys the commandments is a martyr, bearing witness by life or by words.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Poem: Holy Saturday

Wrested again
from safe, familiar moorings
on a sea of darkness
no lights, no guiding star, no landmarks
by nothingness
by the chilling spectre
of yesterday’s murderous violence
by hopelessness and despair
No breezes even
to fair weather us
beyond defeat and death
All night long
All day long
like wind bereft sails
a silent sea
O Father
when will be our anchoring?
when our harbouring
in Your light and life?

Brendan J. Kelly, S.J. (Australia)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Poem: Holy Saturday

[for those who fish]

I said to my mind, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love got the wrong thing; yet there is faith
But the faith and the hope and the love are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be light, and the stillness the dancing.

T. S. Eliot, East Coker

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Prayer: Frederick Buechner

Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday
March 31, 2013
Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9

To appreciate the full import of the first Easter morning for the disciples, we have to recreate their emotions as they deal with the catastrophe of the Passion of Jesus. They were not expecting his execution and they were in shock to realize their dream ended badly. To place ourselves in their mindset, it may be helpful for us to remember how we felt in the hours after the attack on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. Everything came to a standstill. Air and rail traffic was halted, workers returned home to their families, grief counselors began to emerge into the public, sports activities were cancelled to allow everyone to grieve and comprehend the extent of the tragedy. We began to ask questions, “How did this happen to us and why?” We ask ourselves these probing questions whenever we have a tragedy, such as the deadly shooting of young children in Newtown, Connecticut last fall. Nothing prepares us for untimely tragedy.

The circumstances of the disciples differ from 911 in many ways, but especially in that Jesus gathered with his friends for the Passover meal that celebrates God’s steadfastness and his deliverance from evil and oppression. This was to be a joyous moment. The disciples had their whole lives wrapped up in the being of Jesus and he was unjustly tried and horrendously executed. The good man who taught well, healed compassionately, revealed many miraculous signs of God’s love, and fulfilled Scripture was now dead and buried. All indications pointed to Jesus as the Messiah who would bring about a new kingdom, but his fast-paced death proved to the disciples that he was just an ordinary man. With the dead Jesus, their hopes and dreams were buried deep into the earth. Was everything he taught and stood for all wrong?

Poor Mary Magdalene. As a respectful act, she went to his tomb early in the morning to properly dress his dead body and she ran away to tell Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved the terrible news she uncovered. She did not go into the tomb, but she knew the body of Jesus was removed. Her tearful, howling run through Jerusalem must have been agonizing as she went in search of Peter. All the familiar places were merely a blur to her as she hastened on her way just needing to tell someone of her awful discovery. As a final desecrating insult, she knew someone disrespected his dead body.

Magdalene must have awakened Peter to tell him the news. He must have consoled her, given her something to drink, and waited as she caught her breath so she could calmly relay her observations to him. Peter probably didn’t even have his morning coffee, but he knew innately that something beyond his understanding occurred. With the beloved disciple, they raced across the city as their minds searched for explanations for what had happened. What would they do when they arrived? They were winded, out of breath, emotionally confused, and they hadn’t thought that far ahead, but they had to go see their friend’s tomb for themselves. The tomb was empty.

The beloved disciple graciously permitted Peter to enter the tomb first and Peter’s senses told him that the familiar actions of Jesus were still at work. His burial cloths were neatly arranged, just as Jesus would have folded them as he woke up and readied for the day. If robbers had come in, they would not have neatly laid the cloths out with great care, but this was the customary action of Jesus. Peter’s mind still was unsettled as he began to grapple with the confusing events, but then the beloved disciple entered and he knew for sure that Jesus removed those cloths and laid them aside. He believed that Jesus was no longer dead, even though he did not understand the Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.

It might serve us well to take some time during Easter week to settle ourselves down and reflect upon our what our senses tell us since they are the place where we encounter the risen Jesus. Peter and the beloved disciples used their senses to provide them with data to piece together what happened with their friend. Their senses fed both their heart and mind and then their imagination united them to give meaning to their experience. From all they knew of Jesus, what he taught, how he lived, what he valued and chose, they rightly concluded that God raised Jesus from the dead. Later on Jesus confirmed their right belief when he appeared to them on that first Easter evening. He didn’t wait long to join his friends again.

We delight our children with partially hidden colored eggs and sweet pastel colored chocolates. We want them to enjoy the sensory feel of Easter so they can sense again the newness of springtime life, but we need to feel these senses as adults just the same. As we counter our many blessings against the way we get battered down by life’s tragedies and we witness disappointments and heartaches, we need to think of what is above, not what is on earth. We need to keep our perspective on our life in the risen Lord. We can allow him to share his emotions of joy and victory of the resurrection. He comes to console and care for us so that we know deep down that everything will be all right and that all is gift for us to share. He returns to tell us that he is happy to be with us again because his love won’t let anything separate him from us. He wants us to praise God because he has bridged the divide between humanity and God. God must certainly be rejoicing in heaven over us.

Permit your senses to be heightened so you experience the joy because you are important enough to the Lord that he returns personally for you, personally because of you. His love is always personal. Feel his happiness that he wants to be part of every moment of your day. He has come back for you. Alleluia! He is Risen. Alleulia.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: We follow the Acts of the Apostles in the Easter octave. Peter stands up on Pentecost to proclaim to Jews in Jerusalem that Jesus of Nazareth who they put to death has been vindicated by God and raised to new life. When the Jews realize the significance of their actions, they petition Peter to be baptized in the name of Jesus. Peter and John heal the crippled man at "the Beautiful Gate" at the temple. All who witnessed it recognized that the man used to be the crippled beggar. Peter and John preach to the Jews gathered at Solomon's portico and tell them all that the prophets and scripture say about Jesus. The priests, temple guards, and the Sadducees confront Peter and John and hold them in custody. The religious authorities question their teaching and healing power. The Sanhedrin dismissed them with instructions not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter, John, and the healed man persevere in their boldness. The Sanhedrin wait to see if this is of God or of another source of power.

Gospel: In Matthew, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary meet Jesus on the way and he exhorts them not to be afraid. The chief priests hire soldiers to say, "the disciples came and stole the body of Jesus." In John, Magdalene weeps outside the tomb and thinks Jesus is the gardener, until he speaks to her familiarly. In Luke, two disciples heading towards Emmaus meet Jesus along the way and he opens the scripture for them. As they recount their story to the Eleven, Jesus appears before them, beckons them not to be afraid, and eats with them. In John, six disciples are with Peter as they fish at the Sea of Tiberius. After a frustrating night of fishing, Jesus instructs them to cast their nets wide and they catch 153 large fish. The beloved disciple recognized the man on the beach as the Lord and they rush to meet him. In Mark, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene who told the Eleven about him. Two other disciples on the road returned to speak of their encounter, and then Jesus appears to them while they were at table.

Saints of the Week

No saints are remembered during the Easter octave.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      March 31, 1548: Fr. Anthony Corduba, rector of the College of Salamanca, begged Ignatius to admit him into the Society so as to escape the cardinalate which Charles V intended to procure for him.
·      Apr 1, 1941. The death of Hippolyte Delehaye in Brussels. He was an eminent hagiographer and in charge of the Bollandists from 1912 to 1941.
·      Apr 2, 1767. Charles III ordered the arrest of all the Jesuits in Spain and the confiscation of all their property.
·      Apr 3, 1583. The death of Jeronimo Nadal, one of the original companions of Ignatius who later entrusted him with publishing and distributing the Jesuit Constitutions to the various regions of the early Society.
·      Apr 4, 1534. Peter Faber (Pierre Favre) ordained a deacon in Paris.
·      Apr 5, 1635. The death of Louis Lallemant, writer and spiritual teacher.
·      Apr 6, 1850. The first edition of La Civilta Cattolica appeared. It was the first journal of the restored Society. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Prayer: Ronald Rolheiser

When John is describing Jesus "taking off his outer garment" he means more than just the stripping off of some physical clothing, some outer sash that might have gotten in the way of his stooping down to wash the feet of someone different from oneself, Jesus had to strip off a lot of outer things (pride, moral judgments, superiority, ideology, and personal dignity) so as to wear only his inner garment (his knowledge that he had come from God, and was going back to God) and therefore all things were possible for him, including his washing the feet of someone whom he knew had betrayed him.

Chapter 11: The Eucharist as the Ultimate Invitation to Mature Discipleship Our One Great Act of Fidelity

Monday, March 25, 2013

Poem: "The Incarnation" by John of the Cross

Then He summoned an archangel,
Saint Gabriel: and when he came,
Sent him forth to find a maiden,
Mary was her name.

Only through her consenting love
Could the mystery be preferred
That the trinity in human
Flesh might clothe the Word.

Though the three Persons worked the wonder
It only happened in the One.
So was the Word made incarnation
In Mary’s womb, a son.

So he who only had a Father
Now had a Mother undefiled,
Though not as ordinary maids
Had she conceived the Child

By Mary, and with her own flesh
He was clothed in His own frame:
Both Son of God and Son of Man
Together had one name.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Poem: "Thanks" by W.S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow for the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water looking out
in different directions.

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
looking up from tables we are saying thank you
in a culture up to its chin in shame
living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the back door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you                         

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we 
wellare saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us like the earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Prayer: (Palm Sunday) Andrew of Crete

Let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him.

We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join in the holy song: 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.'

Friday, March 22, 2013

Prayer: John of the Cross

O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn.
O night that has united the Lover
with the beloved,
transforming the beloved
into the Lover.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Literature: C.S. Lewis "The Screwtape Letters"

Wormwood, the Devil's assistant, is teaching his underling about humility:

To anticipate the Enemy's (God's) strategy, we must consider His aims. The Enemy (God) wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favor that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbor's talent - or in a sunrise, and elephant or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run to be able to recognize in all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things. He wants to kill their animal self-love as soon as possible; but it is His long term policy, I fear, to restore to them a new kind of self-love - a charity and gratitude for all selves, including their own; when they have really learned to love their neighbors as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbors. For we never forget what is the most repellent inexplicable trait in our Enemy; He really love the hairless bipeds He has created, and always give back to them with His right hand what He has taken away with His left.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Passion Sunday

Passion Sunday
March 24, 2013
Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:8-14; John 8:1-11

From the start of Lent, we knew this day would come. As a matter of fact, we anticipate it and look forward to the penitential season of Lent. We place ourselves in the scene as a bystander and we are often horrified by the highs and lows and twists and turns of the story. With so many details in the swirling escalation of events in the Passion narratives, one always finds a particular word or phrase upon which to settle. For me, the perspective of the Roman centurion captures my attention.

The centurion remarks at the conclusion of Luke’s Gospel passage, “This man was innocent beyond doubt,” and he witnesses what had happened as events that glorify God. Presumably, the centurion was a Roman soldier who came from a differing belief system, but the events within the Passion and death of Jesus left an enduring mark. From a merely human perspective, no heart could be left untouched by the sheer brutality and the question of his innocence remains.

During my time in Middle East, I often find myself in a position like the centurion. I am not Jordanian, but I live and work in a culture where I am always an outsider. I observe behavioral patterns that make me compare and contrast my experience to those in my own culture and it makes me reflective about the human condition. I feel my powerlessness in being able to affect the larger culture, which makes me more of a passive commentator than anything else. Like the centurion, the forces that operate in this world point to a much larger mystery that I struggle to comprehend.

Being an outside observer provides a unique perspective. If one looks at the culture as foreign and sees them only as the “other,” he or she will only see the curiosity in people’s behaviors and thoughts, but if one searches for the common humanity, only the truth will emerge. The centurion is able see the radical truth that Jesus of Nazareth was an innocent man who did not deserve the sentence he received. The fidelity of Jesus to God revealed that he did not waver in his motivation. Throughout his life, Jesus came to know that nothing could separate him from the love of God – not even death. His trust in the daily presence of God allowed him to move through a horrendously unfair trial and Passion.

The centurion was affected by the last words of Jesus, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” He saw how Jesus comported himself when Barabbas, a criminal, was released instead of him. Though Jesus was treated as a common criminal, he would not let his spirit be broken down into acting as “less than” the man he was. The centurion also heard the exchange between the two criminals hanging with him. Though he knew his fate was unfair, he did not protest fiercely that justice be served. To the last breath, Jesus offered words of goodness and promise by forgiving sinners and welcoming them into paradise. The human spirit is relentless in finding a home in God’s heart. The way Jesus entered into his death revealed the integrity of having lived well.

One can speculate that the centurion told his account of the death of Jesus to his friends and colleagues because he sensed its innate wrongness. It may be that he came to faith because of what he saw because the manner in which Jesus died pointed to a larger reality: Jesus trusted in his Father’s care for him. The centurion speaks of the inexplicable truth that he experienced – the Jesus of Nazareth is truly a Son of God.

Tragedy brings people together to process their shock and horror and we have to tell others about our accounts. In the midst of all of it, we still see a tiny ray of light and goodness that catches our attention. We hope onto these images because we want to believe that sin and death will not dominate us. We can latch onto the tiniest detail that tells us God is here with us and that goodness and kindness will sprout. It is our job to give these accounts of hope to each other for those times when we may lose hope. Some good will always capture our hearts tenaciously that always point to the mystery of God’s care for us even in our darkest moments. God will never stop giving us these tiny moments that allow us to move forward in trust the same way Jesus did.

Let’s observe the moments of the Passion this week knowing that God will give us glimpses of his steadfastness all along the way. Trust that those details are from God and share with others what you see and experience. I’m sure others will tell you theirs and together your faith will be bolstered.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

Monday of Holy Week: We hear from Isaiah 42 in the First Oracle of the Servant of the Lord in which God’s servant will suffer silently, but will bring justice to the world. In the Gospel, Lazarus’ sister, Mary, anoints Jesus’ feet with costly oil in preparation for his funeral.

Tuesday of Holy Week: In the Second Oracle of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 49), he cries out that I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth. In deep hurt, distress and grief, Jesus tells his closest friends at supper that one of them will betray him and another will deny him three times before the cock crows.

(Spy) Wednesday of Holy Week: In the Third Oracle of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 50), the suffering servant does not turn away from the ridicule and torture of his persecutors and tormentors. The time has come.
Matthew’s account shows Judas eating during the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread with Jesus and their good friends after he had already arranged to hand him over to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver. The Son of Man will be handed over by Judas, one of the Twelve, who sets the terms of Jesus’ arrest.

Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday: Only an evening Mass can be said today and we let our bells ring freely during the Gloria that has been absent all Lent. In Exodus, we hear the laws and customs about eating the Passover meal prior to God’s deliverance of the people through Moses from the Egyptians. Paul tells us of the custom by early Christians that as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. In John’s Gospel, Jesus loves us to the end giving us a mandate to wash one another’s feet.

Good Friday: No Mass is celebrated today though there may be a service of veneration of the cross and a Stations of the Cross service. In Isaiah, we hear the Fourth Oracle of the Servant of the Lord who was wounded for our sins. In Hebrews, we are told that Jesus learned obedience through his faith and thus became the source of salvation for all. The Passion of our Lord is proclaimed from John’s Gospel.

Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil: No Mass, baptisms, or confirmations can be celebrated before the Vigil to honor the Lord who has been buried in the tomb. The Old Testament readings point to God’s vision of the world and the deliverance of the people from sin and death. All of Scripture points to the coming of the Righteous One who will bring about salvation for all. The Old Testament is relished during the Vigil of the Word as God’s story of salvation is told to us again. The New Testament epistle from Romans tells us that Christ, who was raised from the dead, dies no more. Matthew's Gospel finds Mary Magdalene and the other Mary at dawn arriving at the tomb only to find it empty. After a great earthquake that made the guards tremble, and angel appears telling the women, "Do not be afraid." The angel instructs them to go to the Twelve to tell them, "Jesus has been raised from the dead, and is going before you to Galilee."

Saints of the Week

March 17: Patrick, bishop (389-461), is the revered Apostle of Ireland and patron saint of many U.S. dioceses. He is credited for bringing the faith to all of Ireland. He was abducted and enslaved at age 16 by pirates and taken to Ireland where he worked as a cattle herded and shepherd in the mountains. He escaped after six years and eventually returned to his native Britain where he became a priest. Pope Celestine sent Patrick as a missionary to Ireland to evangelize them. Though he was under constant risk from hostile pagans, he converted many of them and developed a native clergy by the time of his death.

March 19: Joseph, husband of Mary is honored today for his support of Mary in their marriage. He is portrayed as a righteous man who obeys the will of God. Therefore, his ancestry is upheld as a virtuous stock through which God’s promises come true. We seldom contemplate his marital relationship to Mary and his responsibility to love and raise Jesus as his son. He was a descendent of King David and a carpenter or builder by trade. In Matthew's dream sequence, Joseph was embarrassed by Mary's pregnancy before their marriage, but went through with the wedding because he was a righteous man. He considered dissolving their marriage because of Mosaic Law, but is told in a dream to take Mary as his wife and to raise Jesus as his own. He is honored as the earthly father of Jesus.

March 23: Toribio of Mogrovejo, bishop (1538-1606) was a Spanish law professor in Salamanca who became the president of the Inquisition in Granada. As a layman, he was made the Archbishop of Lima, Peru and became quickly disturbed at the treatment of the native populations by the European conquerors. He condemned abuses and founded schools to educate the oppressed natives. He built hospitals and churches and opened the first seminary in Latin America.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      March 24, 1578: At Lisbon Rodolf Acquaviva and 13 companions embarked for India. Among the companions was Matthew Ricci and Michael Ruggieri.
·      March 25, 1563: The first Sodality of Our Lady, Prima Primaria, was begun in the Roman College by a young Belgian Jesuit named John Leunis (Leonius).
·      March 26, 1553: Ignatius of Loyola's letter on obedience was sent to the Jesuits of Portugal.
·      March 27, 1587: At Messina died Fr. Thomas Evans, an Englishman at 29. He had suffered imprisonment for his defense of the Catholic faith in England.
·      March 28, 1606: At the Guildhall, London, the trial of Fr. Henry Garnet, falsely accused of complicity in the Gunpowder Plot.
·      March 29, 1523: Ignatius' first visit to Rome on his way from Manresa to Palestine.
March 30, 1545: At Meliapore, Francis Xavier came on pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle.