Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Poem: “Limbo” By Sister Mary Ada, OSJ

The ancient greyness shifted
Suddenly and thinned
Like mist upon the moors
Before the wind.
An old, old prophet lifted
A shining face and said:
“He will be coming soon.
The Son of God is dead;
He died this afternoon.”
A murmurous excitement stirred
All souls.
They wondered if they dreamed –
Save one old man who seemed
Not even to have heard.
And Moses, standing,
Hushed them all to ask
If any had a welcome song prepared.
If not, would David take the task?
And if they cared
Could not the three young children sing
The Benedicite, the canticle of praise
They made when God kept them from perishing
In the fiery blaze?
A breath of spring surprised them,
Stilling Moses’ words.
No one could speak, remembering
The first fresh flowers,
The little singing birds.
Still others thought of fields new ploughed
Or apple trees
All blossom-boughed.
Or some, the way a dried bed fills
With water
Laughing down green hills.
The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam
On bright blue seas,
The one old man who had not stirred
Remembered home.
And there He was
Splendid as the morning sun and fair
As only God is fair.
And they, confused with joy,
Knelt to adore
Seeing that He wore
Five crimson stars
He never had before.
No canticle at all was sung
None toned a psalm, or raised a greeting song.
A silent man alone
Of all that throng found tongue –
Not any other
Close to His heart.
When the embrace was done,
Old Joseph said, “How is Your Mother,
How is Your Mother, Son?”

Monday, April 29, 2013

Poem: “A Hymn to God the Father” By John Donne

Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallow’d in, a score?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And, having done that, thou hast done;
I fear no more.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Prayer: Carlo Maria Martini, S.J.

Lord Jesus, we ask you now
to help us to remain with you always,
to be close to you with all the ardor of our hearts,
to take up joyfully the mission you entrust to us
and that is to continue your presence
and to spread the good news of your Resurrection.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Poem: "The Question" by Unknown

Were the whole world good as you – not an atom better –
Were it just as pure and true,
Just as pure and true as you;
Just as strong in faith and works;
Just as free from crafty quirks;
All extortion, all deceit;
Schemes its neighbors to defeat;
Schemes its neighbors to defraud;
Schemes some culprit to applaud –
Would this world be better?

If the whole world followed you – followed to the letter –
Would it be a nobler world,
All deceit and falsehood hurled
From it altogether;
Malice, selfishness, and lust;
Banished from beneath the crust,
Covering human hearts from view –
Tell me, if it followed you,
Would the world be better?

Source: Found in William J. Bennett, ed., The Book of Virtues, pp. 643-644.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Poem: "Hymn to God the Father" by Ben Johnson

Hear me, O God!
A broken heart
Is my best part:
Use still Thy rod,
That I may prove
Therein, Thy love.

If Thou hadst not
Been stern to me,
But left me free,
I had forgot
Myself and Thee.

For sin’s so sweet,
As minds ill bent
Rarely repent
Until they meet
Their punishment.

Who more can crave
Than Thou hast done:
That gav’st a Son
To free a slave?
First made of naught,
Withal since bought.

Sin, death, and hell
His glorious Name
Quite overcame,
Yet I rebel
And slight the same.

But I’ll come in
Before my loss
Me farther toss,
As sure to winUnder His cross.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Prayer: Francis de Sales

As often as you can, throughout the day, recall your mind into the presence of God. Consider what God is doing and what you are doing. You will always find God's eyes fixed upon you with unchangeable love.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fifth Sunday in Easter

Fifth Sunday in Easter
April 28, 2013
Acts 14:21-27; Psalm 145; Revelation 21:1-5; John 13:31-33, 34-35

We return to the Last Supper Discourse in the Fourth Gospel where Jesus gives his friends a new commandment – to love one another. This new commandment is broad and sweeping and we are to imitate the example he gives to his disciples. Love doesn’t have a manual to go with it and it is the responsibility of each person to figure out how this love commandment is to be applied in new situations. In modern times, we are confronted with new situations that do not appear in Scripture, but we are faithful to Scripture when we make choices based on loving actions. Love glorifies the person of Jesus just as his act of love glorifies God the Father.
We see how Paul and Barnabas put into practice this love commandment. They proclaim the good news in the city and return to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch to strengthen the spirits of the disciples and to encourage them to persevere in the faith. Those are loving actions. They extend their visits to Pisidia, Pamphylia, and Attalia until they sail to Antioch where they call the church together to report what God has done with them and to open the door of faith to the Gentiles. Jewish law did not allow what they accomplished; early Christian efforts would not have included Gentiles into the faith. The manner by which they treat each other and build up their spirits are eye-catching and curious enough to others to want to join the good times they witnessed in this new church. Have we examined how we Christians are defined by our actions today?

During the recent Boston Marathon bombings, a great quote appeared on Facebook by the late Fred Rogers of the T.V. show Mr. Roger’s neighborhood. He quoted from his mother who said something like this, “During tragedies, look for the helpers. You’ll see them all around.” It helps to train our sights on what is good and right. If we only notice the bad things in life, our attitudes and perspectives will be shaped negatively. Contrariwise, if we look for the good that is done, our hearts and minds will be filled with compassion, encouragement, and hope. It is far too easy to let the weighty matters of the world pull us down; it is just as easy to train our focus on those things that build up life and celebrate the goodness of many people. It doesn’t mean that we turn away from tragic events; it means we want to be part of creating rather than be defeated by destruction. St. Augustine of Hippo is quoted: “The times are bad! The times are troublesome!’ This is what humans say. But we are our times. Let us live well and our times will be good. Such as WE are, such are our times.”

            While the broad statements of Jesus are beautiful and give us something for which we aspire, we wish it provided a more specific way to guide our individual responses. For instance, if we are driving a car and are cut off by a reckless driver and placed in harm’s way, we instinctively want to blare our horns to let that driver know she went too far in her uncaring, disrespectful ways. The question is, “how do we, as a Christian, respond to this offense? I don’t always have the answer because I am not consistent in my approach. I do find this quote from Mother Teresa comforting because it keeps me focused on always choosing to love in my actions.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered; forgive them anyway. 
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies; succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you; be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating others could destroy overnight; create anyway.
The good you do today will often be forgotten; do the good anyway.
Give the best you have and it may never be enough; give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Let us be the master of our actions when we choose how we will define ourselves. We always retain that fundamental choice. Before we respond to confronting situations, we can ask ourselves, “Are my actions loving?” If not, we may need to refrain from reacting; If so, then do the good regardless of how anyone else will take it. We can know that when we choose to do what is loving and right, our actions will be close to the will of God.

Choosing to love is not just a nice thing to do; it is imperative in a violent world. Our loving example to someone can make a crucial difference in the way others make their choices. Love can bring disaffected people back into the mainstream of society where they avail themselves of help. Love unites those who are estranged and it brings political enemies together. Love glorifies God and it is the precondition for solving problems at all levels of life. We can all be better at it each day. Pope Francis says the world will never tire of kindness and loving actions. It can’t be exhausted, but it certainly can change the course of our shared history. Love is the agent by which God will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away. Exhaust the love God has given you. Give it away freely. You risk losing nothing by doing so, and you gain salvation for yourself and for other souls that search for God. As Jesus has loved you, it is time to love one another. Grant the world the redemption it seeks.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

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

Gospel: In The Farewell Discourse, Jesus reassures his disciples that he will remain with them if they keep his loving commandments. To punctuate his message, he tells them he will send an advocate to teach and remind them of all he told them. He leaves them his lasting peace that will help them endure many difficult times. This peace will allow us to remain close to him - we will be organically part of him as we are the branches and he is the vine. Remaining close to him will allow us to share complete joy with one another. Jesus once again proves his love to them by saying the true friend, that is, the Good Shepherd, will lay down his love for one's friends. However, even with the love of Jesus, we will experience hatred in this world, but as friends of Jesus and as God's elect, their harm can never really wound our souls.

Saints of the Week

April 28: Peter Chanel, priest, missionary, martyr (1803-1841), is the first martyr of the Pacific South Seas. Originally a parish priest in rural eastern France, he joined the Society of Mary (Marists) to become a missionary in 1831 after a five-year stint teaching in the seminary. At first the missionaries were well-received in the New Hebrides and other Pacific island nations as they recently outlawed cannibalism. The growth of white influence placed Chanel under suspicion, which led to an attack on the missionaries. When the king’s son wanted to be baptized, his anger erupted and Peter was clubbed to death in protest. 

April 28: Louis of Montfort, priest (1673-1716), dedicated his life to the care of the poor and the sick as a hospital chaplain in Poitiers, France. He angered the public and the administration when he tried to organize the hospital women's workers into a religious organization. He was let go. He went to Rome where the pope gave him the title "missionary apostolic" so he could preach missions that promoted a Marian and Rosary-based spirituality. He formed the "Priests of the Company of Mary" and the "Daughters of Wisdom."

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

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

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

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

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Apr 28, 1542. St Ignatius sent Pedro Ribadeneira, aged fifteen, from Rome to Paris for his studies. Pedro had been admitted into the Society in l539 or l540.
·      Apr 29, 1933. Thomas Ewing Sherman died in New Orleans. An orator on the mission band, he was the son of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. He suffered a breakdown, and wanted to leave the Society, but was refused because of his ill health. Before his death he renewed his vows in the Society.
·      Apr 30, 1585. The landing at Osaka of Fr. Gaspar Coelho. At first the Emperor was favorably disposed towards Christianity. This changed later because of Christianity's attitude toward polygamy.
·      May 1, 1572. At Rome, Pope St. Pius V dies. His decree imposing Choir on the Society was cancelled by his successor, Gregory XIII.
·      May 2, 1706. The death of Jesuit brother G J Kamel. The camellia flower is named after him.
·      May 3, 1945. American troops take over Innsbruck, Austria. Theology studies at the Canisianum resume a few months later.
·      May 4, 1902. The death of Charles Sommervogel, historian of the Society and editor of the bibliography of all publications of the Jesuits from the beginnings of the Society onward. 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Prayer: Augustine of Hippo

‘The times are bad! The times are troublesome!' This is what humans say. But we are our times. Let us live well and our times will be good. Such as we are, such are our times.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Prayer: "The Final Analysis" by Teresa of Calcultta

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered; forgive them anyway. 
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies; succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you; be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating others could destroy overnight; create anyway.
The good you do today will often be forgotten; do good anyway.
Give the best you have and it may never be enough; give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

What I can do, you cannot.
What you can do, I cannot
But together, we can do
Something beautiful for God.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Poem: “The Waking Year” By Emily Dickenson

A lady red upon the hill
Her annual secret keeps;
A lady white within the field
In placid lily sleeps!

The tidy breezes with their brooms
Sweep vale, and hill, and tree;
Prithee, my pretty housewives,
Who may expected be?

The neighbors do not yet suspect,
The woods exchange a smile –
Orchard and buttercup and bird –
In such a little while!

And yet how still the landscape stands,
How nonchalant the wood,
As if the resurrection
Were nothing very odd!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Prayer: Mechtild of Magdeburg

It is my nature that makes me love you often,
For I am love itself.
It is my longing that makes me love you intensely,
For I yearn to be loved from the heart.
It is my  eternity that makes me love you long,
For I have no end.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Song: Hallelujah!

Leonard Cohen's song, "Hallelujah," which has been used in a number of films, including the movie "Shrek," has been updated to reflect the life of Jesus and the Passion. It tells a nice story. I invite you to listen and watch this majestic song being performed.

Hallelujah: A Leonard Cohen adaptation.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

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

          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 waterfall. He wants man, in the long run to be able to recognize in all creatures (even in 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 trait in our Enemy; He really loves the hairless bipeds. He has created, and always gives back to then with His right hand what He has taken away with His left.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spirituality: "Tensions" by Margaret Silf

“Tensions, tension, tensions … between the center of the church that holds it all together and those who walk the edges, where fresh growth happens. Between living a life of prayer in the cloisters and walking with God on the streets. Between rejoicing in created things and being willed, if necessary, to let them go. Between experiencing opposition and not becoming embittered. Between knowing when to resist and when to surrender. Between surrendering to human control and surrendering only to God.”

His voice was riding to a crescendo, and the napkin rings scurried furiously to one side or the other of the opposing flanks building up on my embattled table.

“Will we ever resolve all these tensions?” He [Lopez/Ignatius] aimed this question first at heaven but then glanced pointedly at me. I suppose because we were now partners in a tension-beleaguered world. All I could do was raise my eyebrows, agreeing to question right along with him.

Then he suddenly spotted my guitar standing in the corner of the room.

“You play?” he asked.

“A bit,” I admitted.

“I love music,” he said. “Would you play something for me?”

I agreed, with some embarrassment, less than confident in my own ability.

Lopez fell silent and listened intently, growing calmer by the minute.

“That’s it!” he said when my little musical interlude petered out. “You’ve put your finger on it. My desire is to unite the human instrument with God, to bring my human self into resonance with the divine harmony and help others do the same. Your guitar knows more about this than we do. The music itself is the result of tensions. If the strings are not taut enough, there will be no music. If they are too taut, they will snap. My God!” he proclaimed with a yelp of joy. “Tension can be creative if we learn to hold it in balance. No tension equals no music. It’s not about eliminating tensions but about balancing them. All we need to do is hold the tensions and let God make the music.”

With a flourish, he swept the opposing armies together into a temporary truce, cast a broad. Contented smile across my ravaged table, and took off into the night.

Source: Margaret Silf, Just Call Me Lopez: Getting to the Heart of Ignatius Loyola, pp. 148-150.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Poem: "A Prayer in Spring" by Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Poem: “The Servant-Girl at Emmaus (A Painting by Diego Velasquez)” By Denise Levertov

She listens, listens, holding
her breath. Surely that voice
is his – the one
who had looked at her, once, across the crowd,
as no one ever had looked?
Had seen her? Had spoken as if to her?

Surely those hands were his,
taking the platter of bread from hers just now?
Hands he’d laid on the dying and made them well?

Surely that face?

The man they’d crucified for sedition and blasphemy.
The man whose body disappeared from its tomb.
The man it was rumored now some women had seen this morning, alive?

Those who had brought this stranger home to their table
don’t recognize yet with whom they sit.
But she in the kitchen, absently touching the winejug she’s to take in,
a young Black servant intently listening,

swings around and sees
the light around him
and is sure.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spirituality: From "The Cloud of Unknowing" (14th Century England)

Let's step back a minute and look at contemplation. Why does it have to be so hard? After all, that profound love stirring again and again in your will requires no straining on your part. These gentle impulses don't come from you but from the hand of God, the all powerful, always ready to start this work in anyone who done everything possible to get prepared. Then what makes this work so difficult? I'll tell you. You must tread down thoughts of of every creature that God has ever made and then hold them there, keeping them covered under the cloud of forgetting we have discussed earlier. This is hard work. God's grace will help you roll your sleeves up for it, but you still have to do it yourself. On the other hand, God alone sets those loving feelings in motion. So do your part, and I can promise you God will do his. God never fails.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Prayer: Teresa of Avila

Oh, strong love of God! 
And how true it is that nothings seems impossible
            to the one who loves.
Oh, happy the soul that has obtained this peace from God,
            for it is master over all trials and dangers of the world.

O love that loves me more than I can love myself -
            or understand.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Poem: “Written in March” By William Wordsworth

The cock is crowing,
The stream is flowing,
The small birds twitter,
The lake doth glitter,
The green filed sleeps in the sun;
The oldest and the youngest
Are at work with the strongest;
The cattle are grazing,
Their heads never raising;
There are forty feeding like one!
Like an army defeated
The snow hath retreated,
And now doth fare ill
On the top of the bare hill;
The ploughboy is whooping – anon – anon –
There’s joy in the mountains;
There’s life in the fountains;
Small clouds are sailing,
Blue skies are prevailing;
The rain is over and gone!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Third Sunday in Easter

Third Sunday in Easter
April 14, 2013
Acts 5:12-16; Psalm 118; Revelation 1:9-13, 17-19; John 20:19-31

This Gospel is fascinating for us because of the tiny details and the great significance of so many points in a relatively short passage. We wonder why the disciples, after having already experienced the Risen Lord in bodily form several times, cannot see any physical similarities to this man on the beach. Why does Jesus make it difficult for them to recognize him? For sure, his symbolic actions point back to the life of Jesus of Nazareth, but would it have been so costly to keep the same appearance? It may have helped future generations who read these accounts.

Jesus reveals himself to his disciples one final time before his ascends to his place in heaven. He returns to the place where it all began – the sea of Tiberias where seven of his friends are fishing. He instructs them as he originally did – to put out into the deep and to haul in a large catch of fish where they are able to realize his extraordinary abilities. The beloved disciples’ memory flashes back to the original moment when Jesus revealed himself to them and he instantly recognizes the Lord’s presence in the present moment. Then as now, they know something new is beginning.

Have you ever returned home after being away for a long time? Or visited a special place where you once experienced a meaningful moment? We return to those extraordinary places and we breathe in the air around us and we let memories flood back to us. We remember the special fragrances, check out the size of the buildings and parcels of land, see if a particular tree still stands, and we look for our familiar landmarks. Our senses become alive and we sit to ponder the passage of time musing over the ways we have changed.

We return home and it is never the same. We return to our roots to restart a new life – perhaps as a continuation or a re-founding of our true selves, but we have been forever changed by our experiences. We simply cannot return to a simpler, nostalgic time because it does not exist, but we can bring greater meaning to our experiences.

The disciples of Jesus go back to the familiar where they can see the greater meaning in their original call. The call remains the same, but now it carries more weight. The novelty of being with Jesus as he preached to the Israelites is completely gone, but they receive the same call, but with much more added purpose. The first time they went with him, they were filled with awe, fascination, and wonder; this second time with him, they witnessed his death and his resurrection to new life. The first time was filled with freedom and exhilaration; the second time was borne with responsibility and concern for others. When they were young, they could go where they wanted, but now someone else will lead them to places where they don’t want to go, but they will do it obediently out of love for Jesus. They realized their lives were not their own any longer, but they lived for Christ. They returned home as changed men and nothing could satisfy them except for living their “resurrected” call.

We store our memories into our unconsciousness where they can be accessed through a resurfacing of our senses. These memories can be ‘dangerous’ in a good sense because they will not keep us satisfied with the status quo, but will always spur us onwards towards Christ’s goal for us. We cannot give up. These memories ground us and keep us restless because we are impelled to renew our lives so that we live for Christ and not for ourselves. In prayer, it is always good for us to return to the scene of our call and let it come to life again. It will never be the same and we will get a nuanced refocusing of our call, but with the original memory’s freshness that let us know it remains authentic.

Each time we revisit it though, we get the same dangerous question that the Risen Jesus thrice asked Peter: Do you love me more than these? It is a great barometer for measuring how well we live out our call. Peter knew it was not an easy question to answer; may it never be! It is the basis of our lives. I suggest that you not hastily answer this question. Of course, we will all answer ‘yes’ because we think it is the only answer we can give. Don’t just react; please respond to his question with sufficient reflection over a period of time. Let Jesus ask you three times and answer it over a period of weeks and wrestle with the implications for you. Love always changes a person forever.

Love for Jesus made Peter and the other Disciples stand up in the courts before the Sanhedrin and declare their obedience to God rather than to men. What does your love for Jesus ask you to do?

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:  We continue with the Acts of the Apostles and we read the account of Stephen who was working great signs and wonders among the people in the name of Jesus. False testimony is lodged against him but he stands angelic before them. His angry opponents stone him including Saul who gave consent to execute him. A severe persecution breaks out in Jerusalem and the believers are displaced to Judea and Samaria. Saul, trying to destroy the Church, enters house after house to arrest them. Philip's testimony and miracles in Samaria emboldens the believers. Philip heads out to Gaza and meets an Ethiopian eunuch who is reading Isaiah's texts. Philip interprets the scripture and the eunuch begs to be baptized. Meanwhile, Saul is carrying out hateful acts against the believers and is struck blind as he beholds an appearance of Jesus. The beginning of his call and conversion is happening. 
Gospel: In John 6, Jesus feeds the 5,000 as a flashback to the Eucharistic memory of the believers with the Bread of Life discourse. Jesus instructs them, "it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven; my heavenly Father gives true bread." Jesus proclaims, "I am the bread of life." He further states that anyone who comes to him will never hunger or thirst. Jesus will raise everyone on the last day. All that is required is belief in him. Belief is a gift not given to all and the way to the Father is through the Son. As you would expect, opposition arises to the statements of Jesus as his cannibalistic references are hard sayings to swallow. He tells the people, "my flesh is true food, and by blood is true drink." If you eat of Jesus, you will live forever.

Saints of the Week

No saint is listed in the calendar this week.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Apr 14, 1618. The father of John Berchmans is ordained a priest. John himself was still a Novice.
·      Apr 15, 1610. The death of Fr. Robert Parsons, the most active and indefatigable of all the leaders of the English Catholics during the reign of Elizabeth I.
·      Apr 16, 1767. Pope Clement XIII wrote to Charles III of Spain imploring him to cancel the decree of expulsion of the Society from Spain, issued on April 2nd. The Pope's letter nobly defends the innocence of the Society.
·      Apr 17, 1540. The arrival in Lisbon of St Francis Xavier and Fr. Simon Rodriguez. Both were destined for India, but the latter was retained in Portugal by the King.
·      Apr 18, 1906. At Rome, the death of Rev Fr. Luis Martin, twenty-fourth General of the Society. Pope Pius X spoke of him as a saint, a martyr, a man of extraordinary ability and prudence.
·      Apr 19, 1602. At Tyburn, Ven. James Ducket, a layman, suffered death for publishing a work written by Robert Southwell.
·      Apr 20, 1864. Father Peter de Smet left St Louis to evangelize the Sioux Indians.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Poem: The Touch of the Master's Hand

It was battered and scarred and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin.
But he held it up with a smile.
“What am I bid, good folks?” he cried.
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar, then two, only two?
Two dollars and who’ll make it three?

“Three dollars once and three dollars twice,
And going for three, but no!”
From the room far back a gray-haired men
Came forward and picked up the bow.
And wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening the loosened strings
He played a melody pure and sweet,
Sweet as an angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer
In a voice that was quiet and low
Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up the bow.
“A thousand dollars and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand and who’ll make it three?
Three thousand once, three thousand twice
And going and gone!” said he.

The people cheered but some of them cried,
We don’t quite understand.
What changed its worth? Quick came the reply:
“The touch of the master’s hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune
And battered and scarred with sin
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He’s going once, he’s going twice,
He’s going and almost gone.
But the Master comes and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of the soul and the change
That’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Poem: Denise Levertov's "Annunciation" (Full Version)

Fr. Kevin Burke, S.J. currently serves as Executive Dean of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in California. A Levertov fan, Kevin noticed that when the editors at New Directions put together the book "The Stream and the Sapphire," they mistakenly omitted the last 18 lines. The poem first appeared in her book "A Door in the Hive." Levertov endorsed and first published her poem in "A Door in the Hive" with those 18 lines as part of intended text. On this feast of Annunciation, please enjoy the full text of her work.


‘Hail, space for the uncontained God’
From the Agathistos Hymn,
Greece, VIc

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
       Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
       The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
         God waited.

She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.


Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
         Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
More often
those moments
      when roads of light and storm
      open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from

in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
                                 God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.


She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child–but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
  only asked
a simple, ‘How can this be?’
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power–
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
                     Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love–

but who was God.

This was the moment no one speaks of,
when she could still refuse.

A breath unbreathed,


She did not cry, ‘I cannot. I am not worthy,’
Nor, ‘I have not the strength.’
She did not submit with gritted teeth,
                                                       raging, coerced.
Bravest of all humans,
                                  consent illumined her.
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,
                               and the iridescent wings.
              courage unparalleled,
opened her utterly.