Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Poem: "New Year's Eve" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night.
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

         Ring out the old, ring in the new;
         Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
         The year is going, let him go.
         Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor;
Ring in redress to all mankind.

         Ring out a slowly dying cause,
         And ancient forms of party strife;
         Ring in the nobler modes of life,
         With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right;
Ring in the common love of good.

         Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
         Ring out the narrowing lust of gold,
         Ring out the thousand wars of old,
         Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand.
Ring out the darkness of the land;
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

The Epiphany of the Lord

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Epiphany of the Lord
January 4, 2015
Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12

This feast of Epiphany is first and foremost God’s manifestation to the entire world that extends salvation beyond the Jews to the Gentiles. Contained within the broader message is the drama between King Herod and the wise men from the east. It is a story that encourages us to persevere in doing what is right because it assures us of God’s victory of light over darkness, of good over evil. Trusting the honor of the innocent may be more advantageous than trusting the honor of a person of influence, resources, and might.

The drama between Herod and the wise men is not too far removed from our life’s situations. Their context is larger and weightier, but we encounter Herods in our time that wants to bring us into their deceptive plans. In the Gospels, Herod is vilified and we rightly see him as a man who does great evil, but in his own mind, he is acting out of a positive value system that secures his status as king. Most of the people we know in life are good people who sometimes make some hurtful decisions. Sometimes their value systems oppose our own and the good that they pursue may seem to us as an evil. We have to figure out how to delicately pursue the good that God intends for us.

The wise men gave their word to King Herod and their system of honor impels them to keep the integrity of their word. However, they recognized something in their conscience that informed them they were heading down the wrong path if they kept their word. It was foolish to deceive a person of influence like Herod, because his word often meant life or death for those who crossed him, but these three men could not betray what they experienced at the end of the star – a young mother with a child that seemed favored by God. These men chose the rightful action, though in worldly terms it was imprudent, and they cleverly returned home by a more challenging journey – for the sake of the good.
The evil spirit often acts through a good person. When we detect the presence of the evil one, we have to quickly figure out (1.) how to protect the right actions we are pursuing, while (2.) finding out what that good person needs so they can return to pursuing what the Holy Spirit wants for them. Imagine if a close advisor took some time to have a lengthy conversation with Herod so he could express his fears and concerns. Allowing a person to say what they need often satisfies them enough so their fears are lessened and they can see their actions in a more balanced, life-giving way. If Herod only had someone to hear him out, he might have spared the lives of countless boy martyrs and promoted a more just society for his citizens.

We have to make sure our consciences continued to be formed. Our conscience is that still silent part of us that does not get ruffled by drama, but speaks to the new insights we receive with clarity. We form our conscience by educating ourselves and striving to negotiate the art of conversation that leads to more comprehensive understandings. As we learn to communicate, we find ourselves speaking less and less while increasing our capacity to listen and understand. We integrate what we learn with our value systems and we come to a point where we cherish our conscience to the extent that we could never betray it. The wise men could not betray their own and they masterfully found a positive way out of their dilemma. They preserved what was good and right and they left the world in a better place. We must always be masterful in the face of the evil spirit so we can calmly find a refuge of safety while in a sea of harm.

Lessen the drama in your life. Realize most of your drama is temporary and is out of your control. Raise your eyes to look for the star that shines brightly. Raise your eyes in splendor and look towards the proverbial holy mountain so you may see the Lord’s glory with great clarity and then you can walk in God’s light. The glory of the Lord will be known by your shining radiance and you will find a skillful way of opening the path of glory to others, especially to those who are caught up in the trappings of the evil spirit. Keep your eyes raised and move to a place of calm assurance and you will be fine.

After all, this is the feast of God’s manifestation to the entire world and you have work to do. There are many proverbial gentiles who society shuns from the promises of salvation. This is not right. Epiphany is about extending a hospitable welcome to those we otherwise do not want near us, but we will be surprised at the miraculous events the Lord has in store for us. Open wide the gates in splendor to those who seek God. Let us bring as many people as we can to the door of salvation. Look to God’s star and follow in great dignity and peace. The tiny child’s heart will change the world.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (1 John 3) We receive from Christ what we ask and he will give it to us because we follow his commandments and love one another. However, trust every spirit as we discern.
Tuesday: (I John 4) Let us love one another because love is of God, who gave us his only Son so that we might have life through him.
Wednesday: (1 John 4) No one has ever seen God, but we believe in him as the source of love. When we act lovingly, we act in accord with our invisible God and make God visible.
Thursday: (1 John 4) You cannot say you love God and then hate your neighbor. God is love and love marks us as heirs of God.
Friday: (1 John 5) Who is the victor of the world? The one who believes in Jesus as the Son of God. The Spirit testifies to him and the Spirit is Truth.
Saturday: (1 John 5) If we ask for anything in his name, God will hear us. We belong to God and anyone begotten by God does not sin.

Monday: (Matthew 4) When Jesus heard that John was arrested, he retreated to Galilee. He cured many and his fame spread throughout Syria. A people who lived in darkness have seen a great light.
Tuesday: (Mark 6) When Jesus saw the vast crowds, his heart was filled with pity. He made his disciples give the crowds something to eat though their food resources were scarce.
Wednesday: (Mark 6) After feeding the crowds, he sent his disciples in a boat to the other side of the sea. During the fourth watch of night, Jesus walked on the water in the middle of a storm.
Thursday: (Mark 3) The fame of Jesus spread as he healed many and cured their illnesses. People came from all over the region to see him and they said, “You are the Son of God.”
Friday: (Luke 5) Jesus encountered a leper who begged him to heal him. Afterwards, the man had to show himself to the priest, but Jesus had to stay outside of towns to do his work and to proclaim the gospel.
Saturday: (John 3) A dispute arose about the disciples of John the Baptist and Jesus, who was seen baptizing. John declared that he was not the One they sought,  but that he is the friend of the bridegroom.

Saints of the Week

January 4: Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious (1774-1821), was born into an Episcopalian household where she married and had five children. When her husband died, she became a Catholic and founded a girls’ school in Baltimore. She then founded the Sisters of Charity and began the foundation for the parochial school system in the U.S. She is the first native-born American to be canonized.

January 5: John Neumann, bishop (1811-1860), emigrated from Bohemia to New York and joined the Redemptorists in Pittsburgh before being named bishop of Philadelphia. He built many churches in the diocese and placed great emphasis on education as the foundation of faith.

January 6: Andre Bessette, religious (1845-1937), was born in Quebec, Canada. He joined the Congregation of the Holy Cross and taught for 40 years at the College of Notre Dame. He cared for the sick and was known as a intercessor for miracles. He built St. Joseph’s Oratory, a popular pilgrimage site in Canada.

January 7: Raymond of Penyafort, priest (1175-1275), was trained in philosophy and law and was ordained in 1222 to preach to the Moors and Christians. Though he was appointed bishop of Tarragon, he declined the position. Instead he organized papal decrees into the first form of canon law. He was later elected Master of the Dominican Order.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jan. 4, 1619: The English mission is raised to the status of a province.
·      Jan. 5, 1548: Francis Suarez, one of the greatest theologians of the church, was born at Granada.
·      Jan. 6, 1829: Publication of Pope Leo XII's rescript, declaring the Society to be canonically restored in England.
·      Jan. 7, 1566: Cardinal Ghislieri was elected pope as Pius V. He was a great friend of the Francis Borgia and appointed Salmeron and Toletus as apostolic preachers at the Vatican. He desired to impose the office of choir on the Society and even ordered it. He was canonized as St. Pius V.
·      Jan. 8, 1601: Balthasar Gracian was born. A Spanish Jesuit, he wrote on courtly matters. He is the author of "The Compleat Gentleman" and "The Art of Worldly Wisdom."
·      Jan. 9, 1574: Fr. Jasper Haywood died at Naples. He was superior of the English mission. As a boy he was one of the pages of honor to the Princess Elizabeth. After a brilliant career at Oxford, he renounced his fellowship and entered the Society in Rome in 1570. An able Hebrew scholar and theologians, he was for two years professor in the Roman College.
·      Jan. 10, 1581: Queen Elizabeth signed the fifth Penal Statute in England inflicting heavy fines and imprisonment on all who harbored Jesuits and Seminary priests.

·      Jan 10, 1567. Two Jesuits arrived in Havana, Cuba, as a base for evangelization.

Song: "Old Lang Syne" by Robert Burns in 1788

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne* ?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.

English translation

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine† ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Poem: "A Song for Simeon" by T.S. Eliot

Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;
The stubborn season has made stand.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards he dead land.

         Grant us thy peace.
         I have walked many years in this city,
Kept faith and fast, provided for the poor,
         Have given and taken honour and ease.
         There went never any rejected from my door.

         Who shall remember my house, where shall live my
children’s children
When the time of sorrow is come?
They will take to the goat’s path, and the fox’s home,
Fleeing from foreign faces and the foreign swords.

Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation
Grant us thy peace.
Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,
Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,
Now at this birth season of decease,
Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
Grant Israel’s consolation
To one who has eighty years and no to-morrow,

         According to thy word.
         They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation
         With glory and derision,
         Light upon light, mounting the saints’ stair.
         Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought
and prayer,
Not for me the ultimate vision.
Grant me thy peace.
(And a sword shall pierce thy heart,
Thine also).
I am tired with my own life and the lives of those
after me,
I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those
after me.
Let thy servant depart,

Having seen thy salvation.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Poem: "A Song for New Year's Eve" by William Cullen Bryant

Stay yet, my friends, a moment stay –
Stay till the good old year,
So long companion of our way,
                           Shakes hands, and leaves us here.
                                    Oh, stay, oh stay,
One little hour, and then away.

The year, whose hopes were high and string,
                           Has now no hopes to wake;
Yet one hour more of jest and song
                           For his familiar sake.
                                    Oh stay, oh stay,
One mirthful hour, and then away.

The kindly year, his liberal hands
                           Have lavished all his store.
And shall we turn from where he stands,
                           Because he gives no more?
                                    Oh stay, oh stay,
One grateful hour, and then away.
Days brightly came and calmly want,
                           While yet he was our guest;
How cheerfully the week was spent!
                           How sweet the seventh day’s rest!
                                    Oh stay, oh stay,
One golden hour, and then away.

Dear friends were with us, some who sleep
                           Beneath the coffin-lid;
What pleasant memories we keep
                           Of all they said and did!
                                    Oh stay, oh stay,
One tender hour, and then away.

Even while we sing, he smiles his last,
                           And leaves our sphere behind.
The good old year is with the past;
                           Oh be the new as kind!
                                    Oh stay, oh stay,

One parting strain, and then away.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Poem: "An Old Woman Remembers: The Flight into Egypt" by Kilian McDonnell, OSB

When dark clouds cover moon’s
craters we push open creaky stable
doors, lead the donkey out to leave
for Egypt before Herod’s
soldiers pound upon gate. We hear

Rachels screaming, sons slaughtered
by decree, while we angle across
plowed barley fields, like robbers
with sagging bags of silver drachmas,
always looking back, avoiding

roads. Stadia and stadia later
we hear uncertain night noises
of distant battles, lost and won:
an ox bellowing, and the hissing
of ten skin-headed vultures

as they claw and squabble over a dead
sheep. We pass on the far side.
After two weeks off Gaza roads
we’ve not crossed the border, but far
enough to rest a day beside a huge

abandoned columbarium, rebels’ lair,
filled with white bird droppings,
and coppery green pigeon feathers.
To rest the donkey Joseph stops
beneath a turpentine tree while my infant
wails, wet diaper full once
more. On a flat rock I change
him, give him my nipple, He’s
beautiful beyond all imagining.

In thorn bushes Joseph finds a nest
of sand colored eggs, enough to get us
to the Nile. What cobra-crowned
Ramses reigns as Son of sun-
god Re, demanding bricks,
withholding straw, and knows not Joseph?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Prayer: "Filling every Moment" by Unknown

If, as Herod, we fill our lives with things, 

and again with things, 

If we consider ourselves so unimportant 

that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, 

when will we have the time 

to make the long slow journey across the desert 

as did the Magi? 

Or sit and watch the stars 

as did the Shepherds? 

Or brood over the coming of the child 

as did Mary? 

For each of us, there is a desert to travel, 

a star to discover, 

and a being within ourselves to bring to life.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Poem: "Christ's Nativity" by Henry Vaughan

Awake, glad heart! Get up, and sing!
It is the birthday of thy King.
         Awake, awake!
         The sun doth shake
Light from His locks, and all the way
Breathing perfumes, doth spice the day.
         Awake, awake! Hark how the wood rings,
         Winds whisper, and the busy springs
                  A consort make.
                  Awake, awake!
Man is their high priest and should rise
To offer up the sacrifice.
I would I were some bird or star,
Fluttering in woods or lifted far
         Above this inn
         And road to sin!
Then either star, or bird, should be

Shining, or singing, still to Thee.