6-30-12

Matthew 8: 5-17

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.”

When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.” And the servant was healed in that hour.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

 A Way to Pray

Most of the time, St. Ignatius is associated with a form of prayer with scripture that involves the imagination. This, indeed, accounts for the bulk of the Spiritual Exercises. But he also proposes several other methods of prayer that can be very helpful for someone on retreat or in daily life.

One such method is that of a slow, word by word recitation of key, basic prayers of the Catholic faith. The idea is not to get through as many prayers as possible, but simply to soak up the meaning that is latent in such rich prayers. For instance, take the Our Father. St. Ignatius instructs us to consider each word, taking as long as we need to in order to relish whatever we are able to find there. It could be that a whole hour passes just considering the word “Father” without having any time to move on to another phrase. Or it could be that we only find one particularly rich word. The prayer period is concluded with the usual Ignatian petition for whatever grace we especially need.

One particular benefit of this way of praying, and why it has been useful for so many Catholics, is that it familiarizes us deeply with the prayers that we say so often. While sometimes it is good to pray a full rosary of Hail Mary’s, at other times, it may be good to just consider the words, “Hail Mary.” This way of praying can also be used with any scriptural text, and any excerpt from the liturgy, for instance, the Lamb of God or the Gloria. It’s nothing fancy, just letting God speak a word of grace and life into our hearts through these treasured prayers.

—Mr. Timothy Kieras, S.J.

 Prayer

As you pray, ponder each word and let God’s Spirit take the lead:

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.


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6-29-2012

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

Matthew 16: 13-19

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

The Humble Lord of the Universe

The human world is remarkable in its long dramatic struggle between praising God and building things to His glory, and denying Him and building a world without God. I was very blessed this past Holy Week to return to Rome, where I had spent five years of my priestly formation. Perhaps it’s because I was born in New York that I so love Rome, the “Eternal City.” This time I especially loved visiting churches. I simply could not get enough of the beauty in the churches of Rome. Not least of them are the basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul.

But the beauty of the churches is merely the overflow – in gorgeous marble and other precious stones, in splendid forms – of the glory of the God encountered in the person of Jesus Christ. No matter how splendid the altar, the heart of it is always the tabernacle with its humble vigil light, and in that tabernacle, the humble Lord of the Universe.

At the church of St. Peter in Chains, I marveled at the groups of people who were all agog at Michelangelo’s statue of Moses (the one with the horns), while – as it seems everywhere – there were only a handful of humble people who even acknowledge the Real Presence of that God before whom all human art is as nothing.

Refusing what she found an intimidating bath in Lourdes, Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor once wrote: “When in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville.” Indeed. And in Rome, as everywhere in the world, we adore and rejoice in the glory of the Eucharistic Lord, present in every tabernacle of the world, no matter how splendid or humble. And we rejoice in a special way in His special friends, whose lives and martyrdoms witness to His love throughout all the ages, on whom He built His Church.

—Fr. Raymond Gawronski, S.J.

Prayer

Lord, sometimes we yearn for simpler days: less going on, less expected, and fewer choices. We need to remind ourselves that we have the power to simplify our lives. Lord, we know that when we are too busy to pray, we are too busy. Strengthen our resolve to put first things first, to say “no” to things that are not important, and to say “yes” to that which brings more peace and joy to our lives.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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6-28-2012

Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr

2 Kings 24: 8-17

The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign. He carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the Lord, which King Solomon of Israel had made, all this as the Lord had foretold. He carried away all Jerusalem, all the officials, all the warriors, ten thousand captives, all the artisans and the smiths; no one remained, except the poorest people of the land. He carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon; the king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the elite of the land, he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.

The king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, seven thousand, the artisans and the smiths, one thousand, all of them strong and fit for war. The king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

Ripples of Hope

Jechoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king of Juda, and he…sinned against the Lord. It was during his reign that the Babylonian army … marched against Jerusalem and…carried away as prisoners the people of Jerusalem —2 Kings 24:8-10,24

Josiah and Jeremiah failed to shake the complacency of Judah and to move the people to reform, as a nation. A warning came in the form of the Babylonian army. But it only brought Judah to her knees, not to her senses. Some people even boasted, saying in effect, “Our city and our Temple are still intact. See, God is protecting us!”

How complacent am I about the moral status of my personal life? Our nation?

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope…Those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance. — Robert F. Kennedy

—Excerpted from Mission, by Fr. Mark Link, S.J. ©2000 RCL Enterprises, Inc., Allen TX. For more prayer resources from Fr. Link, please visit www.staygreat.com

Prayer

O my God, teach me to be generous: to serve you as you deserve to be served; to give without counting the cost; to fight without fear of being wounded; to work without seeking rest; and to spend myself without expecting any reward, but the knowledge that I am doing your holy will.

—Saint Ignatius


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6-27-2012

Matthew 7: 15-20

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

“By their fruits you will know them.”

Here Our Lord gives us a truly amazing teaching about discernment. It is a common enough phrase now, but deservedly so. We want to avoid being overly suspicious of those we meet, those who perhaps have some sort of message for us, and there is certainly no shortage of messengers out there today. But without being paranoid, we must take Jesus’ teaching seriously. It is within our ability, thanks to the Holy Spirit’s presence in our hearts, to prudently discern who and which messages we should listen to and accept, and which we must reject.

Yet it is often difficult, since invariably there is a mixture of good and evil in the concrete circumstances of life. How can we tell the true nature, or, to add to Christ’s metaphor, the quality of the roots, which go deep beneath the surface? And so Jesus gives us the sure guide: look for the fruits. Part of our daily examen could be, when necessary, to examine those messages or messengers which might be false prophets, wolves dressed in sheepskins. It might become apparent quickly, or it may take steady observation and prayer over time. In either case, who can say how much we would benefit from removing these thorns from our side?

—Mr. Timothy Kieras, S.J

Prayer

Lord, so often we tell ourselves or we tell others “to pray on it” when decisions await an answer. Do we realize the commitment we make when we use those words? Saint Ignatius so perfectly expresses our prayer as we discern God’s will.

Grant, O Lord, that my heart may neither desire nor seek anything but what is necessary for the fulfillment of Thy holy Will. May health or sickness, riches or poverty, honors or contempt, humiliations, leave my soul in that state of perfect detachment to which I desire to attain for Thy greater honor and Thy greater glory. Amen.

—Saint Ignatius


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6-26-2012

2 Kings 19: 9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36

When the king heard concerning King Tirhakah of Ethiopia, “See, he has set out to fight against you,” he sent messengers again to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus shall you speak to King Hezekiah of Judah: Do not let your God on whom you rely deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. See, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, destroying them utterly. Shall you be delivered?”

Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; then Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: “O Lord the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God.

Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have hurled their gods into the fire, though they were no gods but the work of human hands—wood and stone—and so they were destroyed. So now, O Lord our God, save us, I pray you, from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.”

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I have heard your prayer to me about King Sennacherib of Assyria. This is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him: She despises you, she scorns you— virgin daughter Zion; she tosses her head—behind your back, daughter Jerusalem. For from Jerusalem a remnant shall go out, and from Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

“Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city, shoot an arrow there, come before it with a shield, or cast up a siege-ramp against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return; he shall not come into this city, says the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”

That very night the angel of the Lord set out and struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; when morning dawned, they were all dead bodies. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria left, went home, and lived at Nineveh.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

How to Approach Prayer

Hidden away in an often overlooked section of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius recommends that the retreatant begin his prayer by standing a few paces away from where he will pray, looking down at the spot, and making some kind of act of humility and reverence for a few short moments. It may seem like a rather fine detail, but in fact it can make a large difference. The underlying lesson is that our disposition is crucial for how we pray. If I simply plop down and expect to immediately enter into some rather profound meditation on Sacred Scripture, I may pass an entire hour in aimless thoughts and distractions. But with a simple, patient start to the prayer, I am made more receptive to whatever further graces the Lord has set out for me.

Today’s reading from the book of Kings can provide some insight into the disposition to take into prayer, the reverence and humility that St. Ignatius recommends. Hezekiah addresses God in four different ways before moving on to ask divine help. He calls God the God of Israel. He calls Him the one “enthroned upon the cherubim.” He calls Him “alone God over all the kingdoms of the earth.” And he confesses that “You have made the heavens and the earth.” Far from just pious epithets, these phrases help us understand how we too should think of God.

Much could be said on all of this, but what emerges above all else is that God is Holy and Glorious, the source of all power, and the founder and creator of everything we know. Of course, to really come to know what these titles mean is the task of a lifetime, but we should take St. Ignatius’ and Hezekiah’s example and always begin our prayer with a brief recollection of Who it is that we pray to.

—Mr. Timothy Kieras, S.J.

Prayer

Lord, when we come to you in prayer, we sometimes underestimate your presence. We believe you are “sort of” with us. We are told your love is everlasting, but with all the happenings in the universe how could you possibly give thought to me? When we refocus on You – Almighty Creator, the Son of God who wept for His friend Lazarus, and the Spirit who dwells in every facet of life, we stand in awe of your wondrous love. Let this love and goodness shape our thoughts and guide our behavior. We will embrace the day with renewed confidence in our value and our legacy.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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6-25-2012

Matthew 7: 1-5

Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

A Strong Caution by Jesus

Today’s passage from 2 Kings reminds us that the Lord constantly warned Israel and Judah to “give up your evil ways and keep my commandments.” But of course they did not listen. Such hardness of heart was one of the few realities which Jesus could not abide. In today’s gospel, Jesus gets at one particular example of this hardness of heart – the ways we judge one another. “Do not judge,” Jesus said. Such judgments reveal more about ourselves than about the persons we judge. Frequently they reveal our own narrow, ungenerous spirit – our personal “hardness of heart.”

Jesus’ teachings are all about generosity. God lets the sun shine on both good and bad people alike. Thus a genuinely religious person doesn’t sit in judgment on others. Rather, with a generous, open-handed spirit, we are invited to follow St. Paul’s advice: “Owe nothing to anyone but to love them.” (Romans 13:8)

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Lord, sometimes we assume the worst in others but give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. We view our own behavior as situational but that of others as character flaws. When we become mean spirited could it be that our own spirit is feeling insecure, less than positive about decisions, behaviors and accomplishments. Help us, Lord, to distinguish between standing for the truth and labeling others out of our own weakness. Give us the courage to check our motives and not to partake in the negative conversation about family, friends, and co-workers.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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6-24-2012

SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH

OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

Luke 1: 57-66

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.”

Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

“It’s not about You.”

St. John the Baptist is a fascinating figure. There is much about this man that our imaginations can latch on to. Just picture him out there in the desert, clothed in who-knows-what, eating the wild food of locusts and honey, unwashed and unkempt, and on top of all of this, he is preaching. Not just preaching anything, but preaching repentance. What an image!

But what is this man all about? For what purpose did he once leave his loving family behind and head out into those deserted wastes? What sustains him as he eats such unappetizing food, and lives in such destitution? And where does he draw the moral strength necessary to preach general repentance to the vast multitude of people who come to see him? He has a mission, a particular, unique reason for his existence: to be the forerunner of the Messiah.

John is, in many ways, the paradigm of religiosity, a religious hero. His austerity, courage, devotion, perseverance, all mark him as an exemplar of those great virtues. Jesus acknowledges this greatness when He said, “There is no one born of woman greater than John the Baptist.” But what John can teach us above all, is that singularly most important virtue of humility. This most blessed man knew clearly that he lived to serve another. As our novice master used to say, patiently and calmly, “It’s not about you.” It’s so easy to say, but hard to live. Today, let us pray to St. John the Baptist to obtain for us from God a share in his humility.

—Mr. Timothy Kieras, S.J.

Prayer

Lord, why is it we are so concerned about impressing others or receiving credit for our work? Why is it so difficult to give anonymous acts of kindness? Time and time again we experience a hollow victory when we center on ourselves. We need your grace, Lord, to empty ourselves, focus on your glory, and fill up on your Spirit. When it’s not all about us and it is all about you, the blessings overflow. Help us to release our grip on recognition and extend our hands to you.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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6-23-2012

Matthew 6: 24-34

 

No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

The Blessed Trinity: Our Community

Much has been written about the desire for greater community and the search for achieving this goal, but it has been my experience that nothing builds community better than a group of college students trying to buy toilet paper in a foreign country. Common experiences shape and create community and the experience of traveling in a foreign country together frequently creates friendships which last a lifetime.

I have found from my experiences of taking people to Rome that this sense of community is frequently extended to all visitors to Rome as they attempt to navigate that which is unfamiliar (the language), things that are difficult (crossing the street) or confusing ( do you eat all the squid or just the tails). Community enables us to not only to survive but to thrive. Therefore is should be no surprise that the Blessed Trinity is a community and that we are called to be a community in the Church of Christ and share in that Trinity’s life and blessings. Visitors to Rome, especially at those moments of prayer in St. Peter’s are struck by a type community and commonality which provides just a foretaste of that eternal community of which we are all called to participate.

The recent feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary recalls how Mary’s yes at the Annunciation served as a model for our response to join in the eternal life and love of the Trinity. Her submission of her own will for that of God’s serves as a model for we can best create a community among all humanity.

—Fr. Michael W. Maher, S.J.

Prayer

 

Lord, you tell us not to focus on the worries of tomorrow. Could it be that by sacrificing the moments of the day by contemplating the “what if” questions of tomorrow, we miss you in the NOW moments? Lord, we desire to stay in the present so we can rejoice in your presence. We ask for your divine guidance to help us plan for the future but to be fully aware of the seconds.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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6-22-12

Matthew 6: 19-23

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/).

The Ultimate Beauty

Racing through a Roman street to avoid the traffic I will quickly herd my students into a church and will turn to watch their expressions. Only the merest distance separates the roar and rumble of Roman street from the incredible beauty of any number of Churches found in Rome. For a generation raised on video games, iPods, and Face book it is still nice to know that a Baroque Church still packs a punch that leaves a two inch video screen knocked out cold in the first round.

The faith is a beautiful thing and the beauty created by artists imbued with this faith has created images that still send souls soaring towards God. Beauty has always been a means of bringing souls to God since the very advent of Christianity. Whether it is the beauty of a Church or an act of charity which Blessed Mother Teresa referred to constantly as something beautiful for God, the beauty in the city of Rome moves us to a desire create a beautiful place in this world so that we will enjoy the eternal beauty in the next.

The recent great feast of the Sacred Heart reminds us that the ultimate beauty to which we all aspire is union with the love of Christ.

—Fr. Michael W. Maher, S.J.

Prayer

Lord, if we do not talk with you in our day, it is so easy to become distracted by the needs of the passing moment. Though we know we are but renters on this earth, it is so easy to believe we control our belongings and the destiny of our family and friends. But, in time, we lose everything to gain everything. Give us the grace, Lord, to care more about our relationship with you. Let us seek you in our alone moments and in the busy moments at work and home.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

 

 


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6-21-12

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

Matthew 6: 7-15

When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

An Experience of Profound Unity

Taking a group of College students on a summer study abroad experience in Rome always provides me with a fresh set of eyes in which I may view both the wonders of he city and the faith expressed in Roman Catholicism. Recently, I was with a group of students and we experienced the wonders of the Eternal City.

The recent feast of the Body and Blood of Christ spoke to our faith on so many levels that some of the graces are worth repeating.. Guiding students through the city of Rome it is always the case that visitors are amazed by the shear number of people who come to the city from so many places representing so many cultures. American colleges speak well of diversity but no workshop can top the experience of trying to communicate without knowing the language or the customs that language represents. Having nothing in common can be a very disturbing thing for a college student.

Although many things separate tourists in the Eternal City the experience of the Roman Catholic faith, a unity shared in the Body of Christ provides a sense of globalism and unity of which politicians can only dream. Within the arms of the Bernini Colonnade there exists a commonality which that feast recalls. We are called to believe in a real transforming presence of Christ one that is really present in the Eucharist and that same presence that wishes to make itself known and loved throughout the world. Contemplating on how that love unites all men and moves humanity to its fullest potential , one can only be amazed.

—Fr. Michael W. Maher, S.J.

Prayer

Lord, it is absolutely extraordinary how you seek after us. Almighty God, creator of the universe, pursuing each of us through pure love. We matter totally to you. It makes sense that you seek us through the intimacy of the Eucharist — you living in us and we living in you.

Lord, help us to remember that nothing can separate us from your love. You come to us in ordinary food and drink so we might experience the extraordinary gift of your divine presence in every cell of our body. Lord, keep us from complacency as we partake of your Body and Blood. On bended knee we thank you for the Eucharist, a gift beyond all gifts.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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6-30-12

Matthew 8: 5-17

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.”

When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.” And the servant was healed in that hour.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

 A Way to Pray

Most of the time, St. Ignatius is associated with a form of prayer with scripture that involves the imagination. This, indeed, accounts for the bulk of the Spiritual Exercises. But he also proposes several other methods of prayer that can be very helpful for someone on retreat or in daily life.

One such method is that of a slow, word by word recitation of key, basic prayers of the Catholic faith. The idea is not to get through as many prayers as possible, but simply to soak up the meaning that is latent in such rich prayers. For instance, take the Our Father. St. Ignatius instructs us to consider each word, taking as long as we need to in order to relish whatever we are able to find there. It could be that a whole hour passes just considering the word “Father” without having any time to move on to another phrase. Or it could be that we only find one particularly rich word. The prayer period is concluded with the usual Ignatian petition for whatever grace we especially need.

One particular benefit of this way of praying, and why it has been useful for so many Catholics, is that it familiarizes us deeply with the prayers that we say so often. While sometimes it is good to pray a full rosary of Hail Mary’s, at other times, it may be good to just consider the words, “Hail Mary.” This way of praying can also be used with any scriptural text, and any excerpt from the liturgy, for instance, the Lamb of God or the Gloria. It’s nothing fancy, just letting God speak a word of grace and life into our hearts through these treasured prayers.

—Mr. Timothy Kieras, S.J.

 Prayer

As you pray, ponder each word and let God’s Spirit take the lead:

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.


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6-29-2012

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

Matthew 16: 13-19

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

The Humble Lord of the Universe

The human world is remarkable in its long dramatic struggle between praising God and building things to His glory, and denying Him and building a world without God. I was very blessed this past Holy Week to return to Rome, where I had spent five years of my priestly formation. Perhaps it’s because I was born in New York that I so love Rome, the “Eternal City.” This time I especially loved visiting churches. I simply could not get enough of the beauty in the churches of Rome. Not least of them are the basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul.

But the beauty of the churches is merely the overflow – in gorgeous marble and other precious stones, in splendid forms – of the glory of the God encountered in the person of Jesus Christ. No matter how splendid the altar, the heart of it is always the tabernacle with its humble vigil light, and in that tabernacle, the humble Lord of the Universe.

At the church of St. Peter in Chains, I marveled at the groups of people who were all agog at Michelangelo’s statue of Moses (the one with the horns), while – as it seems everywhere – there were only a handful of humble people who even acknowledge the Real Presence of that God before whom all human art is as nothing.

Refusing what she found an intimidating bath in Lourdes, Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor once wrote: “When in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville.” Indeed. And in Rome, as everywhere in the world, we adore and rejoice in the glory of the Eucharistic Lord, present in every tabernacle of the world, no matter how splendid or humble. And we rejoice in a special way in His special friends, whose lives and martyrdoms witness to His love throughout all the ages, on whom He built His Church.

—Fr. Raymond Gawronski, S.J.

Prayer

Lord, sometimes we yearn for simpler days: less going on, less expected, and fewer choices. We need to remind ourselves that we have the power to simplify our lives. Lord, we know that when we are too busy to pray, we are too busy. Strengthen our resolve to put first things first, to say “no” to things that are not important, and to say “yes” to that which brings more peace and joy to our lives.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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6-28-2012

Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr

2 Kings 24: 8-17

The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign. He carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the Lord, which King Solomon of Israel had made, all this as the Lord had foretold. He carried away all Jerusalem, all the officials, all the warriors, ten thousand captives, all the artisans and the smiths; no one remained, except the poorest people of the land. He carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon; the king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the elite of the land, he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.

The king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, seven thousand, the artisans and the smiths, one thousand, all of them strong and fit for war. The king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

Ripples of Hope

Jechoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king of Juda, and he…sinned against the Lord. It was during his reign that the Babylonian army … marched against Jerusalem and…carried away as prisoners the people of Jerusalem —2 Kings 24:8-10,24

Josiah and Jeremiah failed to shake the complacency of Judah and to move the people to reform, as a nation. A warning came in the form of the Babylonian army. But it only brought Judah to her knees, not to her senses. Some people even boasted, saying in effect, “Our city and our Temple are still intact. See, God is protecting us!”

How complacent am I about the moral status of my personal life? Our nation?

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope…Those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance. — Robert F. Kennedy

—Excerpted from Mission, by Fr. Mark Link, S.J. ©2000 RCL Enterprises, Inc., Allen TX. For more prayer resources from Fr. Link, please visit www.staygreat.com

Prayer

O my God, teach me to be generous: to serve you as you deserve to be served; to give without counting the cost; to fight without fear of being wounded; to work without seeking rest; and to spend myself without expecting any reward, but the knowledge that I am doing your holy will.

—Saint Ignatius


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6-27-2012

Matthew 7: 15-20

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

“By their fruits you will know them.”

Here Our Lord gives us a truly amazing teaching about discernment. It is a common enough phrase now, but deservedly so. We want to avoid being overly suspicious of those we meet, those who perhaps have some sort of message for us, and there is certainly no shortage of messengers out there today. But without being paranoid, we must take Jesus’ teaching seriously. It is within our ability, thanks to the Holy Spirit’s presence in our hearts, to prudently discern who and which messages we should listen to and accept, and which we must reject.

Yet it is often difficult, since invariably there is a mixture of good and evil in the concrete circumstances of life. How can we tell the true nature, or, to add to Christ’s metaphor, the quality of the roots, which go deep beneath the surface? And so Jesus gives us the sure guide: look for the fruits. Part of our daily examen could be, when necessary, to examine those messages or messengers which might be false prophets, wolves dressed in sheepskins. It might become apparent quickly, or it may take steady observation and prayer over time. In either case, who can say how much we would benefit from removing these thorns from our side?

—Mr. Timothy Kieras, S.J

Prayer

Lord, so often we tell ourselves or we tell others “to pray on it” when decisions await an answer. Do we realize the commitment we make when we use those words? Saint Ignatius so perfectly expresses our prayer as we discern God’s will.

Grant, O Lord, that my heart may neither desire nor seek anything but what is necessary for the fulfillment of Thy holy Will. May health or sickness, riches or poverty, honors or contempt, humiliations, leave my soul in that state of perfect detachment to which I desire to attain for Thy greater honor and Thy greater glory. Amen.

—Saint Ignatius


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6-26-2012

2 Kings 19: 9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36

When the king heard concerning King Tirhakah of Ethiopia, “See, he has set out to fight against you,” he sent messengers again to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus shall you speak to King Hezekiah of Judah: Do not let your God on whom you rely deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. See, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, destroying them utterly. Shall you be delivered?”

Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; then Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: “O Lord the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God.

Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have hurled their gods into the fire, though they were no gods but the work of human hands—wood and stone—and so they were destroyed. So now, O Lord our God, save us, I pray you, from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.”

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I have heard your prayer to me about King Sennacherib of Assyria. This is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him: She despises you, she scorns you— virgin daughter Zion; she tosses her head—behind your back, daughter Jerusalem. For from Jerusalem a remnant shall go out, and from Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

“Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city, shoot an arrow there, come before it with a shield, or cast up a siege-ramp against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return; he shall not come into this city, says the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”

That very night the angel of the Lord set out and struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; when morning dawned, they were all dead bodies. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria left, went home, and lived at Nineveh.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

How to Approach Prayer

Hidden away in an often overlooked section of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius recommends that the retreatant begin his prayer by standing a few paces away from where he will pray, looking down at the spot, and making some kind of act of humility and reverence for a few short moments. It may seem like a rather fine detail, but in fact it can make a large difference. The underlying lesson is that our disposition is crucial for how we pray. If I simply plop down and expect to immediately enter into some rather profound meditation on Sacred Scripture, I may pass an entire hour in aimless thoughts and distractions. But with a simple, patient start to the prayer, I am made more receptive to whatever further graces the Lord has set out for me.

Today’s reading from the book of Kings can provide some insight into the disposition to take into prayer, the reverence and humility that St. Ignatius recommends. Hezekiah addresses God in four different ways before moving on to ask divine help. He calls God the God of Israel. He calls Him the one “enthroned upon the cherubim.” He calls Him “alone God over all the kingdoms of the earth.” And he confesses that “You have made the heavens and the earth.” Far from just pious epithets, these phrases help us understand how we too should think of God.

Much could be said on all of this, but what emerges above all else is that God is Holy and Glorious, the source of all power, and the founder and creator of everything we know. Of course, to really come to know what these titles mean is the task of a lifetime, but we should take St. Ignatius’ and Hezekiah’s example and always begin our prayer with a brief recollection of Who it is that we pray to.

—Mr. Timothy Kieras, S.J.

Prayer

Lord, when we come to you in prayer, we sometimes underestimate your presence. We believe you are “sort of” with us. We are told your love is everlasting, but with all the happenings in the universe how could you possibly give thought to me? When we refocus on You – Almighty Creator, the Son of God who wept for His friend Lazarus, and the Spirit who dwells in every facet of life, we stand in awe of your wondrous love. Let this love and goodness shape our thoughts and guide our behavior. We will embrace the day with renewed confidence in our value and our legacy.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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6-25-2012

Matthew 7: 1-5

Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

A Strong Caution by Jesus

Today’s passage from 2 Kings reminds us that the Lord constantly warned Israel and Judah to “give up your evil ways and keep my commandments.” But of course they did not listen. Such hardness of heart was one of the few realities which Jesus could not abide. In today’s gospel, Jesus gets at one particular example of this hardness of heart – the ways we judge one another. “Do not judge,” Jesus said. Such judgments reveal more about ourselves than about the persons we judge. Frequently they reveal our own narrow, ungenerous spirit – our personal “hardness of heart.”

Jesus’ teachings are all about generosity. God lets the sun shine on both good and bad people alike. Thus a genuinely religious person doesn’t sit in judgment on others. Rather, with a generous, open-handed spirit, we are invited to follow St. Paul’s advice: “Owe nothing to anyone but to love them.” (Romans 13:8)

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Lord, sometimes we assume the worst in others but give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. We view our own behavior as situational but that of others as character flaws. When we become mean spirited could it be that our own spirit is feeling insecure, less than positive about decisions, behaviors and accomplishments. Help us, Lord, to distinguish between standing for the truth and labeling others out of our own weakness. Give us the courage to check our motives and not to partake in the negative conversation about family, friends, and co-workers.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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6-24-2012

SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH

OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

Luke 1: 57-66

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.”

Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

“It’s not about You.”

St. John the Baptist is a fascinating figure. There is much about this man that our imaginations can latch on to. Just picture him out there in the desert, clothed in who-knows-what, eating the wild food of locusts and honey, unwashed and unkempt, and on top of all of this, he is preaching. Not just preaching anything, but preaching repentance. What an image!

But what is this man all about? For what purpose did he once leave his loving family behind and head out into those deserted wastes? What sustains him as he eats such unappetizing food, and lives in such destitution? And where does he draw the moral strength necessary to preach general repentance to the vast multitude of people who come to see him? He has a mission, a particular, unique reason for his existence: to be the forerunner of the Messiah.

John is, in many ways, the paradigm of religiosity, a religious hero. His austerity, courage, devotion, perseverance, all mark him as an exemplar of those great virtues. Jesus acknowledges this greatness when He said, “There is no one born of woman greater than John the Baptist.” But what John can teach us above all, is that singularly most important virtue of humility. This most blessed man knew clearly that he lived to serve another. As our novice master used to say, patiently and calmly, “It’s not about you.” It’s so easy to say, but hard to live. Today, let us pray to St. John the Baptist to obtain for us from God a share in his humility.

—Mr. Timothy Kieras, S.J.

Prayer

Lord, why is it we are so concerned about impressing others or receiving credit for our work? Why is it so difficult to give anonymous acts of kindness? Time and time again we experience a hollow victory when we center on ourselves. We need your grace, Lord, to empty ourselves, focus on your glory, and fill up on your Spirit. When it’s not all about us and it is all about you, the blessings overflow. Help us to release our grip on recognition and extend our hands to you.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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6-23-2012

Matthew 6: 24-34

 

No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

The Blessed Trinity: Our Community

Much has been written about the desire for greater community and the search for achieving this goal, but it has been my experience that nothing builds community better than a group of college students trying to buy toilet paper in a foreign country. Common experiences shape and create community and the experience of traveling in a foreign country together frequently creates friendships which last a lifetime.

I have found from my experiences of taking people to Rome that this sense of community is frequently extended to all visitors to Rome as they attempt to navigate that which is unfamiliar (the language), things that are difficult (crossing the street) or confusing ( do you eat all the squid or just the tails). Community enables us to not only to survive but to thrive. Therefore is should be no surprise that the Blessed Trinity is a community and that we are called to be a community in the Church of Christ and share in that Trinity’s life and blessings. Visitors to Rome, especially at those moments of prayer in St. Peter’s are struck by a type community and commonality which provides just a foretaste of that eternal community of which we are all called to participate.

The recent feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary recalls how Mary’s yes at the Annunciation served as a model for our response to join in the eternal life and love of the Trinity. Her submission of her own will for that of God’s serves as a model for we can best create a community among all humanity.

—Fr. Michael W. Maher, S.J.

Prayer

 

Lord, you tell us not to focus on the worries of tomorrow. Could it be that by sacrificing the moments of the day by contemplating the “what if” questions of tomorrow, we miss you in the NOW moments? Lord, we desire to stay in the present so we can rejoice in your presence. We ask for your divine guidance to help us plan for the future but to be fully aware of the seconds.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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6-22-12

Matthew 6: 19-23

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/).

The Ultimate Beauty

Racing through a Roman street to avoid the traffic I will quickly herd my students into a church and will turn to watch their expressions. Only the merest distance separates the roar and rumble of Roman street from the incredible beauty of any number of Churches found in Rome. For a generation raised on video games, iPods, and Face book it is still nice to know that a Baroque Church still packs a punch that leaves a two inch video screen knocked out cold in the first round.

The faith is a beautiful thing and the beauty created by artists imbued with this faith has created images that still send souls soaring towards God. Beauty has always been a means of bringing souls to God since the very advent of Christianity. Whether it is the beauty of a Church or an act of charity which Blessed Mother Teresa referred to constantly as something beautiful for God, the beauty in the city of Rome moves us to a desire create a beautiful place in this world so that we will enjoy the eternal beauty in the next.

The recent great feast of the Sacred Heart reminds us that the ultimate beauty to which we all aspire is union with the love of Christ.

—Fr. Michael W. Maher, S.J.

Prayer

Lord, if we do not talk with you in our day, it is so easy to become distracted by the needs of the passing moment. Though we know we are but renters on this earth, it is so easy to believe we control our belongings and the destiny of our family and friends. But, in time, we lose everything to gain everything. Give us the grace, Lord, to care more about our relationship with you. Let us seek you in our alone moments and in the busy moments at work and home.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

 

 


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6-21-12

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

Matthew 6: 7-15

When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).

An Experience of Profound Unity

Taking a group of College students on a summer study abroad experience in Rome always provides me with a fresh set of eyes in which I may view both the wonders of he city and the faith expressed in Roman Catholicism. Recently, I was with a group of students and we experienced the wonders of the Eternal City.

The recent feast of the Body and Blood of Christ spoke to our faith on so many levels that some of the graces are worth repeating.. Guiding students through the city of Rome it is always the case that visitors are amazed by the shear number of people who come to the city from so many places representing so many cultures. American colleges speak well of diversity but no workshop can top the experience of trying to communicate without knowing the language or the customs that language represents. Having nothing in common can be a very disturbing thing for a college student.

Although many things separate tourists in the Eternal City the experience of the Roman Catholic faith, a unity shared in the Body of Christ provides a sense of globalism and unity of which politicians can only dream. Within the arms of the Bernini Colonnade there exists a commonality which that feast recalls. We are called to believe in a real transforming presence of Christ one that is really present in the Eucharist and that same presence that wishes to make itself known and loved throughout the world. Contemplating on how that love unites all men and moves humanity to its fullest potential , one can only be amazed.

—Fr. Michael W. Maher, S.J.

Prayer

Lord, it is absolutely extraordinary how you seek after us. Almighty God, creator of the universe, pursuing each of us through pure love. We matter totally to you. It makes sense that you seek us through the intimacy of the Eucharist — you living in us and we living in you.

Lord, help us to remember that nothing can separate us from your love. You come to us in ordinary food and drink so we might experience the extraordinary gift of your divine presence in every cell of our body. Lord, keep us from complacency as we partake of your Body and Blood. On bended knee we thank you for the Eucharist, a gift beyond all gifts.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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