October 31, 2012

Feast of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J. (1533-1617)

Luke 13: 22-30

Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from. ’

Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

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)

Much to Teach Us

Some Jesuit saints attack the world head-on, like St. Peter Claver, the friend and disciple of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez. Others like Alphonsus himself fight personal battles against failure, loss, temptation, and disease. We tend to admire more activist champions such as Peter Claver, who worked among slaves for forty years. But why should we think any the less of saints such as Alphonsus who was more like us in his ordinariness and suffering? And who showed us how to be faithful in long lasting spiritual and personal struggles?

Alphonsus’s early years in Segovia, Spain, are a story of tragedies. When he was fourteen his father died and he left school to help his mother run the family business. At twenty-three he married, but his wife died in childbirth three years later. Within a few years his mother and son also died. On top of this, his business was failing, so he sold it. Recognizing a late vocation to religious life, he applied for admission to the Jesuits at Segovia, but was refused because he was not educated.

Undaunted, Alphonsus returned to Latin school, humbly bearing the ridicule of his adolescent classmates. Finally, in 1571, the Jesuit provincial accepted him as a lay brother. He was sent to Montesione College on Majorca, where he served as doorkeeper for forty-five years. His post allowed him to minister to many visitors. And he became the spiritual adviser to many students. He exerted wide-reaching influence, most notably in guiding St. Peter Claver into his mission to the slaves of the New World.

Alphonsus adhered to a few simple spiritual guidelines that navigated him through his troubles and trials. For example, a method for finding joy in hardship:

“Another exercise is very valuable for the imitation of Christ—for love of him, taking the sweet for the bitter and the bitter for sweet. So, I put myself in spirit before our crucified Lord, looking at him full of sorrow, shedding his blood and bearing great bodily hardships for me. As love is paid for in love, I must imitate him, sharing in spirit all his sufferings.

I must consider how much I owe him and what he has done for me. Putting these sufferings between God and my soul, I must say, “What does it matter, my God, that I should endure for your love these small hardships?  For you, Lord, endured so many great hardships for me.”

—Excerpt from Bert Ghezzi, Voices of the Saints © 2000 Doubleday. Loyola Press, Chicago IL. For more Ignatian spiritual resources from Loyola Press, please visit www.loyolapress.com

Prayer

Lord, as the nights lengthen and autumn begins its surrender to winter, so, too, the Scripture readings for the church year focus on the last things….this is truly a time to pause, reflect, and give thanks. You have brought us safe thus far. Above all, we thank you for the wisdom that has come from our suffering and for your grace that has protected us from bitterness. Little by little, you have grown us into the people we are now.  And before I say farewell to this day, I embrace the insight of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J: “What does it matter, my God, that I should endure for your love these small hardships?  For you, Lord, endured so many great hardships for me.”

 —The Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 30, 2012

Ephesians 5: 21-33

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.

In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body.“ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.

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 Captive Heart

Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.  [Ephesians 5: 21]

Everybody wants to be in charge. No one wants to be under the thumb. Subordination sounds one step away from servitude – a heart beat up from slavery. Yet love serves the beloved with boundless joy, at any cost.  If love makes our hearts captive, then we say, “Bring on the chains.”  Paul tried to say something, smothered in gender roles and strangled by history’s prejudices.  If we listen carefully, we can hear the true thing beneath all the lies told about it.

—Alice Camille, 2010: A Book of Grace-Filled Days © 2009 Loyola Press, Chicago IL. For more Ignatian spiritual resources from Loyola Press, please visit www.loyolapress.com

Prayer

Lord, we know how much we love another by the degree to which we are willing to sacrifice for that person.  If there are loved ones who need our sacrifice this day, direct our words and actions to support them. Help us to be generous with our time; help us to slow down and listen with our eyes and heart; help us to be present when grief has no relief. And if we are in need of another’s sacrifice, help us to receive this gift with gratitude and be freed from any sense of guilt. In thanksgiving we pray for those who have sacrificed for us and remained faithful as we worked through a difficult time.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 29, 2012

Ephesians 4: 32-5:8

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient.T herefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light.

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 Gift of Forgiveness

Be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.  [Ephesians 4: 32]

Mrs. Hannah was a widow in Colorado. Her daughter was murdered. The killer was convicted and sentenced. But Mrs. Hannah could not forgive him. Worse yet, her bitterness destroyed all her peace of mind and heart. One day she remembered Jesus’ words: “Love your enemies.” Then and there she surrendered to Jesus, bought a Bible, wrote a note of forgiveness in it, and sent it to the prisoner. It changed not only his life but also hers.

Before receiving the note, he feared God would never forgive him. After receiving it, he realized that if she could forgive him, God could too. Mrs. Hannah’s act of forgiveness dissolved her bitterness and filled her with deep inner peace. How can I scale the walls that keep me from forgiving as Mrs. Hannah did?

Forgiveness is the fragrance a violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.  [Mark Twain]

—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

Lord, this day we say “Yes” to your mercy. We will acknowledge our break in trust with you and others. We will ask forgiveness and move forward with integrity.  If we feel unworthy of your forgiveness and move away from you, we are simply imposing a limit on your love.  Lord, give us the grace to embrace your forgiveness and help us to understand how we are to forgive when we have been  deeply hurt.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 28, 2012

Mark 10: 46-52

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

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 Parable of Faith

In today’s gospel we meet Bartimaeus, a blind man begging by the side of the road. He may well have been quite a nuisance. As someone who likes things to proceed well, I am pretty sure I would have been one of those “shushers” who tried to keep Bartimaeus from making a loud commotion.  People scolded him and tried to shut him up, but he kept yelling: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stops and invites him to come forward. The crowd calms down and changes its tone.  Jesus doesn’t set up hoops for Bartimaeus to jump through, nor does he make difficult demands. We can imagine Jesus looking at him with great affection as he says: “What do you want me to do for you?” Poor Bartimaeus was usually the one pushed aside and ignored, yet suddenly every eye is fixed on him as Jesus speaks. The beggar can only stammer “I…I…I want to see.”

Perhaps this gospel passage can become a parable of faith for us. We struggle to make sense of our lives; we wrestle with our conflicting emotions and even the demons inside our souls. Most often we struggle to rely on our own solutions because we find it so hard to let anyone else inside – least of all our God. We want to be self-sufficient at all costs, and so our blindness persists. But notice that Bartimaeus comes to Jesus when people in the crowd say to him: “Get up; he is calling you; you have nothing to fear.” Pushed forward by others, he is able to hand over his very life to Jesus with the simple words, “I want to see.”

Isn’t that what each of us wants – to see, to understand, to make sense of our lives?  And don’t we discover how to trust God’s loving plan precisely through the challenge and concern, the love and sacrifice of those around us – our families and friends, sometimes even total strangers.  In so many ways these good folks become our “saints” – those who set us on the road to healing and hope.

We can bless the gift these people are in our lives as we celebrate the Feast of All Saints on November 1.  While this day formally honors those great saints officially canonized by the Church, it can also be a day to bless the Lord for all those good people who shower us with the faith and love, the hope and holiness of our good and loving God.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Lord, all of us have our blind spots that cause us to misunderstand others, to undervalue the blessings in our lives, to rationalize behaviors that interfere with a heart of service, or cause us to question your absolute faithfulness and our unique relationship with you. With your grace we can remove such illusions, embrace your abundant promises, and be a source of good for many.  With great expectations we will move through our day.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 27, 2012

Luke 13: 1-9

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

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)

Call for Change?

For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none.  So cut it down.  Why should it exhaust the soil?  [Luke 13: 7]

Sitting in prison for the crime of brokering peace during a politically motivated war, lawyer John Capistrano might have wondered if he was exhausting the soil of his current profession. When finally released, he switched professions, becoming a Franciscan priest renowned for his preaching.  At times we find ourselves stagnant and unproductive in our present affairs.  Time to make a change?

—Alice Camille, 2010: A Book of Grace-Filled Days © 2009 Loyola Press, Chicago IL. For more Ignatian spiritual resources from Loyola Press, please visit www.loyolapress.com

Prayer

Lord, guide our thoughts so we can see the glass half full. While we acknowledge the challenges in our life, we ultimately have the freedom to choose happiness or sadness. We can surrender to facing life as the victim, or we can focus on what we have left, not on what we have lost. When we drift from a heart of gratitude, be quick to remind us of the many blessings that fill our days. And if we are called to make a change at home, work, or in our personal life, may we be supported by those who speak the truth to us with courage and consideration.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 26, 2012

Ephesians 4: 1-6

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

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 Urgent Call

The crowds just couldn’t see. They could not understand what was going on before their eyes. Amidst all the secondary matters that filled their lives, they could not discern what was of primary importance. What was this matter which they woefully misinterpreted? The strength of Rome and the danger of revolutionary political movements? The rise of religious movements like the Gnostics? New philosophical worldviews arising from the Greeks? None of these?

What they could not discern amidst the signs of the times was this: the figure of Christ. They could not see how the person of Christ brought together everything they had lived for, everything they had known. They could not discern the Father speaking through the words and (more importantly) actions of His Son. They were unable to relate their existence to the new Spirit-filled existence that Christ offered. Therefore, their lives were destined to remain unchanged because their hearts were not open to change.

Our present state, at a fundamental level, is no more privileged than that of the early Christians. Yes, we have two thousand years of Christian history. But it is not possible to rest on those laurels. Christ demands that we make a consistent effort to discern his face in our daily lives. We must constantly ask ourselves how Jesus makes a difference in the way I see the world and react to it. The call of Christ rings out today with the same urgency.

—Fr. Kevin Dyer, S.J.

Prayer

Lord, where will I see your face this day? Where will I pause and ask for your direction? Where do I need your grace to listen better, to focus more on giving than receiving, and to slow down so I recognize the abundant gifts in my life? And when the day draws to a close, let me answer with a bold affirmation, “Yes, because of You, I brought a little more care, a little more happiness, and a little more hope to those whose journey weaved into the framework of my day.

—Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 25, 2012

Luke 12: 49-53

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

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 Fire of Love

Ite, inflammate omnia!  Go, set all ablaze!  With these words, inspired by today’s gospel passage, Jesuits have been sent on mission throughout the world for the past five hundred years.  The fire, the flame burning in our hearts, is the fire of the love and truth of Christ, which we experience in the Spiritual Exercises and through our daily contemplation.  This fire is nourished by the sacraments and through devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Through these we hope to preserve the fire implanted within us.

Yet the fire of apostolic zeal has often encountered the same resistance which today’s gospel foretells.  No other order has produced more martyrs in the Church’s history (which is why every Jesuit community should have a decent set of red vestments).  Why this resistance?  As Hans Urs von Balthasar said:  “In the gospel, anyone who encounters Christ is impelled either to worship him or to pick up stones with which to stone him.”  We proclaim the Holy Name of Jesus Christ who, as God and man, sums up all of history in Himself.  This is a scandal, a reproach in the eyes of the world.  No doubt the preaching of the gospel has met such resistance.  Yet, onward we go, for we do not preach the ravings of a despot, but rather the Divine Love which sacrificed itself for our salvation.  Therefore, what we preach is good news.

This mission of preaching Christ is not solely a Jesuit task.  All people are called to contribute in their own way according to their own state in life.  In the process, they will face the same resistance.  But through their trial by fire they will only come to experience more deeply the fire of the love which surpasses all understanding.

—Fr. Kevin Dyer, S.J.

Prayer for Generosity

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.
Amen.

—St. Ignatius Loyola


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October 24, 2012

Ephesians 3: 2-12

For surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in 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)

Parresia

Today’s letter to the Ephesians contains one of the most important words in the New Testament.  Paul speaks of the Father accomplishing his purposes in Christ “in whom we have boldness of speech.”  The Greek word is parresia.  Originally, it referred to the freedom a full citizen enjoyed to say what was on his mind.  Thus, the citizen could be frank in proclaiming the truth openly.

Christians possess this same openness regarding God.  In Christ, the Father opened up his own life and love to the world.  Christ opened the heavens so that the unseen Father might be made manifest.  Because we possess such access to the truth, we can be courageous in proclaiming it. This is Christian parresia.

But Jesus did not reveal the Father as a static set of truths to be offered at one point, collected into barns, and stored away for periodic inspection.  Rather, after his ascension, the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles to interpret the revelation of Christ within the Church throughout all generations.  Our access to the Father, therefore, remains a constant, dynamic openness to all who approach Him in the Spirit and through the Son.  Thus, Paul was empowered to understand the mystery of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.  He therefore had the parresia to proclaim the gospel, not just to Israel, but to all nations.  Today let be aware of the parresia we possess in Christ so that we might be his witnesses in the world.

 —Fr. Kevin Dyer, S.J.

Prayer

Lord, our relationship with you remains a constant, dynamic experience, as we approach you through the Holy Spirit and through the Son.  Let our behavior be a bold statement of our commitment to you. Let our words be a witness to your powerful presence in our lives. Help us to find those opportune moments when we can share our faith with others – not embarrassed about our convictions and not aggressive in our approach. Help our behavior and our decisions proclaim our faithfulness to you, particularly when criticism abounds and others doubt our judgment and motives.  And let us also be courageous when we step out of our comfort zone to defend those principles core to our relationship with you.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 23, 2012

Ephesians 2: 12-22

Remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.

So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

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)

Renewed through Christ

At one time you were apart from Christ…But now in union with Christ Jesus you…have been brought near by the death of Christ.  [Ephesians 2: 12-13]

Bill Wilson lost everything when the stock marked crashed in the late 1920’s. Like many other victims of the crash, he turned to drink. Addiction followed.  In the next two years Bill made four attempts to break his addiction, but to no avail. The saving moment of his life came when he met Dr. Robert H. Smith. In 1935 they founded a program called Alcoholics Anonymous.  Bill Wilson, and millions like him, can relate to Paul’s words in today’s reading.

When was my heart farther from Christ than it is now?  How was it brought closer to Christ?

I know of no more encouraging fact that the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.   [Henry David Thoreau]

—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

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

Reinhold Niebuhr


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October 22, 2012

Luke 12: 13-21

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

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 Only Truth

 Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.  [Luke 12: 15]

We enter life and leave it owning nothing, and a blip on the stock market, a single wrong decision, or an unpredictable accident can wipe out what we think we own in the intervening years. The bedrock of God’s love can feel like an illusion, but it turns out to be the only solid truth.

—Margaret Silf, 2011: A Book of Grace-Filled Days © 2009 Loyola Press, Chicago, IL.  For more Ignatian spiritual resources from Loyola Press, please visit www.loyolapress.com 

Prayer

Lord, as we move through our day, remove our blinders that cause us to overlook so many blessings in our lives. We do not want to take for granted the beauty of the earth, the pets that love us unconditionally, the loyalty of family and friends, or the material goods that surround us.

We also do not want to forget those who have asked us to pray for them. We ask that you restore them to health, provide financial assistance, give them the strength needed to face an uphill climb, provide meaningful work, and protect and guide the children of so many. With a heart of gratitude we embrace this day, Lord.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 31, 2012

Feast of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J. (1533-1617)

Luke 13: 22-30

Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from. ’

Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

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)

Much to Teach Us

Some Jesuit saints attack the world head-on, like St. Peter Claver, the friend and disciple of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez. Others like Alphonsus himself fight personal battles against failure, loss, temptation, and disease. We tend to admire more activist champions such as Peter Claver, who worked among slaves for forty years. But why should we think any the less of saints such as Alphonsus who was more like us in his ordinariness and suffering? And who showed us how to be faithful in long lasting spiritual and personal struggles?

Alphonsus’s early years in Segovia, Spain, are a story of tragedies. When he was fourteen his father died and he left school to help his mother run the family business. At twenty-three he married, but his wife died in childbirth three years later. Within a few years his mother and son also died. On top of this, his business was failing, so he sold it. Recognizing a late vocation to religious life, he applied for admission to the Jesuits at Segovia, but was refused because he was not educated.

Undaunted, Alphonsus returned to Latin school, humbly bearing the ridicule of his adolescent classmates. Finally, in 1571, the Jesuit provincial accepted him as a lay brother. He was sent to Montesione College on Majorca, where he served as doorkeeper for forty-five years. His post allowed him to minister to many visitors. And he became the spiritual adviser to many students. He exerted wide-reaching influence, most notably in guiding St. Peter Claver into his mission to the slaves of the New World.

Alphonsus adhered to a few simple spiritual guidelines that navigated him through his troubles and trials. For example, a method for finding joy in hardship:

“Another exercise is very valuable for the imitation of Christ—for love of him, taking the sweet for the bitter and the bitter for sweet. So, I put myself in spirit before our crucified Lord, looking at him full of sorrow, shedding his blood and bearing great bodily hardships for me. As love is paid for in love, I must imitate him, sharing in spirit all his sufferings.

I must consider how much I owe him and what he has done for me. Putting these sufferings between God and my soul, I must say, “What does it matter, my God, that I should endure for your love these small hardships?  For you, Lord, endured so many great hardships for me.”

—Excerpt from Bert Ghezzi, Voices of the Saints © 2000 Doubleday. Loyola Press, Chicago IL. For more Ignatian spiritual resources from Loyola Press, please visit www.loyolapress.com

Prayer

Lord, as the nights lengthen and autumn begins its surrender to winter, so, too, the Scripture readings for the church year focus on the last things….this is truly a time to pause, reflect, and give thanks. You have brought us safe thus far. Above all, we thank you for the wisdom that has come from our suffering and for your grace that has protected us from bitterness. Little by little, you have grown us into the people we are now.  And before I say farewell to this day, I embrace the insight of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J: “What does it matter, my God, that I should endure for your love these small hardships?  For you, Lord, endured so many great hardships for me.”

 —The Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 30, 2012

Ephesians 5: 21-33

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.

In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body.“ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.

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 Captive Heart

Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.  [Ephesians 5: 21]

Everybody wants to be in charge. No one wants to be under the thumb. Subordination sounds one step away from servitude – a heart beat up from slavery. Yet love serves the beloved with boundless joy, at any cost.  If love makes our hearts captive, then we say, “Bring on the chains.”  Paul tried to say something, smothered in gender roles and strangled by history’s prejudices.  If we listen carefully, we can hear the true thing beneath all the lies told about it.

—Alice Camille, 2010: A Book of Grace-Filled Days © 2009 Loyola Press, Chicago IL. For more Ignatian spiritual resources from Loyola Press, please visit www.loyolapress.com

Prayer

Lord, we know how much we love another by the degree to which we are willing to sacrifice for that person.  If there are loved ones who need our sacrifice this day, direct our words and actions to support them. Help us to be generous with our time; help us to slow down and listen with our eyes and heart; help us to be present when grief has no relief. And if we are in need of another’s sacrifice, help us to receive this gift with gratitude and be freed from any sense of guilt. In thanksgiving we pray for those who have sacrificed for us and remained faithful as we worked through a difficult time.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 29, 2012

Ephesians 4: 32-5:8

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient.T herefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light.

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 Gift of Forgiveness

Be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.  [Ephesians 4: 32]

Mrs. Hannah was a widow in Colorado. Her daughter was murdered. The killer was convicted and sentenced. But Mrs. Hannah could not forgive him. Worse yet, her bitterness destroyed all her peace of mind and heart. One day she remembered Jesus’ words: “Love your enemies.” Then and there she surrendered to Jesus, bought a Bible, wrote a note of forgiveness in it, and sent it to the prisoner. It changed not only his life but also hers.

Before receiving the note, he feared God would never forgive him. After receiving it, he realized that if she could forgive him, God could too. Mrs. Hannah’s act of forgiveness dissolved her bitterness and filled her with deep inner peace. How can I scale the walls that keep me from forgiving as Mrs. Hannah did?

Forgiveness is the fragrance a violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.  [Mark Twain]

—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

Lord, this day we say “Yes” to your mercy. We will acknowledge our break in trust with you and others. We will ask forgiveness and move forward with integrity.  If we feel unworthy of your forgiveness and move away from you, we are simply imposing a limit on your love.  Lord, give us the grace to embrace your forgiveness and help us to understand how we are to forgive when we have been  deeply hurt.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 28, 2012

Mark 10: 46-52

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

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 Parable of Faith

In today’s gospel we meet Bartimaeus, a blind man begging by the side of the road. He may well have been quite a nuisance. As someone who likes things to proceed well, I am pretty sure I would have been one of those “shushers” who tried to keep Bartimaeus from making a loud commotion.  People scolded him and tried to shut him up, but he kept yelling: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stops and invites him to come forward. The crowd calms down and changes its tone.  Jesus doesn’t set up hoops for Bartimaeus to jump through, nor does he make difficult demands. We can imagine Jesus looking at him with great affection as he says: “What do you want me to do for you?” Poor Bartimaeus was usually the one pushed aside and ignored, yet suddenly every eye is fixed on him as Jesus speaks. The beggar can only stammer “I…I…I want to see.”

Perhaps this gospel passage can become a parable of faith for us. We struggle to make sense of our lives; we wrestle with our conflicting emotions and even the demons inside our souls. Most often we struggle to rely on our own solutions because we find it so hard to let anyone else inside – least of all our God. We want to be self-sufficient at all costs, and so our blindness persists. But notice that Bartimaeus comes to Jesus when people in the crowd say to him: “Get up; he is calling you; you have nothing to fear.” Pushed forward by others, he is able to hand over his very life to Jesus with the simple words, “I want to see.”

Isn’t that what each of us wants – to see, to understand, to make sense of our lives?  And don’t we discover how to trust God’s loving plan precisely through the challenge and concern, the love and sacrifice of those around us – our families and friends, sometimes even total strangers.  In so many ways these good folks become our “saints” – those who set us on the road to healing and hope.

We can bless the gift these people are in our lives as we celebrate the Feast of All Saints on November 1.  While this day formally honors those great saints officially canonized by the Church, it can also be a day to bless the Lord for all those good people who shower us with the faith and love, the hope and holiness of our good and loving God.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Lord, all of us have our blind spots that cause us to misunderstand others, to undervalue the blessings in our lives, to rationalize behaviors that interfere with a heart of service, or cause us to question your absolute faithfulness and our unique relationship with you. With your grace we can remove such illusions, embrace your abundant promises, and be a source of good for many.  With great expectations we will move through our day.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 27, 2012

Luke 13: 1-9

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

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)

Call for Change?

For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none.  So cut it down.  Why should it exhaust the soil?  [Luke 13: 7]

Sitting in prison for the crime of brokering peace during a politically motivated war, lawyer John Capistrano might have wondered if he was exhausting the soil of his current profession. When finally released, he switched professions, becoming a Franciscan priest renowned for his preaching.  At times we find ourselves stagnant and unproductive in our present affairs.  Time to make a change?

—Alice Camille, 2010: A Book of Grace-Filled Days © 2009 Loyola Press, Chicago IL. For more Ignatian spiritual resources from Loyola Press, please visit www.loyolapress.com

Prayer

Lord, guide our thoughts so we can see the glass half full. While we acknowledge the challenges in our life, we ultimately have the freedom to choose happiness or sadness. We can surrender to facing life as the victim, or we can focus on what we have left, not on what we have lost. When we drift from a heart of gratitude, be quick to remind us of the many blessings that fill our days. And if we are called to make a change at home, work, or in our personal life, may we be supported by those who speak the truth to us with courage and consideration.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 26, 2012

Ephesians 4: 1-6

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

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 Urgent Call

The crowds just couldn’t see. They could not understand what was going on before their eyes. Amidst all the secondary matters that filled their lives, they could not discern what was of primary importance. What was this matter which they woefully misinterpreted? The strength of Rome and the danger of revolutionary political movements? The rise of religious movements like the Gnostics? New philosophical worldviews arising from the Greeks? None of these?

What they could not discern amidst the signs of the times was this: the figure of Christ. They could not see how the person of Christ brought together everything they had lived for, everything they had known. They could not discern the Father speaking through the words and (more importantly) actions of His Son. They were unable to relate their existence to the new Spirit-filled existence that Christ offered. Therefore, their lives were destined to remain unchanged because their hearts were not open to change.

Our present state, at a fundamental level, is no more privileged than that of the early Christians. Yes, we have two thousand years of Christian history. But it is not possible to rest on those laurels. Christ demands that we make a consistent effort to discern his face in our daily lives. We must constantly ask ourselves how Jesus makes a difference in the way I see the world and react to it. The call of Christ rings out today with the same urgency.

—Fr. Kevin Dyer, S.J.

Prayer

Lord, where will I see your face this day? Where will I pause and ask for your direction? Where do I need your grace to listen better, to focus more on giving than receiving, and to slow down so I recognize the abundant gifts in my life? And when the day draws to a close, let me answer with a bold affirmation, “Yes, because of You, I brought a little more care, a little more happiness, and a little more hope to those whose journey weaved into the framework of my day.

—Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 25, 2012

Luke 12: 49-53

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

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 Fire of Love

Ite, inflammate omnia!  Go, set all ablaze!  With these words, inspired by today’s gospel passage, Jesuits have been sent on mission throughout the world for the past five hundred years.  The fire, the flame burning in our hearts, is the fire of the love and truth of Christ, which we experience in the Spiritual Exercises and through our daily contemplation.  This fire is nourished by the sacraments and through devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Through these we hope to preserve the fire implanted within us.

Yet the fire of apostolic zeal has often encountered the same resistance which today’s gospel foretells.  No other order has produced more martyrs in the Church’s history (which is why every Jesuit community should have a decent set of red vestments).  Why this resistance?  As Hans Urs von Balthasar said:  “In the gospel, anyone who encounters Christ is impelled either to worship him or to pick up stones with which to stone him.”  We proclaim the Holy Name of Jesus Christ who, as God and man, sums up all of history in Himself.  This is a scandal, a reproach in the eyes of the world.  No doubt the preaching of the gospel has met such resistance.  Yet, onward we go, for we do not preach the ravings of a despot, but rather the Divine Love which sacrificed itself for our salvation.  Therefore, what we preach is good news.

This mission of preaching Christ is not solely a Jesuit task.  All people are called to contribute in their own way according to their own state in life.  In the process, they will face the same resistance.  But through their trial by fire they will only come to experience more deeply the fire of the love which surpasses all understanding.

—Fr. Kevin Dyer, S.J.

Prayer for Generosity

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.
Amen.

—St. Ignatius Loyola


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October 24, 2012

Ephesians 3: 2-12

For surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in 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)

Parresia

Today’s letter to the Ephesians contains one of the most important words in the New Testament.  Paul speaks of the Father accomplishing his purposes in Christ “in whom we have boldness of speech.”  The Greek word is parresia.  Originally, it referred to the freedom a full citizen enjoyed to say what was on his mind.  Thus, the citizen could be frank in proclaiming the truth openly.

Christians possess this same openness regarding God.  In Christ, the Father opened up his own life and love to the world.  Christ opened the heavens so that the unseen Father might be made manifest.  Because we possess such access to the truth, we can be courageous in proclaiming it. This is Christian parresia.

But Jesus did not reveal the Father as a static set of truths to be offered at one point, collected into barns, and stored away for periodic inspection.  Rather, after his ascension, the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles to interpret the revelation of Christ within the Church throughout all generations.  Our access to the Father, therefore, remains a constant, dynamic openness to all who approach Him in the Spirit and through the Son.  Thus, Paul was empowered to understand the mystery of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.  He therefore had the parresia to proclaim the gospel, not just to Israel, but to all nations.  Today let be aware of the parresia we possess in Christ so that we might be his witnesses in the world.

 —Fr. Kevin Dyer, S.J.

Prayer

Lord, our relationship with you remains a constant, dynamic experience, as we approach you through the Holy Spirit and through the Son.  Let our behavior be a bold statement of our commitment to you. Let our words be a witness to your powerful presence in our lives. Help us to find those opportune moments when we can share our faith with others – not embarrassed about our convictions and not aggressive in our approach. Help our behavior and our decisions proclaim our faithfulness to you, particularly when criticism abounds and others doubt our judgment and motives.  And let us also be courageous when we step out of our comfort zone to defend those principles core to our relationship with you.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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October 23, 2012

Ephesians 2: 12-22

Remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.

So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

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)

Renewed through Christ

At one time you were apart from Christ…But now in union with Christ Jesus you…have been brought near by the death of Christ.  [Ephesians 2: 12-13]

Bill Wilson lost everything when the stock marked crashed in the late 1920’s. Like many other victims of the crash, he turned to drink. Addiction followed.  In the next two years Bill made four attempts to break his addiction, but to no avail. The saving moment of his life came when he met Dr. Robert H. Smith. In 1935 they founded a program called Alcoholics Anonymous.  Bill Wilson, and millions like him, can relate to Paul’s words in today’s reading.

When was my heart farther from Christ than it is now?  How was it brought closer to Christ?

I know of no more encouraging fact that the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.   [Henry David Thoreau]

—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

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

Reinhold Niebuhr


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October 22, 2012

Luke 12: 13-21

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

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 Only Truth

 Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.  [Luke 12: 15]

We enter life and leave it owning nothing, and a blip on the stock market, a single wrong decision, or an unpredictable accident can wipe out what we think we own in the intervening years. The bedrock of God’s love can feel like an illusion, but it turns out to be the only solid truth.

—Margaret Silf, 2011: A Book of Grace-Filled Days © 2009 Loyola Press, Chicago, IL.  For more Ignatian spiritual resources from Loyola Press, please visit www.loyolapress.com 

Prayer

Lord, as we move through our day, remove our blinders that cause us to overlook so many blessings in our lives. We do not want to take for granted the beauty of the earth, the pets that love us unconditionally, the loyalty of family and friends, or the material goods that surround us.

We also do not want to forget those who have asked us to pray for them. We ask that you restore them to health, provide financial assistance, give them the strength needed to face an uphill climb, provide meaningful work, and protect and guide the children of so many. With a heart of gratitude we embrace this day, Lord.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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