January 31, 2013

Hebrew 10: 19-25

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh),and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

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 Unthinkable

Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.  [Hebrews 10: 24]

Ted Kennedy Jr. lost his leg to cancer at the age of 12. In his 20s he spent a lot of time giving inspirational talks to others in his situation. Of his recovery he says: “People give me too much credit. So much of it was that my family could afford the best doctors and best treatment. One of the reasons I’m getting involved in speaking is that I want to repay some of that debt. It takes so little for me to make others feel better that it would be unthinkable not to make the effort.”

Happiness will never be ours if we do not recognize to some degree that God’s blessings were give us for the well-being of all. —Anonymous

—Excerpted from Action, 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, increase our trust in your faithfulness so we can become more patient as we wait on you. Grant us a fresh revelation of your faithfulness through the people and happenings in our day. Forgive us for the times we have doubted you. And let our every word and deed be formed for your greater glory.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 30, 2013

Mark 4: 1-20

Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away.Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that
‘they may indeed look, but not perceive,
and may indeed listen, but not understand;
so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’”

And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.

And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

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

God’s Grandeur

The seeds sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word of God and accept it, and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold. [Mark 4: 20]

The world is charged with the grandeur of God
It will flame out, like shining shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. When do men then now not reck this rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
Their lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black west went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward,
springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah!
Bright wings.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

—Excerpted from Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, © 1993 Institute of Jesuit Sources, St. Louis MO

Prayer

Lord, hearing your word is easy. Living your word with consistency is challenging. Help us to make those changes that will enable us to live your word in our homes and work places. If anything is choking our efforts to live the gospel values, please bring it to our attention.

Should “the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things” interfere with our faithfulness to you, help us to remove such temptation. Lord, with great anticipation we will claim your promise that those who hear your word and live it will bear fruit thirty, sixty and a hundredfold.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 29, 2013

Mark 3: 31-35

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

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 Invitation

“Who are my mother and my brothers and sisters?” Is this a slap in the face to Jesus’ family? Is Jesus being callous in refusing to rush outside to greet them? Should we conclude that by answering “yes” we are callous and miss the point? Perhaps the point is that Jesus actually honors his family by enlarging it? This makes sense as we realize that Jesus’ mother, Mary, is our mother also, precisely because she accomplishes “the will of God.”  At the Annunciation, Mary told the angel Gabriel: “I am the servant of the Lord, Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

How does God’s word stir my heart today? How is the Lord inviting and drawing me to make a difference?

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Lord, as we move through this day, let your words guide our will:  “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”  For these few moments, help us to contemplate the awesome invitation to be “my brother and sister and mother.” When we view ourselves as members of the inner circle of your family, we are touched by your unconditional love and by your intimate involvement in the fabric of our lives. Lord, help us to see all those around us as fellow siblings, your children, in the kingdom of God.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 28, 2013

St. Thomas Aquinas

Mark 3: 22-30

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.

And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

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 Glance at the Frozen Heart

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds. God has remembered his kindness and faithfulness toward the house of Israel. [Psalm 98]

It is winter. The land is ice bound, and my garden is frozen hard. I gaze out at the lifeless scene beyond my window, and I know that deep in the soil the daffodils are preparing for rebirth.

Perhaps God looks upon our frozen hearts in the same way and knows already what we can only hope for.

—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, sometimes we find ourselves placing negative labels on people we don’t understand, who threaten our preconceptions or call forth a change in us. Help us to pierce through our prejudging by truly listening, by evaluating if people are helped, healed, welcomed, or accepted. Lord, grant us courage and the wisdom to see in others – all others – your own creation and love.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 27, 2013

1 Cor 12: 12-30

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.

If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this.

But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

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)

Called to Make a Difference

“None of us is perfect,” said the sign above the manager’s desk. The reality is that an effective speech therapist might not be a very good cook. Someone we regard as a fine lawyer or actress or financial analyst might not be so good at cleaning up household mess. In the ying and yang of our various relationships, don’t we put up with one another’s shortcomings precisely because we treasure the unique strengths and talents each of us enjoys as gifts from God…gifts to be used for every purpose under heaven. Through his clever use of the image of the body’s inter-connectedness, St. Paul got it right when he reminds us that each person has his or her unique and valuable place within this human community, this body of belief, this reign of God.

So let us go into that Nazareth synagogue where Jesus grew up. As Luke describes it, Jesus reads the familiar passage from the prophet Isaiah which begins: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and to proclaim a year of favor for the Lord.” Then he puts down the scroll. He walks to his seat. Every eye is fixed upon him. “Today this Scripture is fulfilled as you hear it.” Imagine the stunned look on people’s faces, their mouths open in disbelief. Who does he think he is?

Yet who better to proclaim the good news of God’s reign than someone so intimately familiar with the daily life of God’s people? The message Jesus came to proclaim is just that—God is near at hand, right in the messiness of our daily routine, healing us, freeing us, loving us in all that we speak and accomplish. If this is the case, then how precisely does Jesus invite each one to take up the mission of the gospel, to do our part so that the blind can recover sight and those with broken hearts can find new life?

Perhaps by looking around our homes, our neighborhoods, our offices, our malls—taking up the mission of Jesus this week, today! As always each person does make a difference with the strength and fire of the Lord. Today’s gospel IS actually fulfilled this week as we go forward steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, untiring in love.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Lord, I am at the beginning of another day that has never been before and will never come again. During it may I persist in that one thing that matters — following you. I trust, Lord, that you have blessed me with just the right gifts I need to build your kingdom.  I pray, Lord, that when night comes I will have allowed you to deepen your life in me.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 26, 2013

Saints Timothy and Titus

2 Timothy 1: 1-8

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.

Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.

For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of 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

Claim Our Power

I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control . [2 Timothy 1: 6-7]

There is something in each of us—in the core of our being—that springs from the timeless mystery deeper than consciousness, higher than knowledge, and more alive than our physical presence. In that mystery alone will we discover who we truly are.

—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, sometimes “the spirit of fear” can dominate our lives. We place before you the self-doubt that questions if we have the necessary ability to deal with the pressures of  life. We embrace your grace that enables us to experience power, love and self-discipline to face the storms of life and navigate them in such a way that we are neither shipwrecked or drowned.  Help us, Lord, not to live small or to settle for routine because we underestimate you.  With a heart filled with gratitude, we will live this day for you.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 25, 2013

Conversion of St. Paul

Mark 16: 15-18

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

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

Why Do You Persecute Me?

This feast of the Conversion of St. Paul marks the final day of worldwide prayer for Christian unity.  Prior to his conversion, Saul (St. Paul) had consented to the execution of Stephen. Having persecuted many who had belonged to the Church in Jerusalem , Saul traveled the road to Damascus intent on killing those who identified themselves as followers of Christ:

“Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”  (Acts of the Apostles 9:3-6 )

With St. Paul we can pray for the theological, organizational, and personal unity for which Jesus himself prayed at the Last Supper.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Open our hearts, O Jesus Christ, to share more perfectly in your prayer to the Father that we may be one, so that as we journey together we may draw closer to each another. Send your Spirit to empower and challenge us to answer your call to unity. Show us what your Father, the God of Life, requires of us, and lead us to justice, peace, and oneness in your name, our Lord, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen!

—Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute, Garrison NY / www.geii.org
Used with permission.


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January 24, 2013

St. Francis deSales

Mark 3: 7-12

Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon.

He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.

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)

Release from Pressure

Jesus told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him.  [Mark 3: 9]

Jesus took refuge on a boat because the pressures of other people threatened to crush him. When do the pressures of others threaten to crush you? And where do you find refuge when that happens? If Jesus needed refuge, then certainly we do.

 —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, in so many ways you reveal the importance of caring for ourselves. We observe how you approached the crowd that threatened to crush you.  Rather than give away all your energy to those pressing upon you, you withdrew to a boat and from there your voice rang out to all.

Lord, you witness to us the importance of setting boundaries so we do not become depleted of our enthusiasm to serve.  Enlighten us to firmly believe that self-care is essential  in our efforts to be there for others.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 23, 2013

St. Marianne Cope, O.S.F.

Mark 3: 1-6

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy 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)

Healing Ministry

Today the Church for the first time celebrates the feast of St. Marianne Cope (1838-1918).She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 20, 2012 in Rome. Barbara Koob was born in Germany in 1838 and shortly afterwards came with her family to New York. At age 24 she entered the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse NY and took the name of Sr. Marianne at her first vows.

After serving in New York as both teacher and principal, she helped establish the first two Catholic hospitals in the United States. In 1883 she went to Honolulu where she helped those suffering from leprosy. After coming to know St. Damien de Veuster, she moved to Molokai in 1888 and assisted Fr. Damien as he himself suffered from the disease. She continued to work with the Molokai leper community after Fr. Damien’s death. Sr. Marianne died in August 1918 and was beatified in 2005. Her healing ministry continues through the medical centers she helped set up in both New York and Hawaii.

In today’s gospel, Jesus invites the man with the shriveled limb to “stretch out your hand.” Jesus strengthens each of us today in Sr. Marianne’s good spirit to use our energy and faith in service to all those we meet.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Lord, we come to you seeking the healing of our body and soul. Our spirits need renewal; our relationships need strengthening, and our health needs your attention.  Lord, we have a sacred lesson to learn from the man with the withered hand.  It was his willingness to reach out that opened the possibility of his cure. Lord, please give us the grace to reach out to you, to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and to receive your healing.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 22, 2013

Day of Prayer: Legal Protection of Unborn Children

Hebrew 6: 10-20

For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. And we want each one of you to show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

When God made a promise to Abraham, because he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,saying, “I will surely bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. Human beings, of course, swear by someone greater than themselves, and an oath given as confirmation puts an end to all dispute.

In the same way, when God desired to show even more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it by an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us.

We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

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)

Contemplation of the Essential

Grant, O Lord, that in our contemplation
of your passion.
we do not run away from the essential things.
Help us to contemplate you,
your Eucharistic love,
your crucified love as the sum reality necessary
to understand all the rest,
as the one reality from which
all the others receive light and clarity.
We ask you this through the intercession
of the one who had the eye to see all essential things:
Mary, your mother.
—Carlo Maria Martini, SJ

—Excerpted from Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, © 1993 Institute of Jesuit Sources, St. Louis MO

Prayer

Lord Jesus,
Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life, make us capable of seeing in the fruit of the maternal womb the miraculous work of the Creator, open our hearts to generously welcoming every child that comes into life.

Bless all families, sanctify the union of spouses, render fruitful their love.

Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies with the light of your Spirit, so that peoples and nations may recognize and respect the sacred nature of life, of every human life….

Console the married couples who suffer because they are unable to have children and in Your goodness provide for them.

Teach us all to care for orphaned or abandoned children, so they may experience the warmth of your Charity, the consolation of your divine Heart.

Together with Mary, Your Mother, the great believer, in whose womb you took on our human nature, we wait to receive from You, our Only True Good and Savior, the strength to love and serve life, in anticipation of living forever in You, in communion with the Blessed Trinity.

—Excerpted from Pope Benedict XVI’s Prayer For The Unborn


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January 31, 2013

Hebrew 10: 19-25

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh),and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

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 Unthinkable

Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.  [Hebrews 10: 24]

Ted Kennedy Jr. lost his leg to cancer at the age of 12. In his 20s he spent a lot of time giving inspirational talks to others in his situation. Of his recovery he says: “People give me too much credit. So much of it was that my family could afford the best doctors and best treatment. One of the reasons I’m getting involved in speaking is that I want to repay some of that debt. It takes so little for me to make others feel better that it would be unthinkable not to make the effort.”

Happiness will never be ours if we do not recognize to some degree that God’s blessings were give us for the well-being of all. —Anonymous

—Excerpted from Action, 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, increase our trust in your faithfulness so we can become more patient as we wait on you. Grant us a fresh revelation of your faithfulness through the people and happenings in our day. Forgive us for the times we have doubted you. And let our every word and deed be formed for your greater glory.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

January 30, 2013

Mark 4: 1-20

Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away.Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that
‘they may indeed look, but not perceive,
and may indeed listen, but not understand;
so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’”

And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.

And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

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

God’s Grandeur

The seeds sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word of God and accept it, and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold. [Mark 4: 20]

The world is charged with the grandeur of God
It will flame out, like shining shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. When do men then now not reck this rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
Their lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black west went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward,
springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah!
Bright wings.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

—Excerpted from Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, © 1993 Institute of Jesuit Sources, St. Louis MO

Prayer

Lord, hearing your word is easy. Living your word with consistency is challenging. Help us to make those changes that will enable us to live your word in our homes and work places. If anything is choking our efforts to live the gospel values, please bring it to our attention.

Should “the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things” interfere with our faithfulness to you, help us to remove such temptation. Lord, with great anticipation we will claim your promise that those who hear your word and live it will bear fruit thirty, sixty and a hundredfold.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 29, 2013

Mark 3: 31-35

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

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 Invitation

“Who are my mother and my brothers and sisters?” Is this a slap in the face to Jesus’ family? Is Jesus being callous in refusing to rush outside to greet them? Should we conclude that by answering “yes” we are callous and miss the point? Perhaps the point is that Jesus actually honors his family by enlarging it? This makes sense as we realize that Jesus’ mother, Mary, is our mother also, precisely because she accomplishes “the will of God.”  At the Annunciation, Mary told the angel Gabriel: “I am the servant of the Lord, Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

How does God’s word stir my heart today? How is the Lord inviting and drawing me to make a difference?

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Lord, as we move through this day, let your words guide our will:  “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”  For these few moments, help us to contemplate the awesome invitation to be “my brother and sister and mother.” When we view ourselves as members of the inner circle of your family, we are touched by your unconditional love and by your intimate involvement in the fabric of our lives. Lord, help us to see all those around us as fellow siblings, your children, in the kingdom of God.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 28, 2013

St. Thomas Aquinas

Mark 3: 22-30

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.

And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

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 Glance at the Frozen Heart

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds. God has remembered his kindness and faithfulness toward the house of Israel. [Psalm 98]

It is winter. The land is ice bound, and my garden is frozen hard. I gaze out at the lifeless scene beyond my window, and I know that deep in the soil the daffodils are preparing for rebirth.

Perhaps God looks upon our frozen hearts in the same way and knows already what we can only hope for.

—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, sometimes we find ourselves placing negative labels on people we don’t understand, who threaten our preconceptions or call forth a change in us. Help us to pierce through our prejudging by truly listening, by evaluating if people are helped, healed, welcomed, or accepted. Lord, grant us courage and the wisdom to see in others – all others – your own creation and love.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 27, 2013

1 Cor 12: 12-30

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.

If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this.

But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

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)

Called to Make a Difference

“None of us is perfect,” said the sign above the manager’s desk. The reality is that an effective speech therapist might not be a very good cook. Someone we regard as a fine lawyer or actress or financial analyst might not be so good at cleaning up household mess. In the ying and yang of our various relationships, don’t we put up with one another’s shortcomings precisely because we treasure the unique strengths and talents each of us enjoys as gifts from God…gifts to be used for every purpose under heaven. Through his clever use of the image of the body’s inter-connectedness, St. Paul got it right when he reminds us that each person has his or her unique and valuable place within this human community, this body of belief, this reign of God.

So let us go into that Nazareth synagogue where Jesus grew up. As Luke describes it, Jesus reads the familiar passage from the prophet Isaiah which begins: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and to proclaim a year of favor for the Lord.” Then he puts down the scroll. He walks to his seat. Every eye is fixed upon him. “Today this Scripture is fulfilled as you hear it.” Imagine the stunned look on people’s faces, their mouths open in disbelief. Who does he think he is?

Yet who better to proclaim the good news of God’s reign than someone so intimately familiar with the daily life of God’s people? The message Jesus came to proclaim is just that—God is near at hand, right in the messiness of our daily routine, healing us, freeing us, loving us in all that we speak and accomplish. If this is the case, then how precisely does Jesus invite each one to take up the mission of the gospel, to do our part so that the blind can recover sight and those with broken hearts can find new life?

Perhaps by looking around our homes, our neighborhoods, our offices, our malls—taking up the mission of Jesus this week, today! As always each person does make a difference with the strength and fire of the Lord. Today’s gospel IS actually fulfilled this week as we go forward steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, untiring in love.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Lord, I am at the beginning of another day that has never been before and will never come again. During it may I persist in that one thing that matters — following you. I trust, Lord, that you have blessed me with just the right gifts I need to build your kingdom.  I pray, Lord, that when night comes I will have allowed you to deepen your life in me.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 26, 2013

Saints Timothy and Titus

2 Timothy 1: 1-8

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.

Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.

For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of 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

Claim Our Power

I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control . [2 Timothy 1: 6-7]

There is something in each of us—in the core of our being—that springs from the timeless mystery deeper than consciousness, higher than knowledge, and more alive than our physical presence. In that mystery alone will we discover who we truly are.

—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, sometimes “the spirit of fear” can dominate our lives. We place before you the self-doubt that questions if we have the necessary ability to deal with the pressures of  life. We embrace your grace that enables us to experience power, love and self-discipline to face the storms of life and navigate them in such a way that we are neither shipwrecked or drowned.  Help us, Lord, not to live small or to settle for routine because we underestimate you.  With a heart filled with gratitude, we will live this day for you.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 25, 2013

Conversion of St. Paul

Mark 16: 15-18

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

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

Why Do You Persecute Me?

This feast of the Conversion of St. Paul marks the final day of worldwide prayer for Christian unity.  Prior to his conversion, Saul (St. Paul) had consented to the execution of Stephen. Having persecuted many who had belonged to the Church in Jerusalem , Saul traveled the road to Damascus intent on killing those who identified themselves as followers of Christ:

“Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”  (Acts of the Apostles 9:3-6 )

With St. Paul we can pray for the theological, organizational, and personal unity for which Jesus himself prayed at the Last Supper.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Open our hearts, O Jesus Christ, to share more perfectly in your prayer to the Father that we may be one, so that as we journey together we may draw closer to each another. Send your Spirit to empower and challenge us to answer your call to unity. Show us what your Father, the God of Life, requires of us, and lead us to justice, peace, and oneness in your name, our Lord, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen!

—Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute, Garrison NY / www.geii.org
Used with permission.


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January 24, 2013

St. Francis deSales

Mark 3: 7-12

Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon.

He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.

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)

Release from Pressure

Jesus told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him.  [Mark 3: 9]

Jesus took refuge on a boat because the pressures of other people threatened to crush him. When do the pressures of others threaten to crush you? And where do you find refuge when that happens? If Jesus needed refuge, then certainly we do.

 —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, in so many ways you reveal the importance of caring for ourselves. We observe how you approached the crowd that threatened to crush you.  Rather than give away all your energy to those pressing upon you, you withdrew to a boat and from there your voice rang out to all.

Lord, you witness to us the importance of setting boundaries so we do not become depleted of our enthusiasm to serve.  Enlighten us to firmly believe that self-care is essential  in our efforts to be there for others.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 23, 2013

St. Marianne Cope, O.S.F.

Mark 3: 1-6

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy 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)

Healing Ministry

Today the Church for the first time celebrates the feast of St. Marianne Cope (1838-1918).She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 20, 2012 in Rome. Barbara Koob was born in Germany in 1838 and shortly afterwards came with her family to New York. At age 24 she entered the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse NY and took the name of Sr. Marianne at her first vows.

After serving in New York as both teacher and principal, she helped establish the first two Catholic hospitals in the United States. In 1883 she went to Honolulu where she helped those suffering from leprosy. After coming to know St. Damien de Veuster, she moved to Molokai in 1888 and assisted Fr. Damien as he himself suffered from the disease. She continued to work with the Molokai leper community after Fr. Damien’s death. Sr. Marianne died in August 1918 and was beatified in 2005. Her healing ministry continues through the medical centers she helped set up in both New York and Hawaii.

In today’s gospel, Jesus invites the man with the shriveled limb to “stretch out your hand.” Jesus strengthens each of us today in Sr. Marianne’s good spirit to use our energy and faith in service to all those we meet.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Lord, we come to you seeking the healing of our body and soul. Our spirits need renewal; our relationships need strengthening, and our health needs your attention.  Lord, we have a sacred lesson to learn from the man with the withered hand.  It was his willingness to reach out that opened the possibility of his cure. Lord, please give us the grace to reach out to you, to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and to receive your healing.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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January 22, 2013

Day of Prayer: Legal Protection of Unborn Children

Hebrew 6: 10-20

For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. And we want each one of you to show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

When God made a promise to Abraham, because he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,saying, “I will surely bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. Human beings, of course, swear by someone greater than themselves, and an oath given as confirmation puts an end to all dispute.

In the same way, when God desired to show even more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it by an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us.

We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

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)

Contemplation of the Essential

Grant, O Lord, that in our contemplation
of your passion.
we do not run away from the essential things.
Help us to contemplate you,
your Eucharistic love,
your crucified love as the sum reality necessary
to understand all the rest,
as the one reality from which
all the others receive light and clarity.
We ask you this through the intercession
of the one who had the eye to see all essential things:
Mary, your mother.
—Carlo Maria Martini, SJ

—Excerpted from Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, © 1993 Institute of Jesuit Sources, St. Louis MO

Prayer

Lord Jesus,
Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life, make us capable of seeing in the fruit of the maternal womb the miraculous work of the Creator, open our hearts to generously welcoming every child that comes into life.

Bless all families, sanctify the union of spouses, render fruitful their love.

Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies with the light of your Spirit, so that peoples and nations may recognize and respect the sacred nature of life, of every human life….

Console the married couples who suffer because they are unable to have children and in Your goodness provide for them.

Teach us all to care for orphaned or abandoned children, so they may experience the warmth of your Charity, the consolation of your divine Heart.

Together with Mary, Your Mother, the great believer, in whose womb you took on our human nature, we wait to receive from You, our Only True Good and Savior, the strength to love and serve life, in anticipation of living forever in You, in communion with the Blessed Trinity.

—Excerpted from Pope Benedict XVI’s Prayer For The Unborn


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