June 30, 2014

First Martyrs of the Church of Rome

Mt 8: 18-22

Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. A scribe then approached and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

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

Whole-hearted Response

In today’s gospel Matthew introduces us to two potential followers of Jesus who express their openness to his masterful ability to teach. Knowing that Christ most often had experienced the hostility of the scribes who held fast to the strict tradition of the Jewish law, it is certainly an amazing reversal to discover one of their members in the position of acknowledging Jesus with the honorable title of Teacher —Rabbi.

With both candidates, Jesus challenges the honesty of their readiness to follow him immediately and not look back. This, indeed, might be a good time for me to evaluate my personal commitment to Jesus. Is it whole-hearted or a bit sluggish? A good question to ponder as I go about the daily ministry to which I have been called by the Lord.

—Sr. Ann Romayne Fallon, O.P. is an Adrian Dominican sister with notable experience in high school and diocesan administration. Currently she provides pastoral ministry to the Dominican community in Adrian MI.

Prayer

Teach me to listen, O, God, to those nearest me:  my family, my friends, my co-workers. Help me to be aware that no matter what words I hear, the message is, “Accept the person I am. Listen to me.” Teach me to listen, my caring God, to those far from me– the whisper of the hopeless, the plea of the forgotten, the cry of the anguished.

Teach me to listen, O God my Mother, to myself. Help me to be less afraid to trust the voice inside — in the deepest part of me. Teach me to listen, Holy Spirit, for your voice — in busyness and in boredom, in certainty and doubt, in noise and in silence. Teach me, Lord, to listen.  Amen.

—John Veltri, S.J.


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June 29, 2014

SOLEMNITY OF STS.  PETER AND PAUL

Mt 16: 13-19

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

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

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

The Church of Mercy

One of the Vatican’s most sought-after pilgrimage sites is the “Scavi”—the excavations under St. Peter’s Basilica where the tomb of St. Peter was discovered in the 20th century. Standing in that narrow, cramped space the exchange between Jesus and Peter in today’s gospel comes alive: “Who do you say that I am?”  “You are the Christ, the son of the Living God.”  With that act of faith, Peter’s life was changed…as was the course of human history.

Later in this gospel passage, Jesus declares: “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.” Standing amidst the stones of the Scavi, that promise is literally fulfilled.

Centuries pass and now Pope Francis is the current “rock,” holding the keys of Peter. We are invited today to pray for Pope Francis and the Church of mercy which he shepherds. It is also a good day also to reflect on my personal commitment to the Church as well as my practical willingness to “walk with the poor” as Pope Francis invites.

And I ponder the impact of Jesus’ question in my own personal life: “Who do you say that I am?”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Life-giving God, the light of your revelation brought Peter and Paul the gift of faith in Jesus your Son. Through their prayers may we who received this faith through their preaching give witness in our daily lives to Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord.  Amen.


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June 28, 2014

Feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Mary

Lk 2: 41-51

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey.

Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them.

Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

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

Lost and Found

What would go through your mind if you lost the Son of God? I can only imagine the panic, fear, and self-recrimination Mary and Joseph felt as they frantically searched for their beloved son.

It’s easy to recall the many times in my life when I’ve lost track of God. I get so caught up with what’s in front of me: work, an endless to-do list, and various social obligations that I lose track of God’s presence. These times can be disorienting, confusing, stressful. Days can pass before I realize what I am actually missing. When I realize that I’ve lost track of God in the midst of my full and busy life, my search begins anew.

Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the place he’s most likely to be, his Father’s house. In a similar way, after seeking what I’ve lost, I usually find God in the places God most fittingly resides: in connected relationships, in extending forgiveness and grace, in spending time in creation, and  in acts of service, love, and compassion. In finding God, I realize, while I may have lost sight of God’s presence, God remained where God was supposed to be.

Which places do you most naturally find God?

—Andy Rebollar is a Pastoral associate at St. Pius X Parish in Grandville, MI and writes for Charis Ministries. www.spxcatholic.org  

Prayer

Jesu that dost in Mary dwell
Be in thy servants’ hearts as well,
In the spirit of thy holiness,
In the fullness of thy force and stress,
In the very ways that thy life goes
And virtues that thy pattern shows,
In sharing of thy mysteries;
And every power in us that is
Against that power put under feet
In the Holy Ghost the Paraclete
To the glory of the Father. Amen.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.


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June 27, 2014

SOLEMNITY OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS

Dt 7: 6-11

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you—for you were the fewest of all peoples. It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and who repays in their own person those who reject him.

He does not delay but repays in their own person those who reject him. Therefore, observe diligently the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that I am commanding you today.

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

The Gift of Jesus’ Love

As a budding convert to Christianity and to Catholicism in my late-30’s, the images of the Sacred Heart were most innately and immediately attractive to me. I don’t mean in the sense that they were more beautiful or aesthetically pleasing than other images, though that oftentimes was the case. But there was something intriguing about Jesus’ flaming heart, and his arm and hand stretching towards his heart.

My initial recollection was just that I would stare at his heart and wonder why it was burning and how it wouldn’t go out. It then followed that Jesus wanted to show me his heart by framing it with his hand. Upon greater reflection, it seems that Jesus isn’t just showing, but actively sharing and giving his Sacred Heart to me. It is a very personal gesture, with a kindness on his face that evokes a deep, attractive peace within me.

Today’s readings all speak of God’s love. The Deuteronomy passage says: “The Lord set his heart on you and chose you.” God loves us by choice. Isn’t it marvelous that the Lord is focused on us? God’s love for us is no accident.

The second reading from first John offers more: God’s gift of love is a gift to be given back to one another. We experience God’s love with the intent that we love others with that same love and in those same ways.

Can I imagine myself living in the manner of the Sacred Heart? Towards whom, and for what, does my heart yearn and burn with love? Whom do I reach out to with the gift of Jesus’ love…or not?

—Fr. Glen Chun, S.J. serves in campus ministry at Loyola University Chicago and is also minister of the Loyola Jesuit Community.

Prayer

Come, lovable heart of Jesus. Place your heart deep in the center of our hearts and enkindle in each heart a flame of love as strong and great as the sum of all reasons that I have for loving you, my God.

O holy heart of Jesus, dwell hidden in my heart. May I live only in you and only for you so that, in the end, I may live eternally with you in heaven.  Amen!

—St. Claude LaColombiere, S.J.


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June 26, 2014

Mt 7: 21-29

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’ “

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

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

Repairing My House

Today Jesus speaks about the importance of building a house on a strong foundation so it can weather the storms. So too must our spiritual foundation be strong when life’s storms inevitably hit.

It is important for us to do an inspection of our “spiritual house” from time to time. In doing so we may see some cracks in our foundation that need repair.  However, just like home repairs if we put them off, a small crack in the foundation can soon become a serious structural problem. In the Gospel today Jesus gives us guidance on how to strengthen our foundation:  it is through hearing his teaching and then acting on it.

Are there any cracks in my “spiritual house” that need attention?

In what ways this week can I learn more about Jesus and act on his teaching?

—Brother Pat Douglas, S.J. lives and works at Creighton University, Omaha. He is also vocation promoter for the Wisconsin Province Jesuits.

Prayer

Lord, we ask for spiritual authority to stand for your truth, your justice, your mercy and understanding. We pray for greater faith to claim your presence in the details of this day.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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June 25, 2014

2 Kgs 22: 8-13; 23: 1-3

The high priest Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.” When Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, he read it. Then Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workers who have oversight of the house of the Lord.” Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “The priest Hilkiah has given me a book.” Shaphan then read it aloud to the king.

When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary, and the king’s servant Asaiah, saying, “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our ancestors did not obey the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

Then the king directed that all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem should be gathered to him. The king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him went all the people of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord.

The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant.

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

Back to Fundamentals

If you are a golfer you have probably experienced days, maybe even weeks or months, where you have completely lost your game. This is also true of the baseball player who goes into a long and deep hitting slump. I have found in golf that my game typically comes back when I remind myself of only one or two very fundamental “swing thoughts.” Simplifying and getting back to the fundamentals usually produces the desired results.

Today’s first reading starts with an Israel which had totally lost it. They had given up their special relationship with God for the likes of Baal. They didn’t even realize they had lost it until the high priest happened to find the book of the law in the temple. Thank goodness the king, Josiah, took the words from the book seriously and sought consultation with the Lord and acted decisively.

Isn’t this true in our own spiritual lives as well? Sometimes we just lose it, and we don’t even know we are lost. We give up our special relationship with God for wrath, avarice, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. So what are we to do? Let’s get back to the fundamentals. Stay true to Ignatius’ insistence on the practice of the Examen. Answer the question, what does love require? Seek consultation with the Lord and act decisively.

—David McNulty works for the Midwest Jesuits. Dave and his wife Judy are grandparents of six.

Prayer

Lord, sometimes we feel so distant to you. It is as if our special relationship with you is gone. Remove our guilt. Return us to the foundational practice of St. Ignatius’ Examen.

The Daily Examen

1. Become aware of God’s presence.

2. Review the day with gratitude.

3. Pay attention to your emotions.

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.

5. Look toward tomorrow.

For details about each step of the Examen, read How Can I Pray?


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June 24, 2014

Lk 1: 57-66. 80

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father.

But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God.

Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

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 Grace-filled Plan

The scriptures today demonstrate that divine inspiration begins in the womb. Psalm 139 says, “truly you have formed my inmost being, you knit me in my mother’s womb,” and in Isaiah, “the Lord has spoken who has formed me as his servant from the womb.”

Yet as adults we can tend to overlook our divinely inspired desires to accommodate the expectations and norms of society.

Elizabeth and Zacharias, divinely inspired, avoided following the crowd, and used the name John for their son. John the Baptist remained true to this divine plan beginning in the womb until his death.  How then do we return to God’s divinely inspired plan that begins in the womb?

Perhaps the recipe for divine inspiration comes from the “Three Degrees of Humility” meditation in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius The first degree is to do nothing that would cut me off from God. The second is to seek a life of detachment, and the third is to love the poor Christ. (Exercises #165, 166, 167).

True humility connects us to Jesus, revealing that —although unworthy—each of us is part of a divinely-inspired plan

—Matthew Lieser, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

O Lord, you search me and you know me; You know my resting and my rising. All my plans lie open to you. If I take the wings of the dawn and dwell at the sea’s furthest end, even there your hand would lead me, your right hand would hold me fast.

—Psalm 139


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June 23, 2014

Mt 7: 1-5

Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?

Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

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

Who Am I to Judge?

Why in the world did Jesus use the example of perceiving a wooden beam in one’s eye in his effort to teach us the danger of judging others?  Recalling the difficulty of removing a simple eyelash from my eye, I can hardly imagine dealing with anything even slightly larger – never mind a wooden beam!

In spite of the rather interesting and somewhat humorous image this connotes, perhaps Jesus is reminding us that it would be a wise move on our part to reflect on just how well we are personally meeting the standards we often set for others.  Then, we might honestly ask, “Am I prepared to be judged by anyone who witnesses my words or actions?”

Pope Francis has it right:  “Who am I to judge?”

—Sr. Ann Romayne Fallon, O.P. is an Adrian Dominican sister with notable experience in high school and diocesan administration. Currently she provides pastoral ministry to the Dominican community in Adrian MI.

Prayer

Merciful men and women have a wide, wide heart: always forgiving others and thinking about their [own] sins. This is the way of mercy for which we must ask…. Because mercy brings us peace.

Always remember: Who am I to judge? Lord, give us this grace.

—Pope Francis


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June 22, 2014

SOLEMNITY OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST

Jn 6: 51-58

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.

Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.

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

We are the Body of Christ

San Lucas Toliman is a very special place in Guatemala’s highlands where so much of the world’s coffee is grown. There La Fiesta de Cuerpo de Cristo is a very special annual event which brings together young and old. The monstrance with the consecrated host is carried in procession to each group of homes as well as to the marketplace, the school, the clinic, the playground. All of these places are blessed, with those who live and work there participating.

Then there is a big fiesta where all the families who make up the “body of Christ” in this small village have a picnic, play games, and sing. Of course each of these families has a story; each experiences the normal tensions and traumas of family and neighborhood life. But it is precisely into the middle of these tensions and traumas, these joys and adventures that Jesus Christ —alive and risen—is welcomed and celebrated.

This special feast reminds each of us that WE are the Body of Christ. We are the living, breathing, thinking, feeling, praying, witnessing, faith-filled, doubt-filled, hope-filled, justice-filled, love-filled Body of Jesus. We are broken and shared…and then sent forth into a thousand corners our world as messengers and menders for others, as tangible signs of God’s presence alive and active in this world. As we believe, so let us live, throughout this summer and beyond.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless. And we, though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.

© 1978, John Foley, S.J. and New Dawn Music.


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June 21, 2014

St. Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J.

Mt 6: 24-34

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

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

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

So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

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

Seek First

I’m loathe to admit that I’m a worrier. My pride will say I have my reasons to worry—and good ones at that!—each one so practical and realistic … to me. But over the years I’ve learned that worry is exhausting and chaotic. Yet here’s the rub: worry is also a way to cope with life’s storms and struggles to meet our temporal needs.

Jesus’ words in today’s gospel have helped me many times—my thoughts stop in their tracks when I picture the Lord acknowledging my concerns, but assuring me all the same to seek what is above. It can be very challenging to do this—stress can be blinding, urgent and scary. But the Lord doesn’t dismiss our worries—he meets us right where we are, and reminds us to trust in him above all else.

When I’m in anxiety’s grip, I know God is calling me to pray. Seek first. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). We need to hope, and trust that God is with us—Easter Sunday comes after Good Friday. Sometimes God is as quiet as a whisper, other times as clear as day: Last night, I tucked into a new book, and the chapter ended with a quote from this very passage.

—Kristin Dillon is a lay minister who participates in Charis Ministries programs. She lives in Chicago with her husband and seven-month-old son.

Prayer

The living water that is the Holy Spirit quenches our lives because it tells us that we are loved by God and his children, that we can love God as his children, and that by his grace we can live as children of God, as did Jesus.

—Pope Francis


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June 30, 2014

First Martyrs of the Church of Rome

Mt 8: 18-22

Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. A scribe then approached and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

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

Whole-hearted Response

In today’s gospel Matthew introduces us to two potential followers of Jesus who express their openness to his masterful ability to teach. Knowing that Christ most often had experienced the hostility of the scribes who held fast to the strict tradition of the Jewish law, it is certainly an amazing reversal to discover one of their members in the position of acknowledging Jesus with the honorable title of Teacher —Rabbi.

With both candidates, Jesus challenges the honesty of their readiness to follow him immediately and not look back. This, indeed, might be a good time for me to evaluate my personal commitment to Jesus. Is it whole-hearted or a bit sluggish? A good question to ponder as I go about the daily ministry to which I have been called by the Lord.

—Sr. Ann Romayne Fallon, O.P. is an Adrian Dominican sister with notable experience in high school and diocesan administration. Currently she provides pastoral ministry to the Dominican community in Adrian MI.

Prayer

Teach me to listen, O, God, to those nearest me:  my family, my friends, my co-workers. Help me to be aware that no matter what words I hear, the message is, “Accept the person I am. Listen to me.” Teach me to listen, my caring God, to those far from me– the whisper of the hopeless, the plea of the forgotten, the cry of the anguished.

Teach me to listen, O God my Mother, to myself. Help me to be less afraid to trust the voice inside — in the deepest part of me. Teach me to listen, Holy Spirit, for your voice — in busyness and in boredom, in certainty and doubt, in noise and in silence. Teach me, Lord, to listen.  Amen.

—John Veltri, S.J.


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June 29, 2014

SOLEMNITY OF STS.  PETER AND PAUL

Mt 16: 13-19

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

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

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

The Church of Mercy

One of the Vatican’s most sought-after pilgrimage sites is the “Scavi”—the excavations under St. Peter’s Basilica where the tomb of St. Peter was discovered in the 20th century. Standing in that narrow, cramped space the exchange between Jesus and Peter in today’s gospel comes alive: “Who do you say that I am?”  “You are the Christ, the son of the Living God.”  With that act of faith, Peter’s life was changed…as was the course of human history.

Later in this gospel passage, Jesus declares: “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.” Standing amidst the stones of the Scavi, that promise is literally fulfilled.

Centuries pass and now Pope Francis is the current “rock,” holding the keys of Peter. We are invited today to pray for Pope Francis and the Church of mercy which he shepherds. It is also a good day also to reflect on my personal commitment to the Church as well as my practical willingness to “walk with the poor” as Pope Francis invites.

And I ponder the impact of Jesus’ question in my own personal life: “Who do you say that I am?”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Life-giving God, the light of your revelation brought Peter and Paul the gift of faith in Jesus your Son. Through their prayers may we who received this faith through their preaching give witness in our daily lives to Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord.  Amen.


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June 28, 2014

Feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Mary

Lk 2: 41-51

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey.

Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them.

Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

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

Lost and Found

What would go through your mind if you lost the Son of God? I can only imagine the panic, fear, and self-recrimination Mary and Joseph felt as they frantically searched for their beloved son.

It’s easy to recall the many times in my life when I’ve lost track of God. I get so caught up with what’s in front of me: work, an endless to-do list, and various social obligations that I lose track of God’s presence. These times can be disorienting, confusing, stressful. Days can pass before I realize what I am actually missing. When I realize that I’ve lost track of God in the midst of my full and busy life, my search begins anew.

Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the place he’s most likely to be, his Father’s house. In a similar way, after seeking what I’ve lost, I usually find God in the places God most fittingly resides: in connected relationships, in extending forgiveness and grace, in spending time in creation, and  in acts of service, love, and compassion. In finding God, I realize, while I may have lost sight of God’s presence, God remained where God was supposed to be.

Which places do you most naturally find God?

—Andy Rebollar is a Pastoral associate at St. Pius X Parish in Grandville, MI and writes for Charis Ministries. www.spxcatholic.org  

Prayer

Jesu that dost in Mary dwell
Be in thy servants’ hearts as well,
In the spirit of thy holiness,
In the fullness of thy force and stress,
In the very ways that thy life goes
And virtues that thy pattern shows,
In sharing of thy mysteries;
And every power in us that is
Against that power put under feet
In the Holy Ghost the Paraclete
To the glory of the Father. Amen.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.


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June 27, 2014

SOLEMNITY OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS

Dt 7: 6-11

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you—for you were the fewest of all peoples. It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and who repays in their own person those who reject him.

He does not delay but repays in their own person those who reject him. Therefore, observe diligently the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that I am commanding you today.

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

The Gift of Jesus’ Love

As a budding convert to Christianity and to Catholicism in my late-30’s, the images of the Sacred Heart were most innately and immediately attractive to me. I don’t mean in the sense that they were more beautiful or aesthetically pleasing than other images, though that oftentimes was the case. But there was something intriguing about Jesus’ flaming heart, and his arm and hand stretching towards his heart.

My initial recollection was just that I would stare at his heart and wonder why it was burning and how it wouldn’t go out. It then followed that Jesus wanted to show me his heart by framing it with his hand. Upon greater reflection, it seems that Jesus isn’t just showing, but actively sharing and giving his Sacred Heart to me. It is a very personal gesture, with a kindness on his face that evokes a deep, attractive peace within me.

Today’s readings all speak of God’s love. The Deuteronomy passage says: “The Lord set his heart on you and chose you.” God loves us by choice. Isn’t it marvelous that the Lord is focused on us? God’s love for us is no accident.

The second reading from first John offers more: God’s gift of love is a gift to be given back to one another. We experience God’s love with the intent that we love others with that same love and in those same ways.

Can I imagine myself living in the manner of the Sacred Heart? Towards whom, and for what, does my heart yearn and burn with love? Whom do I reach out to with the gift of Jesus’ love…or not?

—Fr. Glen Chun, S.J. serves in campus ministry at Loyola University Chicago and is also minister of the Loyola Jesuit Community.

Prayer

Come, lovable heart of Jesus. Place your heart deep in the center of our hearts and enkindle in each heart a flame of love as strong and great as the sum of all reasons that I have for loving you, my God.

O holy heart of Jesus, dwell hidden in my heart. May I live only in you and only for you so that, in the end, I may live eternally with you in heaven.  Amen!

—St. Claude LaColombiere, S.J.


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June 26, 2014

Mt 7: 21-29

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’ “

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

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

Repairing My House

Today Jesus speaks about the importance of building a house on a strong foundation so it can weather the storms. So too must our spiritual foundation be strong when life’s storms inevitably hit.

It is important for us to do an inspection of our “spiritual house” from time to time. In doing so we may see some cracks in our foundation that need repair.  However, just like home repairs if we put them off, a small crack in the foundation can soon become a serious structural problem. In the Gospel today Jesus gives us guidance on how to strengthen our foundation:  it is through hearing his teaching and then acting on it.

Are there any cracks in my “spiritual house” that need attention?

In what ways this week can I learn more about Jesus and act on his teaching?

—Brother Pat Douglas, S.J. lives and works at Creighton University, Omaha. He is also vocation promoter for the Wisconsin Province Jesuits.

Prayer

Lord, we ask for spiritual authority to stand for your truth, your justice, your mercy and understanding. We pray for greater faith to claim your presence in the details of this day.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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June 25, 2014

2 Kgs 22: 8-13; 23: 1-3

The high priest Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.” When Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, he read it. Then Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workers who have oversight of the house of the Lord.” Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “The priest Hilkiah has given me a book.” Shaphan then read it aloud to the king.

When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary, and the king’s servant Asaiah, saying, “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our ancestors did not obey the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

Then the king directed that all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem should be gathered to him. The king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him went all the people of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord.

The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant.

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

Back to Fundamentals

If you are a golfer you have probably experienced days, maybe even weeks or months, where you have completely lost your game. This is also true of the baseball player who goes into a long and deep hitting slump. I have found in golf that my game typically comes back when I remind myself of only one or two very fundamental “swing thoughts.” Simplifying and getting back to the fundamentals usually produces the desired results.

Today’s first reading starts with an Israel which had totally lost it. They had given up their special relationship with God for the likes of Baal. They didn’t even realize they had lost it until the high priest happened to find the book of the law in the temple. Thank goodness the king, Josiah, took the words from the book seriously and sought consultation with the Lord and acted decisively.

Isn’t this true in our own spiritual lives as well? Sometimes we just lose it, and we don’t even know we are lost. We give up our special relationship with God for wrath, avarice, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. So what are we to do? Let’s get back to the fundamentals. Stay true to Ignatius’ insistence on the practice of the Examen. Answer the question, what does love require? Seek consultation with the Lord and act decisively.

—David McNulty works for the Midwest Jesuits. Dave and his wife Judy are grandparents of six.

Prayer

Lord, sometimes we feel so distant to you. It is as if our special relationship with you is gone. Remove our guilt. Return us to the foundational practice of St. Ignatius’ Examen.

The Daily Examen

1. Become aware of God’s presence.

2. Review the day with gratitude.

3. Pay attention to your emotions.

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.

5. Look toward tomorrow.

For details about each step of the Examen, read How Can I Pray?


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June 24, 2014

Lk 1: 57-66. 80

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father.

But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God.

Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

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 Grace-filled Plan

The scriptures today demonstrate that divine inspiration begins in the womb. Psalm 139 says, “truly you have formed my inmost being, you knit me in my mother’s womb,” and in Isaiah, “the Lord has spoken who has formed me as his servant from the womb.”

Yet as adults we can tend to overlook our divinely inspired desires to accommodate the expectations and norms of society.

Elizabeth and Zacharias, divinely inspired, avoided following the crowd, and used the name John for their son. John the Baptist remained true to this divine plan beginning in the womb until his death.  How then do we return to God’s divinely inspired plan that begins in the womb?

Perhaps the recipe for divine inspiration comes from the “Three Degrees of Humility” meditation in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius The first degree is to do nothing that would cut me off from God. The second is to seek a life of detachment, and the third is to love the poor Christ. (Exercises #165, 166, 167).

True humility connects us to Jesus, revealing that —although unworthy—each of us is part of a divinely-inspired plan

—Matthew Lieser, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

O Lord, you search me and you know me; You know my resting and my rising. All my plans lie open to you. If I take the wings of the dawn and dwell at the sea’s furthest end, even there your hand would lead me, your right hand would hold me fast.

—Psalm 139


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June 23, 2014

Mt 7: 1-5

Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?

Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

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

Who Am I to Judge?

Why in the world did Jesus use the example of perceiving a wooden beam in one’s eye in his effort to teach us the danger of judging others?  Recalling the difficulty of removing a simple eyelash from my eye, I can hardly imagine dealing with anything even slightly larger – never mind a wooden beam!

In spite of the rather interesting and somewhat humorous image this connotes, perhaps Jesus is reminding us that it would be a wise move on our part to reflect on just how well we are personally meeting the standards we often set for others.  Then, we might honestly ask, “Am I prepared to be judged by anyone who witnesses my words or actions?”

Pope Francis has it right:  “Who am I to judge?”

—Sr. Ann Romayne Fallon, O.P. is an Adrian Dominican sister with notable experience in high school and diocesan administration. Currently she provides pastoral ministry to the Dominican community in Adrian MI.

Prayer

Merciful men and women have a wide, wide heart: always forgiving others and thinking about their [own] sins. This is the way of mercy for which we must ask…. Because mercy brings us peace.

Always remember: Who am I to judge? Lord, give us this grace.

—Pope Francis


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June 22, 2014

SOLEMNITY OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST

Jn 6: 51-58

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.

Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.

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

We are the Body of Christ

San Lucas Toliman is a very special place in Guatemala’s highlands where so much of the world’s coffee is grown. There La Fiesta de Cuerpo de Cristo is a very special annual event which brings together young and old. The monstrance with the consecrated host is carried in procession to each group of homes as well as to the marketplace, the school, the clinic, the playground. All of these places are blessed, with those who live and work there participating.

Then there is a big fiesta where all the families who make up the “body of Christ” in this small village have a picnic, play games, and sing. Of course each of these families has a story; each experiences the normal tensions and traumas of family and neighborhood life. But it is precisely into the middle of these tensions and traumas, these joys and adventures that Jesus Christ —alive and risen—is welcomed and celebrated.

This special feast reminds each of us that WE are the Body of Christ. We are the living, breathing, thinking, feeling, praying, witnessing, faith-filled, doubt-filled, hope-filled, justice-filled, love-filled Body of Jesus. We are broken and shared…and then sent forth into a thousand corners our world as messengers and menders for others, as tangible signs of God’s presence alive and active in this world. As we believe, so let us live, throughout this summer and beyond.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless. And we, though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.

© 1978, John Foley, S.J. and New Dawn Music.


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June 21, 2014

St. Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J.

Mt 6: 24-34

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

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

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

So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

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

Seek First

I’m loathe to admit that I’m a worrier. My pride will say I have my reasons to worry—and good ones at that!—each one so practical and realistic … to me. But over the years I’ve learned that worry is exhausting and chaotic. Yet here’s the rub: worry is also a way to cope with life’s storms and struggles to meet our temporal needs.

Jesus’ words in today’s gospel have helped me many times—my thoughts stop in their tracks when I picture the Lord acknowledging my concerns, but assuring me all the same to seek what is above. It can be very challenging to do this—stress can be blinding, urgent and scary. But the Lord doesn’t dismiss our worries—he meets us right where we are, and reminds us to trust in him above all else.

When I’m in anxiety’s grip, I know God is calling me to pray. Seek first. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). We need to hope, and trust that God is with us—Easter Sunday comes after Good Friday. Sometimes God is as quiet as a whisper, other times as clear as day: Last night, I tucked into a new book, and the chapter ended with a quote from this very passage.

—Kristin Dillon is a lay minister who participates in Charis Ministries programs. She lives in Chicago with her husband and seven-month-old son.

Prayer

The living water that is the Holy Spirit quenches our lives because it tells us that we are loved by God and his children, that we can love God as his children, and that by his grace we can live as children of God, as did Jesus.

—Pope Francis


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