August 31, 2014

Mt 16: 21-27

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.

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

Suffering’s Value

Jesus makes it clear that he is destined to suffer death on the cross for the redemption of humanity. Apropos of our own suffering, Cardinal John O’Connor, a former archbishop of New York, preached a Good Friday homily in St. Patrick’s Cathedral and said: “We all suffer, every one of us, youngest to oldest.  We suffer loneliness, cancer, the loss of a wife, a husband, a child; we suffer misunderstandings, family conflicts, cosmetic disfigurement, various incapacities. The world is awash in pain. How tragic if that pain is wasted; that pain that could be united with the suffering of Jesus on the cross to achieve enormous good.”

When Jesus appeared to be utterly powerless, he was radiating the greatest power ever unleashed in the world. I too can unite a headache, a backache, a heartache with Christ on the cross, and wondrous graces flow into the heart of a widow who has lost her only son in Nigeria, a lonely teenager contemplating suicide in San Francisco, a woman ravaged with cancer in New York. My pain, trifling or overwhelming, has not gone wasted.

—Fr. Jim Serrick, S.J. is a long-time musician, liturgist, and pastor. He currently serves at Colombiere Jesuit Center, Clarkston, MI.

Prayer

Jesus Christ, may your death be my life, and in your dying may I learn how to live. May your struggles be my rest, your human weakness my courage, your embarrassment my honor, your passion my delight, your sadness my joy, in your humiliation may I be exalted.  In a word, may I find all my blessings in your trials. Amen.

—St. Peter Faber, S.J.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 30, 2014

1 Corinthians 1: 26-31

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.

He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption,in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

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 Special Friends

Today, I would like to direct your attention to the series of profound paradoxes found in the first reading: “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.”

I was 14 years old when my sister gave birth to Christine. I was chosen to be her godfather. She had curly black hair, and she was beautiful, and had the sweetest smile. When her sister was born and soon began to overtake her with her skills, we realized that Christine was mentally handicapped; her brain had been damaged at birth. It took many years for my sister and brother-in-law to come to terms with this great sadness. I think that they thought it was their fault.

One day my faith-filled brother-in-law came to peace about it, and he said to me with tears in his eyes: “You know, Bob, she is the only one of our six children whom I know is going to heaven.” Christine is still alive at age 66, and I will be visiting her just about the time that you are reading this.

—Fr. Robert Braunreuther, S.J., a Jesuit of the New England province, assists in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago, where he is also minister of the Arrupe House Jesuit community.

Prayer

Lord of all kindness, we ask your blessing for children who have special needs. We ask for their comfort when their living is hard. May they experience comfort if they ever feel abandoned. May they be blessed with strength to overcome challenges. May they be blessed with friendship to allow them to grow in love.

Lord, we pray for all of our children, that they may realize their dreams and live their lives in the fullness of your love and mercy. May the healing touch of mercy be there for our children. Let our hands be your hands, our words be your words and let your mercy flow through all of us who have your children in our care.

—Adapted from “A Prayer for Our Special Children,” Jan Bentham, OCSB


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 29, 2014

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Mark 6: 17-29

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him.

When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee.When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.”

She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

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

Approaching Christ Crucified

My grandma died a few weeks ago after a decade-long struggle with an ugly mix of depression and dementia. Hers was a gradual decline, losing memory like a cook slowly peeling away the layers of an onion. Her suffering was extended, her passion drawn out. John the Baptist’s life came to a much swifter end. While his time in captivity must have been unpleasant, his passion was short and his suffering relatively abrupt.

As Christian people, we proclaim Christ crucified. It seems absurd—to celebrate Christ’s pain.  But, really, it’s the genius of Christianity.  If God can be, and is, present in the agony of the cross, then where is he not present? John’s beheading, my grandma’s decline—these are places where God can be found.

To ponder today: how do I understand the ‘foolishness’ of worshiping a God who suffered?

—Mark Bartholet lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he works with the Jesuits at  St. Peter Catholic Church. He is also a graduate of John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Prayer

Lord, how could it be that you allowed your dear cousin John to be beheaded? How could it be that you allowed James Foley, beloved journalist, to suffer a similar fate. This we know — your grace and hope fortified their spirit into life everlasting. And their quest for the truth lives on and on in the countless lives touched by their courage and love.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 28, 2014

St. Augustine, bishop

Matthew 24: 42-51

Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

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-Moments

“Stay awake!  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” Growing up, I had a friend teach me about “God-Moments.” He said, “God-Moments are those times in your life when you can unexpectedly see God’s presence. These are the moments when God comes to you.” Within the past couple weeks my family welcomed the first grandchild, my niece.

The celebration of my niece’s birth is one of the greatest God-Moments I have experienced in my life. Despite my awareness of her arrival date, the impact her life has had on mine has been immeasurable and completely unexpected. The love I have for this little girl is unimaginable. Each time I see her and hold her, I can feel God holding me.

At times, my prayer is clouded by my desire to see God’s work in my life on my time.  Like St. Augustine, who speaks about his struggle to understand God’s concept of time in his Confessions, I too struggle and will occasionally forget God. Simply, my time does not equal God’s time. However, reflecting on the God-Moments in my life prepares my heart once again to be ready for the Lord to come. Seeing my niece giggle and smile reminds my heart to be open to receive God wholeheartedly.

—Lisa M. Sroka coordinates retreats and designs marketing materials for Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL. She is a Chicago vocalist and alum of Loyola University Chicago

Prayer

I call upon you, O God, my Mercy, who made me and did not forget me when I forgot you. I call you to come into my soul, for by inspiring it to long for you, you prepare it to receive You.

—from the Confessions of St. Augustine

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 27, 2014

St. Monica

Mt 23: 27-32

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors.

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

Tough Love

Have you ever heard the phrase “two-by-four person?” It refers to someone who finds it very difficult to grasp the meaning of a gentle suggestion or order. As a result, the person trying to communicate in a kind manner must simply take the old two-by-four out and knock the person over the head with the message in order to make certain they fully get it. Most parents and managers have probably run into some of these people. It can feel terrible to communicate so forcefully, but nevertheless necessary.

This certainly sounds like the point to which Jesus had gotten with the scribes and Pharisees by the time of the scene in today’s gospel. It does seem very harsh, but the stakes are high and it is time to speak with complete truth and honesty. It is time for “tough love.”

It is very appropriate we hear this gospel on the feast of St. Monica who shed many a tear over the life Augustine, her son, led for many years. I can imagine she had many very tough conversations with him about his poor choices.

Even when the old “two-by-four” has to be used, ask for the grace to swing it with love and compassion.

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

Prayer

Lord, direct me to make something good happen for at least one other person today. Guide me to make life easier for them, to  make that person feel happier. Perhaps I can do this by telling someone how hard/well they work.

Let me be an agent of your love. Help me to treat everyone I meet today as though they were my best friend, that I haven’t seen in a very long time. In other words, let me see you in them. In doing so, I believe, that I will become hyper alive!

—John Monczunski


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 26, 2014

2 Thes 2: 1-3a. 14-17

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

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

Strength in the Lord

News headlines these days are filled with global conflict and neighborhood violence, murder and mayhem of many kinds. Photos abound of refugees fleeing, of neighbors wounded and killed. Is this the way our world is supposed to function? Against this challenging backdrop, we move forward with our lives. Vacation time ends; children return to school; our calendars fill up amidst the chores of daily working and living.

St. Paul lived in times much like ours. The people of Thessalonia whom he visited became concerned about the end of the world with all that might mean. Amidst their calamaties and questions, Paul urges them to keep their focus on Jesus and his teachings. Paul’s words give us hope amidst the challenges we face in late August 2014:  “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, may God our Father who loved us and in his mercy gave us eternal consolation and hope, console your hearts and strengthen them for every good work and word.”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

The heavens bespeak the glory of God.
The firmament ablaze, a text of his works. Dawn
whispers to sunset
Dark to dark the word passes: glory glory.
All in a great silence, no tongue’s clamor—
yet the web of the world trembles conscious, as
of great winds passing.

The bridegroom’s tent is raised, a cry goes up:
He comes! A radiant sun rejoicing, presiding,
his wedding day. From end to end of the
universe his progress. No creature, no least
being but catches fire from him.

—Daniel Berrigan, S.J.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 25, 2014

St. Louis of France

2 Thes 1: 1-5. 11-12

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering.

To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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

Your Faith Flourishes Ever More

In reflecting on Paul’s letter, I unexpectedly was moved to tears.

Tomorrow, a prayer vigil to remember slain journalist James Foley and to show support for the Foley family will be held at 6 p.m. in Milwaukee’s Church of the Gesu. Suddenly it hit me that Paul’s words to the Thessalonians are beautifully and painfully addressed to the Foley family, the Marquette University community James so dearly loved, and all who mourn the loss of a true man for others.

Grace and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ to you, James, the Foley family, and all in your faith-filled community, says Saint Paul.

Thank God for you because your faith flourishes ever more, and the love of every one of you for one another grows ever greater.

Because of your endurance and faith in all your persecutions, your work in building the Kingdom of God continues. Even in the face of unfathomable evil.

We pray for you now, James, in gratitude for the good that you have brought to fulfillment through your faithful witness. And we ask for your intercession to give us the strength to respond to God’s call by continuing as a community of faith, hope, and love in a world that needs us more than ever.

Visit Marquette University’s website  for more information on the prayer vigil, the James Foley Scholarship Fund, and a moving letter James wrote his alma mater (class of 1996) in 2011 after his first abduction in Libya.

—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for theMidwest Jesuits and author of  Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.

Prayer

A Prayer for Journalists

St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers and journalists

Almighty God,

Strengthen and direct, we pray, the will of all whose work it is to write what many read, and to speak where many listen.

May we be bold to confront evil and injustice: understanding and compassionate of human weakness; rejecting alike the half-truth which deceives, and the slanted word which corrupts.

May the power which is ours, for good or ill, always be used with honesty and courage, with respect and integrity, so that when all here has been written, said and done, we may, unashamed, meet Thee face to face.

Amen

posted by Marquette University in honor of alumnus James Foley, 1973-2014


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 24, 2014

Mt 16: 13-20

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.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

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

Personal Experience

The heart of today’s gospel, it can be argued, is what Jesus said to Peter: “Blest are you, Simon, Son of John!  Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” This graced revelation is the foundation of Peter’s call and future ministry. Embedded here is also the foundation of our own call as Christians. In modern terms it can be expressed as a personal encounter with Jesus. Knowing (in the biblical sense) Jesus rather than knowing something about Jesus.

Pope Francis, in his pastoral letter, “The Joy of the Gospel” puts this front and center when he writes: “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, or a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them;t I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.”

Here is the root of the conversion experience to which all of us are continually called. Notice that, as with Peter, it is a direct personal revelation from God and not from “flesh and blood,” i.e. human sources. That is where it gets its power.  With that experience we become the “rock.”  Something powerful and beautiful burns within us.  We know beyond any doubt the “Joy of the Gospel.”  Our mission in life, rooted in such a personal experience, comes alive. Something to pray for each day!

—Fr. Jim Serrick, S.J. is a long-time musician, liturgist, and pastor. He currently serves at Colombiere Jesuit Center, Clarkston, MI.

Prayer

Lord, you ask a question to Peter that could be asked of us: “Who do you say that I am?” If someone were to review a video of my day, capturing both the daily routines and the more significant moments, would I be identified as your follower?

Lord, I recommit myself to you. Where I experience resistance to suffering and sacrifice, let me surrender in hope to you. Where I allow my ego and my fears to dilute my commitment to living for you, grant me your grace to move forward in your love and mercy.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 23, 2014

St. Rose of Lima

Matthew 23: 1-12

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long.

They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

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

Our One Teacher

“You have but one teacher” says Our Lord today. This made me think of something that I witnessed on Boston Common on a cold and terribly rainy autumn day in 1979. In his first visit to the United States, Pope John Paul II wanted to give his attention to the some 175,000, who study in and around the city. I was working at Boston College, and hundreds of our students marched right down Commonwealth Ave. to the Common. We stood in the rain awaiting the Pope. He did not disappoint us. He gave a stirring homily. It went something like this (you have to imagine his English through a thick Polish accent): “Students of Boston” (big cheer).

Then, with rhetorical cleverness he went on to mention some of the great universities and schools (over 150) in, and around Boston – each received cheers from their students, who were present. He had us in the palm of his hands. “You study physics, and chemistry, and philosophy and languages, mathematics and history, literature and biology. I say to you: Study Christ!” At those stirring words a mighty cheer went up, and I could swear my feet lifted out of the mud.

—Fr. Robert Braunreuther, S.J., a Jesuit of the New England province, assists in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago, where he is also minister of the Arrupe House Jesuit community.

Prayer

Help me to remember what is really important: that I am your child and you are my Father. You love me for who I am and how I live not what I look like or what I own. Let me praise you who sees into my heart, who is always with me and who eases my suffering.

—Prayer of St. Rose


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 22, 2014

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Ez 37: 1-14

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”

I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel.

And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act,” says the Lord.

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

Awakening

Imagine the ground Ezekiel walked. There are bones spread across a flatland stretching in all directions. No one buried these bones. No one protected them from scavengers or thieves.  They baked in the beating sun for months, maybe years, forgotten by all.  These are the bones of Israel, the bones of faith.

At first, this reading seems an odd choice for a Marian feast, but underneath the eerie imagery, is a profound statement.

The grim details of Ezekiel’s vision aren’t as much about Israel as they are about God, about the unimaginable vastness of God’s love.  For this God – this love God – will not just give the bones life, this God will give them his own life.  Today’s celebration is not just about Mary, but it’s about us.  It’s about how when our faith is an expanse of dry bones, God does more than send life. God reanimates us with God’s very self.

Take a moment to remember a time when God reawakened your faith, return to that grace, and offer a prayer of gratitude.

—Mark Bartholet works at St. Peter Catholic Church in Charlotte, NC, but is grateful to the parish of Our Lady of Victory in Tallmadge, OH, where his faith was first awakened.

Prayer

Lord, in the past when our faith felt dormant, we asked your Spirit to renew us. When you seemed distant, when our prayers felt neglected, when life felt so humdrum, we called out to you. You heard our prayers. Again we beseech you to increase our faith so we can bring your light to all.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

Welcome to FaithCP

Creighton Prep and the Midwest Jesuits have partnered to create FaithCP, a daily resource for prayer. FaithCP provides daily scripture, reflections, and prayers grounded in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.


Get our FREE App

Submit a Prayer Request

Archives

SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
22232425262728
293031    
       
   1234
262728    
       
       
       
    123
45678910
       
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   
       
      1
       
     12
       
     12
3456789
10111213141516
       

August 31, 2014

Mt 16: 21-27

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.

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

Suffering’s Value

Jesus makes it clear that he is destined to suffer death on the cross for the redemption of humanity. Apropos of our own suffering, Cardinal John O’Connor, a former archbishop of New York, preached a Good Friday homily in St. Patrick’s Cathedral and said: “We all suffer, every one of us, youngest to oldest.  We suffer loneliness, cancer, the loss of a wife, a husband, a child; we suffer misunderstandings, family conflicts, cosmetic disfigurement, various incapacities. The world is awash in pain. How tragic if that pain is wasted; that pain that could be united with the suffering of Jesus on the cross to achieve enormous good.”

When Jesus appeared to be utterly powerless, he was radiating the greatest power ever unleashed in the world. I too can unite a headache, a backache, a heartache with Christ on the cross, and wondrous graces flow into the heart of a widow who has lost her only son in Nigeria, a lonely teenager contemplating suicide in San Francisco, a woman ravaged with cancer in New York. My pain, trifling or overwhelming, has not gone wasted.

—Fr. Jim Serrick, S.J. is a long-time musician, liturgist, and pastor. He currently serves at Colombiere Jesuit Center, Clarkston, MI.

Prayer

Jesus Christ, may your death be my life, and in your dying may I learn how to live. May your struggles be my rest, your human weakness my courage, your embarrassment my honor, your passion my delight, your sadness my joy, in your humiliation may I be exalted.  In a word, may I find all my blessings in your trials. Amen.

—St. Peter Faber, S.J.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 30, 2014

1 Corinthians 1: 26-31

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.

He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption,in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

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 Special Friends

Today, I would like to direct your attention to the series of profound paradoxes found in the first reading: “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.”

I was 14 years old when my sister gave birth to Christine. I was chosen to be her godfather. She had curly black hair, and she was beautiful, and had the sweetest smile. When her sister was born and soon began to overtake her with her skills, we realized that Christine was mentally handicapped; her brain had been damaged at birth. It took many years for my sister and brother-in-law to come to terms with this great sadness. I think that they thought it was their fault.

One day my faith-filled brother-in-law came to peace about it, and he said to me with tears in his eyes: “You know, Bob, she is the only one of our six children whom I know is going to heaven.” Christine is still alive at age 66, and I will be visiting her just about the time that you are reading this.

—Fr. Robert Braunreuther, S.J., a Jesuit of the New England province, assists in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago, where he is also minister of the Arrupe House Jesuit community.

Prayer

Lord of all kindness, we ask your blessing for children who have special needs. We ask for their comfort when their living is hard. May they experience comfort if they ever feel abandoned. May they be blessed with strength to overcome challenges. May they be blessed with friendship to allow them to grow in love.

Lord, we pray for all of our children, that they may realize their dreams and live their lives in the fullness of your love and mercy. May the healing touch of mercy be there for our children. Let our hands be your hands, our words be your words and let your mercy flow through all of us who have your children in our care.

—Adapted from “A Prayer for Our Special Children,” Jan Bentham, OCSB


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 29, 2014

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Mark 6: 17-29

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him.

When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee.When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.”

She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

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

Approaching Christ Crucified

My grandma died a few weeks ago after a decade-long struggle with an ugly mix of depression and dementia. Hers was a gradual decline, losing memory like a cook slowly peeling away the layers of an onion. Her suffering was extended, her passion drawn out. John the Baptist’s life came to a much swifter end. While his time in captivity must have been unpleasant, his passion was short and his suffering relatively abrupt.

As Christian people, we proclaim Christ crucified. It seems absurd—to celebrate Christ’s pain.  But, really, it’s the genius of Christianity.  If God can be, and is, present in the agony of the cross, then where is he not present? John’s beheading, my grandma’s decline—these are places where God can be found.

To ponder today: how do I understand the ‘foolishness’ of worshiping a God who suffered?

—Mark Bartholet lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he works with the Jesuits at  St. Peter Catholic Church. He is also a graduate of John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Prayer

Lord, how could it be that you allowed your dear cousin John to be beheaded? How could it be that you allowed James Foley, beloved journalist, to suffer a similar fate. This we know — your grace and hope fortified their spirit into life everlasting. And their quest for the truth lives on and on in the countless lives touched by their courage and love.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 28, 2014

St. Augustine, bishop

Matthew 24: 42-51

Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

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-Moments

“Stay awake!  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” Growing up, I had a friend teach me about “God-Moments.” He said, “God-Moments are those times in your life when you can unexpectedly see God’s presence. These are the moments when God comes to you.” Within the past couple weeks my family welcomed the first grandchild, my niece.

The celebration of my niece’s birth is one of the greatest God-Moments I have experienced in my life. Despite my awareness of her arrival date, the impact her life has had on mine has been immeasurable and completely unexpected. The love I have for this little girl is unimaginable. Each time I see her and hold her, I can feel God holding me.

At times, my prayer is clouded by my desire to see God’s work in my life on my time.  Like St. Augustine, who speaks about his struggle to understand God’s concept of time in his Confessions, I too struggle and will occasionally forget God. Simply, my time does not equal God’s time. However, reflecting on the God-Moments in my life prepares my heart once again to be ready for the Lord to come. Seeing my niece giggle and smile reminds my heart to be open to receive God wholeheartedly.

—Lisa M. Sroka coordinates retreats and designs marketing materials for Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL. She is a Chicago vocalist and alum of Loyola University Chicago

Prayer

I call upon you, O God, my Mercy, who made me and did not forget me when I forgot you. I call you to come into my soul, for by inspiring it to long for you, you prepare it to receive You.

—from the Confessions of St. Augustine

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 27, 2014

St. Monica

Mt 23: 27-32

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors.

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

Tough Love

Have you ever heard the phrase “two-by-four person?” It refers to someone who finds it very difficult to grasp the meaning of a gentle suggestion or order. As a result, the person trying to communicate in a kind manner must simply take the old two-by-four out and knock the person over the head with the message in order to make certain they fully get it. Most parents and managers have probably run into some of these people. It can feel terrible to communicate so forcefully, but nevertheless necessary.

This certainly sounds like the point to which Jesus had gotten with the scribes and Pharisees by the time of the scene in today’s gospel. It does seem very harsh, but the stakes are high and it is time to speak with complete truth and honesty. It is time for “tough love.”

It is very appropriate we hear this gospel on the feast of St. Monica who shed many a tear over the life Augustine, her son, led for many years. I can imagine she had many very tough conversations with him about his poor choices.

Even when the old “two-by-four” has to be used, ask for the grace to swing it with love and compassion.

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

Prayer

Lord, direct me to make something good happen for at least one other person today. Guide me to make life easier for them, to  make that person feel happier. Perhaps I can do this by telling someone how hard/well they work.

Let me be an agent of your love. Help me to treat everyone I meet today as though they were my best friend, that I haven’t seen in a very long time. In other words, let me see you in them. In doing so, I believe, that I will become hyper alive!

—John Monczunski


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 26, 2014

2 Thes 2: 1-3a. 14-17

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

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

Strength in the Lord

News headlines these days are filled with global conflict and neighborhood violence, murder and mayhem of many kinds. Photos abound of refugees fleeing, of neighbors wounded and killed. Is this the way our world is supposed to function? Against this challenging backdrop, we move forward with our lives. Vacation time ends; children return to school; our calendars fill up amidst the chores of daily working and living.

St. Paul lived in times much like ours. The people of Thessalonia whom he visited became concerned about the end of the world with all that might mean. Amidst their calamaties and questions, Paul urges them to keep their focus on Jesus and his teachings. Paul’s words give us hope amidst the challenges we face in late August 2014:  “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, may God our Father who loved us and in his mercy gave us eternal consolation and hope, console your hearts and strengthen them for every good work and word.”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

The heavens bespeak the glory of God.
The firmament ablaze, a text of his works. Dawn
whispers to sunset
Dark to dark the word passes: glory glory.
All in a great silence, no tongue’s clamor—
yet the web of the world trembles conscious, as
of great winds passing.

The bridegroom’s tent is raised, a cry goes up:
He comes! A radiant sun rejoicing, presiding,
his wedding day. From end to end of the
universe his progress. No creature, no least
being but catches fire from him.

—Daniel Berrigan, S.J.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 25, 2014

St. Louis of France

2 Thes 1: 1-5. 11-12

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering.

To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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

Your Faith Flourishes Ever More

In reflecting on Paul’s letter, I unexpectedly was moved to tears.

Tomorrow, a prayer vigil to remember slain journalist James Foley and to show support for the Foley family will be held at 6 p.m. in Milwaukee’s Church of the Gesu. Suddenly it hit me that Paul’s words to the Thessalonians are beautifully and painfully addressed to the Foley family, the Marquette University community James so dearly loved, and all who mourn the loss of a true man for others.

Grace and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ to you, James, the Foley family, and all in your faith-filled community, says Saint Paul.

Thank God for you because your faith flourishes ever more, and the love of every one of you for one another grows ever greater.

Because of your endurance and faith in all your persecutions, your work in building the Kingdom of God continues. Even in the face of unfathomable evil.

We pray for you now, James, in gratitude for the good that you have brought to fulfillment through your faithful witness. And we ask for your intercession to give us the strength to respond to God’s call by continuing as a community of faith, hope, and love in a world that needs us more than ever.

Visit Marquette University’s website  for more information on the prayer vigil, the James Foley Scholarship Fund, and a moving letter James wrote his alma mater (class of 1996) in 2011 after his first abduction in Libya.

—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for theMidwest Jesuits and author of  Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.

Prayer

A Prayer for Journalists

St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers and journalists

Almighty God,

Strengthen and direct, we pray, the will of all whose work it is to write what many read, and to speak where many listen.

May we be bold to confront evil and injustice: understanding and compassionate of human weakness; rejecting alike the half-truth which deceives, and the slanted word which corrupts.

May the power which is ours, for good or ill, always be used with honesty and courage, with respect and integrity, so that when all here has been written, said and done, we may, unashamed, meet Thee face to face.

Amen

posted by Marquette University in honor of alumnus James Foley, 1973-2014


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 24, 2014

Mt 16: 13-20

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.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

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

Personal Experience

The heart of today’s gospel, it can be argued, is what Jesus said to Peter: “Blest are you, Simon, Son of John!  Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” This graced revelation is the foundation of Peter’s call and future ministry. Embedded here is also the foundation of our own call as Christians. In modern terms it can be expressed as a personal encounter with Jesus. Knowing (in the biblical sense) Jesus rather than knowing something about Jesus.

Pope Francis, in his pastoral letter, “The Joy of the Gospel” puts this front and center when he writes: “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, or a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them;t I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.”

Here is the root of the conversion experience to which all of us are continually called. Notice that, as with Peter, it is a direct personal revelation from God and not from “flesh and blood,” i.e. human sources. That is where it gets its power.  With that experience we become the “rock.”  Something powerful and beautiful burns within us.  We know beyond any doubt the “Joy of the Gospel.”  Our mission in life, rooted in such a personal experience, comes alive. Something to pray for each day!

—Fr. Jim Serrick, S.J. is a long-time musician, liturgist, and pastor. He currently serves at Colombiere Jesuit Center, Clarkston, MI.

Prayer

Lord, you ask a question to Peter that could be asked of us: “Who do you say that I am?” If someone were to review a video of my day, capturing both the daily routines and the more significant moments, would I be identified as your follower?

Lord, I recommit myself to you. Where I experience resistance to suffering and sacrifice, let me surrender in hope to you. Where I allow my ego and my fears to dilute my commitment to living for you, grant me your grace to move forward in your love and mercy.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 23, 2014

St. Rose of Lima

Matthew 23: 1-12

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long.

They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

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

Our One Teacher

“You have but one teacher” says Our Lord today. This made me think of something that I witnessed on Boston Common on a cold and terribly rainy autumn day in 1979. In his first visit to the United States, Pope John Paul II wanted to give his attention to the some 175,000, who study in and around the city. I was working at Boston College, and hundreds of our students marched right down Commonwealth Ave. to the Common. We stood in the rain awaiting the Pope. He did not disappoint us. He gave a stirring homily. It went something like this (you have to imagine his English through a thick Polish accent): “Students of Boston” (big cheer).

Then, with rhetorical cleverness he went on to mention some of the great universities and schools (over 150) in, and around Boston – each received cheers from their students, who were present. He had us in the palm of his hands. “You study physics, and chemistry, and philosophy and languages, mathematics and history, literature and biology. I say to you: Study Christ!” At those stirring words a mighty cheer went up, and I could swear my feet lifted out of the mud.

—Fr. Robert Braunreuther, S.J., a Jesuit of the New England province, assists in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago, where he is also minister of the Arrupe House Jesuit community.

Prayer

Help me to remember what is really important: that I am your child and you are my Father. You love me for who I am and how I live not what I look like or what I own. Let me praise you who sees into my heart, who is always with me and who eases my suffering.

—Prayer of St. Rose


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 22, 2014

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Ez 37: 1-14

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”

I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel.

And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act,” says the Lord.

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

Awakening

Imagine the ground Ezekiel walked. There are bones spread across a flatland stretching in all directions. No one buried these bones. No one protected them from scavengers or thieves.  They baked in the beating sun for months, maybe years, forgotten by all.  These are the bones of Israel, the bones of faith.

At first, this reading seems an odd choice for a Marian feast, but underneath the eerie imagery, is a profound statement.

The grim details of Ezekiel’s vision aren’t as much about Israel as they are about God, about the unimaginable vastness of God’s love.  For this God – this love God – will not just give the bones life, this God will give them his own life.  Today’s celebration is not just about Mary, but it’s about us.  It’s about how when our faith is an expanse of dry bones, God does more than send life. God reanimates us with God’s very self.

Take a moment to remember a time when God reawakened your faith, return to that grace, and offer a prayer of gratitude.

—Mark Bartholet works at St. Peter Catholic Church in Charlotte, NC, but is grateful to the parish of Our Lady of Victory in Tallmadge, OH, where his faith was first awakened.

Prayer

Lord, in the past when our faith felt dormant, we asked your Spirit to renew us. When you seemed distant, when our prayers felt neglected, when life felt so humdrum, we called out to you. You heard our prayers. Again we beseech you to increase our faith so we can bring your light to all.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!