November 30, 2014

Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”

See, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.

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

Advent…and You

You can be confident as Advent begins that God desires to meet you where you are, no matter what kind of shape (or shambles) your life is in. Begin Advent with the whole church by lighting a candle, perhaps on an Advent wreath if you have one. Imagine God sitting near you on the other side of the flame.

Then, as Isaiah does, tell God directly what you want to say. You might start off as Isaiah does by saying who God is for you. “You are our father, redeemer forever.” “You are the potter, and we are the clay, the work of your hands.” Imagine the strong, loving hands that shape your hair, your head, your muscles and limbs. Or you may have your own image for God—as friend, confidante, a whisper . . .

As you read Isaiah and speak to God, notice the intimacy in simply saying “You.” That one name—“You”—may be prayer enough.

You can also meander with Isaiah among your own complaints, questions, regrets, awe. As writer Kathleen Norris points out, the scriptures frequently change in an instant, just as our thoughts and emotions do. A lot or a little may fill your prayer.

The God you await this Advent is already waiting for you. How might you find the time, space, and watchfulness to help you meet?

—Mary Anne Reese is a lawyer, poet, and member of Bellarmine Chapel, a Jesuit parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Prayer

Creator of the stars at night,
Your people’s everlasting Light,
O Christ, Redeemer of us all,
We pray you hear us when we call.

—Advent evening hymn from 8th Century


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November 29, 2014

PS 95:1-2, 3-5, 6-7AB

O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.

The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed.

O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice!

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

Mar ana tha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

Longing seems like such a useless emotion. It doesn’t make the thing longed for come any faster. It seems to only make the one who longs unsatisfied, frustrated even. It’s not what one could call a ‘peaceful’ feeling, but one that upsets stability, seeming to condemn the present because it does not contain the future longed-for thing or person. It makes the person who feels it unsettled, aware of their incompleteness, their unhappiness, and of their inability to bring about what is desired. Who needs it!

And yet, the psalm response this last day of the Church year asks us to focus on the longing of our hearts, the cry “Mar ana tha!”  The good thing about this longing is it reminds us that, while we look to find God in all things here, the fullness of God is ahead, in the future. So perhaps we can put up with a little frustration right now.

What are the longings, the desires of your heart?

—Fr. Dennis Dillon, S.J. serves as pastoral minister at St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI. He is also an avid stamp collector and accomplished magician.

Prayer

For all that has been, thanks!
For all that is still to come, yes!
Mar ana tha!


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November 28, 2014

Lk 21: 29-33

Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

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

And The Word Was God

Jesus has been telling his disciples some pretty bad news. In the passages prior to this he has been speaking of the end of time with its disasters, earthquakes, persecutions, betrayals and death. Finally Jesus challenges his disciples and us with a new perspective, “my words will not pass away.” How can everything we’ve ever seen, known or heard of be gone while “words” live on? I think the answer lies at the introduction to John’s gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

I so often forget how painfully human I am.  I want my perspective to be reality. But Jesus reminds us again that God is the only reality.  Our self-reliance is an illusion.  Every moment, every breath is a gift from God.

—Mr. Gerald Skoch, JD, serves as Vice-President and Chief Mission Officer at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland, OH.

Prayer

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.  Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all.  Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.  I wish no more than this, O Lord.  Into your hands I commend my soul: I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.

—Charles de Foucauld, Prayer of Abandonment.


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November 27, 2014

Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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

Wattage

Several years ago I wandered the streets of Taos, New Mexico anxious, lonely and sad because I had no place to stay and no money to get a place. I heard about a woman named Merry Sunshine who regularly welcomed the stranger and fed the hungry. It was nine o’clock at night when I knocked on her door. She told me I could stay, to put my things over there, did I want something to eat? I was overcome with relief.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” I don’t know if there are more hopeful and comforting words in the New Testament, or in the history of words itself. There is a balm, there is shelter. There is a person who is not only a wise spiritual teacher pointing to peace and comfort. He himself is peace. He himself is rest.

What I found in the home of a woman with a commune-baby name was like some kind fainter wattage of what there is in Christ. Knowing him doesn’t instantly banish the hard moments of life. It does offer hope to get through them, a place to go when they come, a safe refuge in a dark fearful night.

—Joe Hoover, S.J. is a Jesuit brother writing and acting in New York. He serves as poetry editor of America magazine and also works at St. Ignatius Grammar School.

Prayer

Mighty God, Father of all
Compassionate God, Mother of all
bless every person I have met,
every face I have seen,
every voice I have heard,
especially those most dear;
bless every city, town, and
street that I have known,
bless every sight I have seen,
every sound I have heard,
every object I have touched.
In some mysterious way these
have all fashioned my life;
all that I am,
I have received.
Great God, bless the world.

Fr.  Jack Morris, SJ, cofounder, Jesuit Volunteer Corps

 


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November 26, 2014

St. John Berchmans, S.J.

Lk 21: 12-19

“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.

You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.

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

Faith’s Challenges

In reading today’s Gospel I immediately thought about the Christians in Syria and Iraq who are being persecuted for their faith. Hundreds of Christians have been killed and thousands have had to leave their homeland and find refuge in a foreign land.

As Americans suspect that we don’t think very often about being persecuted for our faith. We seldom hear of anyone threatened with physical harm because of their faith. But I wonder if there is a more subtle way our faith is challenged. I wonder about our society’s fascination with sports and entertainment and the lifestyles they promote. Or the advances in technology that seemed to have created a need and a dependence in our lives.

No, we are not persecuted for our faith, but we do face daily challenges to live an authentic Christian life.  Jesus reminds us to persevere.

What are the challenges to your faith in being a Christian today?

—Margaret Horner earned a Master of Pastoral Studies degree from St. Francis de Sales Seminary. She currently serves as the Director of Liturgy at Gesu Parish, Milwaukee, WI.

Prayer

Go before us, O Lord, in all the actions of this day before us. Grant that all we say with our lips we may believe in our hearts, and show forth in our daily lives. Amen.

—attributed to St. John Berchmans, S.J.


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November 25, 2014

St. Catherine of Alexandria

Lk 21: 5-11

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?”

And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.”

Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from 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

Things of God

Jesus knows how to get the attention of his listeners—he predicts the destruction of the temple. But when someone peaks our interest we want to know more, right? So they ask, “When will this be and what will be the sign?” The signs Jesus gives would have been familiar yet disturbing to his listeners. Jesus has their attention (a good thing) yet they will now be tempted to read into everything that seems to fulfill the prophecy.

I often find, in my life as a student, God gets my attention through a question (goods thing).  And then the enemy of our human nature latches on to that question—using it to stir up anxiety and an unnecessary urgency in finding the answer (things not of God). Saint Ignatius reminds us of the importance of discerning these interior movements and asking God, “What part of this is from you?”

—Brad Held, S.J., a Jesuit of the Wisconsin province, is currently a theology student at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He has just come from 3 years of teaching at Red Cloud Indian School on the Holy Rosary Jesuit Mission in Pine Ridge, SD.

Prayer

Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes, to discern and test the spirits that help me read the signs of the times, to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate them to others. Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave to St. Ignatius.

—Pedro Arrupe, S.J., in Hearts on Fire, ed. Michael Harter, S.J., © Loyola Press, Chicago, 2004.


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November 24, 2014

St. Andrew Dung-Lac & companions

Luke 21: 1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

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

Giving All

The widow embodies the spirit of the Suscipe prayer. She offered her entire livelihood and all of her life to God. The ease of her giving all that she could makes me pause and seriously reflect on my life’s stance.

Do I give all of my life to God? Do I return all of my life to God and invite God to do with it what God wants? Or do I hold back parts and pieces of my life such as my money, my gifts, and my relationships while telling God I am all in on our relationship?

I invite us today to sit with Jesus and with his help take stock of our lives. Where might he show us that we are not offering the totality of ourselves, our gifts, and our relationships to God?  Talk with Jesus about what arises in prayer.

What is a concrete step I can take today to move me towards embodying the Suscipe the way the widow does?

—Becky Eldredge is a spiritual director, writer, retreat facilitator and mom of three.  

Prayer

I can’t. You can. I’m yours. Show me the Way!


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November 23, 2014

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Matthew 25: 31- 46

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

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

All In Jesus’ Name

What have you done for the least of God’s children?

Have you fed them? Have you clothed them? Have you visited them in prison? Have you loved them when no one else would? Have you cared for them in the way that they needed, even when they could not ask? Have you spent the night waiting for them, praying for their safety? Have you asked God to let you suffer with them?

It is such a humble burden to care for another. When we take a risk and do for someone else the kindness that human dignity deserves, when we open our hearts to possibility and let our expectations go for a moment, we might just end up feeling exhausted and foolish, rather than blessed. It might be only long after, looking back, that we see the face of Christ reflected in their eyes.

On this feast of Christ the King, I ask myself: What have I done for Christ?

—Fr. Paul Lickteig, S.J. serves as parochial vicar at St. Xavier Church, Cincinnati OH.

Prayer

Gracious God,
Empty our hands of the barnacles of success
Empty our minds of all arrogant thought.
Empty our hearts of all false affection.

Loving Savior,
Fill our hands with the wounds of service.
Fill our minds with the vision of your beauty.
Fill our hearts with holy tears of peace.

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J.

 


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November 22, 2014

St. Cecilia

Psalm 144

Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;

my rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues the peoples under me.

O Lord, what are human beings that you regard them,
or mortals that you think of them?

They are like a breath;
their days are like a passing shadow.

Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down;
touch the mountains so that they smoke.

Make the lightning flash and scatter them;
send out your arrows and rout them.

Stretch out your hand from on high;
set me free and rescue me from the mighty waters,
from the hand of aliens,

whose mouths speak lies,
and whose right hands are false.

I will sing a new song to you,
O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,

the one who gives victory to kings,
who rescues his servant David.

Rescue me from the cruel sword,
and deliver me from the hand of aliens,
whose mouths speak lies, and whose right hands are false.

May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars, cut for the building of a palace.

May our barns be filled, with produce of every kind;
may our sheep increase by thousands,
by tens of thousands in our fields,

and may our cattle be heavy with young.
May there be no breach in the walls, no exile,
and no cry of distress in our streets.

Happy are the people to whom such blessings fall;
happy are the people whose God is 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

Blessed be the Lord, My Rock

My brother had two nicknames. The first came from our father who, when he first saw him as an infant, said, “He’s a big boy.” So my brother was Big Boy Dillon to everyone in the neighborhood. Even in his adulthood, neighbors referred to him as “Big Boy,” as if they didn’t know his given name was Jim. But he had a second nickname which he got from some of his friends when he was a teenager. To them, he was “Rock,” This was not meant as a term of praise. They gave him the name to describe how they saw him dive into the water when they went swimming – no grace or style, just like a rock slamming into the water.

In the psalm today God is described as a rock. And the verses explain that God is a source of strength and stability to those who are warriors and fighters. Except for those in the armed services, most of us are not warriors or fighters. Then how is God your rock? If you had to write verses for this psalm, how would you describe the circumstances in which God was a rock for you?

—Fr. Dennis Dillon, S.J. serves as pastoral minister at St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI. He is also an avid stamp collector and accomplished magician.

Prayer

Lord, may I be strong and of good courage; do not let me fear or be dismayed, for you,  my God, are with me wherever I go.

 


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November 21, 2014

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 19: 45-48

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words.

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

Hanging On His Words

What a great phrase, “all the people were hanging on his words.”  How rarely do we find a speaker that draws us in and mesmerizes us with his words. I can just picture the audience leaning in, hushed, straining to hear every word, every inflection. They surrounded Jesus with a presence so intense and strong that it acted as a very real barrier to those scribes who wanted him dead.  How many times do I listen like that?  Do I spend time with scripture and really focus?  Do I set aside times of solitude and silence to hear what Jesus is saying to me today?

At another time, many of Jesus’ followers left him when he spoke of offering his own flesh to eat.  Jesus asked the twelve if they wanted to leave as well. Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”  I think if I really believed Peter I would hang on to every word as well.

—Mr. Gerald Skoch, JD, serves as Vice-President and Chief Mission Officer at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland, OH.

Prayer

Dear Lord, it is so hard to listen.  I’m responding to emails, going to meetings, running errands, spending time with family, planning for the days and weeks ahead, all among the noise of news feeds, and televisions that distract and instigate fear.

Yet you, Lord, are the only word we need. You have the words of eternal life. Help me this day, Lord, to be still and know that you are God.

—Mr. Gerald Skoch, JD


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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.


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November 30, 2014

Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”

See, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.

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

Advent…and You

You can be confident as Advent begins that God desires to meet you where you are, no matter what kind of shape (or shambles) your life is in. Begin Advent with the whole church by lighting a candle, perhaps on an Advent wreath if you have one. Imagine God sitting near you on the other side of the flame.

Then, as Isaiah does, tell God directly what you want to say. You might start off as Isaiah does by saying who God is for you. “You are our father, redeemer forever.” “You are the potter, and we are the clay, the work of your hands.” Imagine the strong, loving hands that shape your hair, your head, your muscles and limbs. Or you may have your own image for God—as friend, confidante, a whisper . . .

As you read Isaiah and speak to God, notice the intimacy in simply saying “You.” That one name—“You”—may be prayer enough.

You can also meander with Isaiah among your own complaints, questions, regrets, awe. As writer Kathleen Norris points out, the scriptures frequently change in an instant, just as our thoughts and emotions do. A lot or a little may fill your prayer.

The God you await this Advent is already waiting for you. How might you find the time, space, and watchfulness to help you meet?

—Mary Anne Reese is a lawyer, poet, and member of Bellarmine Chapel, a Jesuit parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Prayer

Creator of the stars at night,
Your people’s everlasting Light,
O Christ, Redeemer of us all,
We pray you hear us when we call.

—Advent evening hymn from 8th Century


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November 29, 2014

PS 95:1-2, 3-5, 6-7AB

O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.

The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed.

O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice!

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

Mar ana tha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

Longing seems like such a useless emotion. It doesn’t make the thing longed for come any faster. It seems to only make the one who longs unsatisfied, frustrated even. It’s not what one could call a ‘peaceful’ feeling, but one that upsets stability, seeming to condemn the present because it does not contain the future longed-for thing or person. It makes the person who feels it unsettled, aware of their incompleteness, their unhappiness, and of their inability to bring about what is desired. Who needs it!

And yet, the psalm response this last day of the Church year asks us to focus on the longing of our hearts, the cry “Mar ana tha!”  The good thing about this longing is it reminds us that, while we look to find God in all things here, the fullness of God is ahead, in the future. So perhaps we can put up with a little frustration right now.

What are the longings, the desires of your heart?

—Fr. Dennis Dillon, S.J. serves as pastoral minister at St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI. He is also an avid stamp collector and accomplished magician.

Prayer

For all that has been, thanks!
For all that is still to come, yes!
Mar ana tha!


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November 28, 2014

Lk 21: 29-33

Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

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

And The Word Was God

Jesus has been telling his disciples some pretty bad news. In the passages prior to this he has been speaking of the end of time with its disasters, earthquakes, persecutions, betrayals and death. Finally Jesus challenges his disciples and us with a new perspective, “my words will not pass away.” How can everything we’ve ever seen, known or heard of be gone while “words” live on? I think the answer lies at the introduction to John’s gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

I so often forget how painfully human I am.  I want my perspective to be reality. But Jesus reminds us again that God is the only reality.  Our self-reliance is an illusion.  Every moment, every breath is a gift from God.

—Mr. Gerald Skoch, JD, serves as Vice-President and Chief Mission Officer at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland, OH.

Prayer

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.  Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all.  Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.  I wish no more than this, O Lord.  Into your hands I commend my soul: I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.

—Charles de Foucauld, Prayer of Abandonment.


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November 27, 2014

Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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

Wattage

Several years ago I wandered the streets of Taos, New Mexico anxious, lonely and sad because I had no place to stay and no money to get a place. I heard about a woman named Merry Sunshine who regularly welcomed the stranger and fed the hungry. It was nine o’clock at night when I knocked on her door. She told me I could stay, to put my things over there, did I want something to eat? I was overcome with relief.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” I don’t know if there are more hopeful and comforting words in the New Testament, or in the history of words itself. There is a balm, there is shelter. There is a person who is not only a wise spiritual teacher pointing to peace and comfort. He himself is peace. He himself is rest.

What I found in the home of a woman with a commune-baby name was like some kind fainter wattage of what there is in Christ. Knowing him doesn’t instantly banish the hard moments of life. It does offer hope to get through them, a place to go when they come, a safe refuge in a dark fearful night.

—Joe Hoover, S.J. is a Jesuit brother writing and acting in New York. He serves as poetry editor of America magazine and also works at St. Ignatius Grammar School.

Prayer

Mighty God, Father of all
Compassionate God, Mother of all
bless every person I have met,
every face I have seen,
every voice I have heard,
especially those most dear;
bless every city, town, and
street that I have known,
bless every sight I have seen,
every sound I have heard,
every object I have touched.
In some mysterious way these
have all fashioned my life;
all that I am,
I have received.
Great God, bless the world.

Fr.  Jack Morris, SJ, cofounder, Jesuit Volunteer Corps

 


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November 26, 2014

St. John Berchmans, S.J.

Lk 21: 12-19

“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.

You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.

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

Faith’s Challenges

In reading today’s Gospel I immediately thought about the Christians in Syria and Iraq who are being persecuted for their faith. Hundreds of Christians have been killed and thousands have had to leave their homeland and find refuge in a foreign land.

As Americans suspect that we don’t think very often about being persecuted for our faith. We seldom hear of anyone threatened with physical harm because of their faith. But I wonder if there is a more subtle way our faith is challenged. I wonder about our society’s fascination with sports and entertainment and the lifestyles they promote. Or the advances in technology that seemed to have created a need and a dependence in our lives.

No, we are not persecuted for our faith, but we do face daily challenges to live an authentic Christian life.  Jesus reminds us to persevere.

What are the challenges to your faith in being a Christian today?

—Margaret Horner earned a Master of Pastoral Studies degree from St. Francis de Sales Seminary. She currently serves as the Director of Liturgy at Gesu Parish, Milwaukee, WI.

Prayer

Go before us, O Lord, in all the actions of this day before us. Grant that all we say with our lips we may believe in our hearts, and show forth in our daily lives. Amen.

—attributed to St. John Berchmans, S.J.


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November 25, 2014

St. Catherine of Alexandria

Lk 21: 5-11

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?”

And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.”

Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from 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

Things of God

Jesus knows how to get the attention of his listeners—he predicts the destruction of the temple. But when someone peaks our interest we want to know more, right? So they ask, “When will this be and what will be the sign?” The signs Jesus gives would have been familiar yet disturbing to his listeners. Jesus has their attention (a good thing) yet they will now be tempted to read into everything that seems to fulfill the prophecy.

I often find, in my life as a student, God gets my attention through a question (goods thing).  And then the enemy of our human nature latches on to that question—using it to stir up anxiety and an unnecessary urgency in finding the answer (things not of God). Saint Ignatius reminds us of the importance of discerning these interior movements and asking God, “What part of this is from you?”

—Brad Held, S.J., a Jesuit of the Wisconsin province, is currently a theology student at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He has just come from 3 years of teaching at Red Cloud Indian School on the Holy Rosary Jesuit Mission in Pine Ridge, SD.

Prayer

Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes, to discern and test the spirits that help me read the signs of the times, to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate them to others. Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave to St. Ignatius.

—Pedro Arrupe, S.J., in Hearts on Fire, ed. Michael Harter, S.J., © Loyola Press, Chicago, 2004.


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November 24, 2014

St. Andrew Dung-Lac & companions

Luke 21: 1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

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

Giving All

The widow embodies the spirit of the Suscipe prayer. She offered her entire livelihood and all of her life to God. The ease of her giving all that she could makes me pause and seriously reflect on my life’s stance.

Do I give all of my life to God? Do I return all of my life to God and invite God to do with it what God wants? Or do I hold back parts and pieces of my life such as my money, my gifts, and my relationships while telling God I am all in on our relationship?

I invite us today to sit with Jesus and with his help take stock of our lives. Where might he show us that we are not offering the totality of ourselves, our gifts, and our relationships to God?  Talk with Jesus about what arises in prayer.

What is a concrete step I can take today to move me towards embodying the Suscipe the way the widow does?

—Becky Eldredge is a spiritual director, writer, retreat facilitator and mom of three.  

Prayer

I can’t. You can. I’m yours. Show me the Way!


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November 23, 2014

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Matthew 25: 31- 46

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

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

All In Jesus’ Name

What have you done for the least of God’s children?

Have you fed them? Have you clothed them? Have you visited them in prison? Have you loved them when no one else would? Have you cared for them in the way that they needed, even when they could not ask? Have you spent the night waiting for them, praying for their safety? Have you asked God to let you suffer with them?

It is such a humble burden to care for another. When we take a risk and do for someone else the kindness that human dignity deserves, when we open our hearts to possibility and let our expectations go for a moment, we might just end up feeling exhausted and foolish, rather than blessed. It might be only long after, looking back, that we see the face of Christ reflected in their eyes.

On this feast of Christ the King, I ask myself: What have I done for Christ?

—Fr. Paul Lickteig, S.J. serves as parochial vicar at St. Xavier Church, Cincinnati OH.

Prayer

Gracious God,
Empty our hands of the barnacles of success
Empty our minds of all arrogant thought.
Empty our hearts of all false affection.

Loving Savior,
Fill our hands with the wounds of service.
Fill our minds with the vision of your beauty.
Fill our hearts with holy tears of peace.

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J.

 


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November 22, 2014

St. Cecilia

Psalm 144

Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;

my rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues the peoples under me.

O Lord, what are human beings that you regard them,
or mortals that you think of them?

They are like a breath;
their days are like a passing shadow.

Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down;
touch the mountains so that they smoke.

Make the lightning flash and scatter them;
send out your arrows and rout them.

Stretch out your hand from on high;
set me free and rescue me from the mighty waters,
from the hand of aliens,

whose mouths speak lies,
and whose right hands are false.

I will sing a new song to you,
O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,

the one who gives victory to kings,
who rescues his servant David.

Rescue me from the cruel sword,
and deliver me from the hand of aliens,
whose mouths speak lies, and whose right hands are false.

May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars, cut for the building of a palace.

May our barns be filled, with produce of every kind;
may our sheep increase by thousands,
by tens of thousands in our fields,

and may our cattle be heavy with young.
May there be no breach in the walls, no exile,
and no cry of distress in our streets.

Happy are the people to whom such blessings fall;
happy are the people whose God is 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

Blessed be the Lord, My Rock

My brother had two nicknames. The first came from our father who, when he first saw him as an infant, said, “He’s a big boy.” So my brother was Big Boy Dillon to everyone in the neighborhood. Even in his adulthood, neighbors referred to him as “Big Boy,” as if they didn’t know his given name was Jim. But he had a second nickname which he got from some of his friends when he was a teenager. To them, he was “Rock,” This was not meant as a term of praise. They gave him the name to describe how they saw him dive into the water when they went swimming – no grace or style, just like a rock slamming into the water.

In the psalm today God is described as a rock. And the verses explain that God is a source of strength and stability to those who are warriors and fighters. Except for those in the armed services, most of us are not warriors or fighters. Then how is God your rock? If you had to write verses for this psalm, how would you describe the circumstances in which God was a rock for you?

—Fr. Dennis Dillon, S.J. serves as pastoral minister at St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI. He is also an avid stamp collector and accomplished magician.

Prayer

Lord, may I be strong and of good courage; do not let me fear or be dismayed, for you,  my God, are with me wherever I go.

 


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November 21, 2014

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 19: 45-48

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words.

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

Hanging On His Words

What a great phrase, “all the people were hanging on his words.”  How rarely do we find a speaker that draws us in and mesmerizes us with his words. I can just picture the audience leaning in, hushed, straining to hear every word, every inflection. They surrounded Jesus with a presence so intense and strong that it acted as a very real barrier to those scribes who wanted him dead.  How many times do I listen like that?  Do I spend time with scripture and really focus?  Do I set aside times of solitude and silence to hear what Jesus is saying to me today?

At another time, many of Jesus’ followers left him when he spoke of offering his own flesh to eat.  Jesus asked the twelve if they wanted to leave as well. Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”  I think if I really believed Peter I would hang on to every word as well.

—Mr. Gerald Skoch, JD, serves as Vice-President and Chief Mission Officer at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland, OH.

Prayer

Dear Lord, it is so hard to listen.  I’m responding to emails, going to meetings, running errands, spending time with family, planning for the days and weeks ahead, all among the noise of news feeds, and televisions that distract and instigate fear.

Yet you, Lord, are the only word we need. You have the words of eternal life. Help me this day, Lord, to be still and know that you are God.

—Mr. Gerald Skoch, JD


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