May 31, 2015

SOLEMNITY OF THE HOLY TRINITY

Mt 28: 16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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

In the Trinity

Jesus constantly searches for disciples to share his mission. He doesn’t always succeed, even with privileged friends like Peter, but he keeps inviting isolated people like Matthew the tax collector into community.

Although Jesus loves praying in silence, he is never alone for long. This is not an extrovert’s preference but a mirror of the love between Father, Son and Spirit in the Trinity.

Matthew ends his Gospel with Jesus gathering his scattered and fragile disciples on a mountain before sending them out in the name of the Trinity to make the community larger.

Many people are interested in spirituality but not religion, meaning they want to find God without belonging to a community. Ironically, the God they will find, if their quest succeeds, is not a solitary individual, but a community of three Who want to include all of us.

Why wouldn’t I accept their invitation?

—Fr. Tom Rochford, S.J. is moving to Denver where he will serve as chaplain and artist-in-residence at Regis Jesuit High School. He is an artist (primarily oil painting), photographer and videographer.

Prayer

Father all powerful, Christ Lord and Savior, Holy Spirit of love—we praise you!
Be near to the people formed in your image, close to the world your love brings to life. Amen.


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May 30, 2015

Mk 11: 27-33

Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?” —they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

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

Living the Holy Spirit’s Gifts

We come to the end of Pentecost week—a time when we bless God for the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are strong in our souls each day of the year. We list these gifts as wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, holiness, and reverence for the God’s life within us. These gifts mark our commitment to know and understand God’s ways, to sharpen our instinct for service in God’s name, to practice our faith in the concrete day-to-day opportunities that come our way wherever we are, whatever we do. Our faith is not a trophy to be set on a shelf. It is the living, breathing presence of God’s Holy Spirit stretching me to prayer and practical service of my family, my parish, my neighborhood. Life in the Spirit is truly life in God’s love!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

All powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

—Prayer from the Rite of Confirmation


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May 29, 2015

Mark 11: 11-26

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?

But you have made it a den of robbers.”

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

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 Powerful Words

The traffic made me late, so I was not really prepared for my morning presentation. Then the headache started. When my friend called complaining that I had not visited in a long time, I said some words that I immediately regretted. I hurt my friend. Did Jesus regret his words to the fig tree? He was clearly having a bad day. What advice would he give us when we are having a bad day? His words at the end of today’s Gospel passage are helpful: “forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance.” Hmm, wish I would have thought of that before attacking my friend. Maybe Jesus knows we can hurt people when we are having a bad day. He certainly is telling us that our thoughts and words and our prayers have power. Power for good, but also for ill. We need to be careful how we use them!

—Fr. Tim Hipskind, S.J. is co-director of the Institute for Leadership and Service, as well as Director of Service Learning at the University of Detroit Mercy. He regularly ministers to Hispanic Catholics in the Detroit area.

Prayer

Life-giving God,, there are times when I need to speak, and times when I need to be quiet. Give me the wisdom to know the difference and the courage to respond accordingly. “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”  (Psalm 141:3)

 


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May 28, 2015

Mark 10: 46-52

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

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

To Love and To Serve

I close my eyes and imagine a world as I wish it to be, picturing a cloudless blue sky, sun dancing on the lake water. How beautiful, in my mind’s eye!

I lie down to sleep, closing my eyes, wanting to write my own dream. Will I open my eyes to a dreary cold morning and see a world with a homeless blind person sitting on a curb, someone who wishes to see what most people see? Will I walk away, because I don’t know this stranger?

Or, will I awake to a new day and walk toward this person as you would, Lord, so that I, too, may see, that I may look deeper into the heart of this person.

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God!”  Help me to find you, God, in all people, in every circumstance, in all things.

—Kathleen Smolinski has spent her entire working life with the Jesuits, currently as an assistant in the Chicago-Detroit provincial’s office. She is the proud mother of three, grandmother of sixteen, and great-grandma of two.

Prayer

The Risen Christ is with us this day
And he continues to need each one of you.
Jesus needs your eyes to continue to see.
He needs your strength to continue to work.
He needs your voice to continue to preach.
He needs your hands to continue to bless.
He needs your heart to continue to love.
And Jesus needs your whole being
to continue to build up his body, the Church.
As we believe, so let us live!

—Cardinal Joseph Bernardin

 


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May 27, 2015

St. Augustine of Canterbury

Mark 10: 32-45

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles;they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

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

Radical Love

Time and again the disciples just don’t get it. And for that, we can take great consolation.

It’s easy to criticize James and John for missing Jesus’ message in favor of their own self-interest. But deep down, we know that our own petty concerns often cloud our relationship with Jesus.

Thankfully, Jesus is patient with the disciples and with us. Time and again he reveals that having a seat in the kingdom isn’t about winning a competition or gaining power over others. It’s about radical love and serving others.

In his Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius invites us to walk with Jesus through four weeks or “movements.” In the first two, we come to know ourselves as loved sinners and respond in generosity by serving God and others to the best of our ability. In the third week, we contemplate the Cross and God’s faithfulness and love for us. In the final week, we are sent forth by the Risen Christ to find God in all things and serve the world in concrete ways.

Today, how can we “get it” by focusing on God’s love and serving wherever there is a need, no matter how small?

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

Prayer

Lord, we search for true success. We seek the same for our families. You have given us the pathway to fulfillment. “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” May our choices in  how we spend our time follow your call to greatness.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

 


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May 26, 2015

St. Philip Neri

Mark 10: 28-31

Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

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

Sacrifice Revisited

I imagine, like the disciples, we’ve all found ourselves saying to God: “I have given up so much to follow you….What’s in it for me?” Far from selfish, this question is genuinely human.

In trying to live our lives as Christians we come to know sacrifice. We sacrifice our freedom, desires, and dreams when we commit to a vocation, a relationship, a job, or a child. We make material and physical sacrifices for the people we love. We sacrifice popularity, recognition, or acceptance when we stand up for what is right. In whatever form it takes, sacrifice is not comfortable or easy. It often seems a burden and a loss.

In today’s Gospel, however, Jesus flips our view upside down: paradoxically, sacrifice leads to joy, contentment, and fulfilment. A meaningful and rich life comes through putting ourselves aside for others. And each time we do, God promises fulfillment one hundred times over.

In what ways has God blessed you through the commitments you’ve made? Ask God today for the grace of seeing your sacrifices in a new light.

—Aaron Pierre, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin Province, is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord, we place our trust in your intimate care for our well-being. You invite us day by day to “Come, follow me.”  It doesn’t matter if we feel worthy of your call; it doesn’t matter if we feel close or distant to you. Your heart’s desire is to accompany us from sunrise to sunset. With gratitude we respond, “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

 


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May 25, 2015

Mark 10: 17-27

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’”

He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

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

Gospel Poverty

Today’s Gospel reading reminds us that it is not enough to keep all of God’s commandments but also to cultivate a generous heart that alleviates the suffering of the poor. Note that Jesus does not define what poverty is or what it looks like here. Pope Francis, however, outlines three kinds of poverty for us—material poverty (lacking the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter), moral poverty (slavery to vice and sinful habits and practices), and lastly, spiritual poverty (those who do not know or have rejected the love of Christ). If we are rich while others are poor, we are warned that it is “easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Reflect upon poverty and wealth in your life. In what areas of your life are you materially, morally, and spiritually poor?

—Julianne Stanz is a speaker, writer and mother of two, originally from Ireland. She currently serves as Director of the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay, WI.

Prayer

Take, Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will. All that I have and receive come from you. To you I return them to be used wholly according to your will. Give me only your love and grace for with these I am rich enough and need nothing more.

—St. Ignatius Loyola

 


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May 24, 2015

SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST

John 20: 19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

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

Movements of the Spirit

On Pentecost, Jewish pilgrims in Jerusalem from many different cultures understood the disciples, as though they were speaking in all the pilgrims’ own languages. The disciples didn’t have a magical gift of multiple languages; the gift was understanding.

The barrier between people was dissolved; strangers could understand the Good News about Jesus. The old covenant was based on exclusion, since being faithful meant avoiding the “other,” whether Samaritan, Gerasene, Greek or Roman. The new covenant is inclusive; God’s forgiving love has no boundaries.

The Spirit showed strangers in Jerusalem what they needed to do. We need that even more today as terrorists try to provoke a religious war by scaring us into focusing on what divides us. God’s true gift is the invitation to become part of the one Body of Christ, who unites all people.

Would I welcome the gift of being understood? What would I say about Jesus?

—Fr. Tom Rochford, S.J. is moving to Denver where he will serve as chaplain and artist-in-residence at Regis Jesuit High School. He is an artist (primarily oil painting), photographer and videographer.

Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, come. And from your celestial home, shed a ray of light divine.
Come, Father of the poor. Come, source of all our store. Come within our hearts to shine.
You, of comforters the best. You my soul’s most welcome guest. Sweet refreshment here below.

In our labor, rest most sweet;  Grateful coolness in the heat; Solace in the midst of woe.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew; on our dryness pour your dew; wash the stains of guilt away.
Bend the stubborn heart and will; melt the frozen, warm the chill; guide the steps that go astray.
Give us virtue’s sure reward. Give us your salvation, Lord. Give us joy that never ends. Amen! Alleluia!

—”Veni Sancte Spiritus,” traditional Pentecost hymn.

 


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May 23, 2015

John 21: 20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” So the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

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

Follow Me

This weekend brings us to the end of our 2015 Lent and Easter journey with the Lord. St. Ignatius encourages us as such moments to “go back and notice” the ways God has moved in our hearts during over this season that began on Ash Wednesday. What have been the gifts and graces of this holy season? What challenges have I met? How has the Risen Lord invited me to welcome him into my heart and home, my work and leisure? And just how will I incorporate this personal and spiritual growth into the summer months to come?

Today’s gospel offers us an appropriate insight and question. Peter is concerned about John and his future. Jesus simply says “Your business is to follow me.” Helpful advice for each one of us this weekend of transition.

―The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

“For all that has been, thanks. For all that shall be, Yes!”

―Dag Hammerskjӧld

 


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May 22, 2015

St. Rita of Cascia

Acts 25: 13b-21

After several days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to welcome Festus. Since they were staying there several days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man here who was left in prison by Felix. When I was in Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me about him and asked for a sentence against him. I told them that it was not the custom of the Romans to hand over anyone before the accused had met the accusers face to face and had been given an opportunity to make a defense against the charge.

So when they met here, I lost no time, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. When the accusers stood up, they did not charge him with any of the crimes that I was expecting. Instead they had certain points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. Since I was at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wished to go to Jerusalem and be tried there on these charges. But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of his Imperial Majesty, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to the emperor.”

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

On the Right Path

Since Easter the readings from Acts vividly depict Paul’s faith journey: his participation in Stephen’s stoning; his being struck by a blinding light with a voice asking, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”; his difficulties in preaching about the Way to the Jewish community and non-believers; and his disputes with Peter and others over the necessity to adhere to certain Jewish practices. Paul, now charged with blaspheming the Jewish faith, appears before the Roman Governor and the Procurator and faces his accusers.

Paul recognizes his life is drawing to a close and all that remains is a journey to Rome and a hearing before Emperor Nero. In the midst of this flurry of court activity and accusations, Paul’s message is clear: Jesus has risen from the dead. He is alive!

How is this “certain Jesus” alive in my heart, words, and actions? How will I develop an ability to recognize and act on the ”Paul moment” in my life today?

―George Penman Sullivan, Jr. is a Jesuit-educated lay leader who helped found Chicago’s Ignatian Volunteer Corps. He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Wilmette IL, and have four children and three grandchildren.

Prayer

Pope Francis writes: “There is a temptation to seek God in the past or in a possible future. God is certainly in the past because we can see the footprints. And God is also in the future as a promise. But the ‘concrete’ God, so to speak, is today.

“The senses that find God are the ones St. Ignatius called spiritual senses. A contemplative attitude is necessary. Profound peace, spiritual consolation, love of God, and love of all things in God—this is the sign that you are on this right path.”

Today I pray that I might recognize the signs of “this right path.”

―George Penman Sullivan, Jr.

 


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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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May 31, 2015

SOLEMNITY OF THE HOLY TRINITY

Mt 28: 16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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

In the Trinity

Jesus constantly searches for disciples to share his mission. He doesn’t always succeed, even with privileged friends like Peter, but he keeps inviting isolated people like Matthew the tax collector into community.

Although Jesus loves praying in silence, he is never alone for long. This is not an extrovert’s preference but a mirror of the love between Father, Son and Spirit in the Trinity.

Matthew ends his Gospel with Jesus gathering his scattered and fragile disciples on a mountain before sending them out in the name of the Trinity to make the community larger.

Many people are interested in spirituality but not religion, meaning they want to find God without belonging to a community. Ironically, the God they will find, if their quest succeeds, is not a solitary individual, but a community of three Who want to include all of us.

Why wouldn’t I accept their invitation?

—Fr. Tom Rochford, S.J. is moving to Denver where he will serve as chaplain and artist-in-residence at Regis Jesuit High School. He is an artist (primarily oil painting), photographer and videographer.

Prayer

Father all powerful, Christ Lord and Savior, Holy Spirit of love—we praise you!
Be near to the people formed in your image, close to the world your love brings to life. Amen.


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May 30, 2015

Mk 11: 27-33

Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?” —they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

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

Living the Holy Spirit’s Gifts

We come to the end of Pentecost week—a time when we bless God for the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are strong in our souls each day of the year. We list these gifts as wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, holiness, and reverence for the God’s life within us. These gifts mark our commitment to know and understand God’s ways, to sharpen our instinct for service in God’s name, to practice our faith in the concrete day-to-day opportunities that come our way wherever we are, whatever we do. Our faith is not a trophy to be set on a shelf. It is the living, breathing presence of God’s Holy Spirit stretching me to prayer and practical service of my family, my parish, my neighborhood. Life in the Spirit is truly life in God’s love!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

All powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

—Prayer from the Rite of Confirmation


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May 29, 2015

Mark 11: 11-26

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?

But you have made it a den of robbers.”

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

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 Powerful Words

The traffic made me late, so I was not really prepared for my morning presentation. Then the headache started. When my friend called complaining that I had not visited in a long time, I said some words that I immediately regretted. I hurt my friend. Did Jesus regret his words to the fig tree? He was clearly having a bad day. What advice would he give us when we are having a bad day? His words at the end of today’s Gospel passage are helpful: “forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance.” Hmm, wish I would have thought of that before attacking my friend. Maybe Jesus knows we can hurt people when we are having a bad day. He certainly is telling us that our thoughts and words and our prayers have power. Power for good, but also for ill. We need to be careful how we use them!

—Fr. Tim Hipskind, S.J. is co-director of the Institute for Leadership and Service, as well as Director of Service Learning at the University of Detroit Mercy. He regularly ministers to Hispanic Catholics in the Detroit area.

Prayer

Life-giving God,, there are times when I need to speak, and times when I need to be quiet. Give me the wisdom to know the difference and the courage to respond accordingly. “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”  (Psalm 141:3)

 


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May 28, 2015

Mark 10: 46-52

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

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

To Love and To Serve

I close my eyes and imagine a world as I wish it to be, picturing a cloudless blue sky, sun dancing on the lake water. How beautiful, in my mind’s eye!

I lie down to sleep, closing my eyes, wanting to write my own dream. Will I open my eyes to a dreary cold morning and see a world with a homeless blind person sitting on a curb, someone who wishes to see what most people see? Will I walk away, because I don’t know this stranger?

Or, will I awake to a new day and walk toward this person as you would, Lord, so that I, too, may see, that I may look deeper into the heart of this person.

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God!”  Help me to find you, God, in all people, in every circumstance, in all things.

—Kathleen Smolinski has spent her entire working life with the Jesuits, currently as an assistant in the Chicago-Detroit provincial’s office. She is the proud mother of three, grandmother of sixteen, and great-grandma of two.

Prayer

The Risen Christ is with us this day
And he continues to need each one of you.
Jesus needs your eyes to continue to see.
He needs your strength to continue to work.
He needs your voice to continue to preach.
He needs your hands to continue to bless.
He needs your heart to continue to love.
And Jesus needs your whole being
to continue to build up his body, the Church.
As we believe, so let us live!

—Cardinal Joseph Bernardin

 


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May 27, 2015

St. Augustine of Canterbury

Mark 10: 32-45

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles;they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

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

Radical Love

Time and again the disciples just don’t get it. And for that, we can take great consolation.

It’s easy to criticize James and John for missing Jesus’ message in favor of their own self-interest. But deep down, we know that our own petty concerns often cloud our relationship with Jesus.

Thankfully, Jesus is patient with the disciples and with us. Time and again he reveals that having a seat in the kingdom isn’t about winning a competition or gaining power over others. It’s about radical love and serving others.

In his Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius invites us to walk with Jesus through four weeks or “movements.” In the first two, we come to know ourselves as loved sinners and respond in generosity by serving God and others to the best of our ability. In the third week, we contemplate the Cross and God’s faithfulness and love for us. In the final week, we are sent forth by the Risen Christ to find God in all things and serve the world in concrete ways.

Today, how can we “get it” by focusing on God’s love and serving wherever there is a need, no matter how small?

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

Prayer

Lord, we search for true success. We seek the same for our families. You have given us the pathway to fulfillment. “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” May our choices in  how we spend our time follow your call to greatness.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

 


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May 26, 2015

St. Philip Neri

Mark 10: 28-31

Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

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

Sacrifice Revisited

I imagine, like the disciples, we’ve all found ourselves saying to God: “I have given up so much to follow you….What’s in it for me?” Far from selfish, this question is genuinely human.

In trying to live our lives as Christians we come to know sacrifice. We sacrifice our freedom, desires, and dreams when we commit to a vocation, a relationship, a job, or a child. We make material and physical sacrifices for the people we love. We sacrifice popularity, recognition, or acceptance when we stand up for what is right. In whatever form it takes, sacrifice is not comfortable or easy. It often seems a burden and a loss.

In today’s Gospel, however, Jesus flips our view upside down: paradoxically, sacrifice leads to joy, contentment, and fulfilment. A meaningful and rich life comes through putting ourselves aside for others. And each time we do, God promises fulfillment one hundred times over.

In what ways has God blessed you through the commitments you’ve made? Ask God today for the grace of seeing your sacrifices in a new light.

—Aaron Pierre, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin Province, is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord, we place our trust in your intimate care for our well-being. You invite us day by day to “Come, follow me.”  It doesn’t matter if we feel worthy of your call; it doesn’t matter if we feel close or distant to you. Your heart’s desire is to accompany us from sunrise to sunset. With gratitude we respond, “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

 


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May 25, 2015

Mark 10: 17-27

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’”

He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

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

Gospel Poverty

Today’s Gospel reading reminds us that it is not enough to keep all of God’s commandments but also to cultivate a generous heart that alleviates the suffering of the poor. Note that Jesus does not define what poverty is or what it looks like here. Pope Francis, however, outlines three kinds of poverty for us—material poverty (lacking the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter), moral poverty (slavery to vice and sinful habits and practices), and lastly, spiritual poverty (those who do not know or have rejected the love of Christ). If we are rich while others are poor, we are warned that it is “easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Reflect upon poverty and wealth in your life. In what areas of your life are you materially, morally, and spiritually poor?

—Julianne Stanz is a speaker, writer and mother of two, originally from Ireland. She currently serves as Director of the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay, WI.

Prayer

Take, Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will. All that I have and receive come from you. To you I return them to be used wholly according to your will. Give me only your love and grace for with these I am rich enough and need nothing more.

—St. Ignatius Loyola

 


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May 24, 2015

SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST

John 20: 19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

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

Movements of the Spirit

On Pentecost, Jewish pilgrims in Jerusalem from many different cultures understood the disciples, as though they were speaking in all the pilgrims’ own languages. The disciples didn’t have a magical gift of multiple languages; the gift was understanding.

The barrier between people was dissolved; strangers could understand the Good News about Jesus. The old covenant was based on exclusion, since being faithful meant avoiding the “other,” whether Samaritan, Gerasene, Greek or Roman. The new covenant is inclusive; God’s forgiving love has no boundaries.

The Spirit showed strangers in Jerusalem what they needed to do. We need that even more today as terrorists try to provoke a religious war by scaring us into focusing on what divides us. God’s true gift is the invitation to become part of the one Body of Christ, who unites all people.

Would I welcome the gift of being understood? What would I say about Jesus?

—Fr. Tom Rochford, S.J. is moving to Denver where he will serve as chaplain and artist-in-residence at Regis Jesuit High School. He is an artist (primarily oil painting), photographer and videographer.

Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, come. And from your celestial home, shed a ray of light divine.
Come, Father of the poor. Come, source of all our store. Come within our hearts to shine.
You, of comforters the best. You my soul’s most welcome guest. Sweet refreshment here below.

In our labor, rest most sweet;  Grateful coolness in the heat; Solace in the midst of woe.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew; on our dryness pour your dew; wash the stains of guilt away.
Bend the stubborn heart and will; melt the frozen, warm the chill; guide the steps that go astray.
Give us virtue’s sure reward. Give us your salvation, Lord. Give us joy that never ends. Amen! Alleluia!

—”Veni Sancte Spiritus,” traditional Pentecost hymn.

 


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May 23, 2015

John 21: 20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” So the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

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

Follow Me

This weekend brings us to the end of our 2015 Lent and Easter journey with the Lord. St. Ignatius encourages us as such moments to “go back and notice” the ways God has moved in our hearts during over this season that began on Ash Wednesday. What have been the gifts and graces of this holy season? What challenges have I met? How has the Risen Lord invited me to welcome him into my heart and home, my work and leisure? And just how will I incorporate this personal and spiritual growth into the summer months to come?

Today’s gospel offers us an appropriate insight and question. Peter is concerned about John and his future. Jesus simply says “Your business is to follow me.” Helpful advice for each one of us this weekend of transition.

―The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

“For all that has been, thanks. For all that shall be, Yes!”

―Dag Hammerskjӧld

 


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May 22, 2015

St. Rita of Cascia

Acts 25: 13b-21

After several days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to welcome Festus. Since they were staying there several days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man here who was left in prison by Felix. When I was in Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me about him and asked for a sentence against him. I told them that it was not the custom of the Romans to hand over anyone before the accused had met the accusers face to face and had been given an opportunity to make a defense against the charge.

So when they met here, I lost no time, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. When the accusers stood up, they did not charge him with any of the crimes that I was expecting. Instead they had certain points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. Since I was at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wished to go to Jerusalem and be tried there on these charges. But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of his Imperial Majesty, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to the emperor.”

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

On the Right Path

Since Easter the readings from Acts vividly depict Paul’s faith journey: his participation in Stephen’s stoning; his being struck by a blinding light with a voice asking, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”; his difficulties in preaching about the Way to the Jewish community and non-believers; and his disputes with Peter and others over the necessity to adhere to certain Jewish practices. Paul, now charged with blaspheming the Jewish faith, appears before the Roman Governor and the Procurator and faces his accusers.

Paul recognizes his life is drawing to a close and all that remains is a journey to Rome and a hearing before Emperor Nero. In the midst of this flurry of court activity and accusations, Paul’s message is clear: Jesus has risen from the dead. He is alive!

How is this “certain Jesus” alive in my heart, words, and actions? How will I develop an ability to recognize and act on the ”Paul moment” in my life today?

―George Penman Sullivan, Jr. is a Jesuit-educated lay leader who helped found Chicago’s Ignatian Volunteer Corps. He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Wilmette IL, and have four children and three grandchildren.

Prayer

Pope Francis writes: “There is a temptation to seek God in the past or in a possible future. God is certainly in the past because we can see the footprints. And God is also in the future as a promise. But the ‘concrete’ God, so to speak, is today.

“The senses that find God are the ones St. Ignatius called spiritual senses. A contemplative attitude is necessary. Profound peace, spiritual consolation, love of God, and love of all things in God—this is the sign that you are on this right path.”

Today I pray that I might recognize the signs of “this right path.”

―George Penman Sullivan, Jr.

 


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