July 31, 2015

St. Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus

John 1: 35-39

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”

The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.

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

Come and See

Some years ago, as other religious communities before us, Jesuits of the Midwest began to host “Come and See” weekends at Loyola University Chicago for men 18-35 who wanted to learn more about Jesuit life. As director of vocations, I always became quietly excited as those weekends approached. God’s grace was amazingly palpable and evident in the lives of these participants—they were truly seekers. Like the disciples in today’s gospel, these men were attracted to Jesus; they wanted to grow closer to him; they wanted to “come and see” where Jesus lives.

As Christians, each one of us is a seekerwhether single or married, a parish priest or a vowed religious. We all want to grow closer to Jesus. Thus today’s feast day is for all of us who seek to discern God’s grace in the footsteps of St. Ignatius of Loyola, using the tools of Ignatian discernment to “read the signs of the times,” and to sift through the daily movements of consolation and desolation in our own minds and hearts. If we are faithful to the graces of our baptism, faithful to our daily examen and the ongoing discernment of movements within our souls, then Christ truly lives within us. That spiritual strength will be evident to those who want to know where Jesus lives and to follow him.    

—Fr. Brian Paulson, S.J. is the provincial superior of the Jesuits of the Chicago-Detroit province.

Prayer

In prayer, try reflecting on the following questions.

1.      Call to mind an experience when you felt God was inviting you to “come and see” where Jesus is living. Perhaps it was an experience of feeling drawn to help someone hurting or in need because Christ was present in that person. How did you respond to that invitation?

2.      Do you have any small daily disciplines or “spiritual exercise” that helps you understand the movements of consolation and desolation within your heart? If not, how about trying the Ignatian Examen?

3.      What more can I do to encourage young men and women to consider vocation to lay ministry, religious life, and priesthood, and lay ministry within our Church?

—Fr. Brian Paulson, S.J.


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July 30, 2015

St. Peter Chrysologus

Ex 40: 16-21. 34-38

Moses did everything just as the Lord had commanded him. In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was set up. Moses set up the tabernacle; he laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars; and he spread the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent over it; as the Lord had commanded Moses. He took the covenant and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark, and set the mercy seat above the ark;and he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the curtain for screening, and screened the ark of the covenant; as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on each stage of their journey; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, before the eyes of all the house of Israel at each stage of their journey.

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

Seeking God

Not all of Scripture is characterized by high drama. For every Transfiguration or walk across the water, there are strict Old Testament directives on how to organize crops or wear one’s hair. Even today’s reading, which presents the magnificent image of God as a fire in a cloud, offers a rather boring account of Moses constructing a Dwelling “exactly as the Lord had commanded him.” I often wonder why these passages are included in the Bible at all. What do the Ark of the Covenant’s dimensions have to do with my faith?

I think the answer rests in God’s involvement in every facet of our lives, even the minutiae. Yes, God is with us when we are joyfully celebrating with our friends and families or struggling with pain, sorrow, and hardship. But God is also there when we are drinking coffee, brushing our teeth, checking an app on our phones, and waiting in traffic. Realizing God is constantly with us and around us is at the heart of the Jesuit challenge to find God in all things. Like St. Ignatius, we are called to seek God in the good, the bad, and even the mundane.

—Brian Harper works in Chicago as a communications specialist for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin Jesuit provinces.

Prayer

Teach me to listen, Holy Spirit, for your voicein busy-ness and in boredom, in certainty and doubt, in noise and in silence. Teach me, Lord, to listen.”

John Veltri, SJ


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July 29, 2015

St. Martha, disciple of the Lord

Jn 11: 19-27

And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’

Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

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

One Thing

“You are anxious and worried about many things.” Well, Jesus, in fact, I am and I am sure Martha was too. The to-do list was long: packing for a family of five for a week visiting family, then a week of camping, followed by a conference for me and camp for the kids. “To give and not to count the cost…To labor and not to seek reward,” Ignatius helps me pray. Jesus says, “There is need of only one thing.” Ignatius answers, “Except that of knowing that I do your will.” I used to expect that the peace and consolation from succeeding in this would be pervasive. Twenty years of marriage and three children have taught me that the prayer must be a mantra in the midst of the chaos, and the answer is always a surprise and usually fleeting, like a cool breeze on a hot, humid summer day.

—Jackie Beale-DelVecchio is a middle school religion teacher at the Sacred Heart Schools, Chicago, IL.

Prayer

Lord, teach me to be generous, to serve you as you deserve:
to give and not to count the cost;  to fight and not to heed the wounds;
to toil and not to seek for rest;  to labor and not to ask for any reward,
but that of knowing that I do your will.

—St. Ignatius Loyola


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July 28, 2015

Mt 13: 36-43

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man;the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

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

Those Weeds in My Soul

Anyone who has gone through puberty can relate to the moment when you saw a glaring, whitehead zit in the center of your forehead. There was that immediate urge to pop the pimple. In popping the pimple, though, we increase the chance for scarring, and for more pimples to develop. This unflattering analogy to puberty is similar to our gut reaction when we encounter “weeds” in the garden of our souls.

The Gospel clearly states that it is God’s activity to collect the weeds and harvest the fruit in the field.   The moments when we try to pull what we think to be weeds out of our soul, we risk doing harm to ourselves. Instead of becoming less jealous, insecure, prideful, lustful, we become more self-absorbed into an internal world of our own problems. God is the true gardener of our souls who is able to pull the weeds gently so as to remove their roots, and not harm the fruit already present.

Do I love the “weeds” of my soul as places where God is very tender and compassionate towards me?  Do I experience the temptation to prune the garden of my soul? What do I want God to be and do for me in these areas of my life?

Dano Kennedy, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at St. Louis University. He lives at the Bellarmine House of Studies.

Prayer

Merciful God, you plant each of us like seeds in the same field; together we are nourished and nurtured by the sun. We sway in the wind and are refreshed by the rain. We are blessed that you invite us to grow in your good grace.
When we deprive others of that same opportunity,
forgive us.
When we want to uproot those whom we believe do not belong in our part of the field,
forgive us.
When we label others as good or bad rather than accept them for who they are,
forgive us.
When we are reluctant to acknowledge that we ourselves are a mixture of weeds and wheat,
forgive us.
When we are afraid to look into the fields of our own lives, to see what is growing there,
forgive us.

—Moira Laidlaw


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July 27, 2015

Mt 13: 31-35

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”

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

Bringing Christ to the World

In the gospel story today we hear the parable of the Kingdom of Heaven being compared to a mustard seed. It is the smallest of seeds that results in a large bush for the birds to dwell. We also hear about the yeast mixing with flour. Having the faith of a mustard seed reminds me of the lyrics by Leonard Cohen in his song Anthem: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” God only needs a little faith, a little yeast, a little crack or a little opening to get in and open our hearts wide.

When is the last time you invited Jesus to grow your faith into a bush or noticed the light shining through your cracks and wounds?  Today, I invite you to take a moment to reflect and notice how God is using your little bit of faith or your small or large cracks to show you how much you are loved. But don’t stop there. How is God calling you, then, to channel the love of Christ to the world?

—Amy Hoover, spiritual director and a frequent spiritual writer, is Director of the Creighton University Retreat Center, located in Griswold, IA.

Prayer

Good and gracious God.  I thank you this day for your many gifts and graces. Help me notice and savor how you love me, and help me to be attentive this day to the many ways you invite me to bring your love into the world. All for the greater glory of your Kingdom.  I ask this through your son, Jesus and with the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

—Amy Hoover


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July 26, 2015

Eph 4: 1-6

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

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

Jesus the Way

“Become who you are!” Those words spoken to me years ago, when I took vows and became a Jesuit, still ring in my ears. Over the years, I’ve had to grow into, fill out, really experience, what I said I was back then. So for all us as Christians: we haven’t yet fully grasped the call that we received at baptism; we haven’t become who we are. Are you “living in a manner worthy of the call you have received”?

Jesus shows us the way. He is the Son of the Father and, during his earthly life, he too had to “become what he is,” living out in his concrete life over time what it meant to be the Son, a loving child of the Father, which we become at baptism. He showed us the way by living “in all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love.”

—Fr.Mark Henninger, S.J., a philosophy professor by trade, now serves as a pastoral care chaplain at Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL.

Prayer

You are the way, the truth, the life
Without the way there is no going
Without the truth, there is no knowing
Without the life there is no growing
Show us the way, that we may go
Teach us the truth, that we may know
Grant us the life, that we may grow
Eternally

—Ted Tracy, S.J.


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July 25, 2015

St. James, apostle

Mt 20: 20-28

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.”He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as 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

Servant Leaders

Regardless of our age, we are most likely familiar with the Nike slogan “Just do it”. If they were available then, Jesus would probably be wearing one of these shirts as he preached today’s Gospel. Jesus says to the apostles: Serve and don’t worry about anything else. Just do the right thingdo as Jesus would do.

As with most things, this is easier said than done. At one time in our lives, we have most likely been in a position of responsibilityperhaps as a parent or a supervisor at work. And we have most likely lost true focus on serving God in that position. Yet true leadership is found in serving others. We can learn servant leadership by studying the actions of great role models like Jesus, Mary, and the Saints. Let the spirit of the example guide us throughout this weekend…and beyond.  

—Jenni and Dan O’Brien. Dan serves as regional development director for the Wisconsin Province Jesuits. Jenni is the mother of two young children and a psychotherapist specializing in depression, anxiety, and adjustment issues with teens and adults.

Prayer

Jesus, please grant me grace to know what you have done for us, to seek greatness in serving others, to follow you with spiritual eyes.

—Jonathan Alexander, Northshore Community Church, Kirkland, WA.


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July 24, 2015

St. Sharbel Makhluf

Ex 20: 1-17

Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

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

Back to the Basics

Jesus tells us in today’s gospel to “mark well the parable of the sower.” Going further, he explains that the person who hears the message of the gospel and takes it to heart receives “a hundredfold.”  But how practically do we live this gospel message? I believe today’s passage from the Book of Exodus takes us back to the basics. We find Moses in God’s presence at the top of Mount Sinai. There God gives him the ten commandments which ground our faith-filled response to God and to one another.

Take a moment today to read through this passage from Exodus. Which of God’s commands do I observe well? Which one is a stumbling block for me? Where is the Lord inviting me to grow in my personal observance of these commandments…that I may more effectively sow the seeds of the gospel to those I live with, work with, meet on the streets? And say some words of thanks to our God for the privilege of responding to the Lord’s invitation.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord, as I visit the Ten Commandments, open my spirit to your voice. Guide me to be aware of the commandments beckoning me to be more faithful. And in doing so I trust that I will receive “a hundredfold.” —The Jesuit Prayer Team


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July 23, 2015

Mt 13: 10-17

Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.

The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

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

My Call to Service

Jesus presents two distinct ways of interacting with his teachings. While his apostles have eyes that see and ears that hear, others hear without understanding and look without seeing. How can we be more like Jesus’ disciples? How do we know what God is saying to us in the first place?

Saint Ignatius teaches that God speaks to us through our desires. When we discernor reflect and pray on the events of our liveswe often discover feelings of consolation and desolation. Margaret Silf, author of The Inner Compass, writes that consolation happens “when our hearts are drawn toward God.” Desolation represents the opposite. Silf explains that consolation is more than “simply feeling good.” It is characterized by the peace of placing God at the center of our lives, truly seeking to follow the Lord’s will, even at the expense of our own immediate wishes.

For Ignatius Loyola, dreams of achieving glory as a soldier, while pleasing at first, ultimately left feelings of dissatisfaction. Imagining a life in service to God brought a sense of lasting fulfillment. Which of my desires bring me consolation in prayer? What might God be calling me to do with these?

—Brian Harper works in Chicago as a communications specialist for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin Jesuit provinces.

Prayer

Live, Jesus, live, so live in me that all I do be done by thee. And grant that all I think and say may be thy thought and word today.

—An anonymous author


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July 22, 2015

St. Mary Magdalene, disciple of the Lord

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).

Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

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

Ex 16: 1-5. 9-15/ Ps 78 / Jn 20: 1-2. 11-18

Where Are You Going?

Mary of Magdalene went… Moments earlier she is weeping, searching, probably bargaining with God for a different ending. In a split-second recognition, it all changes. Eyes opened at the sound of her name. Jesus says, “Go.” Mary Magdalene went… without attachment, to do what God created her to do. In the First Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius challenges us to live with indifference to our current state in life, not preferring health to sickness, riches to poverty, a long life to a short life, and only consider the choices that will bring us closer to what God created us to be.  Mary Magdalene is an incredible example of the strength and focus needed for this challenge.

God says, “Go.” Where are you going? What choices are moving you closer to what God created you to be? What choices distract you from “seeing the Lord?”

—Jackie Beale-DelVecchio is a middle school religion teacher at the Sacred Heart Schools, Chicago, IL.

Prayer

Mary of Magdala,
woman of the resurrection.
Pray for us as we too go and tell what we know
that Jesus is alive
and at work through us.
Guide us all through your story
teach us to live always in the light of the resurrection.

—(c) 2012 Wellspring


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July 31, 2015

St. Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus

John 1: 35-39

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”

The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.

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

Come and See

Some years ago, as other religious communities before us, Jesuits of the Midwest began to host “Come and See” weekends at Loyola University Chicago for men 18-35 who wanted to learn more about Jesuit life. As director of vocations, I always became quietly excited as those weekends approached. God’s grace was amazingly palpable and evident in the lives of these participants—they were truly seekers. Like the disciples in today’s gospel, these men were attracted to Jesus; they wanted to grow closer to him; they wanted to “come and see” where Jesus lives.

As Christians, each one of us is a seekerwhether single or married, a parish priest or a vowed religious. We all want to grow closer to Jesus. Thus today’s feast day is for all of us who seek to discern God’s grace in the footsteps of St. Ignatius of Loyola, using the tools of Ignatian discernment to “read the signs of the times,” and to sift through the daily movements of consolation and desolation in our own minds and hearts. If we are faithful to the graces of our baptism, faithful to our daily examen and the ongoing discernment of movements within our souls, then Christ truly lives within us. That spiritual strength will be evident to those who want to know where Jesus lives and to follow him.    

—Fr. Brian Paulson, S.J. is the provincial superior of the Jesuits of the Chicago-Detroit province.

Prayer

In prayer, try reflecting on the following questions.

1.      Call to mind an experience when you felt God was inviting you to “come and see” where Jesus is living. Perhaps it was an experience of feeling drawn to help someone hurting or in need because Christ was present in that person. How did you respond to that invitation?

2.      Do you have any small daily disciplines or “spiritual exercise” that helps you understand the movements of consolation and desolation within your heart? If not, how about trying the Ignatian Examen?

3.      What more can I do to encourage young men and women to consider vocation to lay ministry, religious life, and priesthood, and lay ministry within our Church?

—Fr. Brian Paulson, S.J.


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July 30, 2015

St. Peter Chrysologus

Ex 40: 16-21. 34-38

Moses did everything just as the Lord had commanded him. In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was set up. Moses set up the tabernacle; he laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars; and he spread the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent over it; as the Lord had commanded Moses. He took the covenant and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark, and set the mercy seat above the ark;and he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the curtain for screening, and screened the ark of the covenant; as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on each stage of their journey; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, before the eyes of all the house of Israel at each stage of their journey.

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

Seeking God

Not all of Scripture is characterized by high drama. For every Transfiguration or walk across the water, there are strict Old Testament directives on how to organize crops or wear one’s hair. Even today’s reading, which presents the magnificent image of God as a fire in a cloud, offers a rather boring account of Moses constructing a Dwelling “exactly as the Lord had commanded him.” I often wonder why these passages are included in the Bible at all. What do the Ark of the Covenant’s dimensions have to do with my faith?

I think the answer rests in God’s involvement in every facet of our lives, even the minutiae. Yes, God is with us when we are joyfully celebrating with our friends and families or struggling with pain, sorrow, and hardship. But God is also there when we are drinking coffee, brushing our teeth, checking an app on our phones, and waiting in traffic. Realizing God is constantly with us and around us is at the heart of the Jesuit challenge to find God in all things. Like St. Ignatius, we are called to seek God in the good, the bad, and even the mundane.

—Brian Harper works in Chicago as a communications specialist for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin Jesuit provinces.

Prayer

Teach me to listen, Holy Spirit, for your voicein busy-ness and in boredom, in certainty and doubt, in noise and in silence. Teach me, Lord, to listen.”

John Veltri, SJ


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July 29, 2015

St. Martha, disciple of the Lord

Jn 11: 19-27

And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’

Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

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

One Thing

“You are anxious and worried about many things.” Well, Jesus, in fact, I am and I am sure Martha was too. The to-do list was long: packing for a family of five for a week visiting family, then a week of camping, followed by a conference for me and camp for the kids. “To give and not to count the cost…To labor and not to seek reward,” Ignatius helps me pray. Jesus says, “There is need of only one thing.” Ignatius answers, “Except that of knowing that I do your will.” I used to expect that the peace and consolation from succeeding in this would be pervasive. Twenty years of marriage and three children have taught me that the prayer must be a mantra in the midst of the chaos, and the answer is always a surprise and usually fleeting, like a cool breeze on a hot, humid summer day.

—Jackie Beale-DelVecchio is a middle school religion teacher at the Sacred Heart Schools, Chicago, IL.

Prayer

Lord, teach me to be generous, to serve you as you deserve:
to give and not to count the cost;  to fight and not to heed the wounds;
to toil and not to seek for rest;  to labor and not to ask for any reward,
but that of knowing that I do your will.

—St. Ignatius Loyola


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July 28, 2015

Mt 13: 36-43

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man;the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

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

Those Weeds in My Soul

Anyone who has gone through puberty can relate to the moment when you saw a glaring, whitehead zit in the center of your forehead. There was that immediate urge to pop the pimple. In popping the pimple, though, we increase the chance for scarring, and for more pimples to develop. This unflattering analogy to puberty is similar to our gut reaction when we encounter “weeds” in the garden of our souls.

The Gospel clearly states that it is God’s activity to collect the weeds and harvest the fruit in the field.   The moments when we try to pull what we think to be weeds out of our soul, we risk doing harm to ourselves. Instead of becoming less jealous, insecure, prideful, lustful, we become more self-absorbed into an internal world of our own problems. God is the true gardener of our souls who is able to pull the weeds gently so as to remove their roots, and not harm the fruit already present.

Do I love the “weeds” of my soul as places where God is very tender and compassionate towards me?  Do I experience the temptation to prune the garden of my soul? What do I want God to be and do for me in these areas of my life?

Dano Kennedy, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at St. Louis University. He lives at the Bellarmine House of Studies.

Prayer

Merciful God, you plant each of us like seeds in the same field; together we are nourished and nurtured by the sun. We sway in the wind and are refreshed by the rain. We are blessed that you invite us to grow in your good grace.
When we deprive others of that same opportunity,
forgive us.
When we want to uproot those whom we believe do not belong in our part of the field,
forgive us.
When we label others as good or bad rather than accept them for who they are,
forgive us.
When we are reluctant to acknowledge that we ourselves are a mixture of weeds and wheat,
forgive us.
When we are afraid to look into the fields of our own lives, to see what is growing there,
forgive us.

—Moira Laidlaw


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July 27, 2015

Mt 13: 31-35

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”

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

Bringing Christ to the World

In the gospel story today we hear the parable of the Kingdom of Heaven being compared to a mustard seed. It is the smallest of seeds that results in a large bush for the birds to dwell. We also hear about the yeast mixing with flour. Having the faith of a mustard seed reminds me of the lyrics by Leonard Cohen in his song Anthem: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” God only needs a little faith, a little yeast, a little crack or a little opening to get in and open our hearts wide.

When is the last time you invited Jesus to grow your faith into a bush or noticed the light shining through your cracks and wounds?  Today, I invite you to take a moment to reflect and notice how God is using your little bit of faith or your small or large cracks to show you how much you are loved. But don’t stop there. How is God calling you, then, to channel the love of Christ to the world?

—Amy Hoover, spiritual director and a frequent spiritual writer, is Director of the Creighton University Retreat Center, located in Griswold, IA.

Prayer

Good and gracious God.  I thank you this day for your many gifts and graces. Help me notice and savor how you love me, and help me to be attentive this day to the many ways you invite me to bring your love into the world. All for the greater glory of your Kingdom.  I ask this through your son, Jesus and with the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

—Amy Hoover


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July 26, 2015

Eph 4: 1-6

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

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

Jesus the Way

“Become who you are!” Those words spoken to me years ago, when I took vows and became a Jesuit, still ring in my ears. Over the years, I’ve had to grow into, fill out, really experience, what I said I was back then. So for all us as Christians: we haven’t yet fully grasped the call that we received at baptism; we haven’t become who we are. Are you “living in a manner worthy of the call you have received”?

Jesus shows us the way. He is the Son of the Father and, during his earthly life, he too had to “become what he is,” living out in his concrete life over time what it meant to be the Son, a loving child of the Father, which we become at baptism. He showed us the way by living “in all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love.”

—Fr.Mark Henninger, S.J., a philosophy professor by trade, now serves as a pastoral care chaplain at Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL.

Prayer

You are the way, the truth, the life
Without the way there is no going
Without the truth, there is no knowing
Without the life there is no growing
Show us the way, that we may go
Teach us the truth, that we may know
Grant us the life, that we may grow
Eternally

—Ted Tracy, S.J.


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July 25, 2015

St. James, apostle

Mt 20: 20-28

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.”He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as 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

Servant Leaders

Regardless of our age, we are most likely familiar with the Nike slogan “Just do it”. If they were available then, Jesus would probably be wearing one of these shirts as he preached today’s Gospel. Jesus says to the apostles: Serve and don’t worry about anything else. Just do the right thingdo as Jesus would do.

As with most things, this is easier said than done. At one time in our lives, we have most likely been in a position of responsibilityperhaps as a parent or a supervisor at work. And we have most likely lost true focus on serving God in that position. Yet true leadership is found in serving others. We can learn servant leadership by studying the actions of great role models like Jesus, Mary, and the Saints. Let the spirit of the example guide us throughout this weekend…and beyond.  

—Jenni and Dan O’Brien. Dan serves as regional development director for the Wisconsin Province Jesuits. Jenni is the mother of two young children and a psychotherapist specializing in depression, anxiety, and adjustment issues with teens and adults.

Prayer

Jesus, please grant me grace to know what you have done for us, to seek greatness in serving others, to follow you with spiritual eyes.

—Jonathan Alexander, Northshore Community Church, Kirkland, WA.


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July 24, 2015

St. Sharbel Makhluf

Ex 20: 1-17

Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

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

Back to the Basics

Jesus tells us in today’s gospel to “mark well the parable of the sower.” Going further, he explains that the person who hears the message of the gospel and takes it to heart receives “a hundredfold.”  But how practically do we live this gospel message? I believe today’s passage from the Book of Exodus takes us back to the basics. We find Moses in God’s presence at the top of Mount Sinai. There God gives him the ten commandments which ground our faith-filled response to God and to one another.

Take a moment today to read through this passage from Exodus. Which of God’s commands do I observe well? Which one is a stumbling block for me? Where is the Lord inviting me to grow in my personal observance of these commandments…that I may more effectively sow the seeds of the gospel to those I live with, work with, meet on the streets? And say some words of thanks to our God for the privilege of responding to the Lord’s invitation.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord, as I visit the Ten Commandments, open my spirit to your voice. Guide me to be aware of the commandments beckoning me to be more faithful. And in doing so I trust that I will receive “a hundredfold.” —The Jesuit Prayer Team


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July 23, 2015

Mt 13: 10-17

Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.

The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

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

My Call to Service

Jesus presents two distinct ways of interacting with his teachings. While his apostles have eyes that see and ears that hear, others hear without understanding and look without seeing. How can we be more like Jesus’ disciples? How do we know what God is saying to us in the first place?

Saint Ignatius teaches that God speaks to us through our desires. When we discernor reflect and pray on the events of our liveswe often discover feelings of consolation and desolation. Margaret Silf, author of The Inner Compass, writes that consolation happens “when our hearts are drawn toward God.” Desolation represents the opposite. Silf explains that consolation is more than “simply feeling good.” It is characterized by the peace of placing God at the center of our lives, truly seeking to follow the Lord’s will, even at the expense of our own immediate wishes.

For Ignatius Loyola, dreams of achieving glory as a soldier, while pleasing at first, ultimately left feelings of dissatisfaction. Imagining a life in service to God brought a sense of lasting fulfillment. Which of my desires bring me consolation in prayer? What might God be calling me to do with these?

—Brian Harper works in Chicago as a communications specialist for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin Jesuit provinces.

Prayer

Live, Jesus, live, so live in me that all I do be done by thee. And grant that all I think and say may be thy thought and word today.

—An anonymous author


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July 22, 2015

St. Mary Magdalene, disciple of the Lord

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).

Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

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

Ex 16: 1-5. 9-15/ Ps 78 / Jn 20: 1-2. 11-18

Where Are You Going?

Mary of Magdalene went… Moments earlier she is weeping, searching, probably bargaining with God for a different ending. In a split-second recognition, it all changes. Eyes opened at the sound of her name. Jesus says, “Go.” Mary Magdalene went… without attachment, to do what God created her to do. In the First Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius challenges us to live with indifference to our current state in life, not preferring health to sickness, riches to poverty, a long life to a short life, and only consider the choices that will bring us closer to what God created us to be.  Mary Magdalene is an incredible example of the strength and focus needed for this challenge.

God says, “Go.” Where are you going? What choices are moving you closer to what God created you to be? What choices distract you from “seeing the Lord?”

—Jackie Beale-DelVecchio is a middle school religion teacher at the Sacred Heart Schools, Chicago, IL.

Prayer

Mary of Magdala,
woman of the resurrection.
Pray for us as we too go and tell what we know
that Jesus is alive
and at work through us.
Guide us all through your story
teach us to live always in the light of the resurrection.

—(c) 2012 Wellspring


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