October 31, 2015

Feast of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J.

Lk 14: 1. 7-11

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.

But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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

Joy at the Front Door

By the accident of the calendar, today’s gospel falls on the Jesuit feast of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, a Jesuit brother who served for 45 years as doorkeeper and receptionist at the Jesuit College of Majorca, Spain. Alphonsus entered the Jesuits at age 38, after the suffering of losing his parents, his wife and young son to disease. His daily life of dealing with students, faculty, and visitors (including beggars and the poor) who came to the front door of the Jesuit College was notable for his hospitality and helpfulness. His  

Alphonsus was someone who found joy in hardship, fame in the humble task of answering the front door. Despite his personal struggles, he found peace in helping students find their way, attending to his brother Jesuits with their many needs, and taking care of the poor who showed up throughout the day and night. In the spirit of today’s gospel reading, Alphonsus found greatness and joy in the midst of  menial daily tasks as he “watched the door.”

—The Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

Honour is flashed off exploit, so we say:
And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield
Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field,
And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.
On Christ they do and on the martyr may:
But be the war within, the brand we wield
Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled.

Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,
Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,
Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)
Could crowd career with conquest while there went
Those years and years by without event
That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.

—“St. Alphonsus Rodriguez“ by Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.


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October 30, 2015

Lk 14: 1-6

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had dropsy. And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath, or not?” But they were silent. So Jesus took him and healed him, and sent him away. Then he said to them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day?” And they could not reply to this.

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-translation

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Answering the question about just what  my concept of God might be can seem like a tough industrial strength question. Maybe it’s a question that I might wish to default to the trained theologian, or to some really much more spiritual person. But me? Yet at the same time all three synoptic gospels explicitly focus on the question that Jesus asks of me individually, not the theologian and not some other person who is expected to to have a facile answer. The question of Jesus isolates me. I do not guess a pass.  

And yet coming up with a response to the question Jesus proposes does not require that I stand alone, fretting to come up with a sufficient answer. Jesus himself, if I allow him to rub shoulders with me, demonstrates the answer to the question. Indeed, Lord, you are my very breath, you are what is most authentic, you are the face of God.

—Jack Goldberg is a retired trial attorney. He and his wife Barbara live in Cincinnati. Jack is the moderator of the Moot Court competition team at St. Xavier High School, Cincinnati OH, and an alumnus of St. X.

Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr


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October 29, 2015

Lk 13: 31-35

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

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

Loved Sinners

These readings are evidence for the notion in Ignatian Spirituality that we are “Loved Sinners,”  creatures of God who loves us even when we don’t love or obey God in return.

Paul says that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God.”  And Jesus, after being told that Herod wants to put him to death, mourns for Jerusalem, the city where Old Testament prophets had often been killed, saying “How many times I yearned to gather your children together .  .  . but you were unwilling!”  And then Jesus predicts the abandonment, the destruction, of Jerusalem, promising that before that he will come back to the city.  Jesus adds, “You will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” In hindsight, we know Jesus is referring to the first Palm Sunday, when he made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

The same people who greeted him so enthusiastically that day would just a few days later cry out, “Crucify him, crucify him.”  But through the preaching of the Spirit-filled Apostles on the First Pentecost, they will be offered another chance to believe and to be Christ’s followers, despite their sinfulness.

—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, S.J. serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu, University Heights, OH.

Prayer

Lord, help me to be your obedient child; patiently teach me to let go of my ignorant desires and let your good and holy desires become my good and holy desires.

What is it that I desire for myself?  Lord, what is it that you desire for me?

—Cyril Pinchak, S.J.


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October 28, 2015

Sts. Simon and Jude

Eph 2: 19-22

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

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-translation

His Living Body

We all like to belong, and so this reading is comforting. It is important to remind ourselves that we are “fellow citizens with the holy ones.” Christ unites us all. We are his living body.

I imagine the Church as large oak tree. The roots, the trunk, the branches and the leaves are the people that make up this beautiful creation of God. The leaves are important for creating energy and giving life to the tree. The roots are there for stability, grounding the tree to the earth. The trunk and branches provide structure and connection. I imagine Christ as the water that flows through and gives life to every part of the tree. We are all unique in our gifts and talents, but Christ unites us and flows through us all as one body and one church.

—Elise Huber is a senior Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major at the University of Michigan. She is an active student leader at St. Mary’s Student Parish in Ann Arbor.

Prayer

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,

St. Teresa of Avila


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October 27, 2015

Rom 8: 18-25

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

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-translation

Hopes and Yearnings

It is not easy to trust in a hidden hope behind all that we see around us. We observe that history repeats itself; novelties wear off; promises are not kept; conflicts are not yet resolved; idealisms are tempered by settling and compromise. Our need for security and control can make us shrewdly distrustful of others, and even of God.

Thank God for the yearning and longing that Paul describes in Romans! We have been given a hope that is illuminated not by our worldly successes (“a hope that sees for itself”) but by God’s dream for the world (“hope for what we do not see”). No matter how discouraged or disappointed we feel toward the events of our lives, this holy hope cannot be permanently broken by the world, because it does not come from us.

What hopes and yearnings can I share with God today? Can I let these hopes play out on God’s terms?

—Michael Lammana, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic of the USA Northeast Jesuit province. He is currently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord, we place our hope in you who will not disappoint us. Our hope is not determined by our worldly success but is rock solid in God’s dream for us. No matter how discouraged we feel toward the events of our lives, we know that you are always faithful.

 


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October 26, 2015

Rom 8: 12-17

So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

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-translation

Mindfulness

In Pope Francis’ recent visit he clearly reminded us, like Paul, to care for others as Jesus did. He reminded us of the need to serve others, especially those throughout the world who suffer the ravages of poverty. How do we, as individuals and as church respond to the issue of poverty in its many forms?  Both Paul and Francis invite us to pay attention to what we’re involved in, how we make choices, where and to what we’re drawn. Are our choices and decisions life-giving or do they diminish the hope and spirit of others? Do we ask God to lead us?

I believe we’re being invited to become discerning children of a loving God who wants us to enjoy the inner freedom that comes from spirit-filled choices, choices that bring joy to ourselves and others as well. How easy it is to become slaves to life’s daily consumer-driven, self-gratifying challenges. Discernment takes time, mindfulness, and prayer to the One who can fill our hearts with the inner freedom that we so desire.

Where is your heart being drawn today?

Pat Schloemer is a member of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, Cincinnati, Ohio, and in her fourth year of service with the Ignatian Lay Volunteer Corps. Pat and Sam Schloemer have been married 54 years, have 4 married children, and 11 grandchildren.

Prayer

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

—Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ in Hearts on Fire, © 2004, Loyola Press: A Jesuit Ministry, Chicago, IL.


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October 25, 2015

Mk 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-translation

Lord Have Mercy!

It helps to take a close look at the blind man, Bartimaeus, in today’s Gospel reading. He appears to have no one to care for him, no guide dog, no health insurance, no voice-recognition software. He survived by begging on the busy road that ran from Jericho to Jerusalem. Street people, then. as now, hoped for some coins. What did they usually get? Curses and insults.

Imagine what went on in Bartimaeus’ mind and heart when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was approaching. How could he get Jesus’ attention? Bartimaeus used what he had: his voice. He kept shouting “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” We use those similar words at the start of every Mass. Whatever is going through our hearts and minds while we say “ Lord, have mercy,” it helps to keep saying it, keep praying it, keep thinking about the words. It healed Bartimaeus.

—Fr. Paul Harman, S.J. is a Jesuit of the USA Northeast Province. He has worked in Jesuit formation and over many years has been a valued administrator at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA.

Prayer

In the comfort of your love, I pour out to you, my Savior, the memories that haunt me, the fears that stifle me, the sickness that prevails upon me, and the frustration of all the pain that weaves about within me. Lord, help me to see your peace in my turmoil, your compassion in my sorrow, your forgiveness in my weakness, and your love in my need. Touch me, O Lord, with your healing and strength. To you, dear God, be all thanks and glory!  —Prayer to Christ the Healer


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October 24, 2015

St. Anthony Mary Claret

Lk 13: 1-9

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

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-translation

Holy Struggles

Today’s gospel parable about the scraggly fig tree brings me hope. Some pet project I hold dear gets stalled. A family relationship I worry about is once again a mess. A decision I need to make suddenly becomes more complicated than I imagined. It’s hard to be patient, inconvenient simply to wait. What to do?

Jesus offers a different perspective, one hard to swallow amidst today’s instant iPhone and media culture: “Sir, leave it another year while I hoe around it and manure it; then perhaps it will bear fruit.”
Isn’t it the human realities that so often trip us up? Decisions need time to evolve. Complex issues need space to form and focus. Relationships need a bit more care and attentionthat inconvenient process of “hoeing and manuring”in order to mature.

Can I be patient this weekend with some issue I need to have solved? Can I give space to someone in my family who needs to grow into a conclusion I have already reached? And am I ready to imagine someone’s different decision than the one I have already decided is “right” or “correct”?

—The Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

Above all trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown,
something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability
and this may take a very long time.

Give the Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.


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October 23, 2015

St. John of Capistrano

Rom 7: 18-25a

For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.

For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

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-translation

Good News

What a sorrow it is for us as followers of Christ to experience our own sinfulness, to realize with Saint Paul that, however much we approve of the good and desire to do it, too often we end up doing exactly the opposite of what we wanted to do. It is like an addiction over which we are pretty much powerless, what Saint Ignatius would call an inordinate attachment.

In his book Addiction and Grace, Gerald May says that besides the classical addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, etc., there are many other things over which we—all of us—may be powerless, and often a number of them. That’s the bad news.

The Good News is that when we realize our powerlessness, we will realize as well our need for a Savior, and although we are wounded the wound is an opening through which God’s grace can enter into our lives.

—Fr. Peter Fennessy, S.J. is a retreat director and spiritual counselor at Manresa Jesuit Retreat House, Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Prayer

Only in God will my soul be at rest. From him comes my hope, my salvation.
He alone is my rock of safety, my strength, my glory, my God

—”Only in God,” © 1976, John B. Foley, S.J. and New Dawn Music


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October 22, 2015

St.  John Paul II

Lk 12: 49-53

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

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-translation

Blazing Love

Jesus Christ brings the love of God to the world in a concrete, tangible way. God’s love is so overwhelming and so intense that it is like “a consuming fire.” In a spiritual sense, this fiery, powerful love purifies us and helps get rid of extraneous things that might distract from our true purpose as human persons: to know and love God and to make him known by loving others.

There is a clear contrast between living out the GospelJesus’ wayand living out our own way. Jesus’ way is loving others; the world’s way is using others. Jesus’ way is self-sacrifice; the world’s way is self-interest.

Where do I see division rather than integration in my life? What parts of my daily routine witness to Jesus’ way of love and self-sacrifice? What parts of my daily routine conform to the world’s way of use and self-interest?

Maggie Melchior is a convert to the Catholic faith. She currently serves as Coordinator of New Evangelization and Faith Formation for a parish in the Diocese of Green Bay.

Prayer

“I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers… And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, © 1965, The Abbey of Gethsemane, KY.


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October 31, 2015

Feast of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J.

Lk 14: 1. 7-11

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.

But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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

Joy at the Front Door

By the accident of the calendar, today’s gospel falls on the Jesuit feast of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, a Jesuit brother who served for 45 years as doorkeeper and receptionist at the Jesuit College of Majorca, Spain. Alphonsus entered the Jesuits at age 38, after the suffering of losing his parents, his wife and young son to disease. His daily life of dealing with students, faculty, and visitors (including beggars and the poor) who came to the front door of the Jesuit College was notable for his hospitality and helpfulness. His  

Alphonsus was someone who found joy in hardship, fame in the humble task of answering the front door. Despite his personal struggles, he found peace in helping students find their way, attending to his brother Jesuits with their many needs, and taking care of the poor who showed up throughout the day and night. In the spirit of today’s gospel reading, Alphonsus found greatness and joy in the midst of  menial daily tasks as he “watched the door.”

—The Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

Honour is flashed off exploit, so we say:
And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield
Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field,
And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.
On Christ they do and on the martyr may:
But be the war within, the brand we wield
Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled.

Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,
Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,
Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)
Could crowd career with conquest while there went
Those years and years by without event
That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.

—“St. Alphonsus Rodriguez“ by Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

October 30, 2015

Lk 14: 1-6

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had dropsy. And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath, or not?” But they were silent. So Jesus took him and healed him, and sent him away. Then he said to them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day?” And they could not reply to this.

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-translation

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Answering the question about just what  my concept of God might be can seem like a tough industrial strength question. Maybe it’s a question that I might wish to default to the trained theologian, or to some really much more spiritual person. But me? Yet at the same time all three synoptic gospels explicitly focus on the question that Jesus asks of me individually, not the theologian and not some other person who is expected to to have a facile answer. The question of Jesus isolates me. I do not guess a pass.  

And yet coming up with a response to the question Jesus proposes does not require that I stand alone, fretting to come up with a sufficient answer. Jesus himself, if I allow him to rub shoulders with me, demonstrates the answer to the question. Indeed, Lord, you are my very breath, you are what is most authentic, you are the face of God.

—Jack Goldberg is a retired trial attorney. He and his wife Barbara live in Cincinnati. Jack is the moderator of the Moot Court competition team at St. Xavier High School, Cincinnati OH, and an alumnus of St. X.

Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr


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October 29, 2015

Lk 13: 31-35

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

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

Loved Sinners

These readings are evidence for the notion in Ignatian Spirituality that we are “Loved Sinners,”  creatures of God who loves us even when we don’t love or obey God in return.

Paul says that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God.”  And Jesus, after being told that Herod wants to put him to death, mourns for Jerusalem, the city where Old Testament prophets had often been killed, saying “How many times I yearned to gather your children together .  .  . but you were unwilling!”  And then Jesus predicts the abandonment, the destruction, of Jerusalem, promising that before that he will come back to the city.  Jesus adds, “You will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” In hindsight, we know Jesus is referring to the first Palm Sunday, when he made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

The same people who greeted him so enthusiastically that day would just a few days later cry out, “Crucify him, crucify him.”  But through the preaching of the Spirit-filled Apostles on the First Pentecost, they will be offered another chance to believe and to be Christ’s followers, despite their sinfulness.

—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, S.J. serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu, University Heights, OH.

Prayer

Lord, help me to be your obedient child; patiently teach me to let go of my ignorant desires and let your good and holy desires become my good and holy desires.

What is it that I desire for myself?  Lord, what is it that you desire for me?

—Cyril Pinchak, S.J.


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October 28, 2015

Sts. Simon and Jude

Eph 2: 19-22

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

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-translation

His Living Body

We all like to belong, and so this reading is comforting. It is important to remind ourselves that we are “fellow citizens with the holy ones.” Christ unites us all. We are his living body.

I imagine the Church as large oak tree. The roots, the trunk, the branches and the leaves are the people that make up this beautiful creation of God. The leaves are important for creating energy and giving life to the tree. The roots are there for stability, grounding the tree to the earth. The trunk and branches provide structure and connection. I imagine Christ as the water that flows through and gives life to every part of the tree. We are all unique in our gifts and talents, but Christ unites us and flows through us all as one body and one church.

—Elise Huber is a senior Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major at the University of Michigan. She is an active student leader at St. Mary’s Student Parish in Ann Arbor.

Prayer

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,

St. Teresa of Avila


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October 27, 2015

Rom 8: 18-25

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

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-translation

Hopes and Yearnings

It is not easy to trust in a hidden hope behind all that we see around us. We observe that history repeats itself; novelties wear off; promises are not kept; conflicts are not yet resolved; idealisms are tempered by settling and compromise. Our need for security and control can make us shrewdly distrustful of others, and even of God.

Thank God for the yearning and longing that Paul describes in Romans! We have been given a hope that is illuminated not by our worldly successes (“a hope that sees for itself”) but by God’s dream for the world (“hope for what we do not see”). No matter how discouraged or disappointed we feel toward the events of our lives, this holy hope cannot be permanently broken by the world, because it does not come from us.

What hopes and yearnings can I share with God today? Can I let these hopes play out on God’s terms?

—Michael Lammana, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic of the USA Northeast Jesuit province. He is currently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord, we place our hope in you who will not disappoint us. Our hope is not determined by our worldly success but is rock solid in God’s dream for us. No matter how discouraged we feel toward the events of our lives, we know that you are always faithful.

 


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October 26, 2015

Rom 8: 12-17

So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

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-translation

Mindfulness

In Pope Francis’ recent visit he clearly reminded us, like Paul, to care for others as Jesus did. He reminded us of the need to serve others, especially those throughout the world who suffer the ravages of poverty. How do we, as individuals and as church respond to the issue of poverty in its many forms?  Both Paul and Francis invite us to pay attention to what we’re involved in, how we make choices, where and to what we’re drawn. Are our choices and decisions life-giving or do they diminish the hope and spirit of others? Do we ask God to lead us?

I believe we’re being invited to become discerning children of a loving God who wants us to enjoy the inner freedom that comes from spirit-filled choices, choices that bring joy to ourselves and others as well. How easy it is to become slaves to life’s daily consumer-driven, self-gratifying challenges. Discernment takes time, mindfulness, and prayer to the One who can fill our hearts with the inner freedom that we so desire.

Where is your heart being drawn today?

Pat Schloemer is a member of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, Cincinnati, Ohio, and in her fourth year of service with the Ignatian Lay Volunteer Corps. Pat and Sam Schloemer have been married 54 years, have 4 married children, and 11 grandchildren.

Prayer

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

—Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ in Hearts on Fire, © 2004, Loyola Press: A Jesuit Ministry, Chicago, IL.


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October 25, 2015

Mk 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-translation

Lord Have Mercy!

It helps to take a close look at the blind man, Bartimaeus, in today’s Gospel reading. He appears to have no one to care for him, no guide dog, no health insurance, no voice-recognition software. He survived by begging on the busy road that ran from Jericho to Jerusalem. Street people, then. as now, hoped for some coins. What did they usually get? Curses and insults.

Imagine what went on in Bartimaeus’ mind and heart when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was approaching. How could he get Jesus’ attention? Bartimaeus used what he had: his voice. He kept shouting “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” We use those similar words at the start of every Mass. Whatever is going through our hearts and minds while we say “ Lord, have mercy,” it helps to keep saying it, keep praying it, keep thinking about the words. It healed Bartimaeus.

—Fr. Paul Harman, S.J. is a Jesuit of the USA Northeast Province. He has worked in Jesuit formation and over many years has been a valued administrator at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA.

Prayer

In the comfort of your love, I pour out to you, my Savior, the memories that haunt me, the fears that stifle me, the sickness that prevails upon me, and the frustration of all the pain that weaves about within me. Lord, help me to see your peace in my turmoil, your compassion in my sorrow, your forgiveness in my weakness, and your love in my need. Touch me, O Lord, with your healing and strength. To you, dear God, be all thanks and glory!  —Prayer to Christ the Healer


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October 24, 2015

St. Anthony Mary Claret

Lk 13: 1-9

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

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-translation

Holy Struggles

Today’s gospel parable about the scraggly fig tree brings me hope. Some pet project I hold dear gets stalled. A family relationship I worry about is once again a mess. A decision I need to make suddenly becomes more complicated than I imagined. It’s hard to be patient, inconvenient simply to wait. What to do?

Jesus offers a different perspective, one hard to swallow amidst today’s instant iPhone and media culture: “Sir, leave it another year while I hoe around it and manure it; then perhaps it will bear fruit.”
Isn’t it the human realities that so often trip us up? Decisions need time to evolve. Complex issues need space to form and focus. Relationships need a bit more care and attentionthat inconvenient process of “hoeing and manuring”in order to mature.

Can I be patient this weekend with some issue I need to have solved? Can I give space to someone in my family who needs to grow into a conclusion I have already reached? And am I ready to imagine someone’s different decision than the one I have already decided is “right” or “correct”?

—The Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

Above all trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown,
something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability
and this may take a very long time.

Give the Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.


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October 23, 2015

St. John of Capistrano

Rom 7: 18-25a

For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.

For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

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-translation

Good News

What a sorrow it is for us as followers of Christ to experience our own sinfulness, to realize with Saint Paul that, however much we approve of the good and desire to do it, too often we end up doing exactly the opposite of what we wanted to do. It is like an addiction over which we are pretty much powerless, what Saint Ignatius would call an inordinate attachment.

In his book Addiction and Grace, Gerald May says that besides the classical addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, etc., there are many other things over which we—all of us—may be powerless, and often a number of them. That’s the bad news.

The Good News is that when we realize our powerlessness, we will realize as well our need for a Savior, and although we are wounded the wound is an opening through which God’s grace can enter into our lives.

—Fr. Peter Fennessy, S.J. is a retreat director and spiritual counselor at Manresa Jesuit Retreat House, Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Prayer

Only in God will my soul be at rest. From him comes my hope, my salvation.
He alone is my rock of safety, my strength, my glory, my God

—”Only in God,” © 1976, John B. Foley, S.J. and New Dawn Music


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October 22, 2015

St.  John Paul II

Lk 12: 49-53

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

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-translation

Blazing Love

Jesus Christ brings the love of God to the world in a concrete, tangible way. God’s love is so overwhelming and so intense that it is like “a consuming fire.” In a spiritual sense, this fiery, powerful love purifies us and helps get rid of extraneous things that might distract from our true purpose as human persons: to know and love God and to make him known by loving others.

There is a clear contrast between living out the GospelJesus’ wayand living out our own way. Jesus’ way is loving others; the world’s way is using others. Jesus’ way is self-sacrifice; the world’s way is self-interest.

Where do I see division rather than integration in my life? What parts of my daily routine witness to Jesus’ way of love and self-sacrifice? What parts of my daily routine conform to the world’s way of use and self-interest?

Maggie Melchior is a convert to the Catholic faith. She currently serves as Coordinator of New Evangelization and Faith Formation for a parish in the Diocese of Green Bay.

Prayer

“I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers… And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, © 1965, The Abbey of Gethsemane, KY.


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