April 30, 2016

Acts 16: 1-10

Paul went on also to Derbe and to Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and had him circumcised because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went from town to town, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in numbers daily.

They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

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.

Growing in Faith

Today’s lines from the Acts of the Apostles describe Paul’s missionary journeys through Asia Minor as he made his way towards ancient Macedonia. The author of Acts reports great enthusiasm for Paul’s preaching: “Through all this, the congregations grew stronger in faith and daily increased in number.”

This April Saturday marks the end of the fifth week of Easter. Throughout this Easter season our own faith communities have increased in number and grown stronger in faith. As this year’s Easter celebration moves us towards Jesus’ Ascension on May 8 and then the celebration of Pentecost on May 15, each of us can profitably examine just how we have grown in faith. The following reflection questions may help:

What particular grace has come to my heart this year?
What Easter gifts to I notice within our family?
How have I shared a bit of Easter joy and hope and faith at work? Around our neighborhood?
What particular gift of the Holy Spirit do I particularly beg God to send this Pentecost?
How will that gift make a difference in my life and attitude?
How am I letting the Risen Jesus stretch my heart and horizons this Easter 2016?

—The Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts and homes with your grace and new life.
May we go forward these Easter days “steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, untiring in love.`”

—The Jesuit prayer team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

April 29, 2016

St. Catherine of Siena

Jn 15: 12-17

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

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.

Love’s Commands

I never appreciated the Ten Commandments as a teenager because of their negative “do not” wording. “Do not steal. Do not covet your neighbor’s property.” God seemed authoritarian. I cringed at Psalm 119 which says, “Truly I love your commandments more than gold.” How is this possible? It only makes sense when Jesus reminds us that God’s motive is love. We’re commanded to love. And it’s not coming from an authoritarian God but from a friend, the same one who commanded us to wash one another’s feet and not to exclude the widow or the oppressed. Even Ignatius said God is like a friend.

Can we, like Jesus, become friends with the poor? The sinner? The unwanted? Our own annoying families? Are we willing to lay down our lives for them?

The Christian life commands us to risk loving others. And what a beautiful command that is.

Andy Otto, originally from Boston, is currently a high school theology teacher for the Diocese of Sacramento. He also runs the Ignatian blog God In All Things.

Prayer

Lord, you teach me that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. You command me to love people who are hard to love. This is difficult! Only by your love and your grace can I not only love your commands but live them joyfully. Amen.

Andy Otto

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

April 28, 2016

St. Peter Chanel / St. Louis Mary de Montfort

Jn 15: 9-11

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

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.

Love Becomes Me

My loving wife’s mother kept a prayer displayed prominently on her refrigerator: “Lord, help me remember that nothing can happen today that You and I cannot get through together.” I love that thought. Today’s readings contrast well with each other and make me think of that prayer. The Acts reading boils with controversy among the Apostles about how to make Gentiles into new Christians. Argument and discord seem the order of the day. But in the Gospel reading Jesus makes the equation simple: “The Father loves me, I love you, and I invite you to immerse yourself in Us.”

If we really value this momentous gift of love, keeping his commandments is then not a test but a welcome way of life.  Loving God and loving neighbor become not what we do but who we are. Jesus truly wants this for us. Do we strive in the details of our day to accept this?    

—Jim O’Donnell is a long-serving deacon at Gesu Church, University Heights, OH. He is also a University Hospitals physician specializing and leading a research team in nuclear medicine.

Prayer

Our love is shown more in deeds than in words.

—St. Ignatius Loyola

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

April 27, 2016

Jn 15: 1-8

”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

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.

All Glory to God

Periodically, we experience situations that seemingly can only be overcome by our own strength and perseverance. It feels like us against the world. When we emerge from these scenarios unscathed and victorious, we can feel indestructible, that we cannot be stopped. In today’s gospel, however, we are reminded that this feeling is far from the reality.

Jesus compares us to the branches and himself to the vine, telling us that “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” This humbling quote is sometimes very difficult to embrace. When things are going well, we like to feel fully accountable for all successes. This story reminds us that we must thank God for the graces he gives us, and that without his love and mercy, we would be incapable of accomplishing even the easiest of tasks. Give glory and thanks back to God.

Joe Ertle is a junior at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland. He is a student leader for the school’s Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Ministry to the Homeless and will serve as Vice President for the Saint Ignatius Student Senate next school year.

Prayer

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.  Amen!


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

April 26, 2016

Acts 14: 19-28

But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, then on to Iconium and Antioch. There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.”

And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe. Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed. When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. And they stayed there with the disciples for some time.

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.

Coming Closer

Faith comes to action in today’s first reading. The apostles are men of fire, and they would have to be. Paul is near-death, people are scared and confused. Prayer and fasting help win people over to Christ. Maybe today’s reading applies quite well to the world today.

There are many worries that can occupy our day. There are many reasons for confusion and disagreement. The call of a Christian today seems to be, “How can you bring people closer to Christ?” How can you bring those around you from worry to worship, from confusion to Christ? What would help today? Is it prayer and fasting, or something else? What are you doing to bring others closer to Christ? What could you do to bring others closer to Christ? What will you do to bring others closer to Christ? As a Christian, you share in a missionary call. How can you begin to fulfill it?

—Patrick Hyland, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Chicago-Detroit province, is studying philosophy at St. Louis University. He lives at the Bellarmine House of Studies.

Prayer

 

Glory be to God for dappled things

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

  for rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

           Landscape plotted and piecedfold, fallow, and plough;

            And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

  With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.


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April 25, 2016

St. Mark

1 Pt 5: 5b-14

In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.

Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

Through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, I have written this short letter to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. Your sister church in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Daily Prayer

The spiritual life is unique for each individual as God calls us by name and has a specific plan for our lives. In today’s first reading Peter tells us to fulfill our obligation to that plan by being humble, sober, vigilant, and steadfast in faith. Despite these instructions, we can still question our purpose in God’s plan: Why am I here? And where can I find God?  St. Ignatius understood people’s concerns, and that is one of the reasons he created his Spiritual Exercises. He wanted them to be a source and guide for others to experience God in their lives and to grow in deeper union with him. As St. Ignatius taught, we are all on a unique journey with the same final destination.

What do I need the most today to help me on my journey? Pray throughout the day for this grace always remembering it is enough.

—Mary Lou Manion is an intern in the spiritual direction program at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, Barrington, IL.

Prayer

Life-giving God, help me walk with you this day.
Help me become “steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, untiring in love!”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

April 24, 2016

Jn 13: 31-33a.34-35

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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.

Love One Another

Oh, no, not this harsh and dreadful
Given on this night of Your glory.

Send me to fast in the desert.
Tell me to light a thousand candles.
Command me to give my body to be burned.

But do not ask me to love as You love me.
I simply don’t have it in me.

This world is filled with Judases,
Thieves who betray with a kiss,
Liars who despise all that You profess.

I agree with the Sons of Thunder:
Call down fire from heaven!

So much of me simply wants to see
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
Who cares if we all go blind and toothless?

I keep stumbling over this command
To do what I cannot do  – by myself.

But wait…  oh, yes, I begin to see it now,
A hidden invitation – to beg of You,
To stretch the muscles of my heart.

—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a retreat master, spiritual director, playwright, and poet at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House

Prayer

Lord, strengthen me
To love as You love me,
To forgive as You forgive me.
Form me to be less,
So You may be more,
And more and more and more,
Until You are All in All.
Amen.

J. Michael Sparough, S.J.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

April 23, 2016

St. George  / St.  Adalbert

Jn 14: 7-14

If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.

Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do 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.

An Easter Instant Replay

Four weeks ago today we celebrated the Easter Vigil with its elements of the new fire, the baptismal water, the welcome of new catechumens to our family of faith, and the sharing of the Lord’s Body and Blood in the Easter feast. Joy and hope, renewal and possibility are the hallmarks of this Easter season. Perhaps today offers the chance to do an “instant replay” of our personal and family activities of this past month.

How have I accepted the risen life that Jesus brings? Do others find Easter “joy and hope, renewal and possibility” in my daily interactions? How has Jesus’ invitation to new life stretched my heart and influenced my relationships?

In just three weeks we will celebrate the great feast of Pentecostthe sending of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and homes, to the Church and to our waiting world. What gifts of the Holy Spirit do I especially need this Pentecost 2016?

In what ways might I invite the Holy Spirit to breathe new life and love into my relationships, into our home, into the daily “world” where I live and work and interact?  Come, Holy Spirit!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people. Kindle in us the fire of your enduring love.
Send forth your Holy Spirit, and our hearts will be recreated. Your grace will renew the face of the earth!

—A Traditional Prayer


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

April 22, 2016

Acts 13: 26-33

“My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him. Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead; and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people.And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.’

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.

Jesus Our Truth

Today’s reading continues the litany of sermons Paul is giving as he travels from place to place. In Antioch he points out something very true: the people of Jerusalem failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. And in condemning him, the religious leaders fulfilled the prophecies told in their scriptures—scriptures that were proclaimed every week in their temple! They were blind to what the prophets warned about. And Paul, who is sharing this sermon, is one of them, a former Pharisee whose persecution of the Jesus movement was blinded. Yet the grace of God opened his eyes to the Truth.

Many of us read scripture regularly, yet we can find ourselves blind to them at times. We can easily ignore Jesus’ words and teaching in our daily life. Let’s not fall into the trap of the Pharisees. Let’s allow the Word to become part of our very being, and heed their wisdom.

Andy Otto, originally from Boston, is currently a high school theology teacher for the Diocese of Sacramento. He also runs the Ignatian blog God In All Things.

Prayer

Jesus, I believe you are the Messiah. Teach me to live and breathe your Word, to make it part of my being. Do not let me be blinded. Open my eyes to your Truth and help me to live it daily. Amen.

Andy Otto


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

Anselm, bp, r, dr

Jn 13: 16-20

Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”

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.

Receive the One I Send

Today’s Gospel verses follow on the Holy Thursday scene of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. With that model for our behavior, Jesus commands that we wash each other’s feet. We are well-programmed as Christians to offer our service readily, but tend to be reluctant to accept a ministry of service from others. Somehow it seems less respectable to be on the receiving end. Today Jesus reminds us that, when we accept the service of whomever he sends, we also accept him and the One who sent him. Whether giving or receiving, those bringing love and humility to their service are the very image of God for one another.

Do I appreciate the balance in my life where God’s will for me blends those times when I am his strength for the world, with those times when that world weighs heavy and I draw his strength from another?

—Jim O’Donnell is a long-serving deacon at Gesu Church, University Heights, OH. He is also a University Hospitals physician specializing and leading a research team in nuclear medicine.

Prayer

Lord, grant me a humble and grateful heart to receive the help of others. Remind me that others’ service is the manifestation of your love for me.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

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April 30, 2016

Acts 16: 1-10

Paul went on also to Derbe and to Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and had him circumcised because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went from town to town, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in numbers daily.

They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

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.

Growing in Faith

Today’s lines from the Acts of the Apostles describe Paul’s missionary journeys through Asia Minor as he made his way towards ancient Macedonia. The author of Acts reports great enthusiasm for Paul’s preaching: “Through all this, the congregations grew stronger in faith and daily increased in number.”

This April Saturday marks the end of the fifth week of Easter. Throughout this Easter season our own faith communities have increased in number and grown stronger in faith. As this year’s Easter celebration moves us towards Jesus’ Ascension on May 8 and then the celebration of Pentecost on May 15, each of us can profitably examine just how we have grown in faith. The following reflection questions may help:

What particular grace has come to my heart this year?
What Easter gifts to I notice within our family?
How have I shared a bit of Easter joy and hope and faith at work? Around our neighborhood?
What particular gift of the Holy Spirit do I particularly beg God to send this Pentecost?
How will that gift make a difference in my life and attitude?
How am I letting the Risen Jesus stretch my heart and horizons this Easter 2016?

—The Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts and homes with your grace and new life.
May we go forward these Easter days “steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, untiring in love.`”

—The Jesuit prayer team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

April 29, 2016

St. Catherine of Siena

Jn 15: 12-17

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

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.

Love’s Commands

I never appreciated the Ten Commandments as a teenager because of their negative “do not” wording. “Do not steal. Do not covet your neighbor’s property.” God seemed authoritarian. I cringed at Psalm 119 which says, “Truly I love your commandments more than gold.” How is this possible? It only makes sense when Jesus reminds us that God’s motive is love. We’re commanded to love. And it’s not coming from an authoritarian God but from a friend, the same one who commanded us to wash one another’s feet and not to exclude the widow or the oppressed. Even Ignatius said God is like a friend.

Can we, like Jesus, become friends with the poor? The sinner? The unwanted? Our own annoying families? Are we willing to lay down our lives for them?

The Christian life commands us to risk loving others. And what a beautiful command that is.

Andy Otto, originally from Boston, is currently a high school theology teacher for the Diocese of Sacramento. He also runs the Ignatian blog God In All Things.

Prayer

Lord, you teach me that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. You command me to love people who are hard to love. This is difficult! Only by your love and your grace can I not only love your commands but live them joyfully. Amen.

Andy Otto

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

April 28, 2016

St. Peter Chanel / St. Louis Mary de Montfort

Jn 15: 9-11

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

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.

Love Becomes Me

My loving wife’s mother kept a prayer displayed prominently on her refrigerator: “Lord, help me remember that nothing can happen today that You and I cannot get through together.” I love that thought. Today’s readings contrast well with each other and make me think of that prayer. The Acts reading boils with controversy among the Apostles about how to make Gentiles into new Christians. Argument and discord seem the order of the day. But in the Gospel reading Jesus makes the equation simple: “The Father loves me, I love you, and I invite you to immerse yourself in Us.”

If we really value this momentous gift of love, keeping his commandments is then not a test but a welcome way of life.  Loving God and loving neighbor become not what we do but who we are. Jesus truly wants this for us. Do we strive in the details of our day to accept this?    

—Jim O’Donnell is a long-serving deacon at Gesu Church, University Heights, OH. He is also a University Hospitals physician specializing and leading a research team in nuclear medicine.

Prayer

Our love is shown more in deeds than in words.

—St. Ignatius Loyola

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

April 27, 2016

Jn 15: 1-8

”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

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.

All Glory to God

Periodically, we experience situations that seemingly can only be overcome by our own strength and perseverance. It feels like us against the world. When we emerge from these scenarios unscathed and victorious, we can feel indestructible, that we cannot be stopped. In today’s gospel, however, we are reminded that this feeling is far from the reality.

Jesus compares us to the branches and himself to the vine, telling us that “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” This humbling quote is sometimes very difficult to embrace. When things are going well, we like to feel fully accountable for all successes. This story reminds us that we must thank God for the graces he gives us, and that without his love and mercy, we would be incapable of accomplishing even the easiest of tasks. Give glory and thanks back to God.

Joe Ertle is a junior at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland. He is a student leader for the school’s Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Ministry to the Homeless and will serve as Vice President for the Saint Ignatius Student Senate next school year.

Prayer

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.  Amen!


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April 26, 2016

Acts 14: 19-28

But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, then on to Iconium and Antioch. There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.”

And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe. Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed. When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. And they stayed there with the disciples for some time.

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.

Coming Closer

Faith comes to action in today’s first reading. The apostles are men of fire, and they would have to be. Paul is near-death, people are scared and confused. Prayer and fasting help win people over to Christ. Maybe today’s reading applies quite well to the world today.

There are many worries that can occupy our day. There are many reasons for confusion and disagreement. The call of a Christian today seems to be, “How can you bring people closer to Christ?” How can you bring those around you from worry to worship, from confusion to Christ? What would help today? Is it prayer and fasting, or something else? What are you doing to bring others closer to Christ? What could you do to bring others closer to Christ? What will you do to bring others closer to Christ? As a Christian, you share in a missionary call. How can you begin to fulfill it?

—Patrick Hyland, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Chicago-Detroit province, is studying philosophy at St. Louis University. He lives at the Bellarmine House of Studies.

Prayer

 

Glory be to God for dappled things

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

  for rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

           Landscape plotted and piecedfold, fallow, and plough;

            And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

  With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.


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April 25, 2016

St. Mark

1 Pt 5: 5b-14

In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.

Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

Through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, I have written this short letter to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. Your sister church in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Daily Prayer

The spiritual life is unique for each individual as God calls us by name and has a specific plan for our lives. In today’s first reading Peter tells us to fulfill our obligation to that plan by being humble, sober, vigilant, and steadfast in faith. Despite these instructions, we can still question our purpose in God’s plan: Why am I here? And where can I find God?  St. Ignatius understood people’s concerns, and that is one of the reasons he created his Spiritual Exercises. He wanted them to be a source and guide for others to experience God in their lives and to grow in deeper union with him. As St. Ignatius taught, we are all on a unique journey with the same final destination.

What do I need the most today to help me on my journey? Pray throughout the day for this grace always remembering it is enough.

—Mary Lou Manion is an intern in the spiritual direction program at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, Barrington, IL.

Prayer

Life-giving God, help me walk with you this day.
Help me become “steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, untiring in love!”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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April 24, 2016

Jn 13: 31-33a.34-35

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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.

Love One Another

Oh, no, not this harsh and dreadful
Given on this night of Your glory.

Send me to fast in the desert.
Tell me to light a thousand candles.
Command me to give my body to be burned.

But do not ask me to love as You love me.
I simply don’t have it in me.

This world is filled with Judases,
Thieves who betray with a kiss,
Liars who despise all that You profess.

I agree with the Sons of Thunder:
Call down fire from heaven!

So much of me simply wants to see
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
Who cares if we all go blind and toothless?

I keep stumbling over this command
To do what I cannot do  – by myself.

But wait…  oh, yes, I begin to see it now,
A hidden invitation – to beg of You,
To stretch the muscles of my heart.

—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a retreat master, spiritual director, playwright, and poet at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House

Prayer

Lord, strengthen me
To love as You love me,
To forgive as You forgive me.
Form me to be less,
So You may be more,
And more and more and more,
Until You are All in All.
Amen.

J. Michael Sparough, S.J.


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April 23, 2016

St. George  / St.  Adalbert

Jn 14: 7-14

If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.

Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do 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.

An Easter Instant Replay

Four weeks ago today we celebrated the Easter Vigil with its elements of the new fire, the baptismal water, the welcome of new catechumens to our family of faith, and the sharing of the Lord’s Body and Blood in the Easter feast. Joy and hope, renewal and possibility are the hallmarks of this Easter season. Perhaps today offers the chance to do an “instant replay” of our personal and family activities of this past month.

How have I accepted the risen life that Jesus brings? Do others find Easter “joy and hope, renewal and possibility” in my daily interactions? How has Jesus’ invitation to new life stretched my heart and influenced my relationships?

In just three weeks we will celebrate the great feast of Pentecostthe sending of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and homes, to the Church and to our waiting world. What gifts of the Holy Spirit do I especially need this Pentecost 2016?

In what ways might I invite the Holy Spirit to breathe new life and love into my relationships, into our home, into the daily “world” where I live and work and interact?  Come, Holy Spirit!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people. Kindle in us the fire of your enduring love.
Send forth your Holy Spirit, and our hearts will be recreated. Your grace will renew the face of the earth!

—A Traditional Prayer


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April 22, 2016

Acts 13: 26-33

“My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him. Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead; and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people.And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.’

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.

Jesus Our Truth

Today’s reading continues the litany of sermons Paul is giving as he travels from place to place. In Antioch he points out something very true: the people of Jerusalem failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. And in condemning him, the religious leaders fulfilled the prophecies told in their scriptures—scriptures that were proclaimed every week in their temple! They were blind to what the prophets warned about. And Paul, who is sharing this sermon, is one of them, a former Pharisee whose persecution of the Jesus movement was blinded. Yet the grace of God opened his eyes to the Truth.

Many of us read scripture regularly, yet we can find ourselves blind to them at times. We can easily ignore Jesus’ words and teaching in our daily life. Let’s not fall into the trap of the Pharisees. Let’s allow the Word to become part of our very being, and heed their wisdom.

Andy Otto, originally from Boston, is currently a high school theology teacher for the Diocese of Sacramento. He also runs the Ignatian blog God In All Things.

Prayer

Jesus, I believe you are the Messiah. Teach me to live and breathe your Word, to make it part of my being. Do not let me be blinded. Open my eyes to your Truth and help me to live it daily. Amen.

Andy Otto


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Anselm, bp, r, dr

Jn 13: 16-20

Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”

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.

Receive the One I Send

Today’s Gospel verses follow on the Holy Thursday scene of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. With that model for our behavior, Jesus commands that we wash each other’s feet. We are well-programmed as Christians to offer our service readily, but tend to be reluctant to accept a ministry of service from others. Somehow it seems less respectable to be on the receiving end. Today Jesus reminds us that, when we accept the service of whomever he sends, we also accept him and the One who sent him. Whether giving or receiving, those bringing love and humility to their service are the very image of God for one another.

Do I appreciate the balance in my life where God’s will for me blends those times when I am his strength for the world, with those times when that world weighs heavy and I draw his strength from another?

—Jim O’Donnell is a long-serving deacon at Gesu Church, University Heights, OH. He is also a University Hospitals physician specializing and leading a research team in nuclear medicine.

Prayer

Lord, grant me a humble and grateful heart to receive the help of others. Remind me that others’ service is the manifestation of your love for me.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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