July 31, 2016

Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Lk 12: 13-21

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward 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.

Choose Life

A Jesuit in India, Fr. Hedwig Lewis, S.J., shares the following story which brings to life our daily struggle to choose life: A wise old man once imparted this lesson about life to his grandson.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, benevolence, empathy, truth, compassion and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old man replied,“The one you feed.”

(From “In Good Company:  Information and Insights for Jesuit Collaborators,” Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, Gujarat India, 2016, p. 37)

**********

On this the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, let us do our best to feed “the good wolf “ inside of our hearts!

—Fr. Brian Paulson, S.J. serves as Provincial for Jesuits of the Chicago-Detroit province of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you invite me to be your companion in the footsteps of St. Ignatius.
Help me to feel with your heart, to see with your eyes, to touch with your hands.
May your very heartbeat in mine. Fill me with your good and Holy Spirit.  
As I make choices each day, give me the grace to choose life—your life—
so that your kingdom might be a little bit more visible in our world.

—Father Paulson


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July 30, 2016

Mt 14: 1-12

At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been telling him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet.

But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.

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.

Pilgrimage with Jesus

The violence described in the gospel today is as horrific as what we see in our world. It is difficult, at best, to make any sense of it, and yet not nearly as foreign an experience as one would wish. In the face of this unjust violence, the disciples take a very simple action; they walk to Jesus to share the news with him.

Their care for him gave them purpose in a moment that should have led to despair. Their strength comes with going to Jesus to share news that is important to them (and him). They find their hope in him, as do the millions who have assembled in Krakow, Poland in his name.

The disciples took a pilgrimage to Jesus; World Youth Day has been a pilgrimage for Jesus; and each of our lives is a pilgrimage with Jesus. Today, as we walk along our individual journeys, we can pray the prayer of WYD 2016. A prayer of pilgrimage, for in Jesus we can find the strength to persevere no matter what hindrances may come.

—Juan Ruiz, S.J., a scholastic of the U.S. Central Southern Jesuit province, just completed philosophy studies at Loyola University, Chicago IL.

Prayer

God, merciful Father,
in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have revealed your love
and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,
We entrust to you today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman”.
We entrust to you in a special way
young people of every language, people and nation:
guide and protect them as they walk the complex paths of the world today
and give them the grace to reap abundant fruits
from their experience of the Krakow World Youth Day.

Heavenly Father,
grant that we may bear witness to your mercy.
Teach us how to convey the faith to those in doubt,
hope to those who are discouraged,
love to those who feel indifferent,
forgiveness to those who have done wrong
and joy to those who are unhappy.

Allow the spark of merciful love
that you have enkindled within us
become a fire that can transform hearts
and renew the face of the earth.

Mary, Mother of Mercy, pray for us.
Saint John Paul II, pray for us.
Saint Faustina, pray for us.

Official Pilgrim Prayer: World Youth Day—Krakow 2016


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July 29, 2016

St. Martha, disciple of the Lord

Jn 11: 19-27

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

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

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

Hope and Life

In today’s gospel reading we witness the pain of leaving and loss. People come to greet Martha and Mary because their brother, Lazarus, has just died. However, Martha has faith even in the midst of the loss of her brother. When Martha sees that Jesus is among the people, she runs to him and tells Jesus that she believes that Lazarus would still be here if Jesus had been present. Jesus says, “whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”

It seems like Jesus wants Martha to profess her inward faith in him before he goes and performs a great outward miracle in raising Lazarus from the dead. Like Martha, when we walk by faith, even in the absence of outward signs of optimism, we become symbols of hope and life to our families, neighbors, and the global community.

—Kathleen Cullen Ritter serves as Director of Campus Ministry at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, Milwaukee, WI. She attended Marquette University and served with the Jesuit Volunteer Corp in Bend, OR.

Prayer

Loving God, help me understand that the one thing you want most from me is my presence. Help me realize that my presence is the one gift I can give, and that it is often the only gift that matters. Help me let go of stress, worry, hurt, pain and grudges. All I need is to be more aware of Your presence in my life today and always. Amen.

—Kathleen Cullen Ritter

 


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July 28, 2016

Mt 13: 47-53

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place.

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.

Casting the Net

Christians should strive to be like the net in today’s gospel, gathering all persons without discrimination and without judgment. We should take in persons of “all kinds” in order to build up the Kingdom of God. Let us act as the net does, not letting the smallest or weakest in our world be left behind. The wicked and the righteous both belong in the net if the Kingdom of God is to be realized and lived.

Let us pray that we live inspired by the net and know that the time for God’s justice will come later. Who in our communities or “nets” can we learn to love or include…no matter what?

—Samantha Grady is currently completing her Masters in Theology degree at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

I pray that I may live to fish until my dying day.
and when it comes to my last cast,
Then I most humbly pray,
When in the Lord’s great landing net,
And peacefully asleep,
That in his mercy I be judged big enough to keep. Amen.

—Fr. Thomas Rosica, © 2013, Salt and Light Media, Inc.

 


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July 27, 2016

Jer 15: 10. 16-21

Woe is me, my mother, that you ever bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me. Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; under the weight of your hand I sat alone, for you had filled me with indignation.

Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail. Therefore thus says the Lord: If you turn back, I will take you back, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall serve as my mouth. It is they who will turn to you, not you who will turn to them.

And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the Lord. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

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.

Communicate the Precious

A phrase from today’s first reading caught my attention: “If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall serve as my mouth. It is they who will turn to you, not you who will turn to them.”

I know people who speak wisdom. They speak little, but when they do, what they say is valuable and worthwhile. They don’t waste their breath on the worthless, trivial, and vile. Those are the people I turn to when I want real help and not just a confirmation of my prejudices or inclinations. They foster transformation by attraction rather than promotion. I see Jesus like that, someone who, fueled by deep and consistent prayer, uttered what is precious and the people turned to him.

I cringe thinking of all the goofy, useless things I will likely utter today. What can you do now, to prepare to communicate what’s precious rather than worthless today?

—Tom McGrath is a spiritual director and the Director of Trade Books atLoyola Press in Chicago. Click here to enjoy Loyola Press’s “31 Days with St. Ignatius,” a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality in honor of St. Ignatius’ Feast Day on July 31. Content includes articles, blog posts, and videos to help you learn about and apply the principles of Ignatian spirituality.

Prayer

My mouth shall speak wisdom;
the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.

—Psalm 49: 3


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July 26, 2106

Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of the Virgin Mary

Jer 14: 17-22

You shall say to them this word: Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease, for the virgin daughter—my people—is struck down with a crushing blow, with a very grievous wound. If I go out into the field, look—those killed by the sword! And if I enter the city, look—those sick with famine! For both prophet and priest ply their trade throughout the land, and have no knowledge.

Have you completely rejected Judah? Does your heart loathe Zion? Why have you struck us down so that there is no healing for us? We look for peace, but find no good; for a time of healing, but there is terror instead. We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, the iniquity of our ancestors, for we have sinned against you. Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake; do not dishonor your glorious throne; remember and do not break your covenant with us. Can any idols of the nations bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Is it not you, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for it is you who do all 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.

Patient Courage

Lamentation passages from the Old Testament make me uncomfortable. They are the sort of readings I like to rush through because they ask me to sit with pain and suffering. I often flee from discomfort. I respond to pain by trying to fix it. When others share their sorrows, I immediately switch into problem-solving mode.

Jeremiah shows us a different way. After suffering hunger and violence, his community seeks peace, healing, and rest from destruction. When Jeremiah laments to God, he pours out his pain, confusion, loss, and hurt. He is direct and holds nothing back. In the midst of sorrow, he faithfully turns to God for a way forward.

Being in loving solidarity with others requires that we learn to sit with them in their joys and sorrows. Embracing our Christian call to be conscientious global citizens requires that we engage with the tragedies of our world. Fostering an intimate relationship with Christ requires aligning ourselves with Jesus’ suffering and death, even as he is crucified among us today.

Ask for the grace of patient courage to sit with pain and suffering. Then, as Jeremiah did, boldly express yourself to our listening God.

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

Prayer

What more could bring us hope than to know the pow’r of his life?
What more could bring us peace than to share in his suff’ring and death?
What more could be our final wish than to live in the love of the Lord?

—Michael Joncas, “The Love of the Lord, © 1988, GIA Publications, Inc.

 


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July 25, 2016

St. James,  Apostle

2 Cor 4: 7-15

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.

For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke” —we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence.

Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of 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.

Vessels and Glory

As we age, we grow increasingly aware of how vessel-like our bodies are: they ache, break, and malfunction. We could spend much time, money, and energy trying to restore the vessel to how it used to be. But Paul’s words take us in a different direction entirely. Our bodies—our very lives—are meant to carry Christ’s life. We become incarnations of the divine through Christ’s dwelling in us. We carry God’s glory in these bodies, but we also carry the suffering that accompanies love.

Ignatius of Loyola was forced to relinquish pride in bodily beauty and strength when a cannonball marred and disabled him. Yet those close to him in the long years of his ministry noted how joyful he was, how humble, and how grateful to be put to God’s service. He knew that suffering and love were intertwined.

Can we accept the pain with the glory?

—Vinita Wright serves as Managing Editor, New Product Development at Loyola Press, Chicago, IL. Click here to enjoy Loyola Press’s “31 Days with St. Ignatius,” a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality in honor of St. Ignatius’ Feast Day on July 31. Content includes articles, blog posts, and videos to help you learn about and apply the principles of Ignatian spirituality.

Prayer

Dear Jesus,
You know that I fight any kind of inconvenience
and become insulted when real suffering arrives.
Remind me that love, which requires transformation,
involves the pain of change.
Help me welcome any part of life that
nurtures your life in me.
Amen.

—Vinita Wright

 


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July 24, 2016

Lk 11: 1-13

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.“

So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask 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.

Our Father

Today’s gospel opens with Jesus’ praying, and then being asked to teach his disciples how to pray as John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray. What follows is Luke’s version of the Our Father. While called the “Lord’s Prayer,” neither Matthew’s nor Luke’s version is Jesus’ prayer. That prayer happens in the agony in the garden and on the cross.

This is how we are to pray. We begin with our relationship to God, really Jesus’ relationship to God as Father. And to Jesus’ Father, who is our Father. Our Father is generous, compassionate, caring, and faithful. In the prayer we are called to honor God’s name, to see the reign of God over us and our world, to forgive each other (daily or hourly?), to hope that we can be like God, faithful to and at the end.

The early Church prayed this prayer three and more times a day. Matthew’s version is part of the liturgy. When we prepare adults to be received into the Church, we give them the treasures of the Churchthe Our Father and the Creed. St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches what he terms “the second method of prayer”the Our Fatherin the Spiritual Exercises. Ignatius invites us to pull the prayer apart slowly, savoring each word or phrase, letting ourselves be held in Our Father’s arms. This is a prayer for the community, even when said alone. It is a prayer of mission. It is a prayer of trust. It is a prayer of forgivenessdaily, hourly, long term, or right now.  How do you pray this prayer? How do you live this prayer?

—Fr. Jim Dixon, S.J. serves as chaplain to the Ignatian Volunteer Corps and is Superior of the Woodlawn Jesuit Residence, Chicago IL.

Prayer

Quietly pray the “Our Father”

 


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July 23, 2016

Mt 13: 24-30

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’

He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

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.

Inextricably Interconnected

Over the last few decades it’s become increasingly clear just how interconnected our world is. An increase in average temperature in the Arctic raises the sea level around the world. An increase in output of oil in the Middle East drops prices throughout North America. An increased awareness of violence erodes trust within our global civilization.

Jesus’ parable today brings to light the unseen networks that tie us together. Whether ecological, economic, or interpersonal, our world is inextricably interconnected. These connections beneath the surface are the root system that tie together the weeds and the wheat. They cannot be separated without causing unpredictable and inexplicable harm to each other. Jesus recognized this thousands of years ago and tried to show us how much we depend on each other.

As I go about my day, help me to be sensitive to how my life is tied to that of others: how their gain is my gain and how their loss is my loss, or, how my gain is their gain and my loss is their loss.

—Juan Ruiz, S.J., a scholastic of the U.S. Central Southern Jesuit province, just completed philosophy studies at Loyola University, Chicago IL.

Prayer

Yahweh, I know You are near,
standing always at my side.
You guard me from the foe.
And You lead me in ways everlasting.

Lord, You have searched my heart,
and You know when I sit and when I stand.
Your hand is upon me protecting me from death,
keeping me from harm. [Refrain]

Where can I run from Your love?
If I climb to the heavens You are there;
If I fly to the sunrise or sail beyond the sea,
still I’d find You there. [Refrain]

—Daniel L. Schutte, “You Are Near,” © 1971, administered by OCP Publications.

 


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July 22, 2016

St. Mary Magdalene, disciple of the Lord

2 Cor 5: 14-17

For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

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.

New Creation

You are loved. By Jesus, by family, by friends, by strangers….TODAY the world needs love more than ever. In today’s first reading we are reminded that old things pass and this creates space for a fresh start. St. Paul announces that, “whoever is in Christ is a new creation.”

As a teacher, summer brings time for rest and rejuvenation. However, summer also has a tendency to fly by. It’s important to be present to the moment and cherish it.  Before we know it, a new school year will arrive.

Today, be mindful of the gifts of summer. Take a stroll in the park. Eat a tasty frozen treat. Smell the fresh produce at your local farmers’ market. Hear the laughter of children playing. Go outside and see your neighbors.

—Kathleen Cullen Ritter serves as Director of Campus Ministry at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, Milwaukee, WI. She attended Marquette University and served with the Jesuit Volunteer Corp in Bend, OR.

Prayer

Never has the world had a greater need for love than in our day. People are hungry for love. We don’t have time to stop and smile at each other. We are all in such a hurry! Pray. Ask for the necessary grace. Pray to be able to understand how much Jesus loved us, so that you can love others.

—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta


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July 31, 2016

Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Lk 12: 13-21

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward 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.

Choose Life

A Jesuit in India, Fr. Hedwig Lewis, S.J., shares the following story which brings to life our daily struggle to choose life: A wise old man once imparted this lesson about life to his grandson.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, benevolence, empathy, truth, compassion and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old man replied,“The one you feed.”

(From “In Good Company:  Information and Insights for Jesuit Collaborators,” Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, Gujarat India, 2016, p. 37)

**********

On this the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, let us do our best to feed “the good wolf “ inside of our hearts!

—Fr. Brian Paulson, S.J. serves as Provincial for Jesuits of the Chicago-Detroit province of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you invite me to be your companion in the footsteps of St. Ignatius.
Help me to feel with your heart, to see with your eyes, to touch with your hands.
May your very heartbeat in mine. Fill me with your good and Holy Spirit.  
As I make choices each day, give me the grace to choose life—your life—
so that your kingdom might be a little bit more visible in our world.

—Father Paulson


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July 30, 2016

Mt 14: 1-12

At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been telling him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet.

But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.

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.

Pilgrimage with Jesus

The violence described in the gospel today is as horrific as what we see in our world. It is difficult, at best, to make any sense of it, and yet not nearly as foreign an experience as one would wish. In the face of this unjust violence, the disciples take a very simple action; they walk to Jesus to share the news with him.

Their care for him gave them purpose in a moment that should have led to despair. Their strength comes with going to Jesus to share news that is important to them (and him). They find their hope in him, as do the millions who have assembled in Krakow, Poland in his name.

The disciples took a pilgrimage to Jesus; World Youth Day has been a pilgrimage for Jesus; and each of our lives is a pilgrimage with Jesus. Today, as we walk along our individual journeys, we can pray the prayer of WYD 2016. A prayer of pilgrimage, for in Jesus we can find the strength to persevere no matter what hindrances may come.

—Juan Ruiz, S.J., a scholastic of the U.S. Central Southern Jesuit province, just completed philosophy studies at Loyola University, Chicago IL.

Prayer

God, merciful Father,
in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have revealed your love
and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,
We entrust to you today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman”.
We entrust to you in a special way
young people of every language, people and nation:
guide and protect them as they walk the complex paths of the world today
and give them the grace to reap abundant fruits
from their experience of the Krakow World Youth Day.

Heavenly Father,
grant that we may bear witness to your mercy.
Teach us how to convey the faith to those in doubt,
hope to those who are discouraged,
love to those who feel indifferent,
forgiveness to those who have done wrong
and joy to those who are unhappy.

Allow the spark of merciful love
that you have enkindled within us
become a fire that can transform hearts
and renew the face of the earth.

Mary, Mother of Mercy, pray for us.
Saint John Paul II, pray for us.
Saint Faustina, pray for us.

Official Pilgrim Prayer: World Youth Day—Krakow 2016


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July 29, 2016

St. Martha, disciple of the Lord

Jn 11: 19-27

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

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

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

Hope and Life

In today’s gospel reading we witness the pain of leaving and loss. People come to greet Martha and Mary because their brother, Lazarus, has just died. However, Martha has faith even in the midst of the loss of her brother. When Martha sees that Jesus is among the people, she runs to him and tells Jesus that she believes that Lazarus would still be here if Jesus had been present. Jesus says, “whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”

It seems like Jesus wants Martha to profess her inward faith in him before he goes and performs a great outward miracle in raising Lazarus from the dead. Like Martha, when we walk by faith, even in the absence of outward signs of optimism, we become symbols of hope and life to our families, neighbors, and the global community.

—Kathleen Cullen Ritter serves as Director of Campus Ministry at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, Milwaukee, WI. She attended Marquette University and served with the Jesuit Volunteer Corp in Bend, OR.

Prayer

Loving God, help me understand that the one thing you want most from me is my presence. Help me realize that my presence is the one gift I can give, and that it is often the only gift that matters. Help me let go of stress, worry, hurt, pain and grudges. All I need is to be more aware of Your presence in my life today and always. Amen.

—Kathleen Cullen Ritter

 


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July 28, 2016

Mt 13: 47-53

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place.

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.

Casting the Net

Christians should strive to be like the net in today’s gospel, gathering all persons without discrimination and without judgment. We should take in persons of “all kinds” in order to build up the Kingdom of God. Let us act as the net does, not letting the smallest or weakest in our world be left behind. The wicked and the righteous both belong in the net if the Kingdom of God is to be realized and lived.

Let us pray that we live inspired by the net and know that the time for God’s justice will come later. Who in our communities or “nets” can we learn to love or include…no matter what?

—Samantha Grady is currently completing her Masters in Theology degree at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

I pray that I may live to fish until my dying day.
and when it comes to my last cast,
Then I most humbly pray,
When in the Lord’s great landing net,
And peacefully asleep,
That in his mercy I be judged big enough to keep. Amen.

—Fr. Thomas Rosica, © 2013, Salt and Light Media, Inc.

 


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July 27, 2016

Jer 15: 10. 16-21

Woe is me, my mother, that you ever bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me. Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; under the weight of your hand I sat alone, for you had filled me with indignation.

Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail. Therefore thus says the Lord: If you turn back, I will take you back, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall serve as my mouth. It is they who will turn to you, not you who will turn to them.

And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the Lord. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

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.

Communicate the Precious

A phrase from today’s first reading caught my attention: “If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall serve as my mouth. It is they who will turn to you, not you who will turn to them.”

I know people who speak wisdom. They speak little, but when they do, what they say is valuable and worthwhile. They don’t waste their breath on the worthless, trivial, and vile. Those are the people I turn to when I want real help and not just a confirmation of my prejudices or inclinations. They foster transformation by attraction rather than promotion. I see Jesus like that, someone who, fueled by deep and consistent prayer, uttered what is precious and the people turned to him.

I cringe thinking of all the goofy, useless things I will likely utter today. What can you do now, to prepare to communicate what’s precious rather than worthless today?

—Tom McGrath is a spiritual director and the Director of Trade Books atLoyola Press in Chicago. Click here to enjoy Loyola Press’s “31 Days with St. Ignatius,” a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality in honor of St. Ignatius’ Feast Day on July 31. Content includes articles, blog posts, and videos to help you learn about and apply the principles of Ignatian spirituality.

Prayer

My mouth shall speak wisdom;
the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.

—Psalm 49: 3


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July 26, 2106

Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of the Virgin Mary

Jer 14: 17-22

You shall say to them this word: Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease, for the virgin daughter—my people—is struck down with a crushing blow, with a very grievous wound. If I go out into the field, look—those killed by the sword! And if I enter the city, look—those sick with famine! For both prophet and priest ply their trade throughout the land, and have no knowledge.

Have you completely rejected Judah? Does your heart loathe Zion? Why have you struck us down so that there is no healing for us? We look for peace, but find no good; for a time of healing, but there is terror instead. We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, the iniquity of our ancestors, for we have sinned against you. Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake; do not dishonor your glorious throne; remember and do not break your covenant with us. Can any idols of the nations bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Is it not you, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for it is you who do all 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.

Patient Courage

Lamentation passages from the Old Testament make me uncomfortable. They are the sort of readings I like to rush through because they ask me to sit with pain and suffering. I often flee from discomfort. I respond to pain by trying to fix it. When others share their sorrows, I immediately switch into problem-solving mode.

Jeremiah shows us a different way. After suffering hunger and violence, his community seeks peace, healing, and rest from destruction. When Jeremiah laments to God, he pours out his pain, confusion, loss, and hurt. He is direct and holds nothing back. In the midst of sorrow, he faithfully turns to God for a way forward.

Being in loving solidarity with others requires that we learn to sit with them in their joys and sorrows. Embracing our Christian call to be conscientious global citizens requires that we engage with the tragedies of our world. Fostering an intimate relationship with Christ requires aligning ourselves with Jesus’ suffering and death, even as he is crucified among us today.

Ask for the grace of patient courage to sit with pain and suffering. Then, as Jeremiah did, boldly express yourself to our listening God.

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

Prayer

What more could bring us hope than to know the pow’r of his life?
What more could bring us peace than to share in his suff’ring and death?
What more could be our final wish than to live in the love of the Lord?

—Michael Joncas, “The Love of the Lord, © 1988, GIA Publications, Inc.

 


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July 25, 2016

St. James,  Apostle

2 Cor 4: 7-15

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.

For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke” —we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence.

Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of 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.

Vessels and Glory

As we age, we grow increasingly aware of how vessel-like our bodies are: they ache, break, and malfunction. We could spend much time, money, and energy trying to restore the vessel to how it used to be. But Paul’s words take us in a different direction entirely. Our bodies—our very lives—are meant to carry Christ’s life. We become incarnations of the divine through Christ’s dwelling in us. We carry God’s glory in these bodies, but we also carry the suffering that accompanies love.

Ignatius of Loyola was forced to relinquish pride in bodily beauty and strength when a cannonball marred and disabled him. Yet those close to him in the long years of his ministry noted how joyful he was, how humble, and how grateful to be put to God’s service. He knew that suffering and love were intertwined.

Can we accept the pain with the glory?

—Vinita Wright serves as Managing Editor, New Product Development at Loyola Press, Chicago, IL. Click here to enjoy Loyola Press’s “31 Days with St. Ignatius,” a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality in honor of St. Ignatius’ Feast Day on July 31. Content includes articles, blog posts, and videos to help you learn about and apply the principles of Ignatian spirituality.

Prayer

Dear Jesus,
You know that I fight any kind of inconvenience
and become insulted when real suffering arrives.
Remind me that love, which requires transformation,
involves the pain of change.
Help me welcome any part of life that
nurtures your life in me.
Amen.

—Vinita Wright

 


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July 24, 2016

Lk 11: 1-13

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.“

So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask 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.

Our Father

Today’s gospel opens with Jesus’ praying, and then being asked to teach his disciples how to pray as John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray. What follows is Luke’s version of the Our Father. While called the “Lord’s Prayer,” neither Matthew’s nor Luke’s version is Jesus’ prayer. That prayer happens in the agony in the garden and on the cross.

This is how we are to pray. We begin with our relationship to God, really Jesus’ relationship to God as Father. And to Jesus’ Father, who is our Father. Our Father is generous, compassionate, caring, and faithful. In the prayer we are called to honor God’s name, to see the reign of God over us and our world, to forgive each other (daily or hourly?), to hope that we can be like God, faithful to and at the end.

The early Church prayed this prayer three and more times a day. Matthew’s version is part of the liturgy. When we prepare adults to be received into the Church, we give them the treasures of the Churchthe Our Father and the Creed. St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches what he terms “the second method of prayer”the Our Fatherin the Spiritual Exercises. Ignatius invites us to pull the prayer apart slowly, savoring each word or phrase, letting ourselves be held in Our Father’s arms. This is a prayer for the community, even when said alone. It is a prayer of mission. It is a prayer of trust. It is a prayer of forgivenessdaily, hourly, long term, or right now.  How do you pray this prayer? How do you live this prayer?

—Fr. Jim Dixon, S.J. serves as chaplain to the Ignatian Volunteer Corps and is Superior of the Woodlawn Jesuit Residence, Chicago IL.

Prayer

Quietly pray the “Our Father”

 


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July 23, 2016

Mt 13: 24-30

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’

He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

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.

Inextricably Interconnected

Over the last few decades it’s become increasingly clear just how interconnected our world is. An increase in average temperature in the Arctic raises the sea level around the world. An increase in output of oil in the Middle East drops prices throughout North America. An increased awareness of violence erodes trust within our global civilization.

Jesus’ parable today brings to light the unseen networks that tie us together. Whether ecological, economic, or interpersonal, our world is inextricably interconnected. These connections beneath the surface are the root system that tie together the weeds and the wheat. They cannot be separated without causing unpredictable and inexplicable harm to each other. Jesus recognized this thousands of years ago and tried to show us how much we depend on each other.

As I go about my day, help me to be sensitive to how my life is tied to that of others: how their gain is my gain and how their loss is my loss, or, how my gain is their gain and my loss is their loss.

—Juan Ruiz, S.J., a scholastic of the U.S. Central Southern Jesuit province, just completed philosophy studies at Loyola University, Chicago IL.

Prayer

Yahweh, I know You are near,
standing always at my side.
You guard me from the foe.
And You lead me in ways everlasting.

Lord, You have searched my heart,
and You know when I sit and when I stand.
Your hand is upon me protecting me from death,
keeping me from harm. [Refrain]

Where can I run from Your love?
If I climb to the heavens You are there;
If I fly to the sunrise or sail beyond the sea,
still I’d find You there. [Refrain]

—Daniel L. Schutte, “You Are Near,” © 1971, administered by OCP Publications.

 


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July 22, 2016

St. Mary Magdalene, disciple of the Lord

2 Cor 5: 14-17

For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

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.

New Creation

You are loved. By Jesus, by family, by friends, by strangers….TODAY the world needs love more than ever. In today’s first reading we are reminded that old things pass and this creates space for a fresh start. St. Paul announces that, “whoever is in Christ is a new creation.”

As a teacher, summer brings time for rest and rejuvenation. However, summer also has a tendency to fly by. It’s important to be present to the moment and cherish it.  Before we know it, a new school year will arrive.

Today, be mindful of the gifts of summer. Take a stroll in the park. Eat a tasty frozen treat. Smell the fresh produce at your local farmers’ market. Hear the laughter of children playing. Go outside and see your neighbors.

—Kathleen Cullen Ritter serves as Director of Campus Ministry at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, Milwaukee, WI. She attended Marquette University and served with the Jesuit Volunteer Corp in Bend, OR.

Prayer

Never has the world had a greater need for love than in our day. People are hungry for love. We don’t have time to stop and smile at each other. We are all in such a hurry! Pray. Ask for the necessary grace. Pray to be able to understand how much Jesus loved us, so that you can love others.

—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta


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