August 31, 2016

1 Cor 3: 1-9

And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

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.

Following Jesus

One thing is certain: the Corinthians had a lot going on within their community. Paul laments the jealousy and rivalry that have arisen from different “camps” of followers. 2,000 years later, can we say that the Church has improved in this regard?

I often catch myself placing fellow Christians into camps: “He is so traditional!” or “She is way too liberal!” Or I identify much too easily with one side of the aisle for whatever reason. I get so caught up worrying about what others in my camp are thinking that I risk losing touch with the fact that I am a disciple of Jesus, first and foremost.

Paul wisely asks each of us to take a step back today and ask ourselves: Who am I following? Am I truly free to detach from whatever camp I might find myself in, if it means following Jesus more closely?

—Dan Finucane teaches theology and coordinates Campus Ministry activities at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis MO.

Prayer

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

—St. Ignatius Loyola

 

 


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August 30, 2016

Lk 4: 31-37

He went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Let us alone! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, “What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” And a report about him began to reach every place in the region.

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.

A Trustworthy Voice

“What is there about his word?” is the reaction of Jesus’ onlookers. He speaks and acts with an authority which is different from the scribes and Pharisees with whom they are familiar. The power of his word drives out evil spirits. What do you imagine he sounded like?

Throughout our day, there are a myriad of voices that clamor for our attention, and through prayer and reflection we must pick out the voice of the Lord. This is the voice which strikes us as trustworthy, and which always reminds us that God is our Creator and our ultimate End. Pray for the grace to hear it!

—Michael Lamanna, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Northeast Jesuit province, just completed his philosophy studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

More than ever I find myself in the hands of God.
This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth.

But now there is a difference;
The initiative is entirely with God.

It is indeed a profound spiritual experience
To know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands.

—Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

 


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August 29, 2016

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

1 Cor 2: 1-5

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power 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.

Living Our Baptism

John, son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, was minding his own business when he came to understand that God wanted him to do something quite different with his life. So he went to the desert where he gradually learned that he was to preach a baptism of repentance. John is described as “the voice of one crying in the desert.” John’s prophetic preaching  eventually brought him to the Jordan river, where he meets Jesus, his cousin. “Behold the Lamb of God,” John shouts, as Jesus asks him for baptism. Eventually John is imprisoned and then beheaded at Herod’s command, as Mark’s gospel account describes.

Today’s reading St. Paul helps us understand John’s life of brotherly love. God used John to introduce the life and purpose, the ministry and mission of Jesus as our Savior, the redeemer of the world. John’s life of faith reminds us that our faith rests not on human wisdom “but on the power of God.” What small steps can I take today to live out my own baptism in the power of God’s life and love?

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

God our Father, you called John the Baptist to be the herald of your son’s birth and death.
As he gave his life in witness to to truth and justice, so may we strive to profess faith in your gospel.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—The Roman Sacramentary

 


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August 28, 2016

Lk 14: 1. 7-14

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.

When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.

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

He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

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.

Obstacles

Do I want to be the center of attention? To have my importance validated by others? To be rewarded when I’ve done something good for others? Jesus says in today’s Gospel that any of these can be an obstacle to my doing God’s work.

Who are the people I eat with? The people I spend time with? The people I seek out? Who they are shows me who is important in my life and who isn’t.

Given my answers to these questions, what is my life’s banquet like? Am I happy with the picture? What do I like about it? Would I change any part of it? How?

—Fr. Chris Manahan, S.J. serves as Director of Jesuit Retreat House, Oshkosh, WI.

Prayer

Lord, while it’s not unusual to be critical of people who “seek the place of honor,” it’s far more difficult to recognize such behavior in ourselves. Anytime we begin to covet recognition or force our opinion on others, we begin moving toward that “seat of honor.” We greatly desire that your Spirit keep us from rationalizing our motives in such situation. This day should the “seat of honor,” be within our glance, let us stay focused on what really matters — using our position, power, and authority for your greater glory.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

 


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August 27, 2016

St. Monica

Mt 25: 14-30

“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest.

So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

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.

God at Work

After qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in the 100m sprint, U.S. runner English Gardner broke down, fell on her knees, and cried out, “Thank you, Jesus. O God I praise you!”

I love watching the Olympics. I am inspired by athletes who have dedicated years towards their craft. I am moved witnessing people who acknowledge not only their own hard work, but the sacrifices many people have made for them. They thank their family, friends, coaches, and their country for helping them reach that special moment on the Olympic stage.

God has been slowly working in each of us over the last 10, 20, 50, 80 years. God labors each day so our hearts beat and our lungs breathe. God shapes us through our relationships, experiences, struggles, and joys. The creator dreams us to be all that we are. How have you given glory to God for your “talents?”

—Ryan Mak, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the California Jesuit province, is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Oh Lord, my God,
You called me from the sleep of nothingness
merely because in your tremendous love
You want to make good and beautiful things.
You have called me by name in my mother’s womb.
You have given me breath and light and movement
and walked with me every moment of my existence.
I am amazed, Lord God of the universe,
that you attend to me and, more, cherish me.
Create in me the faithfulness that moves You,
and I will trust you and yearn for You all my days.  Amen.

—Joseph Tetlow, S.J.

 


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August 26, 2016

1 Cor 1: 17-25

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age?

Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

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.

God’s Foolishness

I did not become Catholic because I was convinced by the arguments of theologians. Apologetics didn’t bring me any closer to Jesus or his Church. Rather, I noticed how my wife was affected by going to Mass. She would go to Mass in a horrible mood and return happy and joyful.

One day I asked her, “What’s the deal?”

The deal, she explained, was that the Mass brought her peace. That was it. No argument. No rebuttal. Just a simple statement: her faith brought her peace.

As foolish as her statement seemed to me at the time, I was inspired and began a long and interesting faith journey. Sometimes people ask me why I became Catholic. My answer: God has a sense of humor.

It may seem like a foolish answer, but it’s God’s foolishness.

Do you proclaim the Gospel with human wisdom or with God’s foolishness?

Bob Burnham, OFS, a Secular Franciscan and spiritual director, writes and edits for Loyola Press in Chicago

Prayer

Let me have too deep a sense of humor ever to be proud.
Let me know my absurdity before I act absurdly.
Let me realize that when I am humble I am most human,
most truthful,
and most worthy of your serious consideration.

Daniel A. Lord, S.J., in Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, ed. Michael Harter, S.J. (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2004)

 


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August 25, 2016

St. Louis of France / St. Joseph Calasanz

1 Cor 1: 1-9

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

True Gladness

Today’s opening prayers entreat God to “save the one who trusts in you” and ask that we might “love what you command and desire what you promise.” I certainly hear myself  in that plea for grace and salvation on the path to true gladness. This is the core reality and the responsibility of my life in faith with God.

Yet my faith also demands I ever be prepared, awake and aware, as I desire to live in the presence of God. Sometimes, I am challenged to remember that to love and live in the ways of the Lord is not easy, or may not make sense. Yet, I have chosen this path and God has chosen me. My faith is a life-long balance to share the gladness, live in the presence and accept the responsibility of my relationship with God. My true gladness comes from living in this choice.

—Mary Burke-Peterson is a parishioner at St. Nicholas Church, Evanston, an active volunteer in the Ignatian Spirituality Project, and a graduate student at Institute for Pastoral Studies at Loyola University.               

Prayer

Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the Lord our God be ours;
Prosper the work of our hands!

—Psalm 90: 14, 17

 


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August 24, 2016

St. Bartholomew

Jn 1: 45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!”

Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.”And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

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.

“Come and See”

In St. Louis, we native St. Louisans always ask the same question within seconds of meeting another St. Louisan: “where did you go to high school?” Though seemingly innocent, we often use this question to place the other into a box: as rich, middle-class or poor; intelligent, average or worse…

I am a firm believer that Christ visits us daily, in a myriad of places, people and moments. But I also know that I tend to rely too heavily on pre-conceived notions about others. It is often much easier to hear “Nazareth” and settle for what I think I need to know about someone. Doing so shuts off the opportunity to encounter the Lord in the goodness of others.

Today, Philip invites us to “Come and see”: to forgo our narrow expectations and open our hearts to where and in whom God is present in our lives.

How will I respond?

—Dan Finucane teaches theology and coordinates Campus Ministry activities at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis MO.

Prayer

Come and see come and see what God has done
come and see come and see what love has won
in this place hearts and lives waking up
to the Light of the world
You’re the Light of the world
in this place hearts and lives waking up
to the Light of the world
You’re the Light of the world

—Come and See, by Matt Redman, © Sony ATV Music Publishing

 


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August 23, 2016

St. Rose of Lima

Mt 23: 23-26

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.

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.

Gospel Fragrance

In today’s gospel, Jesus reminds the Pharisees about the imbalance between their  following rules and rituals and their acting with mercy, integrity, and justice. It reminds me of a quote from Pope Francis’ 2013 exhortation Evangelii Gaudium:

Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. Under no circumstance can this invitation be obscured! […] It would mean that it is not the Gospel which is being preached, but certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options. The message will run the risk of losing its freshness and will cease to have “the fragrance of the Gospel.”

Pope Francis continues to warn us of an over-reliance on ideologies and superficial programs for happiness. The Gospel invites us out of a programmed and restricted reality and into the unpredictable place of mercy, love, and justice—virtues which soften and strengthen our hearts while widening our limited grasp of the moral world.

What gift can you ask God to give you, so that you might smell the fresh “fragrance of the Gospel” in your life?

—Michael Lamanna, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Northeast Jesuit province, just completed his philosophy studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Love consists in sharing what one has and who one is with those one loves.
Love ought to show itself in deeds more than in words.

—St. Ignatius Loyola


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August 22, 2016

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mt 23: 13-22

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’

How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon 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.

Mary, Mother and Queen

All the events of Mary’s life are associated with Jesus. Thus today’s feast of Mary’s queenship has strong Scriptural roots, precisely because Mary’s title as queen is her sharing in Jesus’ kingship. At the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel announced that Mary’s Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. And at the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary the “mother of my Lord.”

In the fourth century St. Ephrem called Mary “Lady” and “Queen.” Church fathers continued to use the title. Church hymns of the early centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” (Salve Regina) and “Queen of Heaven” (Regina Coeli) are two of them. The Dominican rosary and numerous invocations in the Litany of Loreto celebrate her queenship.

Who among us doesn’t rely on special friends to make our way through life? Today’s feast offers the opportunity to reflect and celebrate Mary as a mentor, a special friend, the mother of Jesus. The hymn below celebrates the special role May plays in my personal life and within our family.

—Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercies, our life, our sweetness, and our hope;
To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To you do send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate, your eyes of mercy towards us,
and after this exile show us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus.
O clement,O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

—Traditional Salve Regina hymn

 


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August 31, 2016

1 Cor 3: 1-9

And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

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.

Following Jesus

One thing is certain: the Corinthians had a lot going on within their community. Paul laments the jealousy and rivalry that have arisen from different “camps” of followers. 2,000 years later, can we say that the Church has improved in this regard?

I often catch myself placing fellow Christians into camps: “He is so traditional!” or “She is way too liberal!” Or I identify much too easily with one side of the aisle for whatever reason. I get so caught up worrying about what others in my camp are thinking that I risk losing touch with the fact that I am a disciple of Jesus, first and foremost.

Paul wisely asks each of us to take a step back today and ask ourselves: Who am I following? Am I truly free to detach from whatever camp I might find myself in, if it means following Jesus more closely?

—Dan Finucane teaches theology and coordinates Campus Ministry activities at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis MO.

Prayer

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

—St. Ignatius Loyola

 

 


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August 30, 2016

Lk 4: 31-37

He went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Let us alone! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, “What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” And a report about him began to reach every place in the region.

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.

A Trustworthy Voice

“What is there about his word?” is the reaction of Jesus’ onlookers. He speaks and acts with an authority which is different from the scribes and Pharisees with whom they are familiar. The power of his word drives out evil spirits. What do you imagine he sounded like?

Throughout our day, there are a myriad of voices that clamor for our attention, and through prayer and reflection we must pick out the voice of the Lord. This is the voice which strikes us as trustworthy, and which always reminds us that God is our Creator and our ultimate End. Pray for the grace to hear it!

—Michael Lamanna, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Northeast Jesuit province, just completed his philosophy studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

More than ever I find myself in the hands of God.
This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth.

But now there is a difference;
The initiative is entirely with God.

It is indeed a profound spiritual experience
To know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands.

—Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 29, 2016

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

1 Cor 2: 1-5

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power 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.

Living Our Baptism

John, son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, was minding his own business when he came to understand that God wanted him to do something quite different with his life. So he went to the desert where he gradually learned that he was to preach a baptism of repentance. John is described as “the voice of one crying in the desert.” John’s prophetic preaching  eventually brought him to the Jordan river, where he meets Jesus, his cousin. “Behold the Lamb of God,” John shouts, as Jesus asks him for baptism. Eventually John is imprisoned and then beheaded at Herod’s command, as Mark’s gospel account describes.

Today’s reading St. Paul helps us understand John’s life of brotherly love. God used John to introduce the life and purpose, the ministry and mission of Jesus as our Savior, the redeemer of the world. John’s life of faith reminds us that our faith rests not on human wisdom “but on the power of God.” What small steps can I take today to live out my own baptism in the power of God’s life and love?

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

God our Father, you called John the Baptist to be the herald of your son’s birth and death.
As he gave his life in witness to to truth and justice, so may we strive to profess faith in your gospel.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—The Roman Sacramentary

 


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August 28, 2016

Lk 14: 1. 7-14

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.

When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.

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

He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

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.

Obstacles

Do I want to be the center of attention? To have my importance validated by others? To be rewarded when I’ve done something good for others? Jesus says in today’s Gospel that any of these can be an obstacle to my doing God’s work.

Who are the people I eat with? The people I spend time with? The people I seek out? Who they are shows me who is important in my life and who isn’t.

Given my answers to these questions, what is my life’s banquet like? Am I happy with the picture? What do I like about it? Would I change any part of it? How?

—Fr. Chris Manahan, S.J. serves as Director of Jesuit Retreat House, Oshkosh, WI.

Prayer

Lord, while it’s not unusual to be critical of people who “seek the place of honor,” it’s far more difficult to recognize such behavior in ourselves. Anytime we begin to covet recognition or force our opinion on others, we begin moving toward that “seat of honor.” We greatly desire that your Spirit keep us from rationalizing our motives in such situation. This day should the “seat of honor,” be within our glance, let us stay focused on what really matters — using our position, power, and authority for your greater glory.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

 


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August 27, 2016

St. Monica

Mt 25: 14-30

“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest.

So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

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.

God at Work

After qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in the 100m sprint, U.S. runner English Gardner broke down, fell on her knees, and cried out, “Thank you, Jesus. O God I praise you!”

I love watching the Olympics. I am inspired by athletes who have dedicated years towards their craft. I am moved witnessing people who acknowledge not only their own hard work, but the sacrifices many people have made for them. They thank their family, friends, coaches, and their country for helping them reach that special moment on the Olympic stage.

God has been slowly working in each of us over the last 10, 20, 50, 80 years. God labors each day so our hearts beat and our lungs breathe. God shapes us through our relationships, experiences, struggles, and joys. The creator dreams us to be all that we are. How have you given glory to God for your “talents?”

—Ryan Mak, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the California Jesuit province, is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Oh Lord, my God,
You called me from the sleep of nothingness
merely because in your tremendous love
You want to make good and beautiful things.
You have called me by name in my mother’s womb.
You have given me breath and light and movement
and walked with me every moment of my existence.
I am amazed, Lord God of the universe,
that you attend to me and, more, cherish me.
Create in me the faithfulness that moves You,
and I will trust you and yearn for You all my days.  Amen.

—Joseph Tetlow, S.J.

 


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August 26, 2016

1 Cor 1: 17-25

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age?

Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

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.

God’s Foolishness

I did not become Catholic because I was convinced by the arguments of theologians. Apologetics didn’t bring me any closer to Jesus or his Church. Rather, I noticed how my wife was affected by going to Mass. She would go to Mass in a horrible mood and return happy and joyful.

One day I asked her, “What’s the deal?”

The deal, she explained, was that the Mass brought her peace. That was it. No argument. No rebuttal. Just a simple statement: her faith brought her peace.

As foolish as her statement seemed to me at the time, I was inspired and began a long and interesting faith journey. Sometimes people ask me why I became Catholic. My answer: God has a sense of humor.

It may seem like a foolish answer, but it’s God’s foolishness.

Do you proclaim the Gospel with human wisdom or with God’s foolishness?

Bob Burnham, OFS, a Secular Franciscan and spiritual director, writes and edits for Loyola Press in Chicago

Prayer

Let me have too deep a sense of humor ever to be proud.
Let me know my absurdity before I act absurdly.
Let me realize that when I am humble I am most human,
most truthful,
and most worthy of your serious consideration.

Daniel A. Lord, S.J., in Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, ed. Michael Harter, S.J. (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2004)

 


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August 25, 2016

St. Louis of France / St. Joseph Calasanz

1 Cor 1: 1-9

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

True Gladness

Today’s opening prayers entreat God to “save the one who trusts in you” and ask that we might “love what you command and desire what you promise.” I certainly hear myself  in that plea for grace and salvation on the path to true gladness. This is the core reality and the responsibility of my life in faith with God.

Yet my faith also demands I ever be prepared, awake and aware, as I desire to live in the presence of God. Sometimes, I am challenged to remember that to love and live in the ways of the Lord is not easy, or may not make sense. Yet, I have chosen this path and God has chosen me. My faith is a life-long balance to share the gladness, live in the presence and accept the responsibility of my relationship with God. My true gladness comes from living in this choice.

—Mary Burke-Peterson is a parishioner at St. Nicholas Church, Evanston, an active volunteer in the Ignatian Spirituality Project, and a graduate student at Institute for Pastoral Studies at Loyola University.               

Prayer

Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the Lord our God be ours;
Prosper the work of our hands!

—Psalm 90: 14, 17

 


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August 24, 2016

St. Bartholomew

Jn 1: 45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!”

Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.”And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

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.

“Come and See”

In St. Louis, we native St. Louisans always ask the same question within seconds of meeting another St. Louisan: “where did you go to high school?” Though seemingly innocent, we often use this question to place the other into a box: as rich, middle-class or poor; intelligent, average or worse…

I am a firm believer that Christ visits us daily, in a myriad of places, people and moments. But I also know that I tend to rely too heavily on pre-conceived notions about others. It is often much easier to hear “Nazareth” and settle for what I think I need to know about someone. Doing so shuts off the opportunity to encounter the Lord in the goodness of others.

Today, Philip invites us to “Come and see”: to forgo our narrow expectations and open our hearts to where and in whom God is present in our lives.

How will I respond?

—Dan Finucane teaches theology and coordinates Campus Ministry activities at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis MO.

Prayer

Come and see come and see what God has done
come and see come and see what love has won
in this place hearts and lives waking up
to the Light of the world
You’re the Light of the world
in this place hearts and lives waking up
to the Light of the world
You’re the Light of the world

—Come and See, by Matt Redman, © Sony ATV Music Publishing

 


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August 23, 2016

St. Rose of Lima

Mt 23: 23-26

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.

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.

Gospel Fragrance

In today’s gospel, Jesus reminds the Pharisees about the imbalance between their  following rules and rituals and their acting with mercy, integrity, and justice. It reminds me of a quote from Pope Francis’ 2013 exhortation Evangelii Gaudium:

Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. Under no circumstance can this invitation be obscured! […] It would mean that it is not the Gospel which is being preached, but certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options. The message will run the risk of losing its freshness and will cease to have “the fragrance of the Gospel.”

Pope Francis continues to warn us of an over-reliance on ideologies and superficial programs for happiness. The Gospel invites us out of a programmed and restricted reality and into the unpredictable place of mercy, love, and justice—virtues which soften and strengthen our hearts while widening our limited grasp of the moral world.

What gift can you ask God to give you, so that you might smell the fresh “fragrance of the Gospel” in your life?

—Michael Lamanna, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Northeast Jesuit province, just completed his philosophy studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Love consists in sharing what one has and who one is with those one loves.
Love ought to show itself in deeds more than in words.

—St. Ignatius Loyola


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August 22, 2016

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mt 23: 13-22

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’

How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon 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.

Mary, Mother and Queen

All the events of Mary’s life are associated with Jesus. Thus today’s feast of Mary’s queenship has strong Scriptural roots, precisely because Mary’s title as queen is her sharing in Jesus’ kingship. At the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel announced that Mary’s Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. And at the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary the “mother of my Lord.”

In the fourth century St. Ephrem called Mary “Lady” and “Queen.” Church fathers continued to use the title. Church hymns of the early centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” (Salve Regina) and “Queen of Heaven” (Regina Coeli) are two of them. The Dominican rosary and numerous invocations in the Litany of Loreto celebrate her queenship.

Who among us doesn’t rely on special friends to make our way through life? Today’s feast offers the opportunity to reflect and celebrate Mary as a mentor, a special friend, the mother of Jesus. The hymn below celebrates the special role May plays in my personal life and within our family.

—Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercies, our life, our sweetness, and our hope;
To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To you do send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate, your eyes of mercy towards us,
and after this exile show us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus.
O clement,O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

—Traditional Salve Regina hymn

 


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