September 30, 2016

St. Jerome

Lk 10: 13-16

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

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

The More, the Most

A favorite fresco is that of St. Jerome by Domenico Ghirlandaio in the church of Ognissanti in Florence, Italy. It’s an elaborate renaissance (1480) depiction of Jerome that tells you he was a doctor of the church, famous for translating the bible into Latin.

St. Jerome was really a 5TH century ascetic scholar who legend says once lived in the same cave where Jesus was born.  But, no matter, because what we think is striking about the painting is its capturing of a precise moment in time versus a static portrait of St. Jerome. Jerome has stopped his work and inquisitively looked up and out. One wonders what has interrupted his life’s work.

We know from his writings, in response to the refugee crisis upon the sack of Rome, that he said, “I have put aside all study. For today we must translate the precepts of the Scriptures into deeds; instead of speaking saintly words we must act on them.”  St. Jerome, so close to the Lord and attuned to the movement of the Holy Spirit, is perhaps shown in this fresco at a moment of immediate and decisive discernment, resulting in abandoning his scholarly mission and acting on a call to the more, the most.

Am I growing in my closeness to Jesus that I may be keenly aware of and ready to act on his call to the more, the most?

 —Marty Massiello, a hospital administrator, and Jeff Weyant, an artist and designer, work in Palm Springs CA. They are members of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church and active at Verbum Dei, the Cristo Rey high school in Los Angeles CA.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me to see not only what I have done for you, and what I am doing for you, but to see what more I can do for you. Amen.

 

 


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September 29, 2016

Sts. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, archangels

Jn 1: 47-51

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.

Healing – Proclaiming – Protecting

Today we celebrate the feast of the Archangels. These three archangels help God’s people in diverse ways throughout Scripture: Raphael heals, Gabriel proclaims, and Michael protects. These angelic duties are ones we can participate in as well. How do I help those in my life find healing and hope? How do I joyfully proclaim the truth about Jesus? How do I fight against evil and protect the vulnerable?

In today’s Gospel, Nathanael meets Jesus and is taken aback. Jesus knows a small detail about Nathanael’s life, but Jesus affirms Nathanael’s faith and honesty. He promises Nathanael that he’ll see even more amazing things if he follows Jesus as a disciple. How many of us are like Nathanael, expecting that we aren’t noticed? Sometimes it’s easy to feel like our small acts of faith are sidelined by more important people or attention-grabbing headlines, but Jesus sees into our hearts like he saw Nathanael’s. Each of us is invited to share in Jesus’ life and mission. He promises us all “greater things.” Do I take him at his word?

—Maggie Melchior is a convert to the Catholic faith. She currently serves as Coordinator of New Evangelization and Faith Formation at St. Paul Parish, Combined Locks, WI, in the Diocese of Green Bay.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, you have given us archangels to assist us during our pilgrimage on earth.
Saint Michael is our protector, I ask him to come to my aid, fight for all my loved ones, and protect us from danger.
Saint Gabriel is a messenger for the Good News, I ask him to help me clearly, hear your voice and to teach me the truth. Saint Raphael is the healing angel, I ask him to take my need for healing and that of everyone I know, lift it up to your throne of grace and deliver back to us the gift of recovery.

Help us, O Lord, to realize more fully the presence of the archangels and their desire to serve us.
Holy Angels pray for us. Amen

 


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September 28, 2016

St. Lawrence Ruiz

Lk 9: 57-62

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom 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.

For A Brighter Future

Sister Hellen suffered the consequences of conflict in northern Uganda and lived as a refugee throughout her childhood. But Sr. Hellen does not look to what was left behind. She knows education can brighten the future for all.

 “Today, I teach thousands of refugees (at the Jesuit Refugee Service Center in Kampala), because I know that the most important thing in life is to learn and to communicate,” says Sr. Hellen.

 Urban refugees face many challenges in Uganda and elsewhere. “We know that those who cannot find jobs have no way of sending their children to school,” says Sr. Hellen. “There are too many children still left at home and not able to read or write in this modern age! “

 “When children attend school, the future of the entire family becomes brighter. In school, children become responsible because their minds and hearts become more open and they learn how to practically use their skills.”

—Christian Fuchs serves as Communications Director for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

Prayer

Jesus Christ, Lord of all learning, you sat in the midst of the teachers and doctors, hearing their words and questioning their conclusions. Encourage all those who teach our people. May they stand tall as teachers of human dignity and purpose. Let them enjoy with you the reward of a person made whole, made wise through your lasting intercessio and love. Amen.

—from For You, O God, © 1998, Loyola University Chicago

 


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September 27, 2016

St. Vincent de Paul

Lk 9: 51-56

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

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.

Sometimes…

At some point in our lives, we have all been rejected for some reason or another. Rejected from a relationship, a team, a school, a job. We may have felt the same anger and frustration that James and John experienced when Jesus and his followers were not welcomed into the village. The Samaritans did not welcome them because of their heritage as Jews journeying to Jerusalem–their spiritual home. James and John want justice to be served for the lack of hospitality.

Sometimes, we expect a warm welcome, or for our words to be heard well. Sometimes we deny entry to those who can help us. Sometimes we refuse those who need food or a place to rest. Thankfully Jesus does not condemn; he continues his work of saving us.

Jesus, help me to welcome you into my life, especially when you disguise yourself in those around me.

—Michael Tedone, S.J., a Jesuit of the California Province, is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

“In the kingdom of charity, one prefers to suffer some inconvenience rather than inconvenience the neighbor.”

—St. Vincent DePaul

 


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September 26, 2016

Sts. Cosmas and Damian, martyrs

Lk 9: 46-50

An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.” John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”

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

Common Goals

“Whoever is not against you is for you.” How backwards this sounds in today’s world.

“If you’re not with us, you’re against us” is what we’re more likely to hear. Voice your honest opinion about something political and brace yourself for the firestorm of criticism that can follow.

It’s time we start talking about our common goals: that every person feels loved and valued, that we create peace instead of division, that we lift up the lowly and show mercy to others. If we realize that we share these desires then hopefully we can see that we are all ultimately for the same things, foremost among those is Christ.

—Connor Walters is a communications coordinator at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH. He also coaches rowing and co-moderates the school’s Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Ministry to the Homeless.

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 words.

—St. Ignatius Loyola

 


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September 25, 2016

Lk 16: 19-31

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’

He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

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.

Reaching

There is nothing in this parable that indicates the rich man went to hell simply because he was rich. He went to hell not because he was rich, but because he passed by Lazarus every day and never really saw him. He went to hell because he allowed Lazarus to become invisible, because he failed to use his wealth to bridge the gulf that separated him from his brother Lazarus. The rich man’s egocentric obliviousness prevented him from recognizing and realizing that Lazarus was his brother; his indifference was the cause of the chasm.

As Methodist theologian and preacher Will Willimon, said about the chasm: “If we don’t reach out, reach across, give a hand up, or there will be hell to pay.”

—Fr. Martin Connell, S.J. serves John Carroll University, University Heights, OH, as professor education. He is also the Rector of the Jesuit community there.

Prayer

Lord, give us the grace to embrace the truth that God is in every person’s life. Even if that life has been a disaster – destroyed by vices, drugs, or anything else. Help us to remember that although a person’s life is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. Above all increase our trust in this promise: While we can forget about you, your Spirit never, ever forgets about us.

America, adapted from an interview with Pope Francis, September 30, 2013

 


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September 24, 2016

Eccl 11: 9 – 12: 8

Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Follow the inclination of your heart and the desire of your eyes, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. Banish anxiety from your mind, and put away pain from your body; for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.

Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come, and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return with the rain; in the day when the guards of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the women who grind cease working because they are few, and those who look through the windows see dimly;

when the doors on the street are shut, and the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low; when one is afraid of heights, and terrors are in the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along and desire fails;

because all must go to their eternal home, and the mourners will go about the streets; before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it.

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher; all is vanity.

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.

On God’s Path

As someone who constantly tries to skip to the end of a reading, sure I’ve read each passage hundreds of times, God’s call in the scripture always finds a way to slow me down. Today it is the very last line of a passage that is a reminder that the very breath within my lungs is a gift.

How can I remember that the very life I am living is not my own in a concrete way? The best way for me to illustrate this is when I look at my children. They are gifts to be sure, but I must remember they are not truly mine. They, and we all, are God’s first and will return to God. Each of us, every day, is on a path of returning to God. It leads me to heed today’s scripture and ask who and how I can celebrate this gift of others?

—Emily Schumacher-Novak lives in Milwaukee, WI, and works in Jesuit Higher Education and Ignatian Spirituality.

Prayer

You are all we have. You give us what we need.
Our lives are in your hands, O God, our lives are in your hands.

—Francis Patrick O’Brien, © 1992, GIA Publications Inc.

 


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September 23, 2016

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Lk 9: 18-22

Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

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

If Jesus were a political candidate, Luke in today’s gospel would have him saying, “it’s the cross, stupid” instead of, “it’s the economy, stupid,” as from the 1992 presidential election. Jesus asked his disciples the all-important question, “who do you say I am?” He clarifies Peter’s response by telling them the “Earthy-Kingdom-Candidate” they think he is, restorer of wealth and power, he is not. Rather, Jesus is the Counter-Cultural-Candidate who by serving the will of the Father, not ruling, will suffer and die and be raised.

St. Padre Pio, who suffered the wounds of Christ crucified, understood Jesus’ salvific message perfectly. Amidst conflict and controversy regarding his spiritual gifts, echoing the core message of our first reading from Ecclesiastes, he said with indifference, “don’t worry and don’t ask why.” He, like the early disciples, cast his vote for Christ, took up his cross and served the gospel.

It is inescapable that we too will suffer if we support Jesus the Counter-Cultural-Candidate by being his disciples. But our faith tells us that suffering and sacrifice are okay because, despite the cross, Jesus-Risen promises us life-everlasting.

 —Marty Massiello, a hospital administrator, and Jeff Weyant, an artist and designer, live in Palm Springs CA. They are members of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church and active at Verbum Dei, the Cristo Rey high school in Los Angeles CA.

Prayer

Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our minds. Give us right faith, a firm hope, and a perfect charity, so that we may always and in all things act according to your holy will.  Amen

—Franciscan Prayer for Guidance

 


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September 22, 2016

Lk 9: 7-9

Now Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. Herod said, “John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he tried to see 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.

Whispers and Fuss

As Jesus’ public ministry expands, the stories about him reach more and more ears. This Jesus heals the lame and the blind. He casts out demons. He has a rag-tag band of followers, but still has time for the brokenhearted. He socializes with women, tax collectors, sinners, and other outliers! Did you hear he fed five thousand people?

These whispers grow so loud that even Herod hears about Jesus. At first, Herod seems confused and maybe even angry. After all, Herod just got rid of another troublesome religious leader: John the Baptist. The last line of today’s Gospel really strikes me: “And [Herod] tried to see him.” Even in his indignation, Herod is intrigued by the things he heard about Jesus, and wants to see for himself what all the fuss is about.

Do I live a life that intrigues people about Jesus? Do my words and actions mirror the things Jesus did? Do I include the marginalized the way he does? Is my life one of love, prayer, and service? Who do I know who is like Herod: someone a bit standoffish about faith, but someone who might still be curious about God? How can I pray for them?

—Maggie Melchior is a convert to the Catholic faith. She currently serves as Coordinator of New Evangelization and Faith Formation at St. Paul Parish, Combined Locks, WI, in the Diocese of Green Bay.

Prayer

“Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own.”

—Saint Teresa of Calcutta

 


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September 21, 2016

St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist

Mt 9: 9-13

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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.

Children of God

In the United States and other countries, Jesuit Refugee Service works with refugees and asylum seekers in detention. JRS aspires to be hospitality in action by walking alongside and offering hospitality to the most vulnerable; those “at the frontiers of humanity.”

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA chaplaincy programs enable people of all faiths, who have been detained while seeking asylum or because they crossed the border without papers, to have access to pastoral care within their faith tradition.

In calling for an authentic culture of encounter, Pope Francis writes: “The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him. Jesus shifts our understanding: it is not just about seeing the other as someone like myself, but of the ability to make myself like the other…we are all human beings, children of God.”

—Christian Fuchs serves as Communications Director for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

Prayer

To love at all is to become vulnerable.
Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.

—C.S. Lewis


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

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September 30, 2016

St. Jerome

Lk 10: 13-16

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

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

The More, the Most

A favorite fresco is that of St. Jerome by Domenico Ghirlandaio in the church of Ognissanti in Florence, Italy. It’s an elaborate renaissance (1480) depiction of Jerome that tells you he was a doctor of the church, famous for translating the bible into Latin.

St. Jerome was really a 5TH century ascetic scholar who legend says once lived in the same cave where Jesus was born.  But, no matter, because what we think is striking about the painting is its capturing of a precise moment in time versus a static portrait of St. Jerome. Jerome has stopped his work and inquisitively looked up and out. One wonders what has interrupted his life’s work.

We know from his writings, in response to the refugee crisis upon the sack of Rome, that he said, “I have put aside all study. For today we must translate the precepts of the Scriptures into deeds; instead of speaking saintly words we must act on them.”  St. Jerome, so close to the Lord and attuned to the movement of the Holy Spirit, is perhaps shown in this fresco at a moment of immediate and decisive discernment, resulting in abandoning his scholarly mission and acting on a call to the more, the most.

Am I growing in my closeness to Jesus that I may be keenly aware of and ready to act on his call to the more, the most?

 —Marty Massiello, a hospital administrator, and Jeff Weyant, an artist and designer, work in Palm Springs CA. They are members of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church and active at Verbum Dei, the Cristo Rey high school in Los Angeles CA.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me to see not only what I have done for you, and what I am doing for you, but to see what more I can do for you. Amen.

 

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

September 29, 2016

Sts. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, archangels

Jn 1: 47-51

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.

Healing – Proclaiming – Protecting

Today we celebrate the feast of the Archangels. These three archangels help God’s people in diverse ways throughout Scripture: Raphael heals, Gabriel proclaims, and Michael protects. These angelic duties are ones we can participate in as well. How do I help those in my life find healing and hope? How do I joyfully proclaim the truth about Jesus? How do I fight against evil and protect the vulnerable?

In today’s Gospel, Nathanael meets Jesus and is taken aback. Jesus knows a small detail about Nathanael’s life, but Jesus affirms Nathanael’s faith and honesty. He promises Nathanael that he’ll see even more amazing things if he follows Jesus as a disciple. How many of us are like Nathanael, expecting that we aren’t noticed? Sometimes it’s easy to feel like our small acts of faith are sidelined by more important people or attention-grabbing headlines, but Jesus sees into our hearts like he saw Nathanael’s. Each of us is invited to share in Jesus’ life and mission. He promises us all “greater things.” Do I take him at his word?

—Maggie Melchior is a convert to the Catholic faith. She currently serves as Coordinator of New Evangelization and Faith Formation at St. Paul Parish, Combined Locks, WI, in the Diocese of Green Bay.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, you have given us archangels to assist us during our pilgrimage on earth.
Saint Michael is our protector, I ask him to come to my aid, fight for all my loved ones, and protect us from danger.
Saint Gabriel is a messenger for the Good News, I ask him to help me clearly, hear your voice and to teach me the truth. Saint Raphael is the healing angel, I ask him to take my need for healing and that of everyone I know, lift it up to your throne of grace and deliver back to us the gift of recovery.

Help us, O Lord, to realize more fully the presence of the archangels and their desire to serve us.
Holy Angels pray for us. Amen

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

September 28, 2016

St. Lawrence Ruiz

Lk 9: 57-62

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom 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.

For A Brighter Future

Sister Hellen suffered the consequences of conflict in northern Uganda and lived as a refugee throughout her childhood. But Sr. Hellen does not look to what was left behind. She knows education can brighten the future for all.

 “Today, I teach thousands of refugees (at the Jesuit Refugee Service Center in Kampala), because I know that the most important thing in life is to learn and to communicate,” says Sr. Hellen.

 Urban refugees face many challenges in Uganda and elsewhere. “We know that those who cannot find jobs have no way of sending their children to school,” says Sr. Hellen. “There are too many children still left at home and not able to read or write in this modern age! “

 “When children attend school, the future of the entire family becomes brighter. In school, children become responsible because their minds and hearts become more open and they learn how to practically use their skills.”

—Christian Fuchs serves as Communications Director for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

Prayer

Jesus Christ, Lord of all learning, you sat in the midst of the teachers and doctors, hearing their words and questioning their conclusions. Encourage all those who teach our people. May they stand tall as teachers of human dignity and purpose. Let them enjoy with you the reward of a person made whole, made wise through your lasting intercessio and love. Amen.

—from For You, O God, © 1998, Loyola University Chicago

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

September 27, 2016

St. Vincent de Paul

Lk 9: 51-56

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

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.

Sometimes…

At some point in our lives, we have all been rejected for some reason or another. Rejected from a relationship, a team, a school, a job. We may have felt the same anger and frustration that James and John experienced when Jesus and his followers were not welcomed into the village. The Samaritans did not welcome them because of their heritage as Jews journeying to Jerusalem–their spiritual home. James and John want justice to be served for the lack of hospitality.

Sometimes, we expect a warm welcome, or for our words to be heard well. Sometimes we deny entry to those who can help us. Sometimes we refuse those who need food or a place to rest. Thankfully Jesus does not condemn; he continues his work of saving us.

Jesus, help me to welcome you into my life, especially when you disguise yourself in those around me.

—Michael Tedone, S.J., a Jesuit of the California Province, is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

“In the kingdom of charity, one prefers to suffer some inconvenience rather than inconvenience the neighbor.”

—St. Vincent DePaul

 


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September 26, 2016

Sts. Cosmas and Damian, martyrs

Lk 9: 46-50

An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.” John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”

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

Common Goals

“Whoever is not against you is for you.” How backwards this sounds in today’s world.

“If you’re not with us, you’re against us” is what we’re more likely to hear. Voice your honest opinion about something political and brace yourself for the firestorm of criticism that can follow.

It’s time we start talking about our common goals: that every person feels loved and valued, that we create peace instead of division, that we lift up the lowly and show mercy to others. If we realize that we share these desires then hopefully we can see that we are all ultimately for the same things, foremost among those is Christ.

—Connor Walters is a communications coordinator at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH. He also coaches rowing and co-moderates the school’s Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Ministry to the Homeless.

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 words.

—St. Ignatius Loyola

 


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September 25, 2016

Lk 16: 19-31

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’

He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

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.

Reaching

There is nothing in this parable that indicates the rich man went to hell simply because he was rich. He went to hell not because he was rich, but because he passed by Lazarus every day and never really saw him. He went to hell because he allowed Lazarus to become invisible, because he failed to use his wealth to bridge the gulf that separated him from his brother Lazarus. The rich man’s egocentric obliviousness prevented him from recognizing and realizing that Lazarus was his brother; his indifference was the cause of the chasm.

As Methodist theologian and preacher Will Willimon, said about the chasm: “If we don’t reach out, reach across, give a hand up, or there will be hell to pay.”

—Fr. Martin Connell, S.J. serves John Carroll University, University Heights, OH, as professor education. He is also the Rector of the Jesuit community there.

Prayer

Lord, give us the grace to embrace the truth that God is in every person’s life. Even if that life has been a disaster – destroyed by vices, drugs, or anything else. Help us to remember that although a person’s life is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. Above all increase our trust in this promise: While we can forget about you, your Spirit never, ever forgets about us.

America, adapted from an interview with Pope Francis, September 30, 2013

 


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September 24, 2016

Eccl 11: 9 – 12: 8

Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Follow the inclination of your heart and the desire of your eyes, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. Banish anxiety from your mind, and put away pain from your body; for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.

Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come, and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return with the rain; in the day when the guards of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the women who grind cease working because they are few, and those who look through the windows see dimly;

when the doors on the street are shut, and the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low; when one is afraid of heights, and terrors are in the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along and desire fails;

because all must go to their eternal home, and the mourners will go about the streets; before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it.

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher; all is vanity.

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.

On God’s Path

As someone who constantly tries to skip to the end of a reading, sure I’ve read each passage hundreds of times, God’s call in the scripture always finds a way to slow me down. Today it is the very last line of a passage that is a reminder that the very breath within my lungs is a gift.

How can I remember that the very life I am living is not my own in a concrete way? The best way for me to illustrate this is when I look at my children. They are gifts to be sure, but I must remember they are not truly mine. They, and we all, are God’s first and will return to God. Each of us, every day, is on a path of returning to God. It leads me to heed today’s scripture and ask who and how I can celebrate this gift of others?

—Emily Schumacher-Novak lives in Milwaukee, WI, and works in Jesuit Higher Education and Ignatian Spirituality.

Prayer

You are all we have. You give us what we need.
Our lives are in your hands, O God, our lives are in your hands.

—Francis Patrick O’Brien, © 1992, GIA Publications Inc.

 


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September 23, 2016

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Lk 9: 18-22

Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

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

If Jesus were a political candidate, Luke in today’s gospel would have him saying, “it’s the cross, stupid” instead of, “it’s the economy, stupid,” as from the 1992 presidential election. Jesus asked his disciples the all-important question, “who do you say I am?” He clarifies Peter’s response by telling them the “Earthy-Kingdom-Candidate” they think he is, restorer of wealth and power, he is not. Rather, Jesus is the Counter-Cultural-Candidate who by serving the will of the Father, not ruling, will suffer and die and be raised.

St. Padre Pio, who suffered the wounds of Christ crucified, understood Jesus’ salvific message perfectly. Amidst conflict and controversy regarding his spiritual gifts, echoing the core message of our first reading from Ecclesiastes, he said with indifference, “don’t worry and don’t ask why.” He, like the early disciples, cast his vote for Christ, took up his cross and served the gospel.

It is inescapable that we too will suffer if we support Jesus the Counter-Cultural-Candidate by being his disciples. But our faith tells us that suffering and sacrifice are okay because, despite the cross, Jesus-Risen promises us life-everlasting.

 —Marty Massiello, a hospital administrator, and Jeff Weyant, an artist and designer, live in Palm Springs CA. They are members of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church and active at Verbum Dei, the Cristo Rey high school in Los Angeles CA.

Prayer

Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our minds. Give us right faith, a firm hope, and a perfect charity, so that we may always and in all things act according to your holy will.  Amen

—Franciscan Prayer for Guidance

 


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September 22, 2016

Lk 9: 7-9

Now Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. Herod said, “John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he tried to see 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.

Whispers and Fuss

As Jesus’ public ministry expands, the stories about him reach more and more ears. This Jesus heals the lame and the blind. He casts out demons. He has a rag-tag band of followers, but still has time for the brokenhearted. He socializes with women, tax collectors, sinners, and other outliers! Did you hear he fed five thousand people?

These whispers grow so loud that even Herod hears about Jesus. At first, Herod seems confused and maybe even angry. After all, Herod just got rid of another troublesome religious leader: John the Baptist. The last line of today’s Gospel really strikes me: “And [Herod] tried to see him.” Even in his indignation, Herod is intrigued by the things he heard about Jesus, and wants to see for himself what all the fuss is about.

Do I live a life that intrigues people about Jesus? Do my words and actions mirror the things Jesus did? Do I include the marginalized the way he does? Is my life one of love, prayer, and service? Who do I know who is like Herod: someone a bit standoffish about faith, but someone who might still be curious about God? How can I pray for them?

—Maggie Melchior is a convert to the Catholic faith. She currently serves as Coordinator of New Evangelization and Faith Formation at St. Paul Parish, Combined Locks, WI, in the Diocese of Green Bay.

Prayer

“Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own.”

—Saint Teresa of Calcutta

 


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September 21, 2016

St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist

Mt 9: 9-13

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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.

Children of God

In the United States and other countries, Jesuit Refugee Service works with refugees and asylum seekers in detention. JRS aspires to be hospitality in action by walking alongside and offering hospitality to the most vulnerable; those “at the frontiers of humanity.”

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA chaplaincy programs enable people of all faiths, who have been detained while seeking asylum or because they crossed the border without papers, to have access to pastoral care within their faith tradition.

In calling for an authentic culture of encounter, Pope Francis writes: “The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him. Jesus shifts our understanding: it is not just about seeing the other as someone like myself, but of the ability to make myself like the other…we are all human beings, children of God.”

—Christian Fuchs serves as Communications Director for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

Prayer

To love at all is to become vulnerable.
Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.

—C.S. Lewis


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