October 31, 2016

Lk 14: 12-14

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 ofAmerica. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
 

Focus on the Peripheries

One of my favorite Pope Francis stories is when he celebrated his 77th birthday in 2013 by inviting three homeless men (and their dog) to share breakfast with him. This took place the week after Time magazine named Pope Francis as their person of the year. I imagine that there were plenty of well-connected, powerful, and famous people who would have been happy to join Pope Francis for a meal on his birthday. But Francis chose to turn the values of our society upside down by inviting those whom our society deems as the least important to a place of honor at his table. Isn’t this the same thing that Jesus is inviting us to do in today’s gospel?
 
Pope Francis has asked the Society of Jesus to “focus on the peripheries.” Who are the people living on the peripheries in our homes, schools, workplaces, local and global communities? How can we invite them to a place of honor at our tables?
 
—Dave Lawler is the Director of Campus Ministry at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.
 

Prayer

“Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; this is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.”

—St. Teresa of Calcutta


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October 30, 2016

Lk 19: 1-10

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.
 
When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”
 
Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
 
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.

Are You Ready?

Jesus is passing by; Zacchaeus is ready. He climbs a tree to assure himself of a good view. Little did Zacchaeus think Jesus would actually notice him, stop and invite himself to dine in his home.  
 
Jesus continually passes by.  But do I take steps to notice him? Do I recognize him in my family, my co-workers, the elderly person in the grocery line, the homeless person begging outside the local supermarket? Do I see him in the face of refugees on the evening news? Do I see him in the victims of senseless violence on our city streets?
 
It is so easy to categorize people and not experience them as individual persons through whom the Lord reveals himself.  He takes notice of me through others.  He stands at my door and knocks.  Am I ready to open and offer him hospitality?
 
—Fr. Don Petkash, S.J. serves as Vice-President for Mission and Identity at Walsh Jesuit High School, Stow, OH.
 

Prayer

Lord, help me see beyond stereotypes and public images to the see the real person and go beyond any label. For it is through others that you come to me in daily life and reveal yourself. You are never far. I want to see you in the deepest possible sense. Only then can I truly become your disciple. I need to hear you saying to me, “I want to stay in your house today.” I want to open the door and welcome you in.
 
—Father Petkash

 


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October 29, 2016

Ps 42

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
 
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?
 
My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, “Where is your God?”
 
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.
 
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help
 
and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
 
Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me.
 
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
 
I say to God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?”
 
As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?”
 
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my 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.
 

Trick or Treat

It’s Halloween weekend, a great family time for the ghosts and goblins, pirates and princes, who come to our doors shouting “Trick or Treat.” It is also a time when the seasons change, the harvest is in, the chilly November winds are about to blow. In the coming days we will celebrate both the “All Saints” and “All Souls” feasts.” These days remind us of our family history, the heritage of the communities where we live, those neighbors and friends and other local “characters” who make our days interesting…and sometimes challenging.
 
You and I might sometimes complain about the “daily grind”—the daily sameness of life that can sometimes hang heavy on our hands and hearts. This weekend and the holy days that follow invite us to cherish our families and neighbors, classmates and friends. They are all saints and sinners like ourselves. They inspire and challenge us; they are bearers of grace, occasionally stumbling blocks of insight and opportunity. Look around you — look in the mirror: the grit and glory of God’s Reign are in our midst!
 
—The Jesuit prayer team 

Prayer

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.  
As it was in the beginning, is now and always will be,
world without end. Amen!
 
—Traditional prayer to the Holy Trinity

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October 28, 2016

Sts. Simon and Jude, apostles

Lk 6: 12-16

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
 
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.

Freedom to Love

As a young Jesuit, I have often struggled with feeling anxiety about doing something wrong, or of harming my relationship with God. This is exhausting, and makes life become a perilous dance of trying to avoid making a mistake.

This way of following God is fundamentally wrong. We are called to live out of love for God, and love of others, not out of fear of messing up. This is the call the apostles experienced, and that we also receive. Love is not about fearful obligation, or making sure everything is done right. Love is about freedom, thanksgiving, and generosity.

So today, if you are being hard on yourself, turn to Jesus and imagine if he really thinks the same way. Let him embrace you, tell you how he loves you, and then walk with you as you get beyond your guilt and fears to love him, to yourself, and others.

—Chris Williams, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin province, is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

“Behold God beholding you, and smiling.”
 
—Anthony de Mello, S.J.

 

 


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October 27, 2016

Eph 6: 10-20

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
 
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.
 
With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.
 
Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
 
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.

Surrender…

…is an unusual word for this passage from Paul, yet it is the one word that I believe best sums up its meaning.

I recently had a mammogram, and the very next day, I received a call from my doctor’s office informing me that more images were necessary. As I sat in the waiting room with the other women who received similar calls that week, I realized that we were all struggling with the reality of our situations. Some of us were going to learn that we had a battle to fight, ready or not.

As luck would have it, I was reading the chapter on “Surrendering to the Future” in James Martin’s The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything.  In this chapter, Martin explains how his spiritual mentors helped him come to terms with his reality and to accept it for what it is. Paul’s words about readying for battle read the same to me. Instead of a triumphalist tone in the passage, I hear resignation. In today’s language, he’s saying, “This is the situation, and we have to deal with it, like it or not.”

Fortunately for me those additional images confirmed that the suspected tumors were actually tiny lymph nodes. While I was trying to make sense of my situation, I asked my spiritual director, “How does one surrender to such a reality?” I received the wise and simple answer—together. Battles are not fought alone.

—JoEllen Windau-Cattapan is the Atlanta area director for the Contemplative Leaders in Action, a program of the Office of Ignatian Spirituality, USA Northeast Province.

Prayer

Dear Lord,
You have no hands but our hands
to do your work today;
You have no feet but our feet
to lead us in your way.
You have no tongue but our tongues
to tell all you lived and died;
You have no help but our help
to bring us to your side.
 
—Fr. Jack Campbell, S.J.

 

 


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October 26, 2016

Eph 6: 1-9

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” —this is the first commandment with a promise: “so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.
 
Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free. And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.
 
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 Quality Test

Paul addresses words of counsel and encouragement to four groups in his Ephesus audience: to children and parents, to slaves and masters. The invitation is to respect one another at a deeper level, to give our “best” for each other. Quite a countercultural admonition that is very current and quite valuable in the various worlds where we walk today.
 
What would it look like if I tried to move over a foot or two on a crowded bus? What if I let someone in a hurry to make a meeting cut into the cafeteria line ahead of me? What if I know one of my parents has had a difficult day and pitch into do the dishes and take out the garbage? Instead of walking away when I am fed up and angry, what if I stay in the conversation or hang in there a bit longer? What if I don’t just walk out and slam the door?
 
Each of us might answer these questions in different ways. Perhaps they are reminders to “come in through the narrow door” as Jesus invites in today’s gospel reading. It may be a challenge to calm down in the moment, but perhaps the risk of hanging in there is really worth it.
 
—The Jesuit prayer team
 

Prayer

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,
but that of knowing that I do your will.
 
—St. Ignatius Loyola

 


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October 25, 2016

Eph 5: 21-33

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.

In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.

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

An Invitation

“Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” It can be hard to sum up the mission of an entire university in a single action, but when pressed, I offer this. If you can look at another student and see the face of Christ in him or her, then Jesuit education is surely doing its job. Sometimes we do not get our way. Sometimes we must yield to the needs of others. When we do so, we do it not just out of love, but out of reverence for Christ, as today’s first reading invites us.

Can subordination possibly be an invitation for you, today, to seek Christ in a relationship? Might a softer approach be just enough to allow Christ’s presence to be more surely felt? Can you look at a spouse, partner, brother, sister, classmate, colleague, employee, or friend as you might Christ?

 —Patrick Hyland, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Chicago-Detroit province, is currently studying philosophy at  St. Louis University.

Prayer

“I will be with you!” That is my promise.
“I will be with you forevermore.”
Trust in my love. Bring me all your cares,
For I will be with you forevermore.

—James E. Moore, Jr. “I Will Be With You,”  © GIA Publications, Inc., 1996

 

 

 


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October 24, 2016

St. Anthony Mary Claret

Lk 13: 10-17

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.”But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”

When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

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.

Prayer Heals Us

I was on retreat many years ago during which the retreat director repeated a line that has stuck with me ever since: the world wounds us and prayer heals us.

The woman in today’s Gospel was so wounded by the spirit that crippled her that she was “bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight.” This is a good image for us to pray with today. What are the evil spirits in our lives that leave us bent over, crippled, and wounded?

Another good image to pray with today is that of Jesus laying his healing hands on the woman and her standing up straight to praise God. Sometimes I approach prayer as if I am trying to “accomplish” or “fix” something. But I have found that my best moments of prayer are when I open up my wounded self to Jesus’ loving embrace. God’s unconditional love is the balm that heals our wounds and enables us to stand up straight again.

—Dave Lawler is the Director of Campus Ministry at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.

Prayer

How do we welcome the tenderness of God? Do I allow myself to be taken up by God, to be embraced by him, or do I prevent him from drawing close? “But I am searching for the Lord”—we could respond. Nevertheless, what is most important is not seeking him, but rather allowing him to find me and caress me with tenderness. The question put to us simply is: do I allow God to love me?

—Pope Francis, Dec. 24, 2014

 


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October 23, 2016

Lk 18: 9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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

God’s Merciful Love

Sirach tells us “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds.” The Psalm response echoes this theme: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” And in the gospel, it is the prayer of one who knows himself a sinner that is heard. God accepts the prayer of the tax collector because he acknowledges God as his Lord and Savior. He does not compare himself with anyone else. He does not judge anyone else; only himself.

During this Year of Mercy, we have been challenged to turn to the Lord in prayer much as the parable’s tax collector did, in all humility. And like the tax collector, we have found a God whose love is shown in mercy, acceptance, compassion and forgiveness.

—Fr. Don Petkash, S.J. serves as Vice-President for Mission and Identity at Walsh Jesuit High School, Stow, OH.

Prayer

You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy.
May we, who have benefited from your Father’s forgiveness and mercy
be ministers, in turn, of your mercy, acceptance, compassion and forgiveness.
Like you, may we bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.

—Father Petkash

 


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October 22, 2016

St. John Paul II

Eph 4: 7-16

But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.” (When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.)

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

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.

Gifts for the World

St. Paul reminds us to treasure and nurture those special gifts and talents God has shared with each of us. How boring life would become if we were all the “same.” Rather, the rich variety of our talents (and even our personal quirks) bring flavor to our lives, energy to our families, and unique service to our world. Indeed, like the vinedresser in today’s gospel parable, the Lord invites us to nurture these gifts and talents in all the “worlds” we daily inhabit.

The challenge of course is not to hoard our gifts, but rather to share them in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. So as each of us goes about this weekend’s routinewhat insight can I bring to a family meal or neighborhood gathering? What chore can I pick up to help someone else succeed?  What email can I send or conversation can I share with someone in need of a laugh, a shoulder to cry on, a smile to keep going in the midst of this weekend’s many demands?

—The Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity.
Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

― Pope John Paul II

 


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October 31, 2016

Lk 14: 12-14

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 ofAmerica. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
 

Focus on the Peripheries

One of my favorite Pope Francis stories is when he celebrated his 77th birthday in 2013 by inviting three homeless men (and their dog) to share breakfast with him. This took place the week after Time magazine named Pope Francis as their person of the year. I imagine that there were plenty of well-connected, powerful, and famous people who would have been happy to join Pope Francis for a meal on his birthday. But Francis chose to turn the values of our society upside down by inviting those whom our society deems as the least important to a place of honor at his table. Isn’t this the same thing that Jesus is inviting us to do in today’s gospel?
 
Pope Francis has asked the Society of Jesus to “focus on the peripheries.” Who are the people living on the peripheries in our homes, schools, workplaces, local and global communities? How can we invite them to a place of honor at our tables?
 
—Dave Lawler is the Director of Campus Ministry at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.
 

Prayer

“Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; this is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.”

—St. Teresa of Calcutta


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

October 30, 2016

Lk 19: 1-10

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.
 
When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”
 
Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
 
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.

Are You Ready?

Jesus is passing by; Zacchaeus is ready. He climbs a tree to assure himself of a good view. Little did Zacchaeus think Jesus would actually notice him, stop and invite himself to dine in his home.  
 
Jesus continually passes by.  But do I take steps to notice him? Do I recognize him in my family, my co-workers, the elderly person in the grocery line, the homeless person begging outside the local supermarket? Do I see him in the face of refugees on the evening news? Do I see him in the victims of senseless violence on our city streets?
 
It is so easy to categorize people and not experience them as individual persons through whom the Lord reveals himself.  He takes notice of me through others.  He stands at my door and knocks.  Am I ready to open and offer him hospitality?
 
—Fr. Don Petkash, S.J. serves as Vice-President for Mission and Identity at Walsh Jesuit High School, Stow, OH.
 

Prayer

Lord, help me see beyond stereotypes and public images to the see the real person and go beyond any label. For it is through others that you come to me in daily life and reveal yourself. You are never far. I want to see you in the deepest possible sense. Only then can I truly become your disciple. I need to hear you saying to me, “I want to stay in your house today.” I want to open the door and welcome you in.
 
—Father Petkash

 


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October 29, 2016

Ps 42

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
 
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?
 
My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, “Where is your God?”
 
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.
 
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help
 
and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
 
Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me.
 
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
 
I say to God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?”
 
As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?”
 
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my 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.
 

Trick or Treat

It’s Halloween weekend, a great family time for the ghosts and goblins, pirates and princes, who come to our doors shouting “Trick or Treat.” It is also a time when the seasons change, the harvest is in, the chilly November winds are about to blow. In the coming days we will celebrate both the “All Saints” and “All Souls” feasts.” These days remind us of our family history, the heritage of the communities where we live, those neighbors and friends and other local “characters” who make our days interesting…and sometimes challenging.
 
You and I might sometimes complain about the “daily grind”—the daily sameness of life that can sometimes hang heavy on our hands and hearts. This weekend and the holy days that follow invite us to cherish our families and neighbors, classmates and friends. They are all saints and sinners like ourselves. They inspire and challenge us; they are bearers of grace, occasionally stumbling blocks of insight and opportunity. Look around you — look in the mirror: the grit and glory of God’s Reign are in our midst!
 
—The Jesuit prayer team 

Prayer

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.  
As it was in the beginning, is now and always will be,
world without end. Amen!
 
—Traditional prayer to the Holy Trinity

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October 28, 2016

Sts. Simon and Jude, apostles

Lk 6: 12-16

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
 
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.

Freedom to Love

As a young Jesuit, I have often struggled with feeling anxiety about doing something wrong, or of harming my relationship with God. This is exhausting, and makes life become a perilous dance of trying to avoid making a mistake.

This way of following God is fundamentally wrong. We are called to live out of love for God, and love of others, not out of fear of messing up. This is the call the apostles experienced, and that we also receive. Love is not about fearful obligation, or making sure everything is done right. Love is about freedom, thanksgiving, and generosity.

So today, if you are being hard on yourself, turn to Jesus and imagine if he really thinks the same way. Let him embrace you, tell you how he loves you, and then walk with you as you get beyond your guilt and fears to love him, to yourself, and others.

—Chris Williams, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin province, is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

“Behold God beholding you, and smiling.”
 
—Anthony de Mello, S.J.

 

 


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October 27, 2016

Eph 6: 10-20

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
 
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.
 
With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.
 
Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
 
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.

Surrender…

…is an unusual word for this passage from Paul, yet it is the one word that I believe best sums up its meaning.

I recently had a mammogram, and the very next day, I received a call from my doctor’s office informing me that more images were necessary. As I sat in the waiting room with the other women who received similar calls that week, I realized that we were all struggling with the reality of our situations. Some of us were going to learn that we had a battle to fight, ready or not.

As luck would have it, I was reading the chapter on “Surrendering to the Future” in James Martin’s The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything.  In this chapter, Martin explains how his spiritual mentors helped him come to terms with his reality and to accept it for what it is. Paul’s words about readying for battle read the same to me. Instead of a triumphalist tone in the passage, I hear resignation. In today’s language, he’s saying, “This is the situation, and we have to deal with it, like it or not.”

Fortunately for me those additional images confirmed that the suspected tumors were actually tiny lymph nodes. While I was trying to make sense of my situation, I asked my spiritual director, “How does one surrender to such a reality?” I received the wise and simple answer—together. Battles are not fought alone.

—JoEllen Windau-Cattapan is the Atlanta area director for the Contemplative Leaders in Action, a program of the Office of Ignatian Spirituality, USA Northeast Province.

Prayer

Dear Lord,
You have no hands but our hands
to do your work today;
You have no feet but our feet
to lead us in your way.
You have no tongue but our tongues
to tell all you lived and died;
You have no help but our help
to bring us to your side.
 
—Fr. Jack Campbell, S.J.

 

 


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October 26, 2016

Eph 6: 1-9

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” —this is the first commandment with a promise: “so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.
 
Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free. And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.
 
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 Quality Test

Paul addresses words of counsel and encouragement to four groups in his Ephesus audience: to children and parents, to slaves and masters. The invitation is to respect one another at a deeper level, to give our “best” for each other. Quite a countercultural admonition that is very current and quite valuable in the various worlds where we walk today.
 
What would it look like if I tried to move over a foot or two on a crowded bus? What if I let someone in a hurry to make a meeting cut into the cafeteria line ahead of me? What if I know one of my parents has had a difficult day and pitch into do the dishes and take out the garbage? Instead of walking away when I am fed up and angry, what if I stay in the conversation or hang in there a bit longer? What if I don’t just walk out and slam the door?
 
Each of us might answer these questions in different ways. Perhaps they are reminders to “come in through the narrow door” as Jesus invites in today’s gospel reading. It may be a challenge to calm down in the moment, but perhaps the risk of hanging in there is really worth it.
 
—The Jesuit prayer team
 

Prayer

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,
but that of knowing that I do your will.
 
—St. Ignatius Loyola

 


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October 25, 2016

Eph 5: 21-33

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.

In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.

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

An Invitation

“Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” It can be hard to sum up the mission of an entire university in a single action, but when pressed, I offer this. If you can look at another student and see the face of Christ in him or her, then Jesuit education is surely doing its job. Sometimes we do not get our way. Sometimes we must yield to the needs of others. When we do so, we do it not just out of love, but out of reverence for Christ, as today’s first reading invites us.

Can subordination possibly be an invitation for you, today, to seek Christ in a relationship? Might a softer approach be just enough to allow Christ’s presence to be more surely felt? Can you look at a spouse, partner, brother, sister, classmate, colleague, employee, or friend as you might Christ?

 —Patrick Hyland, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Chicago-Detroit province, is currently studying philosophy at  St. Louis University.

Prayer

“I will be with you!” That is my promise.
“I will be with you forevermore.”
Trust in my love. Bring me all your cares,
For I will be with you forevermore.

—James E. Moore, Jr. “I Will Be With You,”  © GIA Publications, Inc., 1996

 

 

 


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October 24, 2016

St. Anthony Mary Claret

Lk 13: 10-17

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.”But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”

When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

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.

Prayer Heals Us

I was on retreat many years ago during which the retreat director repeated a line that has stuck with me ever since: the world wounds us and prayer heals us.

The woman in today’s Gospel was so wounded by the spirit that crippled her that she was “bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight.” This is a good image for us to pray with today. What are the evil spirits in our lives that leave us bent over, crippled, and wounded?

Another good image to pray with today is that of Jesus laying his healing hands on the woman and her standing up straight to praise God. Sometimes I approach prayer as if I am trying to “accomplish” or “fix” something. But I have found that my best moments of prayer are when I open up my wounded self to Jesus’ loving embrace. God’s unconditional love is the balm that heals our wounds and enables us to stand up straight again.

—Dave Lawler is the Director of Campus Ministry at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.

Prayer

How do we welcome the tenderness of God? Do I allow myself to be taken up by God, to be embraced by him, or do I prevent him from drawing close? “But I am searching for the Lord”—we could respond. Nevertheless, what is most important is not seeking him, but rather allowing him to find me and caress me with tenderness. The question put to us simply is: do I allow God to love me?

—Pope Francis, Dec. 24, 2014

 


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October 23, 2016

Lk 18: 9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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

God’s Merciful Love

Sirach tells us “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds.” The Psalm response echoes this theme: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” And in the gospel, it is the prayer of one who knows himself a sinner that is heard. God accepts the prayer of the tax collector because he acknowledges God as his Lord and Savior. He does not compare himself with anyone else. He does not judge anyone else; only himself.

During this Year of Mercy, we have been challenged to turn to the Lord in prayer much as the parable’s tax collector did, in all humility. And like the tax collector, we have found a God whose love is shown in mercy, acceptance, compassion and forgiveness.

—Fr. Don Petkash, S.J. serves as Vice-President for Mission and Identity at Walsh Jesuit High School, Stow, OH.

Prayer

You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy.
May we, who have benefited from your Father’s forgiveness and mercy
be ministers, in turn, of your mercy, acceptance, compassion and forgiveness.
Like you, may we bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.

—Father Petkash

 


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October 22, 2016

St. John Paul II

Eph 4: 7-16

But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.” (When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.)

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

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.

Gifts for the World

St. Paul reminds us to treasure and nurture those special gifts and talents God has shared with each of us. How boring life would become if we were all the “same.” Rather, the rich variety of our talents (and even our personal quirks) bring flavor to our lives, energy to our families, and unique service to our world. Indeed, like the vinedresser in today’s gospel parable, the Lord invites us to nurture these gifts and talents in all the “worlds” we daily inhabit.

The challenge of course is not to hoard our gifts, but rather to share them in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. So as each of us goes about this weekend’s routinewhat insight can I bring to a family meal or neighborhood gathering? What chore can I pick up to help someone else succeed?  What email can I send or conversation can I share with someone in need of a laugh, a shoulder to cry on, a smile to keep going in the midst of this weekend’s many demands?

—The Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity.
Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

― Pope John Paul II

 


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