February 28, 2017

Sir 35: 1-12

One who keeps the law makes many offerings;
one who heeds the commandments makes an offering of well-being.
One who returns a kindness offers choice flour,
and one who gives alms sacrifices a thank-offering.
To keep from wickedness is pleasing to the Lord,
and to forsake unrighteousness is an atonement.

Do not appear before the Lord empty-handed,
for all that you offer is in fulfilment of the commandment.
The offering of the righteous enriches the altar
and its pleasing odor rises before the Most High.
The sacrifice of the righteous is acceptable,
and it will never be forgotten.

Be generous when you worship the Lord,
and do not stint the first fruits of your hands.
With every gift show a cheerful face,
and dedicate your tithe with gladness.
Give to the Most High as he has given to you,
and as generously as you can afford.

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.

Finding Goodness

As a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy, one of the questions that constantly plagues me is “What is goodness?” Some of the ancient Greeks thought pleasure was the ultimate good. Other Greeks thought that tranquility and freedom from anxiety was goodness. In the modern period, Kant thought that goodness resides in our ability to rationally think about our actions. The problem with these conceptions, however, is that they all self-centered.

St. Ignatius teaches us in the First Principle and Foundation that we are created to “praise, reverence, and serve God.” Our Christian faith teaches us that our purpose as human beings is not self-centered. Rather, goodness is other-centered. Sirach says the same thing in our first reading. Goodness is ultimately what we do for the Lord. What am I doing for the Lord today?

—James Antonio, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Oregon Province, is currently studying philosophy at St. Louis University. He lives at the Bellarmine House of Studies in St. Louis.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, help me to search out your goodness
In every person I meet today,
In every situation I encounter,
In any challenge I will face.
May your great goodness infuse everything
I speak and accomplish….for your greater glory. Amen.

 

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

February 27, 2017

Mk 10: 17-27

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’”

He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

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.

Sharing Love

There are times when I am leaving the office or my house and someone stops me and says “Do you have a minute?” or “Can you help me?” Many times I think “I don’t have time for this” or “This is not on my schedule!” his gospel story encourages me to allow my heart to respond to the person instead of worrying about my schedule.  

In the story, Jesus is setting out on a journey and a young man stops him and asks a question. Jesus does not say “I am busy” or “See me during my normal business hours” or “I am going away, see me when I return.” Instead, Jesus listens to the man, answers his questions, and then encourages him to deeper faith and trust in God. But in this story Jesus does something even more amazing than giving his time: He loves the man!

Maybe the next time someone approaches me when I am busy or on my way someplace I can emulate Jesus by engaging the person and – more importantly – by loving the person.

—John Moriconi, S.J. is a Jesuit brother who serves as provincial secretary for the Chicago-Detroit Jesuit province.

Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

—St. Francis of Assisi


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

February 26, 2017

Mt 6: 24-34

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’

For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

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.

Examen Your Life

Cardinal Bernardin, the late, much-loved Archbishop of Chicago, once told a group of us priests that he was a chronic worrier. But he found that using the Ignatian Examen was of great benefit to him in curbing his anxiety. He noted that 80% of the “bad” things he worried about never happened to him. And for the 20% that did, God always gave him sufficient grace to face these challenges.  In fact, the things he worried about often became a source of great grace. He wrote eloquently about his struggle to surrender control in his spiritual classic, The Gift of Peace.

The Examen is the one essential prayer tool that Ignatius insisted we never skip.  It’s not simply another prayer but the key to turning our lives into a prayer. When today will we step off the worry treadmill and allow God’s still, small voice to direct our steps.

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a Retreat Master and Spiritual Director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago. He blogs weekly at heartoheart.org.

Prayer

Speak, Lord, when Your servant is too worried to listen!
For I cannot stop – No, I refuse to stop – my commotion
In motion wrought by an overly busy brain.
Yes, my eternal soul longs to rest in Your radiance,
And yet I resist You, Lord of my longing.

Stop me grace-fully, Lord!
Open my ears to the song of Your Voice.
Redirect my gaze from myself to Yourself,
From my thiefdom to Your kingdom,
From who I am to whom You create me to become.

—J. Michael Sparough, SJ


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

February 25, 2017

Sir 17: 1-15

The Lord created human beings out of earth,
and makes them return to it again.
He gave them a fixed number of days,
but granted them authority over everything on the earth.
He endowed them with strength like his own,
and made them in his own image.

He put the fear of them in all living beings,
and gave them dominion over beasts and birds.
Discretion and tongue and eyes,   
ears and a mind for thinking he gave them.

He filled them with knowledge and understanding,
and showed them good and evil.
He put the fear of him into their hearts
to show them the majesty of his works.
And they will praise his holy name,
to proclaim the grandeur of his works.

He bestowed knowledge upon them,
and allotted to them the law of life.
He established with them an eternal covenant,
and revealed to them his decrees.
Their eyes saw his glorious majesty,
and their ears heard the glory of his voice.

He said to them, ‘Beware of all evil.’
And he gave commandment to each of them concerning a neighbour.
Their ways are always known to him;
they will not be hid from his eyes.

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.

Sharing Life and Light

We end this week with words from the Book of Sirach, words which recall the creation narrative of Genesis. We are invited once again to use our time and talents, our gifts and energy wherever we find ourselves this weekend. God writes the “law of life” into each of our hearts and sends us forth to make a difference…at least a small “difference” for others.

How can I share some hours of my life with family this weekend? How might I waste time with someone who needs a helping hand…someone who needs some words of encouragement…someone who needs a place to talk, a time to speak, a heart to listen?

—the Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Take, O take me as I am;
Summon out what I shall be.
Set your seal upon my heart,
and live in me.

—John L. Bell, © 1995, the Iona Community

 


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February 24, 2017

Sir 6: 5-17

Pleasant speech multiplies friends,
  and a gracious tongue multiplies courtesies

Let those who are friendly with you be many,
 but let your advisers be one in a thousand.

When you gain friends, gain them through testing,
 and do not trust them hastily.

For there are friends who are such when it suits them,
 but they will not stand by you in time of trouble.

And there are friends who change into enemies,
 and tell of the quarrel to your disgrace.

And there are friends who sit at your table,
 but they will not stand by you in time of trouble.

When you are prosperous, they become your second self,
  and lord it over your servants;

but if you are brought low, they turn against you,
  and hide themselves from you.

Keep away from your enemies,
  and be on guard with your friends.

Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter:
  whoever finds one has found a treasure.

Faithful friends are beyond price;
  no amount can balance their worth.

Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
  and those who fear the Lord will find them.

Those who fear the Lord direct their friendship aright,
  for as they are, so are their neighbors also.

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

True Friendship

“Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter: whoever finds one has found a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price; no amount can balance their worth.”

Recently, a friend introduced me as his “best friend.” Initially I was taken aback by this declaration, but then I reflected that, since sharing a locker frosh year of high school, and, despite dispersing across the continent, we had visited annually, vacationed as families, stood up at each other’s weddings, and God-parented each other’s offspring. Over the decades we had “sat at each other’s tables,” shared happy times and “times of trouble.” and candidly discussed careers, retirement, and health. As Sirach prescribes, we were to each other “life saving medicine.” This personal friendship has been a “sturdy shelter.”

That introduction caused me to reflect, how about my friendship with Jesus? Do I share important decisions and concerns with Jesus, as I do with my lifelong friend? As Lent approaches, I resolve to work on my friendship with Jesus, to find the spiritual treasure lurking there, one that is beyond price.

―George P. Sullivan, Jr. is a Jesuit-educated lay leader who helped found the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, Chicago Chapter. He and his wife, Dorothy Turek, live in Wilmette IL, and have four children and four grandchildren.

Prayer

The Lord is a friend forever. Even if you disappoint him and walk away from him, Jesus continues to want the best for you and to remain close to you; he believes in you even more than you believe in yourself.”

—Pope Francis on true friendship


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February 23, 2017

St.  Polycarp

Mk 9: 41-50

For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.

And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell,where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

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

Gifts Beyond Price

When I was growing up, my mom would tell me “you make the BEST friend.” She was observing some innate qualities important to relationships…but she was also observing that I tended to do a lot of the work, and that the gifts I shared with my friends were not always reciprocated: “one sort is a friend when it suits [her], but [s]he will not be with you in time of distress.” It took years to re-learn how to be a good friend, and how to locate others able to share in mutual, life-giving friendships with roots in the Creator’s abiding love for us all.  

Recently, I’ve been grateful for a few precious friends in my life, and recognizing in a new ways the power of their friendship. These women are shelter, are life-saving remedy.  No sum can balance their worth. Today, I’m taking an extra minute to thank God for these gifts beyond price.

—Catherine Ruffing Drotleff serves as the Director of Development for the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
 Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
 Where is injury, pardon;
 Where there is doubt, faith;
 Where there is despair, hope;
 Where there is darkness, light;
 And where there is sadness, joy.

—St. Francis of Assisi

 


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February 22, 2017

Feast of the Chair of Peter

Mt 16: 13-19

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

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.

Who Do You Say I Am?

This feast celebrates the mission of teacher and pastor which Jesus conferred on St. Peter, an ongoing mission that continues in an unbroken line down to Pope Francis. It is interesting that this feast has been celebrated in Rome and in Antioch since the early days of the Christian era. We celebrate the unity of the Church, founded upon Peter and the apostles; we renew our commitment to the Church and to the gospel of Jesus lived out in each of our homes and local communities.

Put yourself into the scene of today’s gospel text. Imagine Jesus looking intently at Peter. “Who do you say that I am,” Jesus asks. Peter responds: “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.”  Of course Jesus asks each of us this same question. How do I respond to Jesus today?

―the Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

All-powerful God, you have built your Church on the rock of St. Peter’s confession of faith.
May nothing divide or weaken our unity in faith and love. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

—adapted from the Roman Missal


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February 21, 2017

St. Peter Damian

Mk 9: 30-37

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but 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.

Our Journey with Jesus

We are quickly approaching Lent—a time to reflect on our lives and how to reform them to live more like Jesus. Many times, this interior reflection will take us to places we don’t want to advertise to the world. In today’s gospel, too, Jesus wanted to get away from the crowds because he knew of the horrible things that were going to happen to him. Imagine the anguish he must have felt and the need to confide with his close friends.

As we approach Lent, let us journey with Jesus as a friend and share in confidence those things that we need to confide, trusting that he loves those parts too.

—James Antonio, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Oregon Province, is currently studying philosophy at St. Louis University. He lives at the Bellarmine House of Studies in St. Louis.

Prayer

Jesus my Savior, stir up in my heart the desire to walk always in your footsteps.
May everything I accomplish today begin with your grace, 
always for your greater honor and glory. Amen.

 


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February 20, 2017

Mk 9: 14-29

When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.”

He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.”And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.”

Jesus said to him, “If you are able! —All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.”

But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”

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.

Grounded in Prayer

Too often I find myself in the same situation as the disciples in this story: I really want to help people and offer healing in Jesus’ name, but I find myself arguing with others. Maybe I am arguing because I think I know the “correct” way to do things or maybe I don’t agree with another person’s ideas, but the result is always the same: I am not focused on the gospel – the good news of Jesus. At these times I have to remind myself to emulate Jesus and ground all of my thoughts, words, and actions in prayer.

—John Moriconi, S.J. is a Jesuit brother who serves as provincial secretary for the Chicago-Detroit Jesuit province.

Prayer

It is not enough that I should serve God by myself:
I must help the hearts of all to love him
and the tongues of all to praise him.

—St. Ignatius Loyola

 


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February 19, 2017

Mt 5: 38-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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.

Tough Love

Mahatma Gandhi once famously reflected that living by the old code of  “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” would leave the whole world blind and toothless! Jesus sets the bar so much higher in commanding us to love even our enemies. There is no passage in the bible more challenging to our instinctual way of reacting to threats than this text. So inspirational are these words that they became the underpinnings for Gandhi’s non-violent protests and the civil rights marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What a different America this would be if we took Jesus’ words to heart and started praying for those intent on doing us harm. Who are the enemies of our country and our Church that frighten us? Answer that question, and we have the solid beginnings for our prayer list.

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a Retreat Master and Spiritual Director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago. He blogs weekly at heartoheart.org.

Prayer

Lord, stretch our hearts and minds to make them more like your own.

Open us to the horizons of truth that we may see not enemies but brothers and sisters waiting to be reconciled.  Lead us to live the love that you proclaimed when You prayed from the pulpit of the cross:”Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.“

—J. Michael Sparough, SJ

 


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Welcome to FaithCP

Creighton Prep and the Midwest Jesuits have partnered to create FaithCP, a daily resource for prayer. FaithCP provides daily scripture, reflections, and prayers grounded in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.


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February 28, 2017

Sir 35: 1-12

One who keeps the law makes many offerings;
one who heeds the commandments makes an offering of well-being.
One who returns a kindness offers choice flour,
and one who gives alms sacrifices a thank-offering.
To keep from wickedness is pleasing to the Lord,
and to forsake unrighteousness is an atonement.

Do not appear before the Lord empty-handed,
for all that you offer is in fulfilment of the commandment.
The offering of the righteous enriches the altar
and its pleasing odor rises before the Most High.
The sacrifice of the righteous is acceptable,
and it will never be forgotten.

Be generous when you worship the Lord,
and do not stint the first fruits of your hands.
With every gift show a cheerful face,
and dedicate your tithe with gladness.
Give to the Most High as he has given to you,
and as generously as you can afford.

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.

Finding Goodness

As a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy, one of the questions that constantly plagues me is “What is goodness?” Some of the ancient Greeks thought pleasure was the ultimate good. Other Greeks thought that tranquility and freedom from anxiety was goodness. In the modern period, Kant thought that goodness resides in our ability to rationally think about our actions. The problem with these conceptions, however, is that they all self-centered.

St. Ignatius teaches us in the First Principle and Foundation that we are created to “praise, reverence, and serve God.” Our Christian faith teaches us that our purpose as human beings is not self-centered. Rather, goodness is other-centered. Sirach says the same thing in our first reading. Goodness is ultimately what we do for the Lord. What am I doing for the Lord today?

—James Antonio, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Oregon Province, is currently studying philosophy at St. Louis University. He lives at the Bellarmine House of Studies in St. Louis.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, help me to search out your goodness
In every person I meet today,
In every situation I encounter,
In any challenge I will face.
May your great goodness infuse everything
I speak and accomplish….for your greater glory. Amen.

 

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

February 27, 2017

Mk 10: 17-27

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’”

He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

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.

Sharing Love

There are times when I am leaving the office or my house and someone stops me and says “Do you have a minute?” or “Can you help me?” Many times I think “I don’t have time for this” or “This is not on my schedule!” his gospel story encourages me to allow my heart to respond to the person instead of worrying about my schedule.  

In the story, Jesus is setting out on a journey and a young man stops him and asks a question. Jesus does not say “I am busy” or “See me during my normal business hours” or “I am going away, see me when I return.” Instead, Jesus listens to the man, answers his questions, and then encourages him to deeper faith and trust in God. But in this story Jesus does something even more amazing than giving his time: He loves the man!

Maybe the next time someone approaches me when I am busy or on my way someplace I can emulate Jesus by engaging the person and – more importantly – by loving the person.

—John Moriconi, S.J. is a Jesuit brother who serves as provincial secretary for the Chicago-Detroit Jesuit province.

Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

—St. Francis of Assisi


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

February 26, 2017

Mt 6: 24-34

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’

For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

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.

Examen Your Life

Cardinal Bernardin, the late, much-loved Archbishop of Chicago, once told a group of us priests that he was a chronic worrier. But he found that using the Ignatian Examen was of great benefit to him in curbing his anxiety. He noted that 80% of the “bad” things he worried about never happened to him. And for the 20% that did, God always gave him sufficient grace to face these challenges.  In fact, the things he worried about often became a source of great grace. He wrote eloquently about his struggle to surrender control in his spiritual classic, The Gift of Peace.

The Examen is the one essential prayer tool that Ignatius insisted we never skip.  It’s not simply another prayer but the key to turning our lives into a prayer. When today will we step off the worry treadmill and allow God’s still, small voice to direct our steps.

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a Retreat Master and Spiritual Director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago. He blogs weekly at heartoheart.org.

Prayer

Speak, Lord, when Your servant is too worried to listen!
For I cannot stop – No, I refuse to stop – my commotion
In motion wrought by an overly busy brain.
Yes, my eternal soul longs to rest in Your radiance,
And yet I resist You, Lord of my longing.

Stop me grace-fully, Lord!
Open my ears to the song of Your Voice.
Redirect my gaze from myself to Yourself,
From my thiefdom to Your kingdom,
From who I am to whom You create me to become.

—J. Michael Sparough, SJ


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February 25, 2017

Sir 17: 1-15

The Lord created human beings out of earth,
and makes them return to it again.
He gave them a fixed number of days,
but granted them authority over everything on the earth.
He endowed them with strength like his own,
and made them in his own image.

He put the fear of them in all living beings,
and gave them dominion over beasts and birds.
Discretion and tongue and eyes,   
ears and a mind for thinking he gave them.

He filled them with knowledge and understanding,
and showed them good and evil.
He put the fear of him into their hearts
to show them the majesty of his works.
And they will praise his holy name,
to proclaim the grandeur of his works.

He bestowed knowledge upon them,
and allotted to them the law of life.
He established with them an eternal covenant,
and revealed to them his decrees.
Their eyes saw his glorious majesty,
and their ears heard the glory of his voice.

He said to them, ‘Beware of all evil.’
And he gave commandment to each of them concerning a neighbour.
Their ways are always known to him;
they will not be hid from his eyes.

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.

Sharing Life and Light

We end this week with words from the Book of Sirach, words which recall the creation narrative of Genesis. We are invited once again to use our time and talents, our gifts and energy wherever we find ourselves this weekend. God writes the “law of life” into each of our hearts and sends us forth to make a difference…at least a small “difference” for others.

How can I share some hours of my life with family this weekend? How might I waste time with someone who needs a helping hand…someone who needs some words of encouragement…someone who needs a place to talk, a time to speak, a heart to listen?

—the Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Take, O take me as I am;
Summon out what I shall be.
Set your seal upon my heart,
and live in me.

—John L. Bell, © 1995, the Iona Community

 


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February 24, 2017

Sir 6: 5-17

Pleasant speech multiplies friends,
  and a gracious tongue multiplies courtesies

Let those who are friendly with you be many,
 but let your advisers be one in a thousand.

When you gain friends, gain them through testing,
 and do not trust them hastily.

For there are friends who are such when it suits them,
 but they will not stand by you in time of trouble.

And there are friends who change into enemies,
 and tell of the quarrel to your disgrace.

And there are friends who sit at your table,
 but they will not stand by you in time of trouble.

When you are prosperous, they become your second self,
  and lord it over your servants;

but if you are brought low, they turn against you,
  and hide themselves from you.

Keep away from your enemies,
  and be on guard with your friends.

Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter:
  whoever finds one has found a treasure.

Faithful friends are beyond price;
  no amount can balance their worth.

Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
  and those who fear the Lord will find them.

Those who fear the Lord direct their friendship aright,
  for as they are, so are their neighbors also.

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

True Friendship

“Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter: whoever finds one has found a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price; no amount can balance their worth.”

Recently, a friend introduced me as his “best friend.” Initially I was taken aback by this declaration, but then I reflected that, since sharing a locker frosh year of high school, and, despite dispersing across the continent, we had visited annually, vacationed as families, stood up at each other’s weddings, and God-parented each other’s offspring. Over the decades we had “sat at each other’s tables,” shared happy times and “times of trouble.” and candidly discussed careers, retirement, and health. As Sirach prescribes, we were to each other “life saving medicine.” This personal friendship has been a “sturdy shelter.”

That introduction caused me to reflect, how about my friendship with Jesus? Do I share important decisions and concerns with Jesus, as I do with my lifelong friend? As Lent approaches, I resolve to work on my friendship with Jesus, to find the spiritual treasure lurking there, one that is beyond price.

―George P. Sullivan, Jr. is a Jesuit-educated lay leader who helped found the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, Chicago Chapter. He and his wife, Dorothy Turek, live in Wilmette IL, and have four children and four grandchildren.

Prayer

The Lord is a friend forever. Even if you disappoint him and walk away from him, Jesus continues to want the best for you and to remain close to you; he believes in you even more than you believe in yourself.”

—Pope Francis on true friendship


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February 23, 2017

St.  Polycarp

Mk 9: 41-50

For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.

And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell,where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

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

Gifts Beyond Price

When I was growing up, my mom would tell me “you make the BEST friend.” She was observing some innate qualities important to relationships…but she was also observing that I tended to do a lot of the work, and that the gifts I shared with my friends were not always reciprocated: “one sort is a friend when it suits [her], but [s]he will not be with you in time of distress.” It took years to re-learn how to be a good friend, and how to locate others able to share in mutual, life-giving friendships with roots in the Creator’s abiding love for us all.  

Recently, I’ve been grateful for a few precious friends in my life, and recognizing in a new ways the power of their friendship. These women are shelter, are life-saving remedy.  No sum can balance their worth. Today, I’m taking an extra minute to thank God for these gifts beyond price.

—Catherine Ruffing Drotleff serves as the Director of Development for the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
 Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
 Where is injury, pardon;
 Where there is doubt, faith;
 Where there is despair, hope;
 Where there is darkness, light;
 And where there is sadness, joy.

—St. Francis of Assisi

 


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February 22, 2017

Feast of the Chair of Peter

Mt 16: 13-19

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

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.

Who Do You Say I Am?

This feast celebrates the mission of teacher and pastor which Jesus conferred on St. Peter, an ongoing mission that continues in an unbroken line down to Pope Francis. It is interesting that this feast has been celebrated in Rome and in Antioch since the early days of the Christian era. We celebrate the unity of the Church, founded upon Peter and the apostles; we renew our commitment to the Church and to the gospel of Jesus lived out in each of our homes and local communities.

Put yourself into the scene of today’s gospel text. Imagine Jesus looking intently at Peter. “Who do you say that I am,” Jesus asks. Peter responds: “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.”  Of course Jesus asks each of us this same question. How do I respond to Jesus today?

―the Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

All-powerful God, you have built your Church on the rock of St. Peter’s confession of faith.
May nothing divide or weaken our unity in faith and love. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

—adapted from the Roman Missal


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February 21, 2017

St. Peter Damian

Mk 9: 30-37

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but 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.

Our Journey with Jesus

We are quickly approaching Lent—a time to reflect on our lives and how to reform them to live more like Jesus. Many times, this interior reflection will take us to places we don’t want to advertise to the world. In today’s gospel, too, Jesus wanted to get away from the crowds because he knew of the horrible things that were going to happen to him. Imagine the anguish he must have felt and the need to confide with his close friends.

As we approach Lent, let us journey with Jesus as a friend and share in confidence those things that we need to confide, trusting that he loves those parts too.

—James Antonio, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Oregon Province, is currently studying philosophy at St. Louis University. He lives at the Bellarmine House of Studies in St. Louis.

Prayer

Jesus my Savior, stir up in my heart the desire to walk always in your footsteps.
May everything I accomplish today begin with your grace, 
always for your greater honor and glory. Amen.

 


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February 20, 2017

Mk 9: 14-29

When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.”

He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.”And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.”

Jesus said to him, “If you are able! —All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.”

But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”

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.

Grounded in Prayer

Too often I find myself in the same situation as the disciples in this story: I really want to help people and offer healing in Jesus’ name, but I find myself arguing with others. Maybe I am arguing because I think I know the “correct” way to do things or maybe I don’t agree with another person’s ideas, but the result is always the same: I am not focused on the gospel – the good news of Jesus. At these times I have to remind myself to emulate Jesus and ground all of my thoughts, words, and actions in prayer.

—John Moriconi, S.J. is a Jesuit brother who serves as provincial secretary for the Chicago-Detroit Jesuit province.

Prayer

It is not enough that I should serve God by myself:
I must help the hearts of all to love him
and the tongues of all to praise him.

—St. Ignatius Loyola

 


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February 19, 2017

Mt 5: 38-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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.

Tough Love

Mahatma Gandhi once famously reflected that living by the old code of  “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” would leave the whole world blind and toothless! Jesus sets the bar so much higher in commanding us to love even our enemies. There is no passage in the bible more challenging to our instinctual way of reacting to threats than this text. So inspirational are these words that they became the underpinnings for Gandhi’s non-violent protests and the civil rights marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What a different America this would be if we took Jesus’ words to heart and started praying for those intent on doing us harm. Who are the enemies of our country and our Church that frighten us? Answer that question, and we have the solid beginnings for our prayer list.

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a Retreat Master and Spiritual Director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago. He blogs weekly at heartoheart.org.

Prayer

Lord, stretch our hearts and minds to make them more like your own.

Open us to the horizons of truth that we may see not enemies but brothers and sisters waiting to be reconciled.  Lead us to live the love that you proclaimed when You prayed from the pulpit of the cross:”Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.“

—J. Michael Sparough, SJ

 


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