April 30, 2017

Lk 24:13-35

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”

They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place

Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.

They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

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 Road to Emmaus

         Our eyes falling down to the ground,
       Our hearts dry as the dust we trample.
     A stranger joins our journey to despair.
     and on until our grief can say no more,
Only then can his words water our withered spirits.

 Gently chiding, strongly guiding, weaving a story
 Of glory hidden within fabled prophecies of faith.
Later do we recall how fiercely our hearts did burn.

    Now is our turn, the time to beg him to linger,
   A request he can never refuse, for his every meal
  Is sacred space, every home he visits his sanctuary.

    For those who have eyes to see, bread blessed,
    Broken and shared is always more than bread.
      His presence no longer confined to history.

    This road we walked with him still beckons —
   To journey back from where we once despaired,
     Our eyes now raised in hopeful recognition.

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

Prayer

      As you listen to the cries of your people,
       walk with us, Lord, in our hour of need 
       Open our minds to Your grace unfolding
   In ways we cannot see but can learn to accept.

   Enflame the eyes of our souls to recognize you
 here and now in broken hearts and breaking bread
 as You continue to communion at table within us.

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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April 29, 2017

Catherine of Siena, v, dr M

Acts 6: 1-7

Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.”

What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

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.

Alive and Unafraid

This weekend brings us to the end of April, a month in which the dying and rising of Jesus have been part of our daily faith experience. Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles recounts the choice of seven disciples to attend to the daily tasks of feeding the poor and assisting those in need.

Each of us walks in the shoes of these disciples: we carry forward the daily outreach of Jesus in practical, often unnoticed service of one another…at home, at work and in school. We are charged to recognize one another’s needsthe needs of the body, yes! But also the needs of the heart and spirit. This is what it means to throw in our lot with the Risen Jesus. This is the practical reality of sharing his life and spirit in our daily walk with one another.

Jesus Christ is risen today! How will others recognize this reality in what I say and do today?

—the Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

Up from the tomb of all the past conceals!
See how our God a brighter day reveals.
Up from the tomb! Though death had bound us tight,
Like Lazarus, we stumble into light!

—Rory Cooney, “Up From the Earth” © 1987, North American Liturgy Resources


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April 28, 2017

Peter Chanel, p, r, ms, mt/ Louis Mary de Montfort, p

Jn 6: 1-15

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.

When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

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.

What Are We to Do?

Life after the resurrection of Jesus was not as easy as one would think. The Sanhedrin were feeling threatened by the Apostles. Their focus was on proclaiming Jesus Christ. What about the Apostles threatens you?

The Church today is invited to remember, through the Gospel of John (6:1-10), a time when Jesus fed the large crowd. They didn’t know how to respond to Jesus’ compassion for the crowd. They didn’t know what to do after Jesus fed them and collected the fragments. Their interest continues to be in trying to focus on Jesus, but they kept drifting back to focusing on their own desires.

In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Gamaliel’s advice offers a good invitation. “For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.  But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5: 34-42)

Jesus knows enough to keep drawing us into compassion and care for others. Is Jesus’ love and compassion the driving example in your life? Do you look to feed those who are drawn to you in desire for love of the Risen Jesus?

—Fr. Kevin Schneider, SJ is the director of adult spirituality programs at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE. He is a spiritual director and offers parish missions and retreats in the style of Ignatian Spirituality.

Prayer

Eternal Father, confirm me,
Eternal Son, confirm me,
Holy Spirit, confirm me,
Holy Trinity, confirm me,
My one and only God, confirm me.

from the Journal of St. Ignatius Loyola

 

 

 

 


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April 27, 2017

Feast of St. Peter Canisius, S.J.

Jn 3: 31-36

The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.

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

Good News

We seem to care most about bad news and not about celebrating the good news in our lives. The best News of all comes from Jesus, and this Good News is the message of the Easter Season. John warns that many will reject the testimony Jesus brings. Not much has changed over the years.

When we hear the Good News we must first rejoice and then respond in obedience. To obey God we must know who God is, open our ears and our hearts to God’s Word, and trust God. Our reward will be God’s very own life. Since God does not ration this gift of his Spirit, we can live joyfully in grace forever. John makes it clear that the “reward” for disobedience will be anything but “good news.” Let us trust Jesus and what He has to say and we will have cause for celebration, now and forever.

—Jesus Estrada is a 9th grade student at Verbum Dei High School, Los Angeles, CA.

Prayer

Holy God, each in our own way, may we bring the zeal and commitment of the gospel to all those persons and places we meet today. Strengthen our hearts to live your holy Gospel in faith, hope, and love. Amen.

—the Jesuit prayer team

 


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April 26, 2017

Jn 3: 16-21

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in 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.

Darkness and Light

Images of lightness and darkness are used throughout scripture. Darkness is not always bad. In the story of creation, God does not annihilate darkness. Rather, God adds light. Darkness is part of human experience. The question to me is, how shall we use the light?

Well, “to see,” of course. But what does that mean?

Years ago, I heard the story of a blind person who was suddenly “sighted” through surgery. That person’s reaction was to say:  “I now know some things that I didn’t know before, but I am not sure why.”

One of my favorite things to do is to take photos of subtle light illuminating familiar things. The light reveals the wondrous beauty of God’s creation.  One of my least favorite things is the harsh illumination of noon sun or “flash.” But this too reveals God’s creation.

The story of the Resurrection is the story of darkness and light, with all of the terrible beauty of both.

—Bren Ortega Murphy, PhD is a faculty member in Communications Studies at Loyola University Chicago. She holds a joint appointment in Loyola’s Women’s Studies program.

Prayer

Life-giving God, source of all light,
lead us to the hope and possibility
of your Easter gifts. Amen.

—the Jesuit prayer team

 


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April 25, 2017

St.  Mark

Mk 16: 15-20

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

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

Co-Workers With God

One of the great mysteries of our Christian faith—one which captured the mind and heart of Ignatius—is that God has invited us to share in his work of redemption. It is mysterious enough that God saves us from sin and death, when he has no obligation to do so. But that we too should play a role in his saving plan?  

If we are called to play a role in God’s saving plan, then we too, like the apostles, must go out and preach the Gospel. And we must be ready, like them, to follow in the footsteps of Christ, which will necessarily bring an experience of the Cross.

We will not be alone. As Christ was with the apostles, so will he be with us, and will confirm the word that he has placed in our hearts.

—William Manaker, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Central-Southern Jesuit province, is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord Jesus,
you sent your disciples
to preach the good news of salvation
by words and by deeds.
Grant us, we pray, a zeal for souls,
that we may never tire of proclaiming
the wonders of your mercy.  Amen.

—William Manaker, S.J.

 

 

 


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April 24, 2017

Fidelis of Sigmaringen, p, mt

Jn 3: 1-8

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

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 Holy Spirit in Jesuit Education

The last four lines in today’s Gospel truly speak to how invasive the Holy Spirit can be in our lives, without our realizing it. Everyday the Holy Spirit works in our schools through all forms of learning.  Every new experience, class, or conversation pushes us to grow emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. During my time on a silent retreat called Oramus at Saint Ignatius College Prep, the Holy Spirit taught me how I can utilize silence to connect to my relationship with God. This experience allowed me to gain valuable knowledge that I use now in my daily life.

How can we use Jesuit education as a form through which the Holy Spirit can work in revealing Jesus’ triumph over death?

—Maggie Lyons is a senior at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. She has been involved in retreat leadership and the SICP Harlequins group during her years at SICP. Maggie is excited to attend Marquette University next fall.

Prayer

Holy Spirit,
Holy Breather,
moving this way and that,
invisible to our broken, adamic eyes.

Come Breathe on us.
Come breathe and lift and swirl and fill
Perforate our lives with your holy breathe and
enliven these cold forsaken bones
…winnow away death that life might spring up.
                         —–
Wind of God,
blow far from us
all dark despair, all deep distress, all groundless fears,
all sinful desires, all Satan’s snares, all false values,
all selfish wants, all wasteful worries.
                       —–
Breath of God,
blow into us your holy presence,
your new creation, your living love, your healing touch,
your unearthly courage, your mighty strength,
your perfect peace, your boundless concern
your divine grace, your never-ending joy.

Wind of God, blow strong, blow fresh, blow on us now.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Amen.

—adapted from a prayer by Bruce Benedict, in Worship Sourcebook, LTP Publications, Chicago, IL.


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April 23, 2017

Jn 20: 19-31

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

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.

Imagine Touching Divine Mercy!

Who can’t identify with Thomas – demanding that we see and touch the wounds of Christ before we believe?  Yet St. Ignatius taught us how to go to these places in our imagination. We can not force the experience to  happen.  But we can set the conditions to allow God to profoundly touch our hearts through our imaginations in an utterly personal way. This can be powerfully healing.

In our Sacred Heart Chapel, there is a painting of St. Ignatius and St. Robert Bellarmine gazing intently at Jesus – His sacred heart ablaze with divine love.  These two saints never met and lived many centuries after Christ.  Yet the artist expresses a deep truth in depicting all three of them together.  We can each encounter the heart of Christ in prayerful imagination. This becomes more real than history.  Here we can still touch His hand and side and feel His divine mercy touching us.

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a Retreat Master, writer, and Spiritual Director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago.  His video blog can be seen weekly at: www.heartoheart.org/Easter

Prayer

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds hide me.
Permit me not to be separated from you.
From the wicked foe, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me
and bid me come to you,
That with your saints I may praise you
Forever and ever. Amen.

—a favorite prayer of St. Ignatius

 


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April 22, 2017

Mk 16: 9-15

Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.

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.

Out Into the World

Easter week ends with a very human gospel scene. Jesus appears to the eleven apostles and takes them to task because they could not come to believe. Perhaps they simply couldn’t imagine the first-hand experiences described by Mary Magdalene and their two companions who saw the Risen Jesus while walking towards Emmaus. Clearly their world had been turned upside down; understandably they did not know how to react to the reality of Jesus now alive and risen.

What about each of us how has this week’s experience of Easter affected my attitude and daily living? Within our family? Amongst those I meet each day? In practical ways, how has the Easter faith and hope and new life Jesus offers made a difference…at home? At work?  In my daily routine?

—The Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

Lord, I believe in you, alive and risen.
Please help my unbeliefshow me your face.
Amen.

 

 

 


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April 21, 2017

Jn 21: 1-14

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn.

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

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

Sharing and Believing

Imagine the seven friends fishing all night and catching little. The frustration they must have felt. Then someone from shore suggests dropping nets again. Their thoughts might have been; “Don’t you think we’ve done that?” They then think… “Why not?” and they catch more than they could imagine.

Upon recognizing that it was the Lord, Peter jumps into the water. The boat must have arrived long before Peter does. Yet his abundant excitement to be in the presence of his friend, the risen Lord caused him to do something crazy.

Then they share a meal, again. The community that is built through friends eating together is an important community. The conversations and the compassion shared as the friends prepare and eat together are significant.

Do you feel that compassion with those with whom you eat? Are meals what you do together of alone as you are running from one thing to the next? This Easter Season (all 50 days) try to eat more often with others…and imagine the Risen Lord eating with you. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourselves so excited to get to those meals that you might do something crazy, like jump out a boat.

—Fr. Kevin Schneider, SJ is the director of adult spirituality programs at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE. He is a spiritual director and offers parish missions and retreats in the style of Ignatian Spirituality.

Prayer

Christ is Risen: The world below lies desolate
Christ is Risen: The spirits of evil are fallen
Christ is Risen: The angels of God are rejoicing
Christ is Risen: The tombs of the dead are empty
Christ is Risen indeed from the dead,
the first of the sleepers,
Glory and power are his forever and ever.

—Fr. Kevin Schneider, S.J.

 


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April 30, 2017

Lk 24:13-35

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”

They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place

Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.

They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

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 Road to Emmaus

         Our eyes falling down to the ground,
       Our hearts dry as the dust we trample.
     A stranger joins our journey to despair.
     and on until our grief can say no more,
Only then can his words water our withered spirits.

 Gently chiding, strongly guiding, weaving a story
 Of glory hidden within fabled prophecies of faith.
Later do we recall how fiercely our hearts did burn.

    Now is our turn, the time to beg him to linger,
   A request he can never refuse, for his every meal
  Is sacred space, every home he visits his sanctuary.

    For those who have eyes to see, bread blessed,
    Broken and shared is always more than bread.
      His presence no longer confined to history.

    This road we walked with him still beckons —
   To journey back from where we once despaired,
     Our eyes now raised in hopeful recognition.

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

Prayer

      As you listen to the cries of your people,
       walk with us, Lord, in our hour of need 
       Open our minds to Your grace unfolding
   In ways we cannot see but can learn to accept.

   Enflame the eyes of our souls to recognize you
 here and now in broken hearts and breaking bread
 as You continue to communion at table within us.

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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April 29, 2017

Catherine of Siena, v, dr M

Acts 6: 1-7

Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.”

What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

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.

Alive and Unafraid

This weekend brings us to the end of April, a month in which the dying and rising of Jesus have been part of our daily faith experience. Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles recounts the choice of seven disciples to attend to the daily tasks of feeding the poor and assisting those in need.

Each of us walks in the shoes of these disciples: we carry forward the daily outreach of Jesus in practical, often unnoticed service of one another…at home, at work and in school. We are charged to recognize one another’s needsthe needs of the body, yes! But also the needs of the heart and spirit. This is what it means to throw in our lot with the Risen Jesus. This is the practical reality of sharing his life and spirit in our daily walk with one another.

Jesus Christ is risen today! How will others recognize this reality in what I say and do today?

—the Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

Up from the tomb of all the past conceals!
See how our God a brighter day reveals.
Up from the tomb! Though death had bound us tight,
Like Lazarus, we stumble into light!

—Rory Cooney, “Up From the Earth” © 1987, North American Liturgy Resources


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April 28, 2017

Peter Chanel, p, r, ms, mt/ Louis Mary de Montfort, p

Jn 6: 1-15

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.

When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

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.

What Are We to Do?

Life after the resurrection of Jesus was not as easy as one would think. The Sanhedrin were feeling threatened by the Apostles. Their focus was on proclaiming Jesus Christ. What about the Apostles threatens you?

The Church today is invited to remember, through the Gospel of John (6:1-10), a time when Jesus fed the large crowd. They didn’t know how to respond to Jesus’ compassion for the crowd. They didn’t know what to do after Jesus fed them and collected the fragments. Their interest continues to be in trying to focus on Jesus, but they kept drifting back to focusing on their own desires.

In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Gamaliel’s advice offers a good invitation. “For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.  But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5: 34-42)

Jesus knows enough to keep drawing us into compassion and care for others. Is Jesus’ love and compassion the driving example in your life? Do you look to feed those who are drawn to you in desire for love of the Risen Jesus?

—Fr. Kevin Schneider, SJ is the director of adult spirituality programs at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE. He is a spiritual director and offers parish missions and retreats in the style of Ignatian Spirituality.

Prayer

Eternal Father, confirm me,
Eternal Son, confirm me,
Holy Spirit, confirm me,
Holy Trinity, confirm me,
My one and only God, confirm me.

from the Journal of St. Ignatius Loyola

 

 

 

 


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April 27, 2017

Feast of St. Peter Canisius, S.J.

Jn 3: 31-36

The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.

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

Good News

We seem to care most about bad news and not about celebrating the good news in our lives. The best News of all comes from Jesus, and this Good News is the message of the Easter Season. John warns that many will reject the testimony Jesus brings. Not much has changed over the years.

When we hear the Good News we must first rejoice and then respond in obedience. To obey God we must know who God is, open our ears and our hearts to God’s Word, and trust God. Our reward will be God’s very own life. Since God does not ration this gift of his Spirit, we can live joyfully in grace forever. John makes it clear that the “reward” for disobedience will be anything but “good news.” Let us trust Jesus and what He has to say and we will have cause for celebration, now and forever.

—Jesus Estrada is a 9th grade student at Verbum Dei High School, Los Angeles, CA.

Prayer

Holy God, each in our own way, may we bring the zeal and commitment of the gospel to all those persons and places we meet today. Strengthen our hearts to live your holy Gospel in faith, hope, and love. Amen.

—the Jesuit prayer team

 


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April 26, 2017

Jn 3: 16-21

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in 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.

Darkness and Light

Images of lightness and darkness are used throughout scripture. Darkness is not always bad. In the story of creation, God does not annihilate darkness. Rather, God adds light. Darkness is part of human experience. The question to me is, how shall we use the light?

Well, “to see,” of course. But what does that mean?

Years ago, I heard the story of a blind person who was suddenly “sighted” through surgery. That person’s reaction was to say:  “I now know some things that I didn’t know before, but I am not sure why.”

One of my favorite things to do is to take photos of subtle light illuminating familiar things. The light reveals the wondrous beauty of God’s creation.  One of my least favorite things is the harsh illumination of noon sun or “flash.” But this too reveals God’s creation.

The story of the Resurrection is the story of darkness and light, with all of the terrible beauty of both.

—Bren Ortega Murphy, PhD is a faculty member in Communications Studies at Loyola University Chicago. She holds a joint appointment in Loyola’s Women’s Studies program.

Prayer

Life-giving God, source of all light,
lead us to the hope and possibility
of your Easter gifts. Amen.

—the Jesuit prayer team

 


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April 25, 2017

St.  Mark

Mk 16: 15-20

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

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

Co-Workers With God

One of the great mysteries of our Christian faith—one which captured the mind and heart of Ignatius—is that God has invited us to share in his work of redemption. It is mysterious enough that God saves us from sin and death, when he has no obligation to do so. But that we too should play a role in his saving plan?  

If we are called to play a role in God’s saving plan, then we too, like the apostles, must go out and preach the Gospel. And we must be ready, like them, to follow in the footsteps of Christ, which will necessarily bring an experience of the Cross.

We will not be alone. As Christ was with the apostles, so will he be with us, and will confirm the word that he has placed in our hearts.

—William Manaker, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Central-Southern Jesuit province, is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord Jesus,
you sent your disciples
to preach the good news of salvation
by words and by deeds.
Grant us, we pray, a zeal for souls,
that we may never tire of proclaiming
the wonders of your mercy.  Amen.

—William Manaker, S.J.

 

 

 


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April 24, 2017

Fidelis of Sigmaringen, p, mt

Jn 3: 1-8

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

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 Holy Spirit in Jesuit Education

The last four lines in today’s Gospel truly speak to how invasive the Holy Spirit can be in our lives, without our realizing it. Everyday the Holy Spirit works in our schools through all forms of learning.  Every new experience, class, or conversation pushes us to grow emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. During my time on a silent retreat called Oramus at Saint Ignatius College Prep, the Holy Spirit taught me how I can utilize silence to connect to my relationship with God. This experience allowed me to gain valuable knowledge that I use now in my daily life.

How can we use Jesuit education as a form through which the Holy Spirit can work in revealing Jesus’ triumph over death?

—Maggie Lyons is a senior at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. She has been involved in retreat leadership and the SICP Harlequins group during her years at SICP. Maggie is excited to attend Marquette University next fall.

Prayer

Holy Spirit,
Holy Breather,
moving this way and that,
invisible to our broken, adamic eyes.

Come Breathe on us.
Come breathe and lift and swirl and fill
Perforate our lives with your holy breathe and
enliven these cold forsaken bones
…winnow away death that life might spring up.
                         —–
Wind of God,
blow far from us
all dark despair, all deep distress, all groundless fears,
all sinful desires, all Satan’s snares, all false values,
all selfish wants, all wasteful worries.
                       —–
Breath of God,
blow into us your holy presence,
your new creation, your living love, your healing touch,
your unearthly courage, your mighty strength,
your perfect peace, your boundless concern
your divine grace, your never-ending joy.

Wind of God, blow strong, blow fresh, blow on us now.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Amen.

—adapted from a prayer by Bruce Benedict, in Worship Sourcebook, LTP Publications, Chicago, IL.


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April 23, 2017

Jn 20: 19-31

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

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.

Imagine Touching Divine Mercy!

Who can’t identify with Thomas – demanding that we see and touch the wounds of Christ before we believe?  Yet St. Ignatius taught us how to go to these places in our imagination. We can not force the experience to  happen.  But we can set the conditions to allow God to profoundly touch our hearts through our imaginations in an utterly personal way. This can be powerfully healing.

In our Sacred Heart Chapel, there is a painting of St. Ignatius and St. Robert Bellarmine gazing intently at Jesus – His sacred heart ablaze with divine love.  These two saints never met and lived many centuries after Christ.  Yet the artist expresses a deep truth in depicting all three of them together.  We can each encounter the heart of Christ in prayerful imagination. This becomes more real than history.  Here we can still touch His hand and side and feel His divine mercy touching us.

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a Retreat Master, writer, and Spiritual Director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago.  His video blog can be seen weekly at: www.heartoheart.org/Easter

Prayer

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds hide me.
Permit me not to be separated from you.
From the wicked foe, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me
and bid me come to you,
That with your saints I may praise you
Forever and ever. Amen.

—a favorite prayer of St. Ignatius

 


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April 22, 2017

Mk 16: 9-15

Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.

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.

Out Into the World

Easter week ends with a very human gospel scene. Jesus appears to the eleven apostles and takes them to task because they could not come to believe. Perhaps they simply couldn’t imagine the first-hand experiences described by Mary Magdalene and their two companions who saw the Risen Jesus while walking towards Emmaus. Clearly their world had been turned upside down; understandably they did not know how to react to the reality of Jesus now alive and risen.

What about each of us how has this week’s experience of Easter affected my attitude and daily living? Within our family? Amongst those I meet each day? In practical ways, how has the Easter faith and hope and new life Jesus offers made a difference…at home? At work?  In my daily routine?

—The Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

Lord, I believe in you, alive and risen.
Please help my unbeliefshow me your face.
Amen.

 

 

 


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April 21, 2017

Jn 21: 1-14

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn.

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

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

Sharing and Believing

Imagine the seven friends fishing all night and catching little. The frustration they must have felt. Then someone from shore suggests dropping nets again. Their thoughts might have been; “Don’t you think we’ve done that?” They then think… “Why not?” and they catch more than they could imagine.

Upon recognizing that it was the Lord, Peter jumps into the water. The boat must have arrived long before Peter does. Yet his abundant excitement to be in the presence of his friend, the risen Lord caused him to do something crazy.

Then they share a meal, again. The community that is built through friends eating together is an important community. The conversations and the compassion shared as the friends prepare and eat together are significant.

Do you feel that compassion with those with whom you eat? Are meals what you do together of alone as you are running from one thing to the next? This Easter Season (all 50 days) try to eat more often with others…and imagine the Risen Lord eating with you. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourselves so excited to get to those meals that you might do something crazy, like jump out a boat.

—Fr. Kevin Schneider, SJ is the director of adult spirituality programs at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE. He is a spiritual director and offers parish missions and retreats in the style of Ignatian Spirituality.

Prayer

Christ is Risen: The world below lies desolate
Christ is Risen: The spirits of evil are fallen
Christ is Risen: The angels of God are rejoicing
Christ is Risen: The tombs of the dead are empty
Christ is Risen indeed from the dead,
the first of the sleepers,
Glory and power are his forever and ever.

—Fr. Kevin Schneider, S.J.

 


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