October 18, 2017

Feast of St. Luke

Lk 10: 1-9

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.

Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

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

A little help from my friends

There’s always so much to do, especially when you work for God. Here we see Jesus preparing his disciples for “the harvest.” Jesus sends them out to the metaphorical vineyard in pairs, knowing that we are always more effective when we work together. There is strength and goodness in community.

We’re told that Jesus intends to visit these places too – another example of why the Incarnation is so amazing. Jesus is one of us – as a human, as a person who feels and has friends. He doesn’t ask us to do what he’s not also going to do. In all things, Jesus understands what we feel and experience.

We see, too, that Jesus cares for his laborers. He offers advice about their care and effectiveness. Be peaceful, be healers, be people who share the news of the Kingdom. Good advice for anyone who desires to live in the Spirit.

—Rita Zyber is RCIA and Confirmation Coordinator at St. Mary Student Parish at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.

Prayer

I give thanks to you, Lord, who made the sun and rain.
I give thanks to you for new growth that rises from fertile land.
I give thanks to you for the harvests of grain, for nourishing bread.
I give thanks to you for all your great bounty.
Surely we taste your goodness today with truly thankful hearts.

—Adapted from a Prayer of Thanksgiving For a Farmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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October 17, 2017

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Lk 11: 37-41

While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.

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

Non-ostentatious faith

In today’s Gospel we encounter Jesus in the home of a Pharisee, one of the scrupulous observers of the law who constantly try to discredit Jesus and his ministry. Jesus confronts the Pharisee, calling him out for an empty faith, full of appearances. Jesus scolds him for using religious practices, like the washing of one’s hands before a meal, to mask the “plunder and evil” that corrupt them from within. So focused on themselves and “looking good”, the Pharisees forgot about the commandment to love God and neighbor.

How is God challenging me to not be constricted by a religion of appearances and instead embrace an authentic, radical faith in the God of Life?

This encounter is an invitation to downward mobility. To embrace our faith humbly, not ostentatiously, building people up and never reprimanding them for their perceived lack of faith or of certain religious practices.

—Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic in the Midwest Province studying philosophy at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru.

Prayer

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

—Daniel A. Lord, SJ

 

 

 


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October 16, 2017

St.  Hedwig & St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Rom 1: 1-7

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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 is in your bio?

“Books, baking, Chicago, spirituality, social change.” That is my Instagram bio, 52 carefully curated characters, an attempt at telling the world something meaningful about myself.

If Paul had an Instagram bio, how would he use the 150 character maximum? Perhaps “Tent-maker. Letter-writer. Traveler from Tarsus.” While those things are true, is that really what Paul would say about himself?

If today’s first reading is any indication, the answer is, likely, no. In his 150-word greeting to the Romans, Paul doesn’t list his occupation, hometown, or interests. Instead, he introduces himself as a slave of Christ Jesus, an apostle, set apart for the Gospel. Paul’s sense of self is deeply rooted in his relationship with God.

Is our sense of self tied up in labels? What would it look like if we understood ourselves in the way Paul saw the Romans – in our belongingness to Christ, in our belovedness of God?

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.

Prayer

More than ever I find myself in the hands of God. This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth. But now there is a difference; the initiative is entirely with God. It is indeed a profound spiritual experience to know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands.

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ

 

 


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October 15, 2017

Phil 4: 12-14. 19-20

I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress. And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

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.

Secret of going hungry

I am very unacquainted with St. Paul’s “secret of going hungry.” How do I come to know it better, without starving myself? I know something of it by visiting the poor, though the first thing they always want to do is feed me! How readily they share! Is there something of Saint Paul’s “secret” in the humiliation of accepting their generosity?

Perhaps my “secret” lies in being as willing to receive generosity as to offer it? Though not materially poor, I can plumb the depths of my own scarcity. I can be willing to ask help from others when I can’t find the right words, can only pretend to know, or lack the courage to do what must be done. The secret of my own neediness must be laid bare so, like St. Paul, I can show myself and others what it means to trust in Christ, in every circumstance.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.

Prayer

Lord, teach me to humbly receive the generosity of others. Help me to recognize my own neediness and dependency. Help me to recognize that what I am hungry for most of all is to trust in you. Help me to be aware of the richness and the limits of the gifts and talents that you have given me, so that I can better appreciate and use those of others. Give me the courage to ask them for the help that I need, instead of stubbornly pretending to have it all together. And grant that I might know the hunger of seeking the abundance that only you can provide.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ

 


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October 14, 2017

Lk 11: 27-28

While he was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey 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.

Looking forward

At first glance, today’s Gospel might appear to have Jesus slighting his mother.  In response to a woman acknowledging Jesus’ greatness by calling out blessings to the woman who gave birth to him and raised him, Jesus turns the blessing around.  His reply, “blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it,” seems a bit jarring.

Throughout the Gospels, we see evidence of the profound love Jesus had for his mother.  It is at her request that Jesus performs his first miracle at the wedding at Cana.  One of his last acts before dying on the cross was to entrust Mary’s care to the disciple whom he loved.  

Jesus’s response in today’s Gospel should not discount Mary’s role, but rather to focus on the future.  We are not to look to our past to give us glory, but rather on how we live our lives going forward.  Do we hear the word of God, take it to heart, and live it out in our daily lives?  

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.  

—Luke 1:46-55

 

 

 

 

 


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October 13, 2017

Lk 11: 15-26

But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? —for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul.

Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe.But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his plunder.

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

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.

Christ’s voice in our hearts

Are you possessed by a demon? Probably not.

Are you being harassed by an evil spirit? According to St. Ignatius, absolutely.

Ignatius came to realize that evil spirits act as voices sowing fear, doubt, pride and jealousy in our hearts. Whenever we listen to them, we are left in desolation.

Ignatius also realized, though, that there is a way to guard against these destructive spirits. We simply need to find the “stronger man” from today’s Gospel to defend us.

Luckily, we need not go far to find this stronger man. It is Christ, and he already lives within each of us. When we tune into Christ’s voice in our hearts, the result is peace, joy and love. Just as light dispels darkness, the consolation of Christ speaking in our hearts utterly dispels desolation.

Let’s pay more attention to the movements of our hearts. If we do so, we are sure to begin hearing the voice of Christ leading us to greater peace, joy and love.

—Stephen Kramer, SJ, is a scholastic of the USA Central and Southern Province, currently in theology studies at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

Prayer

My God,
You have created me out of love to know you, love you
and serve you in a way no one else can do.
Your plans for me are far greater than any
I might dare dream for myself.
Lord, grant that I might be open to your grace
to know the next good step in your plan for my life.
Give me the courage and the generosity to say “Yes”!
Show me your will for me, O Lord, and help me to say with Mary,
“I am the servant of the Lord: let it be done to me according to your word.”

Amen.

—Attributed to the Most Reverend George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha

 

 

 


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October 12, 2017

Lk 11: 5-13

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread;for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’

I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

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

Ask and Receive

Luke’s Gospel reminds us that the love God has for us is the love of a father. How many times are we disappointed because of unanswered prayers … things we pray to receive but are left without? “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?”

God knows us better than we know ourselves; this is why we rarely win the lottery. God loves us unconditionally and seeks for us to have a deeper relationship with him and desires for us to live a joy-filled life. But how often do we not take the burdens of our lives to him and try to fix things ourselves? Or do we take the burdens and obstacles in our lives and place it at the foot of the Cross? Do we ask God to assist us in living a more joyful life? This is what the Gospel of Luke is telling us. It is telling us that God desires to give us the good gifts we need, but only if we ask for them.

—Joseph Hamaty is the Executive Director of Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas, Texas.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, give me a more open heart. Help me to be more vulnerable and more open in my prayer. Give me the courage to fight any desire to be proud and think I can fix things myself. Lord, help me to be accepting of any unanswered prayers and trust in your infinite love and mercy for me. Give me an attitude of gratitude to not only recognize all the answered prayers in my life but to have a greater awareness of all the ways you reveal yourself to me. Lord Jesus, I know you only desire the best for me.  Amen.

—Joseph Hamaty

 


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October 11, 2017

Jon 4: 1-11

But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious

God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city. The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush.

But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” Then the Lord said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night.

And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”

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

God’s mercy toward our enemy

Jonah was so focused on his own desires that even though he was following God’s will, he was angry when things didn’t go his way. God pardoned the nation that Jonah wanted to see destroyed. He was so overcome with hatred that he wished to die instead of seeing his enemy live.

How often do we hear it preached to love your enemies, practice mercy, and welcome the stranger? But how quick are we to judge when things don’t go the way we want. It’s easy to follow God’s will if we get what we want. But what if we don’t get the results we desire?

Can we relate this story to a person or group that we do not like? How do we respond when we see them receive the same mercy that God extends to ourselves? How might we try to respond differently in those cases?

—Sam Mauck is the Director of Catholic Campus & Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Memphis, which is a member of the Charis Ministries Partner Program.

Prayer

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

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen

—Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

 


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October 10, 2017

Lk 10: 38-42

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.

But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

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.

Everything’ Alright, Yes Everything’s Fine

We have all heard it – “Be Mary, not Martha,” or have a “Mary heart in a Martha world.” We get it, Mary chose the better part. But as a self-diagnosed Martha, this makes me feel slighted. It is really hard to “be Mary” when you are Martha – “anxious and worried about many things.”

It reminds me of the time when one of my professors asked how I was doing, and I responded, not by telling him how I was actually doing, but by telling him about how busy I was. He just smiled and said, “maybe someday, you’ll value yourself for who you are, not for how much you do.” At the time, I dismissed his remarks and responded with an eye roll that could have counted as my cardio for the day. I was annoyed and way too busy to internalize what he said. It wasn’t until many years later that I understood that my professor wasn’t saying “don’t be you,” but he was saying, “you are valued for who you are.”

Similarly, it is important to remember that Jesus never said to Martha “don’t be you” but he was saying, “Martha, I am here to spend time with you, not because you serve me or because your house is clean, but because of who you are. Please, join me.”  Like the line from Jesus Christ Superstar that urges try not to get worried, try not to turn on to, problems that upset you… Don’t you know, everything’s alright, yes, everything’s fine,” Jesus invites us to set aside our busyness, “to do” lists, worries, and anxieties and join him, just as we are.

—Jackie Lesiak is the Assistant Principal for Professional Development and teaches World History at Creighton Prep.

Prayer

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

—St. Teresa of Avila 

 


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October 9, 2017

St. Denis & St. John Leonardi

Jon 1: 1 – 2: 1-2, 11

“Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah made ready to flee to Tarshish away from the LORD. He went down to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went aboard to journey with them to Tarshish, away from the LORD.

The LORD, however, hurled a violent wind upon the sea, and in the furious tempest that arose the ship was on the point of breaking up. Then the mariners became frightened and each one cried to his god. To lighten the ship for themselves, they threw its cargo into the sea.

Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship, and lay there fast asleep. The captain came to him and said, “What are you doing asleep? Rise up, call upon your God! Perhaps God will be mindful of us so that we may not perish.”

Then they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots to find out on whose account we have met with this misfortune.” So they cast lots, and thus singled out Jonah. “Tell us,” they said, “what is your business? Where do you come from? What is your country, and to what people do you belong?”

Jonah answered them, “I am a Hebrew, I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Now the men were seized with great fear and said to him, “How could you do such a thing!– They knew that he was fleeing from the LORD, because he had told them.–

They asked, “What shall we do with you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea was growing more and more turbulent. Jonah said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea, that it may quiet down for you; since I know it is because of me that this violent storm has come upon you.”

Still the men rowed hard to regain the land, but they could not, for the sea grew ever more turbulent. Then they cried to the LORD: “We beseech you, O LORD, let us not perish for taking this man’s life; do not charge us with shedding innocent blood, for you, LORD, have done as you saw fit.”

Then they took Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea’s raging abated. Struck with great fear of the LORD, the men offered sacrifice and made vows to him. But the LORD sent a large fish, that swallowed Jonah; and Jonah remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. From the belly of the fish Jonah prayed  to the LORD, his God. Then the LORD commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore.

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.

Entering into the uneasiness

Today’s first reading from Jonah conjures up images which evoke fear and anxiety.  Imagine the utter terror that Jonah must have felt as he was heaved into the sea, and then swallowed by the great animal!   Nevertheless, he knew that he had to let go of his fear and allow himself to be used by God.

The deep truth of the story is that by acknowledging his worry and embracing his despair Jonah was transformed.  We tend to dismiss our fear and we allow it to influence our decisions in unhealthy ways.  God invites us, like Jonah, to actually enter into our fear and anxiety as a means to embracing a deeper faith.  We can actually “use” our uneasiness as an opportunity to connect more deeply with a God who cares for us.  And almost in spite of ourselves we connect with other people in the same way.

—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.

Prayer

Lord God, we avoid fear and try to rid ourselves of any anxiety and keep them from entering our lives.  Help us to acknowledge the anxiety in our lives and let it be an invitation to open our hearts more deeply to you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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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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October 18, 2017

Feast of St. Luke

Lk 10: 1-9

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.

Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

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

A little help from my friends

There’s always so much to do, especially when you work for God. Here we see Jesus preparing his disciples for “the harvest.” Jesus sends them out to the metaphorical vineyard in pairs, knowing that we are always more effective when we work together. There is strength and goodness in community.

We’re told that Jesus intends to visit these places too – another example of why the Incarnation is so amazing. Jesus is one of us – as a human, as a person who feels and has friends. He doesn’t ask us to do what he’s not also going to do. In all things, Jesus understands what we feel and experience.

We see, too, that Jesus cares for his laborers. He offers advice about their care and effectiveness. Be peaceful, be healers, be people who share the news of the Kingdom. Good advice for anyone who desires to live in the Spirit.

—Rita Zyber is RCIA and Confirmation Coordinator at St. Mary Student Parish at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.

Prayer

I give thanks to you, Lord, who made the sun and rain.
I give thanks to you for new growth that rises from fertile land.
I give thanks to you for the harvests of grain, for nourishing bread.
I give thanks to you for all your great bounty.
Surely we taste your goodness today with truly thankful hearts.

—Adapted from a Prayer of Thanksgiving For a Farmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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October 17, 2017

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Lk 11: 37-41

While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.

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

Non-ostentatious faith

In today’s Gospel we encounter Jesus in the home of a Pharisee, one of the scrupulous observers of the law who constantly try to discredit Jesus and his ministry. Jesus confronts the Pharisee, calling him out for an empty faith, full of appearances. Jesus scolds him for using religious practices, like the washing of one’s hands before a meal, to mask the “plunder and evil” that corrupt them from within. So focused on themselves and “looking good”, the Pharisees forgot about the commandment to love God and neighbor.

How is God challenging me to not be constricted by a religion of appearances and instead embrace an authentic, radical faith in the God of Life?

This encounter is an invitation to downward mobility. To embrace our faith humbly, not ostentatiously, building people up and never reprimanding them for their perceived lack of faith or of certain religious practices.

—Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic in the Midwest Province studying philosophy at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru.

Prayer

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

—Daniel A. Lord, SJ

 

 

 


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October 16, 2017

St.  Hedwig & St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Rom 1: 1-7

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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 is in your bio?

“Books, baking, Chicago, spirituality, social change.” That is my Instagram bio, 52 carefully curated characters, an attempt at telling the world something meaningful about myself.

If Paul had an Instagram bio, how would he use the 150 character maximum? Perhaps “Tent-maker. Letter-writer. Traveler from Tarsus.” While those things are true, is that really what Paul would say about himself?

If today’s first reading is any indication, the answer is, likely, no. In his 150-word greeting to the Romans, Paul doesn’t list his occupation, hometown, or interests. Instead, he introduces himself as a slave of Christ Jesus, an apostle, set apart for the Gospel. Paul’s sense of self is deeply rooted in his relationship with God.

Is our sense of self tied up in labels? What would it look like if we understood ourselves in the way Paul saw the Romans – in our belongingness to Christ, in our belovedness of God?

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.

Prayer

More than ever I find myself in the hands of God. This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth. But now there is a difference; the initiative is entirely with God. It is indeed a profound spiritual experience to know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands.

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ

 

 


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October 15, 2017

Phil 4: 12-14. 19-20

I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress. And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

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.

Secret of going hungry

I am very unacquainted with St. Paul’s “secret of going hungry.” How do I come to know it better, without starving myself? I know something of it by visiting the poor, though the first thing they always want to do is feed me! How readily they share! Is there something of Saint Paul’s “secret” in the humiliation of accepting their generosity?

Perhaps my “secret” lies in being as willing to receive generosity as to offer it? Though not materially poor, I can plumb the depths of my own scarcity. I can be willing to ask help from others when I can’t find the right words, can only pretend to know, or lack the courage to do what must be done. The secret of my own neediness must be laid bare so, like St. Paul, I can show myself and others what it means to trust in Christ, in every circumstance.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.

Prayer

Lord, teach me to humbly receive the generosity of others. Help me to recognize my own neediness and dependency. Help me to recognize that what I am hungry for most of all is to trust in you. Help me to be aware of the richness and the limits of the gifts and talents that you have given me, so that I can better appreciate and use those of others. Give me the courage to ask them for the help that I need, instead of stubbornly pretending to have it all together. And grant that I might know the hunger of seeking the abundance that only you can provide.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ

 


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October 14, 2017

Lk 11: 27-28

While he was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey 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.

Looking forward

At first glance, today’s Gospel might appear to have Jesus slighting his mother.  In response to a woman acknowledging Jesus’ greatness by calling out blessings to the woman who gave birth to him and raised him, Jesus turns the blessing around.  His reply, “blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it,” seems a bit jarring.

Throughout the Gospels, we see evidence of the profound love Jesus had for his mother.  It is at her request that Jesus performs his first miracle at the wedding at Cana.  One of his last acts before dying on the cross was to entrust Mary’s care to the disciple whom he loved.  

Jesus’s response in today’s Gospel should not discount Mary’s role, but rather to focus on the future.  We are not to look to our past to give us glory, but rather on how we live our lives going forward.  Do we hear the word of God, take it to heart, and live it out in our daily lives?  

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.  

—Luke 1:46-55

 

 

 

 

 


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October 13, 2017

Lk 11: 15-26

But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? —for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul.

Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe.But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his plunder.

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

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.

Christ’s voice in our hearts

Are you possessed by a demon? Probably not.

Are you being harassed by an evil spirit? According to St. Ignatius, absolutely.

Ignatius came to realize that evil spirits act as voices sowing fear, doubt, pride and jealousy in our hearts. Whenever we listen to them, we are left in desolation.

Ignatius also realized, though, that there is a way to guard against these destructive spirits. We simply need to find the “stronger man” from today’s Gospel to defend us.

Luckily, we need not go far to find this stronger man. It is Christ, and he already lives within each of us. When we tune into Christ’s voice in our hearts, the result is peace, joy and love. Just as light dispels darkness, the consolation of Christ speaking in our hearts utterly dispels desolation.

Let’s pay more attention to the movements of our hearts. If we do so, we are sure to begin hearing the voice of Christ leading us to greater peace, joy and love.

—Stephen Kramer, SJ, is a scholastic of the USA Central and Southern Province, currently in theology studies at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

Prayer

My God,
You have created me out of love to know you, love you
and serve you in a way no one else can do.
Your plans for me are far greater than any
I might dare dream for myself.
Lord, grant that I might be open to your grace
to know the next good step in your plan for my life.
Give me the courage and the generosity to say “Yes”!
Show me your will for me, O Lord, and help me to say with Mary,
“I am the servant of the Lord: let it be done to me according to your word.”

Amen.

—Attributed to the Most Reverend George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha

 

 

 


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October 12, 2017

Lk 11: 5-13

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread;for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’

I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

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

Ask and Receive

Luke’s Gospel reminds us that the love God has for us is the love of a father. How many times are we disappointed because of unanswered prayers … things we pray to receive but are left without? “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?”

God knows us better than we know ourselves; this is why we rarely win the lottery. God loves us unconditionally and seeks for us to have a deeper relationship with him and desires for us to live a joy-filled life. But how often do we not take the burdens of our lives to him and try to fix things ourselves? Or do we take the burdens and obstacles in our lives and place it at the foot of the Cross? Do we ask God to assist us in living a more joyful life? This is what the Gospel of Luke is telling us. It is telling us that God desires to give us the good gifts we need, but only if we ask for them.

—Joseph Hamaty is the Executive Director of Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas, Texas.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, give me a more open heart. Help me to be more vulnerable and more open in my prayer. Give me the courage to fight any desire to be proud and think I can fix things myself. Lord, help me to be accepting of any unanswered prayers and trust in your infinite love and mercy for me. Give me an attitude of gratitude to not only recognize all the answered prayers in my life but to have a greater awareness of all the ways you reveal yourself to me. Lord Jesus, I know you only desire the best for me.  Amen.

—Joseph Hamaty

 


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October 11, 2017

Jon 4: 1-11

But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious

God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city. The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush.

But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” Then the Lord said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night.

And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”

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

God’s mercy toward our enemy

Jonah was so focused on his own desires that even though he was following God’s will, he was angry when things didn’t go his way. God pardoned the nation that Jonah wanted to see destroyed. He was so overcome with hatred that he wished to die instead of seeing his enemy live.

How often do we hear it preached to love your enemies, practice mercy, and welcome the stranger? But how quick are we to judge when things don’t go the way we want. It’s easy to follow God’s will if we get what we want. But what if we don’t get the results we desire?

Can we relate this story to a person or group that we do not like? How do we respond when we see them receive the same mercy that God extends to ourselves? How might we try to respond differently in those cases?

—Sam Mauck is the Director of Catholic Campus & Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Memphis, which is a member of the Charis Ministries Partner Program.

Prayer

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

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen

—Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

 


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October 10, 2017

Lk 10: 38-42

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.

But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

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.

Everything’ Alright, Yes Everything’s Fine

We have all heard it – “Be Mary, not Martha,” or have a “Mary heart in a Martha world.” We get it, Mary chose the better part. But as a self-diagnosed Martha, this makes me feel slighted. It is really hard to “be Mary” when you are Martha – “anxious and worried about many things.”

It reminds me of the time when one of my professors asked how I was doing, and I responded, not by telling him how I was actually doing, but by telling him about how busy I was. He just smiled and said, “maybe someday, you’ll value yourself for who you are, not for how much you do.” At the time, I dismissed his remarks and responded with an eye roll that could have counted as my cardio for the day. I was annoyed and way too busy to internalize what he said. It wasn’t until many years later that I understood that my professor wasn’t saying “don’t be you,” but he was saying, “you are valued for who you are.”

Similarly, it is important to remember that Jesus never said to Martha “don’t be you” but he was saying, “Martha, I am here to spend time with you, not because you serve me or because your house is clean, but because of who you are. Please, join me.”  Like the line from Jesus Christ Superstar that urges try not to get worried, try not to turn on to, problems that upset you… Don’t you know, everything’s alright, yes, everything’s fine,” Jesus invites us to set aside our busyness, “to do” lists, worries, and anxieties and join him, just as we are.

—Jackie Lesiak is the Assistant Principal for Professional Development and teaches World History at Creighton Prep.

Prayer

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

—St. Teresa of Avila 

 


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October 9, 2017

St. Denis & St. John Leonardi

Jon 1: 1 – 2: 1-2, 11

“Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah made ready to flee to Tarshish away from the LORD. He went down to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went aboard to journey with them to Tarshish, away from the LORD.

The LORD, however, hurled a violent wind upon the sea, and in the furious tempest that arose the ship was on the point of breaking up. Then the mariners became frightened and each one cried to his god. To lighten the ship for themselves, they threw its cargo into the sea.

Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship, and lay there fast asleep. The captain came to him and said, “What are you doing asleep? Rise up, call upon your God! Perhaps God will be mindful of us so that we may not perish.”

Then they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots to find out on whose account we have met with this misfortune.” So they cast lots, and thus singled out Jonah. “Tell us,” they said, “what is your business? Where do you come from? What is your country, and to what people do you belong?”

Jonah answered them, “I am a Hebrew, I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Now the men were seized with great fear and said to him, “How could you do such a thing!– They knew that he was fleeing from the LORD, because he had told them.–

They asked, “What shall we do with you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea was growing more and more turbulent. Jonah said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea, that it may quiet down for you; since I know it is because of me that this violent storm has come upon you.”

Still the men rowed hard to regain the land, but they could not, for the sea grew ever more turbulent. Then they cried to the LORD: “We beseech you, O LORD, let us not perish for taking this man’s life; do not charge us with shedding innocent blood, for you, LORD, have done as you saw fit.”

Then they took Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea’s raging abated. Struck with great fear of the LORD, the men offered sacrifice and made vows to him. But the LORD sent a large fish, that swallowed Jonah; and Jonah remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. From the belly of the fish Jonah prayed  to the LORD, his God. Then the LORD commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore.

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.

Entering into the uneasiness

Today’s first reading from Jonah conjures up images which evoke fear and anxiety.  Imagine the utter terror that Jonah must have felt as he was heaved into the sea, and then swallowed by the great animal!   Nevertheless, he knew that he had to let go of his fear and allow himself to be used by God.

The deep truth of the story is that by acknowledging his worry and embracing his despair Jonah was transformed.  We tend to dismiss our fear and we allow it to influence our decisions in unhealthy ways.  God invites us, like Jonah, to actually enter into our fear and anxiety as a means to embracing a deeper faith.  We can actually “use” our uneasiness as an opportunity to connect more deeply with a God who cares for us.  And almost in spite of ourselves we connect with other people in the same way.

—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.

Prayer

Lord God, we avoid fear and try to rid ourselves of any anxiety and keep them from entering our lives.  Help us to acknowledge the anxiety in our lives and let it be an invitation to open our hearts more deeply to you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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