February 21, 2018

Jonah 3:1-10

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across.Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do 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.

Encountering God

The irony of the story of Jonah and the Ninevites strikes the heart of its reader.  The city of Nineveh is so great and prosperous that it takes three days to walk across.   Yet, the whole city of Nineveh, and especially its powerful king, receives Jonah’s message with the humility and contrition necessary for the metanoia (or conversion) that brings about salvation.  Most striking is the city’s response in relation to the simplicity of Jonah’s preaching.  It is clearly not Jonah’s preaching that strikes the heart of the people of Nineveh.  One even gets the sense that Jonah is phoning it in.  His preaching is neither eloquent nor profound.  It is hardly convincing, let alone moving.  It is not Jonah’s preaching that leads to the city’s change of heart; It is their personal encounter with the “Word of the Lord” that they encounter through Jonah.

In the Gospel passage from today’s Mass (Luke 11:29-32), Jesus teaches us that this generation will not receive a sign.  But, we are also told that we have received something far greater than Jonah in the person of Jesus Christ. A sign is something which points and directs toward another reality.  In Christ, we have received the fullness of the reality of God’s Word itself.  This personal encounter is God’s gift that continually brings about the turning of our hearts and minds to God, to which no mere sign could ever bring us.       

—Tom Weiler is a teacher in the department of Religious Studies and the moderator of Club Vinyl at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.  

Prayer

Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.

—Prayer for the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday

 


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February 20, 2018

Mt 6:7-15

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

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.

Thy will be done

In today’s Gospel, Jesus passes on to us the Our Father and for two thousand years we’ve been saying it. In all that time, have we yet plumbed that little prayer’s depths? Or do we more often than not babble our way through it? I can’t count all the times that I’ve said the Our Father at Mass and gone into autopilot, only to recognize that I’ve mentally skipped the whole prayer.

But there are graced moments as well when I say the prayer slowly and meditatively. How powerful it is to say “thy will be done” throughout the course of challenging day when there are conflicts to manage, constant interruptions, and things going awry. And how beautiful it is to recognize that you, O God, are our loving Father, calling us back time and again regardless of our trespasses.

Can I pause throughout my day today and prayerfully say the Our Father?

—Nathan Krawetzke, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Our Father,
who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Amen.

—Our Father

 


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February 19, 2018

Mt 25:31-46

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

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.

Sheep on his right and goats on his left.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes the final judgment in terms of sheep and goats, referring to the docile nature of sheep vs the more independent temperaments of goats. Those who cared for others in need during their time on earth shall “inherit the kingdom,” while those who ignored others “will go away into eternal punishment.” Jesus further explains that our actions will be judged based on how we treated “the least” of his brothers and sisters.

Particularly during this season of repentance, regularly examining our posture of heart reveals underlying motivations for our actions. Ultimately, the best teachers of love are those we find most difficult to love, “the least” among us, for they provide the most opportunities to practice selflessness.

Am I willing to let myself be led by love? Am I open to the possibility of seeing – and serving – Jesus in “the least” of those I encounter each day?

—Cindy Ristroph is a parish minister at St. Aloysius Parish in Baton Rouge, LA, and occasionally writes for the dotMagis blog.

Prayer

Gracious God, please increase my awareness of your presence in every person I encounter today. Help me to recognize you even in the midst of people or situations that frustrate or challenge me. I pray for the willingness to follow your spirit of love with a heart open to grace.  Amen.

—Cindy Ristroph


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February 18, 2018

Mk 1:12-15

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

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 Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert

Imagine a Far Side cartoon of Jesus sitting in a car with a dove at the wheel driving him out into a deserted place. Bizarre at that image might be, Mark states emphatically that the Holy Spirit drove Jesus here, to this place of learning. Jesus has just heard the Father proclaiming him as the “Beloved Son.” But even the beloved needs to grow in wisdom, age, and grace (Luke 2:52) and to learn obedience from what he suffers (Hebrews 5:8).

To know ourselves as the beloved of God does not shelter Jesus or us from temptations, hardships or wild beasts. But standing strong in this identity unleashes the grace to reject Satan’s lies. Jesus emerges from this lesson strengthened, not weakened. He calls us to repent, to literally turn away from fake news and believe in the Good News of the Gospel! So where is the Holy Spirit driving you?

—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ, is a retreat master, writer, and spiritual director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago.  His daily Lenten video reflections can be seen at heartoheart.org

Prayer

Abba…
Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil. Amen.

—Jesus, giving the Our Father

 


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February 17, 2018

Is 58:9B-14

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

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.

Action oriented sabbath

In today’s first reading, Isaiah reminds his Jewish audience of the importance of sabbath.  The Israelites were forbidden from doing any work on what was supposed to be a day of rest.  In our culture, we have mostly lost the sense of sabbath, or a day focused on God.  Sundays are typically as packed as other days of the week, with work or other obligations creeping in to our time of prayer, rest, and renewal.  

Rather than looking at the sabbath as simply a day to stop doing things, Isaiah tells us to look at it as “a delight.”  It is is a time for “not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs.” The sabbath can be action oriented, a time for us to serve God and serve our neighbor.  

What would it look like if we took specific moments out of our days and weeks to pause for prayer, and then to move into action? What are ways that you can bring sabbath moments into your days?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord God, you gave us the gift of the sabbath as a time to look beyond ourselves and focus on you and those around us.  When we get busy and overwhelmed, nudge our hearts as a reminder to pause and give you thanks.  When we are consumed by our own desires, remind us to take the time to serve others.  Help us to make sabbath a part of our lives.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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February 16, 2018

Is 58:1-9A

Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.

“Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

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.

here right now with it all

On the corner at Grand and Lindell
Still, in the street-side chapel
I gaze at Crucified Christ hanging
From a plain and quite drab tiled ceiling
As morning sun filters over His face
Casting upon Him shadows – our human race
Of students, those bound, and homeless passers-by
Of oppressed, those hungry, those wondering why
Of the convict just off the passing, noisy bus
Perhaps she’s lost in the bustling rush
Of trucks, of cars, and of abrupt horns
Indeed,

we all are torn

but here right now with it all
As the College Church bell eight times
Chimes
We see and taste
To start anew, with Grace

Today our fasting

Is in acting

—Peter A. Musso, Ed.D., is director of school support and director of the Alum Service Corps for the Central and Southern Province.

Prayer

Grant, gentle Father,
that your Spirit may give us the will and the courage
to act to make a difference,
in order to make real your kingdom among us,
so that we may we all live together
in peace, truth, justice and love,
sharing the resources of the earth. Amen.

Making a Difference prayer, published by The Jesuit Institute


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February 15, 2018

Lk 9:22-25

“The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.

What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?

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.

Disordered Desires

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius teaches us about “disordered desires” as those things that we think will bring us happiness, but in the end leave us empty and unfulfilled.  Before his conversion, Ignatius was very concerned about his status in society, how he looked, and seemed to be quite vain.  If he were a student at Prep today, I imagine Ignatius would want to have the newest phone or the best clothes, and I bet that he would pay attention to how many followers he had on twitter.  But when Ignatius was injured and lost all of the things that he thought brought his life meaning, he found that real happiness was found in experiencing God’s unconditional love.  By giving up his old life and following the invitation of Jesus, he found that he in fact saved his life.   

What are my “disordered desires”?  What are the things I do that I think will bring me happiness, but instead leave me unfulfilled?  Can I let go of one of these disordered desires during Lent?  

—Dave Lawler is a Campus Minister at Creighton Prep.  

Prayer

“You have made us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

-St. Augustine


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February 14, 2018

Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.

But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward 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.

Inner Transformation

It’s tempting to let our Lenten fast play double-duty: we give up sweets, hoping to drop a few pounds; we fast from our snooze button, hoping the boss might notice our early arrival.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus addresses these ulterior motives. The point of Lent is not outward action, but interior transformation that makes a difference in our spiritual lives – which might not be seen by those around us. Eventually, though, these subtle changes of the heart will become evident in our relationships, decisions, and actions.

I don’t think Jesus is saying that we shouldn’t let anyone know about our Lenten commitments. Certainly I think St. Ignatius would tell us not to ignore the importance of community in our spiritual lives. So beyond determining what interior change might be needed, let’s ask ourselves who we trust to help keep us on track and encourage us all the way to Easter?

—Rachel Forton is the Marketing & Retreat Coordinator for Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.

Prayer

Behold, you desire true sincerity;
and secretly you teach me wisdom.

Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

You will let me hear gladness and joy;
the bones you have crushed will rejoice.

Turn away your face from my sins;
blot out all my iniquities.

A clean heart create for me, God;
renew within me a steadfast spirit.

Do not drive me from before your face,
nor take from me your holy spirit.

Restore to me the gladness of your salvation;
uphold me with a willing spirit.

—Psalm 51:8-14

 


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February 13, 2018

James 1:12-18

Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved. Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

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 comes from above

In today’s first reading, James points out quite helpfully the common human tendency to think of temptations and hardships in our life as being sent from God. This is where Discernment of Spirits and the naming of the “evil spirit” are particularly helpful. Since James’ time we’ve come to recognize the “evil spirit” isn’t just the devil, but rather includes psychological baggage, emotional weakness, trauma from past experiences, and really anything we let pull us away from God’s plan and from faith, hope, and love.

Thank God there’s a counter pull! James points out that “every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above” from the “Father of lights.” Not only does good come from above, but he also willed to “give us birth by the word of truth.” When we add the gift of the Holy Spirit, remember with 3 against 1 odds, there’s no reason to lose hope!

—Br. Mark Mackey, SJ, is a Jesuit Brother of the Midwest Province in First Studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Father of lights, we praise you and bless you and thank you for all your gifts from above.  Help us to recognize you in all that we have and all that we do.  May we maintain hope in you, despite the difficulties in our lives.  Grant us peace in our hearts.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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February 12, 2018

James 1:1-11

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.

But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.

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.

Solace in the trials

Today’s first reading from James is comforting on several levels.  All of us struggle.  All of us experiences trials of one kind or another.  Human beings are flawed, and we are emotionally fragile.  It may seem odd that the writer names life’s difficulties as opportunities to find solace, but precisely in these moments of difficulty and despair God is most available to us.  

We tend to wish away our trials, which is normal.  Yet if we can somehow pause and open our hearts and our minds to the movement of the Spirit during those trials, we would surely encounter God in a meaningful way.  Christ comes to us in ways we may not expect.  Consider Jesus’ own trials; in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus experienced severe anxiety and anguish.  It was only through calling upon the Father that he received confirmation about this path, and then the strength to undertake it.

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

Prayer

Lord, you are present to us in the good times and the difficult times.  In the midst of our trials, help us turn to you, and open our hearts to be filled with your Spirit.  May we always turn to you first in times of distress.  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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February 21, 2018

Jonah 3:1-10

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across.Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do 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.

Encountering God

The irony of the story of Jonah and the Ninevites strikes the heart of its reader.  The city of Nineveh is so great and prosperous that it takes three days to walk across.   Yet, the whole city of Nineveh, and especially its powerful king, receives Jonah’s message with the humility and contrition necessary for the metanoia (or conversion) that brings about salvation.  Most striking is the city’s response in relation to the simplicity of Jonah’s preaching.  It is clearly not Jonah’s preaching that strikes the heart of the people of Nineveh.  One even gets the sense that Jonah is phoning it in.  His preaching is neither eloquent nor profound.  It is hardly convincing, let alone moving.  It is not Jonah’s preaching that leads to the city’s change of heart; It is their personal encounter with the “Word of the Lord” that they encounter through Jonah.

In the Gospel passage from today’s Mass (Luke 11:29-32), Jesus teaches us that this generation will not receive a sign.  But, we are also told that we have received something far greater than Jonah in the person of Jesus Christ. A sign is something which points and directs toward another reality.  In Christ, we have received the fullness of the reality of God’s Word itself.  This personal encounter is God’s gift that continually brings about the turning of our hearts and minds to God, to which no mere sign could ever bring us.       

—Tom Weiler is a teacher in the department of Religious Studies and the moderator of Club Vinyl at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.  

Prayer

Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.

—Prayer for the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

February 20, 2018

Mt 6:7-15

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

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.

Thy will be done

In today’s Gospel, Jesus passes on to us the Our Father and for two thousand years we’ve been saying it. In all that time, have we yet plumbed that little prayer’s depths? Or do we more often than not babble our way through it? I can’t count all the times that I’ve said the Our Father at Mass and gone into autopilot, only to recognize that I’ve mentally skipped the whole prayer.

But there are graced moments as well when I say the prayer slowly and meditatively. How powerful it is to say “thy will be done” throughout the course of challenging day when there are conflicts to manage, constant interruptions, and things going awry. And how beautiful it is to recognize that you, O God, are our loving Father, calling us back time and again regardless of our trespasses.

Can I pause throughout my day today and prayerfully say the Our Father?

—Nathan Krawetzke, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Our Father,
who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Amen.

—Our Father

 


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February 19, 2018

Mt 25:31-46

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

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.

Sheep on his right and goats on his left.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes the final judgment in terms of sheep and goats, referring to the docile nature of sheep vs the more independent temperaments of goats. Those who cared for others in need during their time on earth shall “inherit the kingdom,” while those who ignored others “will go away into eternal punishment.” Jesus further explains that our actions will be judged based on how we treated “the least” of his brothers and sisters.

Particularly during this season of repentance, regularly examining our posture of heart reveals underlying motivations for our actions. Ultimately, the best teachers of love are those we find most difficult to love, “the least” among us, for they provide the most opportunities to practice selflessness.

Am I willing to let myself be led by love? Am I open to the possibility of seeing – and serving – Jesus in “the least” of those I encounter each day?

—Cindy Ristroph is a parish minister at St. Aloysius Parish in Baton Rouge, LA, and occasionally writes for the dotMagis blog.

Prayer

Gracious God, please increase my awareness of your presence in every person I encounter today. Help me to recognize you even in the midst of people or situations that frustrate or challenge me. I pray for the willingness to follow your spirit of love with a heart open to grace.  Amen.

—Cindy Ristroph


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February 18, 2018

Mk 1:12-15

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

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 Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert

Imagine a Far Side cartoon of Jesus sitting in a car with a dove at the wheel driving him out into a deserted place. Bizarre at that image might be, Mark states emphatically that the Holy Spirit drove Jesus here, to this place of learning. Jesus has just heard the Father proclaiming him as the “Beloved Son.” But even the beloved needs to grow in wisdom, age, and grace (Luke 2:52) and to learn obedience from what he suffers (Hebrews 5:8).

To know ourselves as the beloved of God does not shelter Jesus or us from temptations, hardships or wild beasts. But standing strong in this identity unleashes the grace to reject Satan’s lies. Jesus emerges from this lesson strengthened, not weakened. He calls us to repent, to literally turn away from fake news and believe in the Good News of the Gospel! So where is the Holy Spirit driving you?

—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ, is a retreat master, writer, and spiritual director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago.  His daily Lenten video reflections can be seen at heartoheart.org

Prayer

Abba…
Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil. Amen.

—Jesus, giving the Our Father

 


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February 17, 2018

Is 58:9B-14

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

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.

Action oriented sabbath

In today’s first reading, Isaiah reminds his Jewish audience of the importance of sabbath.  The Israelites were forbidden from doing any work on what was supposed to be a day of rest.  In our culture, we have mostly lost the sense of sabbath, or a day focused on God.  Sundays are typically as packed as other days of the week, with work or other obligations creeping in to our time of prayer, rest, and renewal.  

Rather than looking at the sabbath as simply a day to stop doing things, Isaiah tells us to look at it as “a delight.”  It is is a time for “not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs.” The sabbath can be action oriented, a time for us to serve God and serve our neighbor.  

What would it look like if we took specific moments out of our days and weeks to pause for prayer, and then to move into action? What are ways that you can bring sabbath moments into your days?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord God, you gave us the gift of the sabbath as a time to look beyond ourselves and focus on you and those around us.  When we get busy and overwhelmed, nudge our hearts as a reminder to pause and give you thanks.  When we are consumed by our own desires, remind us to take the time to serve others.  Help us to make sabbath a part of our lives.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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February 16, 2018

Is 58:1-9A

Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.

“Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

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.

here right now with it all

On the corner at Grand and Lindell
Still, in the street-side chapel
I gaze at Crucified Christ hanging
From a plain and quite drab tiled ceiling
As morning sun filters over His face
Casting upon Him shadows – our human race
Of students, those bound, and homeless passers-by
Of oppressed, those hungry, those wondering why
Of the convict just off the passing, noisy bus
Perhaps she’s lost in the bustling rush
Of trucks, of cars, and of abrupt horns
Indeed,

we all are torn

but here right now with it all
As the College Church bell eight times
Chimes
We see and taste
To start anew, with Grace

Today our fasting

Is in acting

—Peter A. Musso, Ed.D., is director of school support and director of the Alum Service Corps for the Central and Southern Province.

Prayer

Grant, gentle Father,
that your Spirit may give us the will and the courage
to act to make a difference,
in order to make real your kingdom among us,
so that we may we all live together
in peace, truth, justice and love,
sharing the resources of the earth. Amen.

Making a Difference prayer, published by The Jesuit Institute


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February 15, 2018

Lk 9:22-25

“The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.

What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?

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.

Disordered Desires

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius teaches us about “disordered desires” as those things that we think will bring us happiness, but in the end leave us empty and unfulfilled.  Before his conversion, Ignatius was very concerned about his status in society, how he looked, and seemed to be quite vain.  If he were a student at Prep today, I imagine Ignatius would want to have the newest phone or the best clothes, and I bet that he would pay attention to how many followers he had on twitter.  But when Ignatius was injured and lost all of the things that he thought brought his life meaning, he found that real happiness was found in experiencing God’s unconditional love.  By giving up his old life and following the invitation of Jesus, he found that he in fact saved his life.   

What are my “disordered desires”?  What are the things I do that I think will bring me happiness, but instead leave me unfulfilled?  Can I let go of one of these disordered desires during Lent?  

—Dave Lawler is a Campus Minister at Creighton Prep.  

Prayer

“You have made us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

-St. Augustine


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February 14, 2018

Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.

But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward 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.

Inner Transformation

It’s tempting to let our Lenten fast play double-duty: we give up sweets, hoping to drop a few pounds; we fast from our snooze button, hoping the boss might notice our early arrival.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus addresses these ulterior motives. The point of Lent is not outward action, but interior transformation that makes a difference in our spiritual lives – which might not be seen by those around us. Eventually, though, these subtle changes of the heart will become evident in our relationships, decisions, and actions.

I don’t think Jesus is saying that we shouldn’t let anyone know about our Lenten commitments. Certainly I think St. Ignatius would tell us not to ignore the importance of community in our spiritual lives. So beyond determining what interior change might be needed, let’s ask ourselves who we trust to help keep us on track and encourage us all the way to Easter?

—Rachel Forton is the Marketing & Retreat Coordinator for Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.

Prayer

Behold, you desire true sincerity;
and secretly you teach me wisdom.

Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

You will let me hear gladness and joy;
the bones you have crushed will rejoice.

Turn away your face from my sins;
blot out all my iniquities.

A clean heart create for me, God;
renew within me a steadfast spirit.

Do not drive me from before your face,
nor take from me your holy spirit.

Restore to me the gladness of your salvation;
uphold me with a willing spirit.

—Psalm 51:8-14

 


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February 13, 2018

James 1:12-18

Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved. Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

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 comes from above

In today’s first reading, James points out quite helpfully the common human tendency to think of temptations and hardships in our life as being sent from God. This is where Discernment of Spirits and the naming of the “evil spirit” are particularly helpful. Since James’ time we’ve come to recognize the “evil spirit” isn’t just the devil, but rather includes psychological baggage, emotional weakness, trauma from past experiences, and really anything we let pull us away from God’s plan and from faith, hope, and love.

Thank God there’s a counter pull! James points out that “every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above” from the “Father of lights.” Not only does good come from above, but he also willed to “give us birth by the word of truth.” When we add the gift of the Holy Spirit, remember with 3 against 1 odds, there’s no reason to lose hope!

—Br. Mark Mackey, SJ, is a Jesuit Brother of the Midwest Province in First Studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Father of lights, we praise you and bless you and thank you for all your gifts from above.  Help us to recognize you in all that we have and all that we do.  May we maintain hope in you, despite the difficulties in our lives.  Grant us peace in our hearts.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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February 12, 2018

James 1:1-11

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.

But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.

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.

Solace in the trials

Today’s first reading from James is comforting on several levels.  All of us struggle.  All of us experiences trials of one kind or another.  Human beings are flawed, and we are emotionally fragile.  It may seem odd that the writer names life’s difficulties as opportunities to find solace, but precisely in these moments of difficulty and despair God is most available to us.  

We tend to wish away our trials, which is normal.  Yet if we can somehow pause and open our hearts and our minds to the movement of the Spirit during those trials, we would surely encounter God in a meaningful way.  Christ comes to us in ways we may not expect.  Consider Jesus’ own trials; in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus experienced severe anxiety and anguish.  It was only through calling upon the Father that he received confirmation about this path, and then the strength to undertake it.

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

Prayer

Lord, you are present to us in the good times and the difficult times.  In the midst of our trials, help us turn to you, and open our hearts to be filled with your Spirit.  May we always turn to you first in times of distress.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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