September 30, 2018

Mk 9: 38-43, 45, 47-48

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

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

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

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.

Eradicating sin and evil

No one really likes the idea of cutting off their own limbs … in fact, I do not doubt that Christ was hoping his words in today’s Gospel would be shocking! The focus here, instead, should be on the lengths Christ is willing to ask us to go to eradicate sin from our lives. Unfortunately, we are fallen creatures, but even in the midst of that, we remain beloved children of God. God wants to spend eternity with us in Heaven. To that end, God needs us to realize how sin really does harm our relationship with God and that we must be fervent in our desire and attempts to work against any inclination toward sin. The Evil Spirit is always on the prowl; St. Ignatius warns us of that fact regularly. We must constantly seek the grace of God to work against the very real and seductive grip that evil has on us so that we can ultimately fulfill God’s desire for us to spend eternity in heaven with God.  

—Marcus Fryer, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province and is the Pastoral Director at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver.

Prayer

Jesus, I feel within me a great desire to please you but, at the same time, I feel totally incapable of doing this without your special light and help, which I can only expect from you.  Accomplish your will within me-even in spite of me.

—St. Claude de Colombiere, SJ

 

 


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September 29, 2018

John 1:47-51

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

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.

Faith based on the little things

Nathanael recognizes Jesus as the Son of God based on a seemingly minor thing that Jesus notices.  There are numerous miracles and long poetic discourses in the Gospels through which disciples come to believe, but this wasn’t the case for Nathanael.  It was a simple interaction with the divine that cemented his faith in Jesus.

This is the way that most of us encounter God, through the small, simple interactions of our day.  The practice of the Examen opens us up to increasing our awareness of how God is present in our lives, in moments both big and small.  God may be speaking to us through a brief conversation with a friend, or through a peaceful moment in nature, or through a sentence that stands out in a book we’re reading.  Like Nathanael, let us use these as opportunities of praise and thanksgiving for God’s movement in our lives.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord, help me to notice you in the big and small events of my life, so that I may always remember to orient my life toward you. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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September 28, 2018

Eccl 3:1-11

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

A time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;

A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with.

He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

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.

Invitation to be present to this season of life

I am incredibly grateful for the chance to spend Mondays at home with my 20-month old daughter. In between excursions to the library and playground, however, I’m usually trying to get the grocery shopping, laundry and other household chores done before the start of my workweek. This past Monday, I was cleaning up the kitchen while my daughter finished lunch when I heard the sweetest invitation: “Sit down, mama! Sit down!” I looked over at her high chair and she was pointing to the seat next to her. Her sweet bidding reminded me that this season will only last so long. Be present to it.

God invites us in a variety of ways all day long, which is why having a practice like the Examen prayer is so important in order to recognize them. Whatever today has in store for you: pain and sadness or celebration and joy, trust that God is in this particular season of your life. What’s the invitation for you today?

—Sarah Otto is a Retreat and Program Director at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA.

Prayer

God of surprises, open my eyes to the many and varied ways you are inviting me to grow closer to you today. Help me to recognize the gifts and graces present during this season of my life.

—Sarah Otto

 

 

 

 


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September 27, 2018

St. Vincent de Paul

Eccl 1:2-11

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun?

A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hurries to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south, and goes around to the north; round and round goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they continue to flow. All things are wearisome; more than one can express; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, or the ear filled with hearing.

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has already been, in the ages before us. The people of long ago are not remembered, nor will there be any remembrance of people yet to come by those who come after them.

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.

Stop pursuing the nonessential

I learned recently that prior to the fourteenth century, the word “vanity” did not have the narcissistic and self-conceited overtones we associate with it today. Rather it simply meant “futility,” or “worthlessness.” So, when the writer of Ecclesiastes laments, “vanity of vanities; all things are vanity,” we might guess that he is reflecting on his insignificance set against the power of the Almighty and Eternal Creator. The tyranny of vanity that he wishes to confront is the one that draws a soul into a life filled with pursuit of the nonessential.

It bears reflection: how is my day ordered? Where do I spend my energy? What “futile” or non-eternal activity might I let go of to take up instead prayer, service, love of God and neighbor?

Jesus, let my very existence be ordered toward eternity and building up your kingdom in myself and in those I encounter.

—Liz Kelly is the author of the award-winning Jesus Approaches published by Loyola Press and trained as a director in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

Prayer

Lord, you know the way we spend our time, sometimes well and sometimes poorly.  Help us to refocus our energy on those things that draw us deeper into relationship with you and with our neighbor.  Give us the wisdom to recognize those things that are futile, and the courage to make changes to orient ourselves toward you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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September 26, 2018

Lk 9:1-6

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic.

Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

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.

We have all the tools we need

I am a planner. If I am asked to do something, I prepare for hours, days, weeks for it. I never get up in front of a crowd without my typewritten notes that at least one person has proofread for me. Around this time last year, however, I was faced with a situation for which I had no notes. I had to get up and address 1,000 people with no prior planning. I found myself saying “Lord, give me the tools I need. Let your words come from my lips.” And, I believe they did.

As rational human beings, we spend most of our life planning for every possible outcome and situation … but we cannot prepare for everything. In the Gospel reading today, the Lord is asking us to trust that all the tools we need, we have. God has given them all to us.

What are the tools the Lord has given you to face the unexpected situations in your own life?

—Gretchen Crowder is the Director of Campus Ministry at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Dallas.

Prayer

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore, will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

—Thomas Merton


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September 25, 2018

Proverbs 21: 1-6, 10-13

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.
All deeds are right in the sight of the doer,
but the Lord weighs the heart.
To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart—
the lamp of the wicked—are sin.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to want.
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
The souls of the wicked desire evil;
their neighbors find no mercy in their eyes.
When a scoffer is punished, the simple become wiser;
when the wise are instructed, they increase in knowledge.
The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked;
he casts the wicked down to ruin.
If you close your ear to the cry of the poor,
you will cry out and not be heard.

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.

Words of Wisdom

Sometimes I look back on my high school days and wonder what I learned that still has meaning. Algebra had value, but I wish I’d taken a class in finance. Biology interested me, but if I’d known at sixteen the issues a body has at fifty, I might have preferred a solid course in human anatomy. Not everything we studied in high school remains useful in later life.

And while there were no Old Testament classes at the public high school I attended, what an education in the art of living there would have been in the Book of Proverbs! It’s a majestic compendium of ideas about how to make the most of life. Does it matter how we treat others? How are our hearts shaped? Do people who seek success by lying pay a price in the end?

Take one saying from Proverbs. Imagine Jesus using the same words to teach his followers. How might it have felt to hear such wise words spoken to you with Christ as your teacher?

—Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Jesuits West Province currently starting his second year of Regency in the Advancement Office in Los Gatos, California.

Prayer

Here’s a prayer tool you might consider trying out this fall. Memorize a proverb. Take time to meditate and pray with it for a while. Offer it up quietly as little “breath prayers” to God. Here’s how I’ve opened up a proverb from today’s reading and made it a prayer of my own:

“The ways of a man may seem right to himself, but God proves hearts.”

“Turn my eyes to you, oh Lord. Help me to know You and follow You today.
Help me see You better in everyone I meet.
Grant me wisdom and understanding in all that I do.”

“Prove my heart, Lord. Prove my heart.”

—Joe Kraemer, SJ

 


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September 24, 2018

Lk 8:16-18

“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken 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.

Lucky

On the night I lied to my father about having brushed my teeth, he taught me a pretty clear lesson by making me turn over my best friend, Little Bunny—a love-tattered stuffed animal. At bedtime, I asked for Little Bunny. My father’s response: “He’s been torn to shreds. He’s in the trash.” My father was lying to me. I was devastated. Clever dad.

I always tried to tell the truth after that, until I was in the fourth grade, and my mother and I saw a crate of puppies at a feed store. She told me we could get one, but we’d have to tell my father the puppy had been abandoned. My mother told me I’d have to take this secret to my grave. I reluctantly agreed. No joke, we even named the dog “Lucky.”

My mother passed away when I was 22, and Lucky a year later. My father was so upset when Lucky died, seemingly reliving the grief from the loss of my mother. So, I told him the secret I had kept for so many years. I told him how Mom had orchestrated the entire story because her heart broke for this puppy. And my dad doubled over in laughter.

What is essentially good about our lives looks best in the light of truth. It’s important for us to remember that though we’re all capable of sin, all will be revealed in the sunlight of the morning.

—Austin Freeman is an English teacher and the Test Prep Coordinator forJesuit High School in Tampa, FL.

Prayer

Prayer for the Light of Truth

O my God, I confess that You can enlighten my darkness. I confess that You alone can. I wish my darkness to be enlightened. I do not know whether You will: but that You can and that I wish, are sufficient reasons for me to ask, what You at least have not forbidden my asking. I hereby promise that by Your grace which I am asking, I will embrace whatever I at length feel certain is the truth, if ever I come to be certain. And by Your grace I will guard against self-deceit which may lead me to take what nature would have, rather than what reason approves.

—Blessed John Henry Newman

 

 

 


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September 23, 2018

Mk 9:30-37

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

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

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

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

Avoiding the trap of pride

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to meditate on the “Two Standards” – the banner of Christ and the banner of Satan. In this meditation, the Evil Spirit leaves traps for us, traps of riches, honors and pride. These traps are placed to ensnare us in our lives and to keep us from growing in our loving relationship with Christ. Jesus, on the other hand, helps us to combat these traps by having us ask for poverty (spiritual and perhaps even material), insults and humility. The disciples in today’s Gospel reading sure sound like they’ve been ensnared by pride. How often do we find ourselves similarly ensnared? How are we drawn away from Christ by the lure of riches and honors?

—Marcus Fryer, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province and is the Pastoral Director at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver.

Prayer

Prayer for Humility

Let me have too deep a sense of humor ever 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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September 22, 2018

Lk 8:4-15

When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.”

As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’ “

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away.

As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.

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.

Creating good soil in our hearts

When I was a child, I remember hearing this parable and saying “well, I’ll just be the good soil because that’s the kind Jesus wants.”  I thought it was quite simple! But in reality, I move back and forth between the different types of soil on a regular basis. There are days when I find it easy to be open and attentive to the movements of the spirit.  There are other days when I get so wrapped up in my head that very little of God’s message gets through to me.

One gift of the Ignatian Examen can be to begin to recognize the times in our day, or the people who we encounter, who make it more difficult for us to be that fertile soil that is ready to receive God’s word in its entirety.  That awareness offers an opportunity to pray for the grace of openness when we find ourselves in certain situations.

Just like a gardener works to amend the soil and create the best possible environment for a plant to thrive, we need to continually check in with ourselves to make our hearts receptive to the word of God.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Gracious and holy Father,
grant us the intellect to understand you,
reason to discern you, diligence to seek you,
wisdom to find you, a spirit to know you,
a heart to meditate upon you.
May our ears hear you, may our eyes behold you,
and may our tongues proclaim you.

Give us grace that our way of life may be pleasing to you,
that we may have the patience to wait for you
and the perseverance to look for you.
Grant us a perfect end–your holy presence,
a blessed resurrection and life everlasting.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

—Prayer of St. Benedict

 


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September 21, 2018

St. Matthew

Eph 4:1-7, 11-13

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

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.

Startled by Jesus’ call

Caravaggio’s famous painting of the Calling of St. Matthew depicts a man bewildered by Jesus’ attention. “Who, me??” the man seems to say. “Yes, you,” Jesus replies to Matthew and to each one of us. Today’s first reading invites us to respond to this invitation by leading a life worthy of that incredible call. It’s easy to separate our faith from our work and hobbies and friendships. But as St. Paul reminds us and St. Ignatius echoes, the one God and Father of all can be found in all things. That makes our work, our homes, our extracurricular activities and relationships a locus for God’s presence in the world. Do you live with an awareness and reverence of that presence?

Spend some time basking in God’s gaze today. Allow yourself to feel startled, amazed, and honored by Jesus’ call. And allow that call to transform the rest of your day.

—Sarah Otto is a Retreat and Program Director at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA.

Prayer

O God, give me the courage and strength to be worthy of being called a Christian.

—Karl Rahner, SJ

 


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Welcome to FaithCP

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


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September 30, 2018

Mk 9: 38-43, 45, 47-48

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

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

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

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.

Eradicating sin and evil

No one really likes the idea of cutting off their own limbs … in fact, I do not doubt that Christ was hoping his words in today’s Gospel would be shocking! The focus here, instead, should be on the lengths Christ is willing to ask us to go to eradicate sin from our lives. Unfortunately, we are fallen creatures, but even in the midst of that, we remain beloved children of God. God wants to spend eternity with us in Heaven. To that end, God needs us to realize how sin really does harm our relationship with God and that we must be fervent in our desire and attempts to work against any inclination toward sin. The Evil Spirit is always on the prowl; St. Ignatius warns us of that fact regularly. We must constantly seek the grace of God to work against the very real and seductive grip that evil has on us so that we can ultimately fulfill God’s desire for us to spend eternity in heaven with God.  

—Marcus Fryer, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province and is the Pastoral Director at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver.

Prayer

Jesus, I feel within me a great desire to please you but, at the same time, I feel totally incapable of doing this without your special light and help, which I can only expect from you.  Accomplish your will within me-even in spite of me.

—St. Claude de Colombiere, SJ

 

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

September 29, 2018

John 1:47-51

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

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.

Faith based on the little things

Nathanael recognizes Jesus as the Son of God based on a seemingly minor thing that Jesus notices.  There are numerous miracles and long poetic discourses in the Gospels through which disciples come to believe, but this wasn’t the case for Nathanael.  It was a simple interaction with the divine that cemented his faith in Jesus.

This is the way that most of us encounter God, through the small, simple interactions of our day.  The practice of the Examen opens us up to increasing our awareness of how God is present in our lives, in moments both big and small.  God may be speaking to us through a brief conversation with a friend, or through a peaceful moment in nature, or through a sentence that stands out in a book we’re reading.  Like Nathanael, let us use these as opportunities of praise and thanksgiving for God’s movement in our lives.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord, help me to notice you in the big and small events of my life, so that I may always remember to orient my life toward you. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

September 28, 2018

Eccl 3:1-11

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

A time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;

A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with.

He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

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.

Invitation to be present to this season of life

I am incredibly grateful for the chance to spend Mondays at home with my 20-month old daughter. In between excursions to the library and playground, however, I’m usually trying to get the grocery shopping, laundry and other household chores done before the start of my workweek. This past Monday, I was cleaning up the kitchen while my daughter finished lunch when I heard the sweetest invitation: “Sit down, mama! Sit down!” I looked over at her high chair and she was pointing to the seat next to her. Her sweet bidding reminded me that this season will only last so long. Be present to it.

God invites us in a variety of ways all day long, which is why having a practice like the Examen prayer is so important in order to recognize them. Whatever today has in store for you: pain and sadness or celebration and joy, trust that God is in this particular season of your life. What’s the invitation for you today?

—Sarah Otto is a Retreat and Program Director at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA.

Prayer

God of surprises, open my eyes to the many and varied ways you are inviting me to grow closer to you today. Help me to recognize the gifts and graces present during this season of my life.

—Sarah Otto

 

 

 

 


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September 27, 2018

St. Vincent de Paul

Eccl 1:2-11

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun?

A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hurries to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south, and goes around to the north; round and round goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they continue to flow. All things are wearisome; more than one can express; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, or the ear filled with hearing.

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has already been, in the ages before us. The people of long ago are not remembered, nor will there be any remembrance of people yet to come by those who come after them.

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.

Stop pursuing the nonessential

I learned recently that prior to the fourteenth century, the word “vanity” did not have the narcissistic and self-conceited overtones we associate with it today. Rather it simply meant “futility,” or “worthlessness.” So, when the writer of Ecclesiastes laments, “vanity of vanities; all things are vanity,” we might guess that he is reflecting on his insignificance set against the power of the Almighty and Eternal Creator. The tyranny of vanity that he wishes to confront is the one that draws a soul into a life filled with pursuit of the nonessential.

It bears reflection: how is my day ordered? Where do I spend my energy? What “futile” or non-eternal activity might I let go of to take up instead prayer, service, love of God and neighbor?

Jesus, let my very existence be ordered toward eternity and building up your kingdom in myself and in those I encounter.

—Liz Kelly is the author of the award-winning Jesus Approaches published by Loyola Press and trained as a director in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

Prayer

Lord, you know the way we spend our time, sometimes well and sometimes poorly.  Help us to refocus our energy on those things that draw us deeper into relationship with you and with our neighbor.  Give us the wisdom to recognize those things that are futile, and the courage to make changes to orient ourselves toward you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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September 26, 2018

Lk 9:1-6

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic.

Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

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.

We have all the tools we need

I am a planner. If I am asked to do something, I prepare for hours, days, weeks for it. I never get up in front of a crowd without my typewritten notes that at least one person has proofread for me. Around this time last year, however, I was faced with a situation for which I had no notes. I had to get up and address 1,000 people with no prior planning. I found myself saying “Lord, give me the tools I need. Let your words come from my lips.” And, I believe they did.

As rational human beings, we spend most of our life planning for every possible outcome and situation … but we cannot prepare for everything. In the Gospel reading today, the Lord is asking us to trust that all the tools we need, we have. God has given them all to us.

What are the tools the Lord has given you to face the unexpected situations in your own life?

—Gretchen Crowder is the Director of Campus Ministry at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Dallas.

Prayer

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore, will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

—Thomas Merton


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September 25, 2018

Proverbs 21: 1-6, 10-13

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.
All deeds are right in the sight of the doer,
but the Lord weighs the heart.
To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart—
the lamp of the wicked—are sin.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to want.
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
The souls of the wicked desire evil;
their neighbors find no mercy in their eyes.
When a scoffer is punished, the simple become wiser;
when the wise are instructed, they increase in knowledge.
The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked;
he casts the wicked down to ruin.
If you close your ear to the cry of the poor,
you will cry out and not be heard.

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.

Words of Wisdom

Sometimes I look back on my high school days and wonder what I learned that still has meaning. Algebra had value, but I wish I’d taken a class in finance. Biology interested me, but if I’d known at sixteen the issues a body has at fifty, I might have preferred a solid course in human anatomy. Not everything we studied in high school remains useful in later life.

And while there were no Old Testament classes at the public high school I attended, what an education in the art of living there would have been in the Book of Proverbs! It’s a majestic compendium of ideas about how to make the most of life. Does it matter how we treat others? How are our hearts shaped? Do people who seek success by lying pay a price in the end?

Take one saying from Proverbs. Imagine Jesus using the same words to teach his followers. How might it have felt to hear such wise words spoken to you with Christ as your teacher?

—Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Jesuits West Province currently starting his second year of Regency in the Advancement Office in Los Gatos, California.

Prayer

Here’s a prayer tool you might consider trying out this fall. Memorize a proverb. Take time to meditate and pray with it for a while. Offer it up quietly as little “breath prayers” to God. Here’s how I’ve opened up a proverb from today’s reading and made it a prayer of my own:

“The ways of a man may seem right to himself, but God proves hearts.”

“Turn my eyes to you, oh Lord. Help me to know You and follow You today.
Help me see You better in everyone I meet.
Grant me wisdom and understanding in all that I do.”

“Prove my heart, Lord. Prove my heart.”

—Joe Kraemer, SJ

 


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September 24, 2018

Lk 8:16-18

“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken 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.

Lucky

On the night I lied to my father about having brushed my teeth, he taught me a pretty clear lesson by making me turn over my best friend, Little Bunny—a love-tattered stuffed animal. At bedtime, I asked for Little Bunny. My father’s response: “He’s been torn to shreds. He’s in the trash.” My father was lying to me. I was devastated. Clever dad.

I always tried to tell the truth after that, until I was in the fourth grade, and my mother and I saw a crate of puppies at a feed store. She told me we could get one, but we’d have to tell my father the puppy had been abandoned. My mother told me I’d have to take this secret to my grave. I reluctantly agreed. No joke, we even named the dog “Lucky.”

My mother passed away when I was 22, and Lucky a year later. My father was so upset when Lucky died, seemingly reliving the grief from the loss of my mother. So, I told him the secret I had kept for so many years. I told him how Mom had orchestrated the entire story because her heart broke for this puppy. And my dad doubled over in laughter.

What is essentially good about our lives looks best in the light of truth. It’s important for us to remember that though we’re all capable of sin, all will be revealed in the sunlight of the morning.

—Austin Freeman is an English teacher and the Test Prep Coordinator forJesuit High School in Tampa, FL.

Prayer

Prayer for the Light of Truth

O my God, I confess that You can enlighten my darkness. I confess that You alone can. I wish my darkness to be enlightened. I do not know whether You will: but that You can and that I wish, are sufficient reasons for me to ask, what You at least have not forbidden my asking. I hereby promise that by Your grace which I am asking, I will embrace whatever I at length feel certain is the truth, if ever I come to be certain. And by Your grace I will guard against self-deceit which may lead me to take what nature would have, rather than what reason approves.

—Blessed John Henry Newman

 

 

 


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September 23, 2018

Mk 9:30-37

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

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

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

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

Avoiding the trap of pride

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to meditate on the “Two Standards” – the banner of Christ and the banner of Satan. In this meditation, the Evil Spirit leaves traps for us, traps of riches, honors and pride. These traps are placed to ensnare us in our lives and to keep us from growing in our loving relationship with Christ. Jesus, on the other hand, helps us to combat these traps by having us ask for poverty (spiritual and perhaps even material), insults and humility. The disciples in today’s Gospel reading sure sound like they’ve been ensnared by pride. How often do we find ourselves similarly ensnared? How are we drawn away from Christ by the lure of riches and honors?

—Marcus Fryer, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province and is the Pastoral Director at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver.

Prayer

Prayer for Humility

Let me have too deep a sense of humor ever 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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September 22, 2018

Lk 8:4-15

When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.”

As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’ “

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away.

As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.

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.

Creating good soil in our hearts

When I was a child, I remember hearing this parable and saying “well, I’ll just be the good soil because that’s the kind Jesus wants.”  I thought it was quite simple! But in reality, I move back and forth between the different types of soil on a regular basis. There are days when I find it easy to be open and attentive to the movements of the spirit.  There are other days when I get so wrapped up in my head that very little of God’s message gets through to me.

One gift of the Ignatian Examen can be to begin to recognize the times in our day, or the people who we encounter, who make it more difficult for us to be that fertile soil that is ready to receive God’s word in its entirety.  That awareness offers an opportunity to pray for the grace of openness when we find ourselves in certain situations.

Just like a gardener works to amend the soil and create the best possible environment for a plant to thrive, we need to continually check in with ourselves to make our hearts receptive to the word of God.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Gracious and holy Father,
grant us the intellect to understand you,
reason to discern you, diligence to seek you,
wisdom to find you, a spirit to know you,
a heart to meditate upon you.
May our ears hear you, may our eyes behold you,
and may our tongues proclaim you.

Give us grace that our way of life may be pleasing to you,
that we may have the patience to wait for you
and the perseverance to look for you.
Grant us a perfect end–your holy presence,
a blessed resurrection and life everlasting.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

—Prayer of St. Benedict

 


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September 21, 2018

St. Matthew

Eph 4:1-7, 11-13

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

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.

Startled by Jesus’ call

Caravaggio’s famous painting of the Calling of St. Matthew depicts a man bewildered by Jesus’ attention. “Who, me??” the man seems to say. “Yes, you,” Jesus replies to Matthew and to each one of us. Today’s first reading invites us to respond to this invitation by leading a life worthy of that incredible call. It’s easy to separate our faith from our work and hobbies and friendships. But as St. Paul reminds us and St. Ignatius echoes, the one God and Father of all can be found in all things. That makes our work, our homes, our extracurricular activities and relationships a locus for God’s presence in the world. Do you live with an awareness and reverence of that presence?

Spend some time basking in God’s gaze today. Allow yourself to feel startled, amazed, and honored by Jesus’ call. And allow that call to transform the rest of your day.

—Sarah Otto is a Retreat and Program Director at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA.

Prayer

O God, give me the courage and strength to be worthy of being called a Christian.

—Karl Rahner, SJ

 


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