November 20, 2018

Lk 19:1-10

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”

Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

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.

Seeking to see

I sometimes allow the busyness and demands of life to weigh me down. Although I recognize that to ease my burden all I need to do is to take time alone with Jesus in prayer, it is sometimes hard for me to actually do so. The external challenges I am experiencing coupled with my internal limitations often blind me from taking the necessary steps to seek Jesus out.

Zacchaeus, short in stature and probably immersed in the demands of his privileged position of being a chief tax collector and a wealthy man, seemed to recognize that something in his life was missing. Driven by his desire to do something about it, Zacchaeus found himself seeking to see who Jesus was. He runs ahead of the crowd, climbs a tree, and positions himself in Jesus’ sight. And to Zacchaeus’ surprise, Jesus was also seeking to see him! In his encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus’ life was transformed.

Have you ever thought about the possibility that Jesus may be seeking you out? What areas in your life are preventing you from encountering Him?

—Orlando Portalatin, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord, grant that I may see thee more clearly,
love thee more dearly,
follow thee more nearly.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises #104

 

 

 

 


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November 19, 2018

Lk 18: 35-43

As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” Then he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.

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

God’s capacity for mercy

In the text of this reading that we hear at Mass, the blind man yells “have pity on me!”.  What do we think of when we hear the word ‘pity’? Pity really is a sympathetic sorrow and simultaneous compassion at the hardships of others.  If you’re looking for another word for pity, you will find that mercy, kindheartedness and, most importantly, humanity will be your best choices.  It is important to note that Jesus does not simply feel a passive obligation to help the blind man in the Gospel. He is being asked to express comfort and share in the blind man’s emotional experience.  I’d like to think that Jesus and the blind man take an untold moment in this story to truly connect and feel the greatness of the Father’s love through one another. What can be more human and Christ-like at the same time than sharing in such a moment?  Let us look at those around us with eyes of compassion and open our hearts to feel and imitate God’s capacity for mercy.

—Erin Emeric is a music teacher at Christ, Light of the Nations school and a member of the Billiken Teaching Corps at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved…

You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.

—Excerpt from the Prayer of Pope Francis for the Jubilee Year of Mercy

 


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November 18, 2018

Mk 13: 24-32

“But in those days, after that suffering,

the sun will be darkened,

and the moon will not give its light,

and the stars will be falling from heaven,

and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

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.

Be watchful for the signs of God

We are directed towards signs in this Gospel: a darkened sun, an unlit moon, falling stars, “the Son of Man coming in clouds”, etc. Yet in doing so the Gospel itself is employing even deeper signs. It is directing the hearer and the reader toward imagery in other parts of Scripture. If we pick up a Bible today, we can pick up on these references because the editors have footnoted them for us. But the first hearers would have made the connections without the footnotes. And one of those that they would have been familiar with is the image of clouds. In the Old Testament, it is God who comes on clouds. It is a rich way for Jesus to say that we must be watchful for God, the core of the Ignatian phrase, “Finding God in All Things.”

What are the signs present today of God’s presence?

—Fr. Brad Held, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Province and is a campus minister and theology teacher at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, WI.

Prayer

Lord God, you promised us that you remain with us, but sometimes we have a hard time recognizing you in our midst.  Help us to read the signs of your presence, through the people, places, and experiences that make up our daily lives.  Increase our awareness of you in all that surrounds us so that we may find you in all things. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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November 17, 2018

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Lk 18:1-8

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

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.

Praying for the grace we seek

The woman in today’s Gospel reminds me of every young child I have ever met, determined to get his or her way through sheer determination and the gradual wearing down of exasperated parents.  Although we are no longer small children asking for a piece of candy, a new toy, or an extra story at bedtime, the desires of our heart are still things that we should bring to God, who loves us even more than any earthly parent can.

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to name the grace that we seek, that which we want and desire, at the beginning of each prayer period. In asking for what we desire, though, we must be attentive to God’s answer.  Perhaps the grace we are granted may look different than what we expect. A prayer for increased patience might be answered through those people in our lives who irritate us, requiring a greater dose of patience than we knew we contained.

What is the grace that you need from God today?  How can you be attentive to the ways that grace may be given to you?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord God, we know that you bless us with an abundance of graces.  Help us to recognize the gifts you have given us, even when they come in unexpected ways.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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November 16, 2018

St. Roch Gonzalez, SJ and Companions, Jesuit Martyrs

Lk 17:26-37

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them —it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.

On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it.I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.” Then they asked him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

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.

Living a “NOW” spirituality

Time is major aspect of our Catholic faith. Through our stories, we look at our past for insight into looking to our future beyond this human life and the unknown. Jesus does both, but he connects the past and the future to the present and how we are living our lives right now. Our Catholic faith is a “NOW’ spirituality. Jesus is asking us what are we doing right now to build the Kingdom of God among us. How do we love our neighbor? Welcome the stranger? Serve the underserved?

Where are we building a Kingdom of God reflective of the gospel values of Jesus? What is going on in our lives right now that distracts us from focusing on the Kingdom of God? Let us prayerfully discern what those distractions are to better choose to focus solely on Jesus. For when we are called by God to the next life, none of these distractions or material possessions will come with us. We will not have time to prepare as God will take us as we are. Now, right now at that very moment. Am I ready?

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is the Acting Assistant Principal of Mission, Ministry, and Diversity at Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado.

Prayer

Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come follow me,
and I will give you rest.

—Refrain of Be Not Afraid © 1975, Robert J. Dufford, SJ, and New Dawn Music

 


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November 15, 2018

Lk 17:20-25

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”

Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation.

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

Finding God among all things

“Lord, you know St. Ignatius, right?”

“I know both of them—the guy from Antioch and the one from Loyola.”

“I mean St. Ignatius of Loyola. He talked about finding you in all things. But I’m confused. You told the Pharisees that your kingdom isn’t coming with things that can be observed. What gives?”

Jesus laughs. My questions usually give him a good chuckle. I think he finds my quest for holiness amusing, much as I am amused by watching my dog chase her tail.

“Maybe a better way of saying it,” Jesus says, “is to find God among all things.”

This simple change makes a big difference. Among implies an association—God is in the company of all things. I find God not in particular things, but in the relationship between the thing and its Creator.  

And God loves what God created.

—Bob Burnham is a Secular Franciscan, spiritual director, and author of  Little Lessons from the Saints: 52 Simple and Surprising Ways to See the Saint in You published by Loyola Press.

Prayer

Lord, give me the grace to find you among all things and join in their songs of praise.

—Bob Burnham

 

 

 


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November 14, 2018

St. Joseph Pignatelli, SJ

Lk 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.

Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

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.

Three essential prayers

“Help. Thanks. Wow.”

Anne LaMott’s “Three Essential Prayers” feel particularly fitting as I read this Gospel while returning home from the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.

Along with 1,300+ members of the Ignatian family, I spent three days immersed in nourishing prayer, vulnerable storytelling, excellent educational presentations, and inspiring advocacy. “It’s like medicine, I tell people back home. Every year, we bring our brokenness and blessings, our anger at injustice and passion for creating change. We place at the center our world’s “Samaritans”—the outcast women, men, and children with whom Jesus calls us to live in solidarity. We are challenged to look honestly at the darkness in our Church, our country, and our own hearts and we are moved to choose and create light.

So I suppose this is the moment when I give praise to God. Thank You, thank You, thank You.

For what am I most grateful today?

—Katie Davis (MDiv, Loyola University Chicago) is a former Jesuit Volunteer/JVC Magis currently working as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at St. Ignatius College Prep. She has served on the Advisory Board for Jesuit Connections and is a member of the Chicago Women’s Team for the Ignatian Spirituality Project. Katie preaches with the project Catholic Women Preach.

Prayer

Help.
Thanks.
Wow.

—Anne LaMott

 


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November 13, 2018

St. Stanislaus Kostka, SJ; St. Francis Xavier Cabrini

Titus 2: 1-8, 11-14

But as for you, teach what is consistent with sound doctrine. Tell the older men to be temperate, serious, prudent, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance. Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured; then any opponent will be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

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.

How can we best model the Gospel?

In today’s first reading, St. Paul’s counsels Titus on the best way to evangelize the developing church on the Mediterranean island of Crete. He exhorts Titus to say what is consistent with sound doctrine and suggests the special virtues that the people in the Christian community should acquire. The virtue of temperance or self-control is particularly emphasized in the reading.

The Catechism defines temperance as “the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods.” (CCC 1809). Certainly, temperance involves moderating excess consumption of material goods. But it can also serve as a way of bridging divides and encouraging more civil discourse.

As we reflect on the ways we practice and share the faith, perhaps we can identify areas of our lives that need self-control. In an environment where deep polarization and marked disagreements have taken center stage, how is God inviting us to model the truth of the Gospel temperately, justly and devoutly?

—Orlando Portalatin, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Prayer for generosity

Lord, teach me to be generous,
to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to look for any reward,
save that of knowing that I do your holy will.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 


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November 12, 2018

St. Josaphat

Lk 17:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive.

And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey 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.

Growing in holiness together

Many professions require an oath to do no harm.  Firmly rooted in the practice of medicine, counseling, therapy, or other such fields is this value of helping and doing nothing but good.  This lifestyle is what Jesus is calling us to: a lifestyle so permeated with goodness that we don’t even want anyone else to do anything wrong.  Sometimes it seems easier to let others fall or make choices that may not consider the people around us. Since our true nature is community and togetherness, let us grow in virtue alongside, rather than independent of, our neighbors.

—Erin Emeric is a music teacher at Christ, Light of the Nations school and a member of the Billiken Teaching Corps at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Stir up in your Church, we pray, O Lord, the Spirit that filled Saint Josaphat as he laid down his life for the sheep, so that through his intercession we, too, may be strengthened by the same Spirit and not be afraid to lay down our life for others. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

—Collect prayer for the Memorial of St. Josephat, Bishop and Martyr

 


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November 11, 2018

Mk 12: 38-44

As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

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.

Total reliance upon God

It doesn’t always feel like it is easy to give from our abundance. Even though there is little risk to it, it can feel like a big risk because of the “what ifs”. What if something happens and I need this tomorrow? It seems easier to believe that our abundance can guard us against the “what ifs”. But in comparison Jesus praises the widow who gives “out of her poverty” and in doing so has given all that she has. She has no safeguards. She has no contingencies. Yet she takes a concrete action that expresses her total reliance upon God. A total reliance upon God does not mean that difficulties will not come our way. It is not a strong guard against the “what ifs”, but it is to be in relationship with the one who is stronger than all the “what ifs”.

What is a concrete action I can take to express my total reliance upon God?

—Fr. Brad Held, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Province and is a campus minister and theology teacher at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, WI.

Prayer

Only in God is my soul at rest,
in him comes my salvation.
He, only, is my rock, my strength and my salvation.

My stronghold, my Savior,
I shall not be afraid at all.
My stronghold, my Savior,
I shall not be moved.

—Lyrics to Only in God by John Michael Talbot, © 1980 Birdwing Music/BMG Songs

 

 

 

 


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November 20, 2018

Lk 19:1-10

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”

Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

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.

Seeking to see

I sometimes allow the busyness and demands of life to weigh me down. Although I recognize that to ease my burden all I need to do is to take time alone with Jesus in prayer, it is sometimes hard for me to actually do so. The external challenges I am experiencing coupled with my internal limitations often blind me from taking the necessary steps to seek Jesus out.

Zacchaeus, short in stature and probably immersed in the demands of his privileged position of being a chief tax collector and a wealthy man, seemed to recognize that something in his life was missing. Driven by his desire to do something about it, Zacchaeus found himself seeking to see who Jesus was. He runs ahead of the crowd, climbs a tree, and positions himself in Jesus’ sight. And to Zacchaeus’ surprise, Jesus was also seeking to see him! In his encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus’ life was transformed.

Have you ever thought about the possibility that Jesus may be seeking you out? What areas in your life are preventing you from encountering Him?

—Orlando Portalatin, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord, grant that I may see thee more clearly,
love thee more dearly,
follow thee more nearly.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises #104

 

 

 

 


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November 19, 2018

Lk 18: 35-43

As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” Then he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.

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

God’s capacity for mercy

In the text of this reading that we hear at Mass, the blind man yells “have pity on me!”.  What do we think of when we hear the word ‘pity’? Pity really is a sympathetic sorrow and simultaneous compassion at the hardships of others.  If you’re looking for another word for pity, you will find that mercy, kindheartedness and, most importantly, humanity will be your best choices.  It is important to note that Jesus does not simply feel a passive obligation to help the blind man in the Gospel. He is being asked to express comfort and share in the blind man’s emotional experience.  I’d like to think that Jesus and the blind man take an untold moment in this story to truly connect and feel the greatness of the Father’s love through one another. What can be more human and Christ-like at the same time than sharing in such a moment?  Let us look at those around us with eyes of compassion and open our hearts to feel and imitate God’s capacity for mercy.

—Erin Emeric is a music teacher at Christ, Light of the Nations school and a member of the Billiken Teaching Corps at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved…

You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.

—Excerpt from the Prayer of Pope Francis for the Jubilee Year of Mercy

 


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November 18, 2018

Mk 13: 24-32

“But in those days, after that suffering,

the sun will be darkened,

and the moon will not give its light,

and the stars will be falling from heaven,

and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

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.

Be watchful for the signs of God

We are directed towards signs in this Gospel: a darkened sun, an unlit moon, falling stars, “the Son of Man coming in clouds”, etc. Yet in doing so the Gospel itself is employing even deeper signs. It is directing the hearer and the reader toward imagery in other parts of Scripture. If we pick up a Bible today, we can pick up on these references because the editors have footnoted them for us. But the first hearers would have made the connections without the footnotes. And one of those that they would have been familiar with is the image of clouds. In the Old Testament, it is God who comes on clouds. It is a rich way for Jesus to say that we must be watchful for God, the core of the Ignatian phrase, “Finding God in All Things.”

What are the signs present today of God’s presence?

—Fr. Brad Held, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Province and is a campus minister and theology teacher at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, WI.

Prayer

Lord God, you promised us that you remain with us, but sometimes we have a hard time recognizing you in our midst.  Help us to read the signs of your presence, through the people, places, and experiences that make up our daily lives.  Increase our awareness of you in all that surrounds us so that we may find you in all things. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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November 17, 2018

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Lk 18:1-8

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

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.

Praying for the grace we seek

The woman in today’s Gospel reminds me of every young child I have ever met, determined to get his or her way through sheer determination and the gradual wearing down of exasperated parents.  Although we are no longer small children asking for a piece of candy, a new toy, or an extra story at bedtime, the desires of our heart are still things that we should bring to God, who loves us even more than any earthly parent can.

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to name the grace that we seek, that which we want and desire, at the beginning of each prayer period. In asking for what we desire, though, we must be attentive to God’s answer.  Perhaps the grace we are granted may look different than what we expect. A prayer for increased patience might be answered through those people in our lives who irritate us, requiring a greater dose of patience than we knew we contained.

What is the grace that you need from God today?  How can you be attentive to the ways that grace may be given to you?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord God, we know that you bless us with an abundance of graces.  Help us to recognize the gifts you have given us, even when they come in unexpected ways.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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November 16, 2018

St. Roch Gonzalez, SJ and Companions, Jesuit Martyrs

Lk 17:26-37

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them —it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.

On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it.I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.” Then they asked him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

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.

Living a “NOW” spirituality

Time is major aspect of our Catholic faith. Through our stories, we look at our past for insight into looking to our future beyond this human life and the unknown. Jesus does both, but he connects the past and the future to the present and how we are living our lives right now. Our Catholic faith is a “NOW’ spirituality. Jesus is asking us what are we doing right now to build the Kingdom of God among us. How do we love our neighbor? Welcome the stranger? Serve the underserved?

Where are we building a Kingdom of God reflective of the gospel values of Jesus? What is going on in our lives right now that distracts us from focusing on the Kingdom of God? Let us prayerfully discern what those distractions are to better choose to focus solely on Jesus. For when we are called by God to the next life, none of these distractions or material possessions will come with us. We will not have time to prepare as God will take us as we are. Now, right now at that very moment. Am I ready?

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is the Acting Assistant Principal of Mission, Ministry, and Diversity at Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado.

Prayer

Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come follow me,
and I will give you rest.

—Refrain of Be Not Afraid © 1975, Robert J. Dufford, SJ, and New Dawn Music

 


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November 15, 2018

Lk 17:20-25

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”

Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation.

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

Finding God among all things

“Lord, you know St. Ignatius, right?”

“I know both of them—the guy from Antioch and the one from Loyola.”

“I mean St. Ignatius of Loyola. He talked about finding you in all things. But I’m confused. You told the Pharisees that your kingdom isn’t coming with things that can be observed. What gives?”

Jesus laughs. My questions usually give him a good chuckle. I think he finds my quest for holiness amusing, much as I am amused by watching my dog chase her tail.

“Maybe a better way of saying it,” Jesus says, “is to find God among all things.”

This simple change makes a big difference. Among implies an association—God is in the company of all things. I find God not in particular things, but in the relationship between the thing and its Creator.  

And God loves what God created.

—Bob Burnham is a Secular Franciscan, spiritual director, and author of  Little Lessons from the Saints: 52 Simple and Surprising Ways to See the Saint in You published by Loyola Press.

Prayer

Lord, give me the grace to find you among all things and join in their songs of praise.

—Bob Burnham

 

 

 


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November 14, 2018

St. Joseph Pignatelli, SJ

Lk 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.

Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

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.

Three essential prayers

“Help. Thanks. Wow.”

Anne LaMott’s “Three Essential Prayers” feel particularly fitting as I read this Gospel while returning home from the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.

Along with 1,300+ members of the Ignatian family, I spent three days immersed in nourishing prayer, vulnerable storytelling, excellent educational presentations, and inspiring advocacy. “It’s like medicine, I tell people back home. Every year, we bring our brokenness and blessings, our anger at injustice and passion for creating change. We place at the center our world’s “Samaritans”—the outcast women, men, and children with whom Jesus calls us to live in solidarity. We are challenged to look honestly at the darkness in our Church, our country, and our own hearts and we are moved to choose and create light.

So I suppose this is the moment when I give praise to God. Thank You, thank You, thank You.

For what am I most grateful today?

—Katie Davis (MDiv, Loyola University Chicago) is a former Jesuit Volunteer/JVC Magis currently working as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at St. Ignatius College Prep. She has served on the Advisory Board for Jesuit Connections and is a member of the Chicago Women’s Team for the Ignatian Spirituality Project. Katie preaches with the project Catholic Women Preach.

Prayer

Help.
Thanks.
Wow.

—Anne LaMott

 


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November 13, 2018

St. Stanislaus Kostka, SJ; St. Francis Xavier Cabrini

Titus 2: 1-8, 11-14

But as for you, teach what is consistent with sound doctrine. Tell the older men to be temperate, serious, prudent, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance. Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured; then any opponent will be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

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.

How can we best model the Gospel?

In today’s first reading, St. Paul’s counsels Titus on the best way to evangelize the developing church on the Mediterranean island of Crete. He exhorts Titus to say what is consistent with sound doctrine and suggests the special virtues that the people in the Christian community should acquire. The virtue of temperance or self-control is particularly emphasized in the reading.

The Catechism defines temperance as “the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods.” (CCC 1809). Certainly, temperance involves moderating excess consumption of material goods. But it can also serve as a way of bridging divides and encouraging more civil discourse.

As we reflect on the ways we practice and share the faith, perhaps we can identify areas of our lives that need self-control. In an environment where deep polarization and marked disagreements have taken center stage, how is God inviting us to model the truth of the Gospel temperately, justly and devoutly?

—Orlando Portalatin, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Prayer for generosity

Lord, teach me to be generous,
to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to look for any reward,
save that of knowing that I do your holy will.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 


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November 12, 2018

St. Josaphat

Lk 17:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive.

And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey 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.

Growing in holiness together

Many professions require an oath to do no harm.  Firmly rooted in the practice of medicine, counseling, therapy, or other such fields is this value of helping and doing nothing but good.  This lifestyle is what Jesus is calling us to: a lifestyle so permeated with goodness that we don’t even want anyone else to do anything wrong.  Sometimes it seems easier to let others fall or make choices that may not consider the people around us. Since our true nature is community and togetherness, let us grow in virtue alongside, rather than independent of, our neighbors.

—Erin Emeric is a music teacher at Christ, Light of the Nations school and a member of the Billiken Teaching Corps at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Stir up in your Church, we pray, O Lord, the Spirit that filled Saint Josaphat as he laid down his life for the sheep, so that through his intercession we, too, may be strengthened by the same Spirit and not be afraid to lay down our life for others. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

—Collect prayer for the Memorial of St. Josephat, Bishop and Martyr

 


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November 11, 2018

Mk 12: 38-44

As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

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.

Total reliance upon God

It doesn’t always feel like it is easy to give from our abundance. Even though there is little risk to it, it can feel like a big risk because of the “what ifs”. What if something happens and I need this tomorrow? It seems easier to believe that our abundance can guard us against the “what ifs”. But in comparison Jesus praises the widow who gives “out of her poverty” and in doing so has given all that she has. She has no safeguards. She has no contingencies. Yet she takes a concrete action that expresses her total reliance upon God. A total reliance upon God does not mean that difficulties will not come our way. It is not a strong guard against the “what ifs”, but it is to be in relationship with the one who is stronger than all the “what ifs”.

What is a concrete action I can take to express my total reliance upon God?

—Fr. Brad Held, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Province and is a campus minister and theology teacher at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, WI.

Prayer

Only in God is my soul at rest,
in him comes my salvation.
He, only, is my rock, my strength and my salvation.

My stronghold, my Savior,
I shall not be afraid at all.
My stronghold, my Savior,
I shall not be moved.

—Lyrics to Only in God by John Michael Talbot, © 1980 Birdwing Music/BMG Songs

 

 

 

 


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