August 31, 2020

1 Cor 2: 1-5

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of 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.

Where is Christ?

“For I decided to know nothing among you…”

As a person working on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion amid a pandemic, the last few months have been challenging to say the least, and yet also incredibly inspiring.

During these turbulent times, the question that has come up from so many repeatedly is “What can I do?”  “How do I engage?” 

As people of faith, I believe we need to ask another question- Where is Christ?

Where was Christ when George Floyd and other people of color have been senselessly killed? 

Where was Christ, when some of our refugee children are locked up away and detained from their parents?

Where is Christ when the nameless casualties of Covid continue to increase, many of whom are our most marginalized? 

Where is Christ amid our fears?

Jesus sought to be first and foremost truly present to the most marginalized and powerless among us.  It is that type of presence that will ultimately transform us, giving us the hope, power, and willingness to sacrifice for systemic change in pursuit of justice.  To do this, like Jesus, we will need to, first and foremost, be open to the world and people around us every day and to engage more deeply, avoiding the temptation to be presumptive or try to fix anything immediately.

What is keeping me right now from being truly present amid what is going on in the world today?  Pandemic, racial injustice, political/cultural divisions, economic distress etc. What is keeping me right now from being truly present as Jesus is present with those suffering, marginalized, and most powerless in our society?

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

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Help me be present to you through those suffering right now from injustice in all its forms.  Help me to be open to your voice through their voices, their reflections, their hopes, their desires.  Help me to be open to allowing them to transform me to love more deeply through my actions and deeds.  For this I truly desire and believe is your will for me, Lord.

Amen.

—Sajit U. Kabadi


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August 30, 2020

Mt 16: 21-27

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 

For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.

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.

Sacrifice sometimes finds us

The disciples in today’s Gospel gradually came to see two facts about Jesus.  One, that he was the long-awaited Messiah.  Two, that he was to be a Suffering Messiah.  The disciples had to adjust to the latter.  It prompted Peter’s rebuke,  “God forbid it, Lord.”  To that, Jesus sharply replied, “Get behind me, Satan.”

Neither Peter nor Jesus looked for or desired suffering, but Jesus “must go to Jerusalem.”  And, for Peter, if any wish to be followers of Jesus, they must “deny themselves and take up their cross.” 

Who of us looks for or desires suffering?  No one, though when our heart is stretched with self-emptying love, sometimes suffering and sacrifice find us.  For instance, teenagers may “find” it when they speak respectfully of others though they themselves might be disparaged.  Young adults may “find” it when they engage in relationships without pushing a self-seeking agenda.  Parents may “find” it when they worry about how their children are developing.  First-responders may “find” it as they risk their lives for others.  And, we may “find” it as we bear up emotionally with those difficulties in our country which seem crushing of our Christian spirit.

In our living and loving, and desire to contribute to a better world, how has suffering and sacrifice “found” us?  Is there comfort in knowing that Jesus was a Suffering Messiah, stretched with self-emptying love?

—Fr. Richard Baumann, SJ, is a regional vocation directors for the Midwest Jesuits.

Prayer

Blessed God, by your grace help me put forth all the effort I can in caring for my family, others, and our world and, at the same time, surrender with long-suffering and perseverance to that which I cannot do or solve.  Amen.

—Fr. Richard Baumann, SJ


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August 29, 2020

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Mk 6: 17-29

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 

But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 

Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. 

He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

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.

On the Wings of a Dove

Today is the feast day of Saint John the Baptist, who baptized Christ and witnessed what Matthew recounts “after Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him.” And the Holy Spirit offers that same vista to us, if we let it.

In his book “Embracing the Way of Jesus” Pope Francis points to the Spirit as the source of our growth in God.  “When we receive and welcome him into our heart, the Holy Spirit immediately begins to make us sensitive to his voice and to guide our thoughts, our feelings, and our intentions according to the heart of God.”

The dove is a sign of a new beginning; of change.  What are the persistent struggles in my heart?  What are the scales over my eyes that preclude seeing Christ in all I encounter? 

Come Holy Spirit, land gently in my heart, Amen.

—Curt Robey will be ordained into the Permanent Diaconate in the Archdiocese of Chicago on September 26.  Curt & his wife Sally live in Wilmette, IL and are the parents of four children who attended Loyola Academy & Saint Ignatius College Prep.

Prayer

O God, who willed that Saint John the Baptist should go ahead of your Son both in his birth and in his death, grant that, as he died a Martyr for truth and justice, we, too, may fight hard for the confession of what you teach. 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 from today’s Mass


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August 28, 2020

St. Augustine

Ps 33: 1-2, 4-5, 10-11

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous. Praise befits the upright.

Praise the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.

For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.

The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

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.

Close to God in nature

In June of 2019 I attended a Catholic Conference at Creighton University themed Our Common Home. Attendees would agree heartily with our psalmist today, to joyfully exult and give thanks to the Lord, singing his praises for his kindness in filling the world. We were invited to take a St. Francis pledge at this conference to care for the earth as one of God’s beloved creations, acknowledging his bounty as a gift, and our earth’s carefully balanced ecosystems, a design of God’s heart.

We shared stories of how close we felt to God when in nature and that the beauty of nature nourishes our spirits and connects our souls with a sense of peace and the heart of our Creator. 

You may know the story of St. Ignatius’ spiritual experience in nature sitting on the banks of the river Cardoner, which he called the most significant of his life.

Do you have a special memory of feeling close to God in nature? Can you recall it and draw inspiration from it? 

Erin Maiorca is the Executive Director at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL. Erin’s other vocations include wife to Tom and mother to two wonderful sons. 

Prayer

Wonderous creator, you fashioned the heavens, land, and seas.
Your bounty overflows, the magnificence of nature beyond description.
Help me to see your splendor in all people and all things.
Give me the grace to praise, protect and reverence the beautiful design of your heart, creation.
Amen.

—Erin Maiorca


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August 27, 2020

St. Monica

Mt 24: 42-51

Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. “Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 

But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

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.

Honor the presence of God in one another

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God,But only [s/]he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit ’round and pluck blackberries.”
Elizabeth B. Browning

Despite the suffering and pain in our world, God’s presence is crammed into the most unexpected places. To “stay awake” as Jesus commands, requires us to acknowledge God’s presence in all of these places.  We take off our shoes in humility to honor the presence of God in each and every one of our neighbors like Moses did when he encountered God at the burning bush. May we tenderly love the neighbor who votes differently than us. May we celebrate God’s presence in our LGBTQ+ neighbor. May we recognize The Holy Spirit in the neighbor who doesn’t act like us, prays to a different God, or even the one who refuses to extend us the same kind of understanding and love. This is how we become a facet of God’s kingdom on earth.

—Rose-Carmel Goddard is a student at the University of Michigan and is an active member of St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI.

Prayer

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, S.J.


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August 26, 2020

2020 Aug 26 Wed: 

Mt 23: 27-32

‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, “If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.” Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors.

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.

Reflecting the heart of God

The heart of St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises is Jesus, whose message and mission lead us to the heart of God.  Today’s reading is a stark reminder to the Pharisees-echoing down through the ages to us-of how far we have gone astray.  In his righteous anger, can we not hear the painful cry of Jesus boldly and blatantly exposing hypocrisy, concern only for appearance and ego?  Jesus sees hearts, knows our inner selves and rightfully speaks harsh truths.  His words are meant to shake us out of our complacency, self-righteousness and spiritual blindness.  Jesus speaks out of love and a profound desire to teach us how to love, and how to take a deeper look at our true selves so that we may enter and live from the very mind and heart of God.  The question is, are we open to the truth and challenge his words present, and are we listening and responding to the wailing of his compassionate heart?

When I hear Jesus cry out, “Woe to you…”, what hypocrisies within me do I honestly need to take a deeper look at? 

How might my thoughts, words and actions more deeply reflect the mind and heart of God?

Mary McKeon is a retreat master and spiritual director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, in Barrington, IL.   

Prayer

“Your Heart Today”

Where there is fear I can allay,
Where there is pain I can heal,
Where there are wounds I can bind,
And hunger I can fill:
Lord, grant me the courage,
Lord, grant me the strength,
Grant me compassion,
That I may be Your heart today.

Where there is hate I can confront,
Where there are yokes I can release,
Where there are captives I can free
And anger I can appease:
Lord, grant me the courage,
Lord, grant me the strength,
Grant me the compassion,
That I may be Your heart today.

When comes the day I dread
To see our broken world,
Protect me from myself grown cold
That Your people I may behold.
And when I’ve done all that I could,
Yet there are hearts I cannot move,    
Lord, give me hope,
That I may be Your heart today.

Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ


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August 25, 2020

2 Thes 2: 1-3A, 14-17

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. 

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

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

The Joy Stratagem

An atheist friend joked with me recently that she must be a bad person. I wondered why she thought so? “Because we’re clearly in end times and I haven’t been raptured!”

I always smile when friends outside our faith share so much of our “end time vocabulary”: the Antichrist, Judgment Day, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. You could be forgiven for thinking that every non-believer’s summer reading is the Book of Revelation!

From the earliest days of our Church, Christians have been anxious about the end of the world. Paul has his hands full in today’s reading trying to calm down the Thessalonians, who are alarmed that the end has arrived and no one has thought to tell them. How does Paul go about it? By encouraging them. Remember the traditions you were taught. Remember how God has helped you in the past. Jesus is yours. Grace is yours. God loves you!

This is a faith strategy we can still follow today. Be present. Count blessings. Be amazed by creation! Our consolations will pave over our fears in the end. Let a Joy keep you!

Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a scholastic of the Jesuits West Province who begins his second year of Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA this fall.

Prayer

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement.
Get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes
nothing for granted.

Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible;
never treat life casually.

To be spiritual is to be amazed.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


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August 24, 2020

St. Bartholomew  

Jn 1: 45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 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.

Beautiful and Tragic

While Bartholomew the Apostle always appears in the Synoptic Gospels alongside Philip, in John’s Gospel, Philip is always linked with “Nathaniel.” Thus, the Eastern Church has long identified Bartholomew and Nathaniel as one and the same apostle. The deliciously skeptical remark that fell from Nathaniel/Bartholomew’s lips before he met Jesus – “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” – is especially poignant in light of the apostle’s subsequent witness to faith in Christ.

Saint Bartholomew is one of the so-called “flayed martyrs” among the church’s saints. According to popular hagiography, the apostle was skinned alive and beheaded for having converted the Armenian king to Christianity. (The Jesuit Saint Andrew Bobola, in 1657, met a similarly horrifying end.) In art, Bartholomew is often depicted holding his flayed skin or the curved knife with which he was flayed. Historically, depictions of Saint Bartholomew – the patron saint of doctors and surgeons – were often used by medical students to aid in their anatomy studies.

About his 2006 bronze, “Saint Bartholomew, Exquisite Pain,” the British sculptor Damien Hurst remarks of Bartholomew’s extreme exposure and pain, “It’s kind of beautiful, yet tragic.” Yes, it is. The journey from radical skepticism to a martyr’s faith is beautiful and tragic. What would so move Bartholomew to give his life in witness to Jesus? What would drive people to such horrifying lengths to silence him?

In terms of my own faith, and the martyrs of our time, where do I stand between these two extremes? “Here is a true child of Israel,” Jesus said of him. “There is no duplicity in him.”

—Christopher Pramuk is the University Chair of Ignatian Thought and Imagination and an associate professor of theology at Regis University

Prayer

Saint Bartholomew,
it seems that you were transformed when you met Jesus
moved from cold skepticism to undying faith,
a faith that would lead to your death
by those for whom you were an aberration. 
They stripped you violently of everything, even your skin,
yet not everything.

Can anything good come from Nazareth?

I know your skepticism, hardened into cynicism; I see it in myself:
    Can anything good come from these hard days? From my country? From me?
And I ask for a measure today
of your faith, your courage, your trust in Jesus.

This day, with your help, let Jesus say of me, “There is no duplicity in him.” 

—Christopher Pramuk


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August 23, 2020

Mt 16: 13-20

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 

Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

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.

Receiving our identity from Jesus

Many of us are burdened by the insecurity that accompanies self-doubt and the desire to be known by others for who we truly are, rather than by what they perceive. In today’s Gospel there is a lovely interplay between Peter’s name (which means stone or rock) and the confession he makes regarding Jesus. Immediately upon confessing Jesus’s true identity, Peter himself receives a new name, a new identity. The wisdom here for us is that Simon finds his truest self, his identity, in the measure that he acknowledges Jesus as he truly is, as the Son of the living God. In an age of reinvention and auto-determination, we may consider giving Jesus the final word on who we are, allowing him to name us according to who he sees us to be. In the end, it may change the course of your life, as it did for Peter, whose life was never the same.

—Deacon David A. Lugo, SJ, is a transitional deacon of the Central and Southern Province who was ordained to the priesthood on August 15th in St. Louis, MO.  He studies theology at Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid, Spain.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you know us even better than we know ourselves.  Help us to come to fully understand and embrace our truest identity as your beloved sisters and brothers, so that we may move through life in the confidence of knowing we belong to you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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August 22, 2020

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mt 23: 1-12

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. 

They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. 

But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

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

A.M.D.G.

As parents of four children who attended Jesuit high schools, my wife Sally and I became familiar with this Jesuit expression Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, Latin for “For the greater glory of God.”  St. Ignatius used this expression daily as a reminder of a central tenet of our faith.   In today’s Gospel, Christ warns his disciples and followers to avoid letting ego cloud this central tenet.  Jesus points to the hypocrisy, arrogance and self-flattery displayed by the Pharisees, all under the guise of faith.  He reminds us …”The greatest among you must be your servant.”     

Maybe St. Ignatius’s Prayer for Generosity (included as today’s prayer) will help serve as a reminder of how we are called to serve – for the greater glory of God.

—Curt Robey is awaiting ordination into the Permanent Diaconate in the Archdiocese of Chicago this autumn.  Curt & his wife Sally live in Wilmette, IL and are the parents of four children who attended Loyola Academy & Saint Ignatius College Prep.

Prayer

Prayer for Generosity

Lord,
Teach me true generosity.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labor without seeking rest,
To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward
Save the knowledge that I have done your will.
Amen.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola


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August 31, 2020

1 Cor 2: 1-5

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of 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.

Where is Christ?

“For I decided to know nothing among you…”

As a person working on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion amid a pandemic, the last few months have been challenging to say the least, and yet also incredibly inspiring.

During these turbulent times, the question that has come up from so many repeatedly is “What can I do?”  “How do I engage?” 

As people of faith, I believe we need to ask another question- Where is Christ?

Where was Christ when George Floyd and other people of color have been senselessly killed? 

Where was Christ, when some of our refugee children are locked up away and detained from their parents?

Where is Christ when the nameless casualties of Covid continue to increase, many of whom are our most marginalized? 

Where is Christ amid our fears?

Jesus sought to be first and foremost truly present to the most marginalized and powerless among us.  It is that type of presence that will ultimately transform us, giving us the hope, power, and willingness to sacrifice for systemic change in pursuit of justice.  To do this, like Jesus, we will need to, first and foremost, be open to the world and people around us every day and to engage more deeply, avoiding the temptation to be presumptive or try to fix anything immediately.

What is keeping me right now from being truly present amid what is going on in the world today?  Pandemic, racial injustice, political/cultural divisions, economic distress etc. What is keeping me right now from being truly present as Jesus is present with those suffering, marginalized, and most powerless in our society?

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

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Help me be present to you through those suffering right now from injustice in all its forms.  Help me to be open to your voice through their voices, their reflections, their hopes, their desires.  Help me to be open to allowing them to transform me to love more deeply through my actions and deeds.  For this I truly desire and believe is your will for me, Lord.

Amen.

—Sajit U. Kabadi


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August 30, 2020

Mt 16: 21-27

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 

For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.

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.

Sacrifice sometimes finds us

The disciples in today’s Gospel gradually came to see two facts about Jesus.  One, that he was the long-awaited Messiah.  Two, that he was to be a Suffering Messiah.  The disciples had to adjust to the latter.  It prompted Peter’s rebuke,  “God forbid it, Lord.”  To that, Jesus sharply replied, “Get behind me, Satan.”

Neither Peter nor Jesus looked for or desired suffering, but Jesus “must go to Jerusalem.”  And, for Peter, if any wish to be followers of Jesus, they must “deny themselves and take up their cross.” 

Who of us looks for or desires suffering?  No one, though when our heart is stretched with self-emptying love, sometimes suffering and sacrifice find us.  For instance, teenagers may “find” it when they speak respectfully of others though they themselves might be disparaged.  Young adults may “find” it when they engage in relationships without pushing a self-seeking agenda.  Parents may “find” it when they worry about how their children are developing.  First-responders may “find” it as they risk their lives for others.  And, we may “find” it as we bear up emotionally with those difficulties in our country which seem crushing of our Christian spirit.

In our living and loving, and desire to contribute to a better world, how has suffering and sacrifice “found” us?  Is there comfort in knowing that Jesus was a Suffering Messiah, stretched with self-emptying love?

—Fr. Richard Baumann, SJ, is a regional vocation directors for the Midwest Jesuits.

Prayer

Blessed God, by your grace help me put forth all the effort I can in caring for my family, others, and our world and, at the same time, surrender with long-suffering and perseverance to that which I cannot do or solve.  Amen.

—Fr. Richard Baumann, SJ


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August 29, 2020

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Mk 6: 17-29

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 

But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 

Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. 

He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

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.

On the Wings of a Dove

Today is the feast day of Saint John the Baptist, who baptized Christ and witnessed what Matthew recounts “after Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him.” And the Holy Spirit offers that same vista to us, if we let it.

In his book “Embracing the Way of Jesus” Pope Francis points to the Spirit as the source of our growth in God.  “When we receive and welcome him into our heart, the Holy Spirit immediately begins to make us sensitive to his voice and to guide our thoughts, our feelings, and our intentions according to the heart of God.”

The dove is a sign of a new beginning; of change.  What are the persistent struggles in my heart?  What are the scales over my eyes that preclude seeing Christ in all I encounter? 

Come Holy Spirit, land gently in my heart, Amen.

—Curt Robey will be ordained into the Permanent Diaconate in the Archdiocese of Chicago on September 26.  Curt & his wife Sally live in Wilmette, IL and are the parents of four children who attended Loyola Academy & Saint Ignatius College Prep.

Prayer

O God, who willed that Saint John the Baptist should go ahead of your Son both in his birth and in his death, grant that, as he died a Martyr for truth and justice, we, too, may fight hard for the confession of what you teach. 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 from today’s Mass


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August 28, 2020

St. Augustine

Ps 33: 1-2, 4-5, 10-11

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous. Praise befits the upright.

Praise the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.

For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.

The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

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.

Close to God in nature

In June of 2019 I attended a Catholic Conference at Creighton University themed Our Common Home. Attendees would agree heartily with our psalmist today, to joyfully exult and give thanks to the Lord, singing his praises for his kindness in filling the world. We were invited to take a St. Francis pledge at this conference to care for the earth as one of God’s beloved creations, acknowledging his bounty as a gift, and our earth’s carefully balanced ecosystems, a design of God’s heart.

We shared stories of how close we felt to God when in nature and that the beauty of nature nourishes our spirits and connects our souls with a sense of peace and the heart of our Creator. 

You may know the story of St. Ignatius’ spiritual experience in nature sitting on the banks of the river Cardoner, which he called the most significant of his life.

Do you have a special memory of feeling close to God in nature? Can you recall it and draw inspiration from it? 

Erin Maiorca is the Executive Director at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL. Erin’s other vocations include wife to Tom and mother to two wonderful sons. 

Prayer

Wonderous creator, you fashioned the heavens, land, and seas.
Your bounty overflows, the magnificence of nature beyond description.
Help me to see your splendor in all people and all things.
Give me the grace to praise, protect and reverence the beautiful design of your heart, creation.
Amen.

—Erin Maiorca


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August 27, 2020

St. Monica

Mt 24: 42-51

Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. “Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 

But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

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.

Honor the presence of God in one another

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God,But only [s/]he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit ’round and pluck blackberries.”
Elizabeth B. Browning

Despite the suffering and pain in our world, God’s presence is crammed into the most unexpected places. To “stay awake” as Jesus commands, requires us to acknowledge God’s presence in all of these places.  We take off our shoes in humility to honor the presence of God in each and every one of our neighbors like Moses did when he encountered God at the burning bush. May we tenderly love the neighbor who votes differently than us. May we celebrate God’s presence in our LGBTQ+ neighbor. May we recognize The Holy Spirit in the neighbor who doesn’t act like us, prays to a different God, or even the one who refuses to extend us the same kind of understanding and love. This is how we become a facet of God’s kingdom on earth.

—Rose-Carmel Goddard is a student at the University of Michigan and is an active member of St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI.

Prayer

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, S.J.


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August 26, 2020

2020 Aug 26 Wed: 

Mt 23: 27-32

‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, “If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.” Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors.

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.

Reflecting the heart of God

The heart of St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises is Jesus, whose message and mission lead us to the heart of God.  Today’s reading is a stark reminder to the Pharisees-echoing down through the ages to us-of how far we have gone astray.  In his righteous anger, can we not hear the painful cry of Jesus boldly and blatantly exposing hypocrisy, concern only for appearance and ego?  Jesus sees hearts, knows our inner selves and rightfully speaks harsh truths.  His words are meant to shake us out of our complacency, self-righteousness and spiritual blindness.  Jesus speaks out of love and a profound desire to teach us how to love, and how to take a deeper look at our true selves so that we may enter and live from the very mind and heart of God.  The question is, are we open to the truth and challenge his words present, and are we listening and responding to the wailing of his compassionate heart?

When I hear Jesus cry out, “Woe to you…”, what hypocrisies within me do I honestly need to take a deeper look at? 

How might my thoughts, words and actions more deeply reflect the mind and heart of God?

Mary McKeon is a retreat master and spiritual director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, in Barrington, IL.   

Prayer

“Your Heart Today”

Where there is fear I can allay,
Where there is pain I can heal,
Where there are wounds I can bind,
And hunger I can fill:
Lord, grant me the courage,
Lord, grant me the strength,
Grant me compassion,
That I may be Your heart today.

Where there is hate I can confront,
Where there are yokes I can release,
Where there are captives I can free
And anger I can appease:
Lord, grant me the courage,
Lord, grant me the strength,
Grant me the compassion,
That I may be Your heart today.

When comes the day I dread
To see our broken world,
Protect me from myself grown cold
That Your people I may behold.
And when I’ve done all that I could,
Yet there are hearts I cannot move,    
Lord, give me hope,
That I may be Your heart today.

Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ


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August 25, 2020

2 Thes 2: 1-3A, 14-17

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. 

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

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

The Joy Stratagem

An atheist friend joked with me recently that she must be a bad person. I wondered why she thought so? “Because we’re clearly in end times and I haven’t been raptured!”

I always smile when friends outside our faith share so much of our “end time vocabulary”: the Antichrist, Judgment Day, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. You could be forgiven for thinking that every non-believer’s summer reading is the Book of Revelation!

From the earliest days of our Church, Christians have been anxious about the end of the world. Paul has his hands full in today’s reading trying to calm down the Thessalonians, who are alarmed that the end has arrived and no one has thought to tell them. How does Paul go about it? By encouraging them. Remember the traditions you were taught. Remember how God has helped you in the past. Jesus is yours. Grace is yours. God loves you!

This is a faith strategy we can still follow today. Be present. Count blessings. Be amazed by creation! Our consolations will pave over our fears in the end. Let a Joy keep you!

Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a scholastic of the Jesuits West Province who begins his second year of Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA this fall.

Prayer

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement.
Get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes
nothing for granted.

Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible;
never treat life casually.

To be spiritual is to be amazed.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


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August 24, 2020

St. Bartholomew  

Jn 1: 45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 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.

Beautiful and Tragic

While Bartholomew the Apostle always appears in the Synoptic Gospels alongside Philip, in John’s Gospel, Philip is always linked with “Nathaniel.” Thus, the Eastern Church has long identified Bartholomew and Nathaniel as one and the same apostle. The deliciously skeptical remark that fell from Nathaniel/Bartholomew’s lips before he met Jesus – “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” – is especially poignant in light of the apostle’s subsequent witness to faith in Christ.

Saint Bartholomew is one of the so-called “flayed martyrs” among the church’s saints. According to popular hagiography, the apostle was skinned alive and beheaded for having converted the Armenian king to Christianity. (The Jesuit Saint Andrew Bobola, in 1657, met a similarly horrifying end.) In art, Bartholomew is often depicted holding his flayed skin or the curved knife with which he was flayed. Historically, depictions of Saint Bartholomew – the patron saint of doctors and surgeons – were often used by medical students to aid in their anatomy studies.

About his 2006 bronze, “Saint Bartholomew, Exquisite Pain,” the British sculptor Damien Hurst remarks of Bartholomew’s extreme exposure and pain, “It’s kind of beautiful, yet tragic.” Yes, it is. The journey from radical skepticism to a martyr’s faith is beautiful and tragic. What would so move Bartholomew to give his life in witness to Jesus? What would drive people to such horrifying lengths to silence him?

In terms of my own faith, and the martyrs of our time, where do I stand between these two extremes? “Here is a true child of Israel,” Jesus said of him. “There is no duplicity in him.”

—Christopher Pramuk is the University Chair of Ignatian Thought and Imagination and an associate professor of theology at Regis University

Prayer

Saint Bartholomew,
it seems that you were transformed when you met Jesus
moved from cold skepticism to undying faith,
a faith that would lead to your death
by those for whom you were an aberration. 
They stripped you violently of everything, even your skin,
yet not everything.

Can anything good come from Nazareth?

I know your skepticism, hardened into cynicism; I see it in myself:
    Can anything good come from these hard days? From my country? From me?
And I ask for a measure today
of your faith, your courage, your trust in Jesus.

This day, with your help, let Jesus say of me, “There is no duplicity in him.” 

—Christopher Pramuk


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August 23, 2020

Mt 16: 13-20

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 

Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

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.

Receiving our identity from Jesus

Many of us are burdened by the insecurity that accompanies self-doubt and the desire to be known by others for who we truly are, rather than by what they perceive. In today’s Gospel there is a lovely interplay between Peter’s name (which means stone or rock) and the confession he makes regarding Jesus. Immediately upon confessing Jesus’s true identity, Peter himself receives a new name, a new identity. The wisdom here for us is that Simon finds his truest self, his identity, in the measure that he acknowledges Jesus as he truly is, as the Son of the living God. In an age of reinvention and auto-determination, we may consider giving Jesus the final word on who we are, allowing him to name us according to who he sees us to be. In the end, it may change the course of your life, as it did for Peter, whose life was never the same.

—Deacon David A. Lugo, SJ, is a transitional deacon of the Central and Southern Province who was ordained to the priesthood on August 15th in St. Louis, MO.  He studies theology at Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid, Spain.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you know us even better than we know ourselves.  Help us to come to fully understand and embrace our truest identity as your beloved sisters and brothers, so that we may move through life in the confidence of knowing we belong to you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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August 22, 2020

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mt 23: 1-12

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. 

They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. 

But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

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

A.M.D.G.

As parents of four children who attended Jesuit high schools, my wife Sally and I became familiar with this Jesuit expression Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, Latin for “For the greater glory of God.”  St. Ignatius used this expression daily as a reminder of a central tenet of our faith.   In today’s Gospel, Christ warns his disciples and followers to avoid letting ego cloud this central tenet.  Jesus points to the hypocrisy, arrogance and self-flattery displayed by the Pharisees, all under the guise of faith.  He reminds us …”The greatest among you must be your servant.”     

Maybe St. Ignatius’s Prayer for Generosity (included as today’s prayer) will help serve as a reminder of how we are called to serve – for the greater glory of God.

—Curt Robey is awaiting ordination into the Permanent Diaconate in the Archdiocese of Chicago this autumn.  Curt & his wife Sally live in Wilmette, IL and are the parents of four children who attended Loyola Academy & Saint Ignatius College Prep.

Prayer

Prayer for Generosity

Lord,
Teach me true generosity.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labor without seeking rest,
To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward
Save the knowledge that I have done your will.
Amen.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola


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