Entering into a new creation

How do we enter this “new creation” mentioned in today’s reading?  St. Ignatius of Loyola placed the prayer the Anima Christi at the beginning of his Spiritual Exercises.  It is a prayer I use daily; it gives a strength that I can’t find elsewhere.  Many of those who I have directed spiritually also love this prayer. Anima Christi is from the Latin meaning “Soul of Christ”.  The Latin word anima means “to breathe into”.  Christ’s soul is breathed into us, but we must accept this reality in order for it to flow.

The first line of this prayer is usually translated: “Soul of Christ, sanctify me.” Many days, this line is all I need for prayer and reflection.  Cardinal John Henry Newman translates it “Soul of my Savior, save me.” Fr. David Fleming, SJ, interprets it “Jesus may all that is you flow into me.”  Our soul is the immaterial part of our person; the soul is who we are at our best – it is immortal. As Paul said, “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.” We know Christ today, but in a different way.  We can be one with Christ; our soul is given insight and direction through the soul of Christ. We go beyond anything that we alone could do.

—Greg Richard has served at St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, OH for thirty-three years.  He has been the director of Campus Ministry, Theology teacher, Theology department chair, coach, and Adult Chaplain.  He is now the Vice President for Ignatian Identity.

 


May grace increase our thanks

As we read in today’s first reading, even as “death is at work,” we are renewed by the life that also works in us. How? May the grace of this puzzle increase our thanksgiving and our motivation to simplicity: “I believed, and so I spoke,” of and for the greater glory of God.

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications office of the USA Central and Southern Province and is the local organizer for Jesuit Connections – St. Louis.

 


Fear Leads to Anger

Today’s Gospel presents the question: How can we be in right relationship with God, if we are not in right relationship with others? For starters, Jesus says that we will be held accountable for both our actions (e.g. murder) and our motives (e.g. anger). For most people, avoiding murder is easy. But avoiding anger? Not so much. On the surface, I am quick to blame my anger on people or events beyond my control – someone or something made me angry. But, just beyond the surface, what I’m really feeling is fear – I fear losing control, rejection, failure, uncertainty, loneliness. It’s just like Jedi master Yoda said, “fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate… hate leads to suffering.”

The way we counter fear, as we know from John, is with love, as “perfect love casts out fear.”  Jesus teaches us about anger so we better understand and appreciate the centrality of love and forgiveness in our relationships with God and others. We are called to cast off fear, let go of our anger, and love and forgive others, just as God loves and forgives us.

Jackie Schulte is the Dean of Faculty Formation and a history teacher at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.

 

 


The Kingdom comes through Jesus

We pursue the Kingdom of God following God’s commandments and teachings. However, in spite of our best intentions, we often fall short and at times can be very hypocritical self-righteous human beings. There are those who will dwell on these human hypocrisies insisting that we should abolish our laws and civic institutions entirely, saying that it is all absurd and we cannot trust any of it. Instead of abolishing the law, Jesus tells us that through him, it can be fulfilled and we can be redeemed. For only Jesus knows our hearts and inner desires. So instead of focusing on ourselves and our weaknesses, let us depend on our God to restore our faith and renew our spirit. For with Christ’s love, The Kingdom of God can be realized through us if we choose to rely on him.

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

 


Calling Upon the Spirit

In third grade, I didn’t understand why the Church celebrated the feast of St. Barnabas. “Wasn’t he the guy who was supposed to be killed instead of Jesus?” I asked my friend David. “Why did we make him a Saint?

Thankfully David, more advanced in spelling, was able to clarify the source of my confusion: that was Barrabas, not Barnabas.

Our first reading makes clear why it is worth remembering the life of Barnabas, “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” Barnabas came to be filled with the Spirit because he was first and foremost a man of prayer.

Can we say the same about ourselves? When we are faced with an important decision or meaningful conversation, do we call upon the Spirit to guide us or give us the words to say? Or do we prefer to rely solely on our own wisdom, experience, and strength?

We celebrate Barnabas not because of his extraordinary talent, intelligence, or success but because he was open to being moved by the Spirit. At the end of our lives, may people say the same about us.

—Dan Dixon, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Midwest Province currently working at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland to create the Welsh Academy, a grades 6-8 middle school for families of modest economic means.

 


Standing with the suffering

It’s dreadful to imagine Mary witnessing her son, beaten, bloodied, and nearly abandoned by his friends, die slowly at the hands of corrupt authority.  Yet despite the darkness, the image of Mary heartbroken and standing with her dying child vividly illustrates the grace to lovingly accompany the suffering despite our own brokenness.  Retreatants making the Spiritual Exercises pray for this grace as they follow their beloved friend Jesus through his gruesome Passion.  It’s also the grace we see in the mother sitting beside a hospital bed, holding her daughter’s bruised and pierced hand as she recovers from a risky surgery.

Mary, the stabat mater, or ‘mother who was standing,” demonstrates the love and compassion that remains when our only recourse is to simply be present with the one who suffers.

Nick Rennpage is a Theology teacher and the director of Adult Formation and Mission Integration at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy  


We have never been left alone

It seems today that we have many reasons to be fearful and anxious: signs of instability and unrest throughout the world; acts of violence stemming from intolerance and hatred; the increased degradation of the environment.

The natural response to fear is to withdraw to safety, much like the disciples do when they lock themselves within the upper room in today’s Gospel reading. Sometimes when we feel helpless and without control, we think that the only possible solution is self-preservation, and the end result is isolation and even greater fear.

Yet nothing can keep out divine love. The risen Jesus appears in the midst of the frightened disciples, and in place of fear he offers them his Spirit, and from that Spirit comes peace and joy.

This is what we celebrate today on Pentecost—that from the beginning Christ has never left the disciples alone in darkness and despair, and that up until the present day it is his Spirit that strengthens, sustains, and guides us as his Church. Whatever challenges we must confront, he is always in our midst. We may still have reasons to be fearful, but we know that we are not alone.

It is the gift of God’s Spirit that sends us out from our locked rooms to be the resurrected Body of Christ in the world, offering God’s peace to those in desperate need of it.

—Fr. Andrew Laguna, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits West Province who was ordained on June 8, 2019. His first assignment as a priest will be at Most Holy Trinity parish in San Jose, CA

 


Love of God even in suffering

It is obvious there is great suffering in this world.  Children at our border are separated from their parents, no plan to bring them together, some have died.  Recently, I read of a man who lost his job after 25 years at a General Motors car plant in Lordstown, Ohio. For three generations this plant had been his families “ticket to the middle class.”  He lost the “only real job he had ever had.” Many other examples of the world’s suffering could be stated.

In today’s first reading, Paul is in Rome, humbled under house arrest and in chains; he knows his execution is near. Yet, he is allowed to receive visitors and he uses these visits to spread the Good News of Jesus. This love we have celebrated in this Easter season started with Jesus’s passion and his brutal death on the cross.  Paul is following in Jesus’s footsteps.

In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius states, “This is necessary for Divine protection…that as far as possible… I humble myself to obey the law of the Lord in all things, so that not even were I made Lord of all creation, or to save my life, here on earth, would I consent to violate a command of the Lord.” (para. 165)

Whatever sufferings the world puts before us, when we humble ourselves to the Lord, divine protection is certain.  Even though Paul is under arrest and in chains, he celebrates the love of the Lord. This is an example for us.

—Greg Richard has served at St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, OH for thirty-three years.  He has been the director of Campus Ministry, Theology teacher, Theology department chair, coach, and Adult Chaplain.  He is now the Vice President for Ignatian Identity.

 


You Know Everything

In this passage, Jesus and Peter sound like ships in the night. Jesus repeats his questions incessantly, and Peter, responding in kind, is puzzled and hurt. Why must Jesus ask so many times? Is it to be reassured himself of Peter’s love?

Sometimes it takes repetition to shake me out of a mental fog. I need to hear the same question several times before I actually listen to it. In the process, it’s easy to place the blame for my closed ears on the person asking the question.

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications office of the USA Central and Southern Province and is the local organizer for Jesuit Connections – St. Louis.

 


Jesus Prayed

Jesus is a very active guy.  He heals, preaches, teaches, comforts, serves, sacrifices, forgives, loves, and… he prays.  When I think of Jesus praying, I think of the places he prayed – in the garden or in the desert or all night on the mountain.  I don’t typically think about for whom or for what Jesus was praying, let alone imagine him praying for me. Today’s Gospel centers on Jesus’ “priestly prayer” for us, which comes at the conclusion of his “Farewell Discourse” at the Last Supper. In this prayer, Jesus speaks directly to his Father, making explicit the unity of God the Father with Jesus the Son. Through this prayer, Jesus extends this unity to “those who will believe in [Him] through their word, that they may all be one”  – that’s us! This is not a miracle, or a parable, or a sermon. It is Jesus’ intercessory prayer for us, for unity.

Jackie Schulte is the Dean of Faculty Formation and a history teacher at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.

 


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Entering into a new creation

How do we enter this “new creation” mentioned in today’s reading?  St. Ignatius of Loyola placed the prayer the Anima Christi at the beginning of his Spiritual Exercises.  It is a prayer I use daily; it gives a strength that I can’t find elsewhere.  Many of those who I have directed spiritually also love this prayer. Anima Christi is from the Latin meaning “Soul of Christ”.  The Latin word anima means “to breathe into”.  Christ’s soul is breathed into us, but we must accept this reality in order for it to flow.

The first line of this prayer is usually translated: “Soul of Christ, sanctify me.” Many days, this line is all I need for prayer and reflection.  Cardinal John Henry Newman translates it “Soul of my Savior, save me.” Fr. David Fleming, SJ, interprets it “Jesus may all that is you flow into me.”  Our soul is the immaterial part of our person; the soul is who we are at our best – it is immortal. As Paul said, “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.” We know Christ today, but in a different way.  We can be one with Christ; our soul is given insight and direction through the soul of Christ. We go beyond anything that we alone could do.

—Greg Richard has served at St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, OH for thirty-three years.  He has been the director of Campus Ministry, Theology teacher, Theology department chair, coach, and Adult Chaplain.  He is now the Vice President for Ignatian Identity.

 


May grace increase our thanks

As we read in today’s first reading, even as “death is at work,” we are renewed by the life that also works in us. How? May the grace of this puzzle increase our thanksgiving and our motivation to simplicity: “I believed, and so I spoke,” of and for the greater glory of God.

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications office of the USA Central and Southern Province and is the local organizer for Jesuit Connections – St. Louis.

 


Fear Leads to Anger

Today’s Gospel presents the question: How can we be in right relationship with God, if we are not in right relationship with others? For starters, Jesus says that we will be held accountable for both our actions (e.g. murder) and our motives (e.g. anger). For most people, avoiding murder is easy. But avoiding anger? Not so much. On the surface, I am quick to blame my anger on people or events beyond my control – someone or something made me angry. But, just beyond the surface, what I’m really feeling is fear – I fear losing control, rejection, failure, uncertainty, loneliness. It’s just like Jedi master Yoda said, “fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate… hate leads to suffering.”

The way we counter fear, as we know from John, is with love, as “perfect love casts out fear.”  Jesus teaches us about anger so we better understand and appreciate the centrality of love and forgiveness in our relationships with God and others. We are called to cast off fear, let go of our anger, and love and forgive others, just as God loves and forgives us.

Jackie Schulte is the Dean of Faculty Formation and a history teacher at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.

 

 


The Kingdom comes through Jesus

We pursue the Kingdom of God following God’s commandments and teachings. However, in spite of our best intentions, we often fall short and at times can be very hypocritical self-righteous human beings. There are those who will dwell on these human hypocrisies insisting that we should abolish our laws and civic institutions entirely, saying that it is all absurd and we cannot trust any of it. Instead of abolishing the law, Jesus tells us that through him, it can be fulfilled and we can be redeemed. For only Jesus knows our hearts and inner desires. So instead of focusing on ourselves and our weaknesses, let us depend on our God to restore our faith and renew our spirit. For with Christ’s love, The Kingdom of God can be realized through us if we choose to rely on him.

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

 


Calling Upon the Spirit

In third grade, I didn’t understand why the Church celebrated the feast of St. Barnabas. “Wasn’t he the guy who was supposed to be killed instead of Jesus?” I asked my friend David. “Why did we make him a Saint?

Thankfully David, more advanced in spelling, was able to clarify the source of my confusion: that was Barrabas, not Barnabas.

Our first reading makes clear why it is worth remembering the life of Barnabas, “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” Barnabas came to be filled with the Spirit because he was first and foremost a man of prayer.

Can we say the same about ourselves? When we are faced with an important decision or meaningful conversation, do we call upon the Spirit to guide us or give us the words to say? Or do we prefer to rely solely on our own wisdom, experience, and strength?

We celebrate Barnabas not because of his extraordinary talent, intelligence, or success but because he was open to being moved by the Spirit. At the end of our lives, may people say the same about us.

—Dan Dixon, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Midwest Province currently working at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland to create the Welsh Academy, a grades 6-8 middle school for families of modest economic means.

 


Standing with the suffering

It’s dreadful to imagine Mary witnessing her son, beaten, bloodied, and nearly abandoned by his friends, die slowly at the hands of corrupt authority.  Yet despite the darkness, the image of Mary heartbroken and standing with her dying child vividly illustrates the grace to lovingly accompany the suffering despite our own brokenness.  Retreatants making the Spiritual Exercises pray for this grace as they follow their beloved friend Jesus through his gruesome Passion.  It’s also the grace we see in the mother sitting beside a hospital bed, holding her daughter’s bruised and pierced hand as she recovers from a risky surgery.

Mary, the stabat mater, or ‘mother who was standing,” demonstrates the love and compassion that remains when our only recourse is to simply be present with the one who suffers.

Nick Rennpage is a Theology teacher and the director of Adult Formation and Mission Integration at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy  


We have never been left alone

It seems today that we have many reasons to be fearful and anxious: signs of instability and unrest throughout the world; acts of violence stemming from intolerance and hatred; the increased degradation of the environment.

The natural response to fear is to withdraw to safety, much like the disciples do when they lock themselves within the upper room in today’s Gospel reading. Sometimes when we feel helpless and without control, we think that the only possible solution is self-preservation, and the end result is isolation and even greater fear.

Yet nothing can keep out divine love. The risen Jesus appears in the midst of the frightened disciples, and in place of fear he offers them his Spirit, and from that Spirit comes peace and joy.

This is what we celebrate today on Pentecost—that from the beginning Christ has never left the disciples alone in darkness and despair, and that up until the present day it is his Spirit that strengthens, sustains, and guides us as his Church. Whatever challenges we must confront, he is always in our midst. We may still have reasons to be fearful, but we know that we are not alone.

It is the gift of God’s Spirit that sends us out from our locked rooms to be the resurrected Body of Christ in the world, offering God’s peace to those in desperate need of it.

—Fr. Andrew Laguna, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits West Province who was ordained on June 8, 2019. His first assignment as a priest will be at Most Holy Trinity parish in San Jose, CA

 


Love of God even in suffering

It is obvious there is great suffering in this world.  Children at our border are separated from their parents, no plan to bring them together, some have died.  Recently, I read of a man who lost his job after 25 years at a General Motors car plant in Lordstown, Ohio. For three generations this plant had been his families “ticket to the middle class.”  He lost the “only real job he had ever had.” Many other examples of the world’s suffering could be stated.

In today’s first reading, Paul is in Rome, humbled under house arrest and in chains; he knows his execution is near. Yet, he is allowed to receive visitors and he uses these visits to spread the Good News of Jesus. This love we have celebrated in this Easter season started with Jesus’s passion and his brutal death on the cross.  Paul is following in Jesus’s footsteps.

In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius states, “This is necessary for Divine protection…that as far as possible… I humble myself to obey the law of the Lord in all things, so that not even were I made Lord of all creation, or to save my life, here on earth, would I consent to violate a command of the Lord.” (para. 165)

Whatever sufferings the world puts before us, when we humble ourselves to the Lord, divine protection is certain.  Even though Paul is under arrest and in chains, he celebrates the love of the Lord. This is an example for us.

—Greg Richard has served at St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, OH for thirty-three years.  He has been the director of Campus Ministry, Theology teacher, Theology department chair, coach, and Adult Chaplain.  He is now the Vice President for Ignatian Identity.

 


You Know Everything

In this passage, Jesus and Peter sound like ships in the night. Jesus repeats his questions incessantly, and Peter, responding in kind, is puzzled and hurt. Why must Jesus ask so many times? Is it to be reassured himself of Peter’s love?

Sometimes it takes repetition to shake me out of a mental fog. I need to hear the same question several times before I actually listen to it. In the process, it’s easy to place the blame for my closed ears on the person asking the question.

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications office of the USA Central and Southern Province and is the local organizer for Jesuit Connections – St. Louis.

 


Jesus Prayed

Jesus is a very active guy.  He heals, preaches, teaches, comforts, serves, sacrifices, forgives, loves, and… he prays.  When I think of Jesus praying, I think of the places he prayed – in the garden or in the desert or all night on the mountain.  I don’t typically think about for whom or for what Jesus was praying, let alone imagine him praying for me. Today’s Gospel centers on Jesus’ “priestly prayer” for us, which comes at the conclusion of his “Farewell Discourse” at the Last Supper. In this prayer, Jesus speaks directly to his Father, making explicit the unity of God the Father with Jesus the Son. Through this prayer, Jesus extends this unity to “those who will believe in [Him] through their word, that they may all be one”  – that’s us! This is not a miracle, or a parable, or a sermon. It is Jesus’ intercessory prayer for us, for unity.

Jackie Schulte is the Dean of Faculty Formation and a history teacher at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.