Keeping the faith

The Israelites are having second thoughts. Despite risking everything for freedom, after seeing great signs and wonders through Moses, they have reached a point of no return and now the full force of their enslavement is bearing down.

It is amazing how easily, how quickly the richness and vibrancy of faith can drain from our cupped hands. With near certainty, we can expect our worst attachments to revisit, even after we are fully dedicated to the liberation God offers us in faith.

But God is unphased by these dark forces. He might even be extra motivated by them. “The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I receive glory through Pharaoh and his chariots and charioteers.”

Picture those things that are most scary, most intense, and most likely to bring us to abandon what is true and good. Can you see the chariots? Ego, addiction, power, anger, selfishness, racism, greed, vanity, insecurity, pettiness… Yeah, those things. God intends to flat out massacre them, to make a mess of our scariest temptations and for their defeat to burn as a persisting flame of glory within us. “Stand your ground …”

—Sean Agniel is ending a term as the provincial’s assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the U.S. Central and Southern Province. This summer he will begin working at St. Louis University High School as the advancement chief of staff.

 


God’s merciful power

We often project our notions of power onto God and then attempt to enlist God as we imagine him into our battles, eagerly expecting the divine power to be deployed to root out and destroy what we consider evil. But God is God, and his power will not be domesticated by our petty battles. Indeed, the divine power is immense and marked not by petty vindictiveness but rather by overwhelming magnanimity. God rules with forbearance and mercy, provisions for repentance and forgiveness.

—Fr. Martin Connell, SJ is Professor of Education at John Carroll University and Rector of the John Carroll University Jesuit community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Witness to the Resurrection

Our church today celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the disciple who followed Jesus through his earthly ministry and, in today’s Gospel, was the first to encounter the risen Christ.  Mary returns to the tomb to prepare Jesus’s body according to Jewish burial customs of the time.  While the other disciples see the empty tomb and leave, Mary remains, weeping for her beloved Jesus.  It is here, in the midst of her suffering, that Jesus comes to her.  It is not until Jesus says her name that she recognizes that he is the Lord.

Isn’t this what we all want: to be called by name by someone who we love?  Jesus spoke to Mary, inviting her to rethink the relationship she had with him.  He tells her to “stop holding on to [him],” and sends her on a mission to tell the other disciples.  Mary goes from being someone who followed Jesus to someone sent out to spread the good news to others.

How are we being invited to be like Mary Magdalene?  How can we take the words of Jesus that we have received and take them out into the world?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 


God desires hesed

Two weeks ago (on July 7), Jesus gave the Pharisees homework: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9:13). Apparently they have not completed the assignment, so Jesus repeats the lesson today.

The lesson comes straight from the Pharisees’ Scriptures, in Hosea 6:6. There God tells the people what God wants: mercy, or in Hebrew, hesed. The meaning of hesed is actually quite complex. Besides “mercy,” it encompasses “kindness,” “steadfast love,” and “compassion.”

Today, Jesus links hesed with the sabbath. God expects us to work hard, but God also knows we need time to rest. So in an act of hesed, God gives us the sabbath. For the disciples, God’s merciful, loving kindness allows them to pick grain and eat. We are coming up on a sabbath ourselves; how is God inviting you to be kind to yourself and rest?

—Dan Everson, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province, studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

 


Rest from the busynes

“I’m good. Busy.”  It’s almost an automatic response when someone asks how we are doing.  We may be busy with work projects, or shuttling kids in carpool, or trying to keep up with household chores.  Being busy can be seen as a sign that we are doing something, or accomplishing something.  In a world driven by calendars and to-do lists, it can be hard to know what to do with oneself when we aren’t checking something off of a list.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers us something that can seem illusive in our busy lives: rest.  Jesus doesn’t care about the things we are doing, he simply offers the invitation to come to him “and you will find rest for yourselves.”  He offers to take our burdens, those things that weigh heavily on our hearts and minds, and give us his yoke, which is light.  As hard as it can be to give up the busyness, are we able to allow ourselves some quiet time to simply rest in Jesus?

—Jim and Lauren Gaffey.  Jim is a science teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep.  Lauren is the Charis Ministries Program Coordinator for the Office of Ignatian Spirituality, and does work for the Midwest Jesuits.  

 

 

 

 

 

 


Taking on a new mission

Throughout history, God appears to people to give them an important job to do to collaborate in building God’s kingdom here on earth.  This is the case with Moses in today’s reading, as God asks him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  God promises fidelity and accompaniment after Moses questions his ability to do what is asked.  We know that God has been active throughout our lives as well, often asking us to take on a new venture or mission.  In the first week of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to look at the times and ways in which God has been active and present throughout our lives.  

Sometimes we are ready to jump in feet first to a new mission (a job, a new addition to the family, meeting a need in our workplace, neighborhood or church community).  Sometimes we may feel hesitant, inadequate, or insecure when God is asking us to take on a new mission.

In what situation have I heard God’s voice calling or nudging me lately?  What are my feelings in response?  Can I truly trust in God’s promise of accompaniment in my life, particularly in a new mission as Moses is asked?

—Colleen Chiacchere directs Magis Catholic Teacher Corps, the post-graduate teaching service program, at Creighton University.

 

 


Hope for a better future

Too many people in our world know what it is like to have to say goodbye to their young children in the hope of giving them a better future. During the school year, I volunteer at a shelter for unaccompanied minors, children 17 and under who have entered the United States without documents and without their parents. Some of the children are as young as 7 or 8, perhaps led north by an older sibling or cousin. In many cases, their parents have faced the brutal choice either of sending their children north alone to seek a better future, or of going themselves to work in the United States and working to find a way to bring their children north after.

We know the story of Moses: God has plans for the young child, and plans for his people. But the journey of the people of God continues today, in the plight of many of the poor in our world.  We know that the final chapter of God’s plan is not yet written.

—Joe Lorenz, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Northeast Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

 


Making Christ our axis

I once had a mentor who used to say, “My children do not belong to me. They belong to God.” We did not have children at the time, but this maxim stuck with me when our first child was stillborn, and with each of four live births that followed.

The first loss was devastating. There were also many graces, especially the truth behind, “my children do not belong to me….” We are given the privilege of loving children, of also loving mother and father, sisters and brothers, in and through and on behalf of Christ.

Relationships with kids or spouse or friends or community members can easily become idols. Living our baptism means making Christ the axis on which our life and love turn, rather than any other relationship. And so, it can feel that Christ has brought a sword. But isn’t this necessary? For if we have given our children Christ’s “cup of cold water” in baptism, then our task of parenting is to prepare them to know his death, which they received in baptism. And also, to desire the newness of life that we cannot receive from each other; only from knowing and following Christ. (Rom 6:3-4)

—Sean Agniel is ending a term as the provincial’s assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the U.S. Central and Southern Province. This summer he will begin working at St. Louis University High School as the advancement chief of staff.

 


Tilling the soil of our hearts

I learned any number of Swahili proverbs during three years as a missionary in Tanzania. One of them commended hard work: “The hoe in the soil brings health to the body.” I think of that proverb when I hear today’s Gospel. We don’t have to be content with the tough soil of hardened hearts; we can do some spiritual tilling to prepare them so that the divine word which Jesus sows may grow in us, yielding a bountiful harvest. “The spiritual tilling of the hardened heart brings health to the soul.”

—Fr. Martin Connell, SJ is Professor of Education at John Carroll University and Rector of the John Carroll University Jesuit community.

 


Speak in the light

“Therefore do not be afraid of them.”  Jesus’s words in today’s Gospel appear many times throughout the Gospels.  In this context, he is telling his disciples, and all of us, that we shouldn’t be afraid to proclaim the good news of Jesus.  He tells us: “what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”

For most Christians today, we are not afraid of physical persecution for our beliefs.  But there are still many times in our lives that we may be afraid to talk about God, or about our faith.  Perhaps we are afraid of being ostracized by friends, coworkers, or even family.  Maybe we want to avoid being lumped in with groups of people we may not fully agree with.  Whatever the reason, Jesus’s challenge to the disciples 2000 years ago remains a challenge for us today.  

How can you “speak in the light” the truth of who Jesus is in your life?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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Keeping the faith

The Israelites are having second thoughts. Despite risking everything for freedom, after seeing great signs and wonders through Moses, they have reached a point of no return and now the full force of their enslavement is bearing down.

It is amazing how easily, how quickly the richness and vibrancy of faith can drain from our cupped hands. With near certainty, we can expect our worst attachments to revisit, even after we are fully dedicated to the liberation God offers us in faith.

But God is unphased by these dark forces. He might even be extra motivated by them. “The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I receive glory through Pharaoh and his chariots and charioteers.”

Picture those things that are most scary, most intense, and most likely to bring us to abandon what is true and good. Can you see the chariots? Ego, addiction, power, anger, selfishness, racism, greed, vanity, insecurity, pettiness… Yeah, those things. God intends to flat out massacre them, to make a mess of our scariest temptations and for their defeat to burn as a persisting flame of glory within us. “Stand your ground …”

—Sean Agniel is ending a term as the provincial’s assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the U.S. Central and Southern Province. This summer he will begin working at St. Louis University High School as the advancement chief of staff.

 


God’s merciful power

We often project our notions of power onto God and then attempt to enlist God as we imagine him into our battles, eagerly expecting the divine power to be deployed to root out and destroy what we consider evil. But God is God, and his power will not be domesticated by our petty battles. Indeed, the divine power is immense and marked not by petty vindictiveness but rather by overwhelming magnanimity. God rules with forbearance and mercy, provisions for repentance and forgiveness.

—Fr. Martin Connell, SJ is Professor of Education at John Carroll University and Rector of the John Carroll University Jesuit community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Witness to the Resurrection

Our church today celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the disciple who followed Jesus through his earthly ministry and, in today’s Gospel, was the first to encounter the risen Christ.  Mary returns to the tomb to prepare Jesus’s body according to Jewish burial customs of the time.  While the other disciples see the empty tomb and leave, Mary remains, weeping for her beloved Jesus.  It is here, in the midst of her suffering, that Jesus comes to her.  It is not until Jesus says her name that she recognizes that he is the Lord.

Isn’t this what we all want: to be called by name by someone who we love?  Jesus spoke to Mary, inviting her to rethink the relationship she had with him.  He tells her to “stop holding on to [him],” and sends her on a mission to tell the other disciples.  Mary goes from being someone who followed Jesus to someone sent out to spread the good news to others.

How are we being invited to be like Mary Magdalene?  How can we take the words of Jesus that we have received and take them out into the world?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 


God desires hesed

Two weeks ago (on July 7), Jesus gave the Pharisees homework: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9:13). Apparently they have not completed the assignment, so Jesus repeats the lesson today.

The lesson comes straight from the Pharisees’ Scriptures, in Hosea 6:6. There God tells the people what God wants: mercy, or in Hebrew, hesed. The meaning of hesed is actually quite complex. Besides “mercy,” it encompasses “kindness,” “steadfast love,” and “compassion.”

Today, Jesus links hesed with the sabbath. God expects us to work hard, but God also knows we need time to rest. So in an act of hesed, God gives us the sabbath. For the disciples, God’s merciful, loving kindness allows them to pick grain and eat. We are coming up on a sabbath ourselves; how is God inviting you to be kind to yourself and rest?

—Dan Everson, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province, studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

 


Rest from the busynes

“I’m good. Busy.”  It’s almost an automatic response when someone asks how we are doing.  We may be busy with work projects, or shuttling kids in carpool, or trying to keep up with household chores.  Being busy can be seen as a sign that we are doing something, or accomplishing something.  In a world driven by calendars and to-do lists, it can be hard to know what to do with oneself when we aren’t checking something off of a list.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers us something that can seem illusive in our busy lives: rest.  Jesus doesn’t care about the things we are doing, he simply offers the invitation to come to him “and you will find rest for yourselves.”  He offers to take our burdens, those things that weigh heavily on our hearts and minds, and give us his yoke, which is light.  As hard as it can be to give up the busyness, are we able to allow ourselves some quiet time to simply rest in Jesus?

—Jim and Lauren Gaffey.  Jim is a science teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep.  Lauren is the Charis Ministries Program Coordinator for the Office of Ignatian Spirituality, and does work for the Midwest Jesuits.  

 

 

 

 

 

 


Taking on a new mission

Throughout history, God appears to people to give them an important job to do to collaborate in building God’s kingdom here on earth.  This is the case with Moses in today’s reading, as God asks him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  God promises fidelity and accompaniment after Moses questions his ability to do what is asked.  We know that God has been active throughout our lives as well, often asking us to take on a new venture or mission.  In the first week of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to look at the times and ways in which God has been active and present throughout our lives.  

Sometimes we are ready to jump in feet first to a new mission (a job, a new addition to the family, meeting a need in our workplace, neighborhood or church community).  Sometimes we may feel hesitant, inadequate, or insecure when God is asking us to take on a new mission.

In what situation have I heard God’s voice calling or nudging me lately?  What are my feelings in response?  Can I truly trust in God’s promise of accompaniment in my life, particularly in a new mission as Moses is asked?

—Colleen Chiacchere directs Magis Catholic Teacher Corps, the post-graduate teaching service program, at Creighton University.

 

 


Hope for a better future

Too many people in our world know what it is like to have to say goodbye to their young children in the hope of giving them a better future. During the school year, I volunteer at a shelter for unaccompanied minors, children 17 and under who have entered the United States without documents and without their parents. Some of the children are as young as 7 or 8, perhaps led north by an older sibling or cousin. In many cases, their parents have faced the brutal choice either of sending their children north alone to seek a better future, or of going themselves to work in the United States and working to find a way to bring their children north after.

We know the story of Moses: God has plans for the young child, and plans for his people. But the journey of the people of God continues today, in the plight of many of the poor in our world.  We know that the final chapter of God’s plan is not yet written.

—Joe Lorenz, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Northeast Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

 


Making Christ our axis

I once had a mentor who used to say, “My children do not belong to me. They belong to God.” We did not have children at the time, but this maxim stuck with me when our first child was stillborn, and with each of four live births that followed.

The first loss was devastating. There were also many graces, especially the truth behind, “my children do not belong to me….” We are given the privilege of loving children, of also loving mother and father, sisters and brothers, in and through and on behalf of Christ.

Relationships with kids or spouse or friends or community members can easily become idols. Living our baptism means making Christ the axis on which our life and love turn, rather than any other relationship. And so, it can feel that Christ has brought a sword. But isn’t this necessary? For if we have given our children Christ’s “cup of cold water” in baptism, then our task of parenting is to prepare them to know his death, which they received in baptism. And also, to desire the newness of life that we cannot receive from each other; only from knowing and following Christ. (Rom 6:3-4)

—Sean Agniel is ending a term as the provincial’s assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the U.S. Central and Southern Province. This summer he will begin working at St. Louis University High School as the advancement chief of staff.

 


Tilling the soil of our hearts

I learned any number of Swahili proverbs during three years as a missionary in Tanzania. One of them commended hard work: “The hoe in the soil brings health to the body.” I think of that proverb when I hear today’s Gospel. We don’t have to be content with the tough soil of hardened hearts; we can do some spiritual tilling to prepare them so that the divine word which Jesus sows may grow in us, yielding a bountiful harvest. “The spiritual tilling of the hardened heart brings health to the soul.”

—Fr. Martin Connell, SJ is Professor of Education at John Carroll University and Rector of the John Carroll University Jesuit community.

 


Speak in the light

“Therefore do not be afraid of them.”  Jesus’s words in today’s Gospel appear many times throughout the Gospels.  In this context, he is telling his disciples, and all of us, that we shouldn’t be afraid to proclaim the good news of Jesus.  He tells us: “what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”

For most Christians today, we are not afraid of physical persecution for our beliefs.  But there are still many times in our lives that we may be afraid to talk about God, or about our faith.  Perhaps we are afraid of being ostracized by friends, coworkers, or even family.  Maybe we want to avoid being lumped in with groups of people we may not fully agree with.  Whatever the reason, Jesus’s challenge to the disciples 2000 years ago remains a challenge for us today.  

How can you “speak in the light” the truth of who Jesus is in your life?

—The Jesuit Prayer team