Imagine Touching Divine Mercy!

Who can’t identify with Thomas – demanding that we see and touch the wounds of Christ before we believe?  Yet St. Ignatius taught us how to go to these places in our imagination. We can not force the experience to  happen.  But we can set the conditions to allow God to profoundly touch our hearts through our imaginations in an utterly personal way. This can be powerfully healing.

In our Sacred Heart Chapel, there is a painting of St. Ignatius and St. Robert Bellarmine gazing intently at Jesus – His sacred heart ablaze with divine love.  These two saints never met and lived many centuries after Christ.  Yet the artist expresses a deep truth in depicting all three of them together.  We can each encounter the heart of Christ in prayerful imagination. This becomes more real than history.  Here we can still touch His hand and side and feel His divine mercy touching us.

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a Retreat Master, writer, and Spiritual Director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago.  His video blog can be seen weekly at: www.heartoheart.org/Easter

 


Out Into the World

Easter week ends with a very human gospel scene. Jesus appears to the eleven apostles and takes them to task because they could not come to believe. Perhaps they simply couldn’t imagine the first-hand experiences described by Mary Magdalene and their two companions who saw the Risen Jesus while walking towards Emmaus. Clearly their world had been turned upside down; understandably they did not know how to react to the reality of Jesus now alive and risen.

What about each of us — how has this week’s experience of Easter affected my attitude and daily living? Within our family? Amongst those I meet each day? In practical ways, how has the Easter faith and hope and new life Jesus offers made a difference…at home? At work?  In my daily routine?

—The Jesuit prayer team

 

 

 


Sharing and Believing

Imagine the seven friends fishing all night and catching little. The frustration they must have felt. Then someone from shore suggests dropping nets again. Their thoughts might have been; “Don’t you think we’ve done that?” They then think… “Why not?” and they catch more than they could imagine.

Upon recognizing that it was the Lord, Peter jumps into the water. The boat must have arrived long before Peter does. Yet his abundant excitement to be in the presence of his friend, the risen Lord caused him to do something crazy.

Then they share a meal, again. The community that is built through friends eating together is an important community. The conversations and the compassion shared as the friends prepare and eat together are significant.

Do you feel that compassion with those with whom you eat? Are meals what you do together of alone as you are running from one thing to the next? This Easter Season (all 50 days) try to eat more often with others…and imagine the Risen Lord eating with you. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourselves so excited to get to those meals that you might do something crazy, like jump out a boat.

—Fr. Kevin Schneider, SJ is the director of adult spirituality programs at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE. He is a spiritual director and offers parish missions and retreats in the style of Ignatian Spirituality.

 

 

 

 


Witnesses On Mission

In today’s Gospel, the resurrected Jesus explains to the disciples how he is the fulfilment of Scripture. Believing that his wounds were not evidence enough, Jesus reveals the full significance of what has happened. Having been thus enlightened, the disciples are now to be witnesses to the Resurrection.

We Christian believers are also called to be witnesses. How seriously do we take this responsibility? During our daily routines we must ask ourselves, “Am I accomplishing this duty entrusted to me? Have I taken the time to notice, understand, and witness to Jesus’ continual revelation through Scripture, Sacraments, and prayer?

We are all witnesses of Christ’s selfless sacrifice and glorious resurrection. Then what are we doing to show our gratitude and appreciation? When the disciples realize the fullness of what Christ has done their life and mission change completely. Last week we once again celebrated this event. Has our mission changed?

—Brian Cisneros is a 9th Grade student, Verbum Dei High School, Los Angeles, CA.

 


Eyes to See

As much as I rejoice that God or Jesus or a saint makes the blind see or the lame walk, my question long has been “Why not heal them all?” If the response is that these particular people’s faith is the factor, I can’t help but imagine that there have been many good and faithful people who begged for the lives of their children or an ease of terrible suffering only to have those requests denied. So I was initially heartened by the first part of the reading from Acts 3 which indicates that Peter and John tell the “crippled man” not to expect anything from them other than faith in Jesus.

But then the reading tells us that the man “leaped up, stood, and walked around.” Maybe I am paying attention to the wrong part of the story. Maybe the important thing is that Peter and John did not just walk by this man who had long sat by the gate, passed by thousands on their way to Temple. Maybe the important thing is that they acknowledged him as a human being; they touched him, raised him up, and invited him in.

—Bren Ortega Murphy, PhD is a faculty member in Communications Studies at Loyola University Chicago. She holds a joint appointment in Loyola’s Women’s Studies program.


New LIfe

Easter does not erase the Cross.  Easter transforms it.

The Jews who listened to Peter’s preaching on Pentecost learned this firsthand.  Peter’s speech ends with an indictment: you crucified Jesus, the Lord and Messiah.  Peter does not gloss over this point; if anything, he emphasizes it. The crowd knows what Peter says is true; each knows he or she is not completely innocent.  And so, “they were cut to the heart.”

But this is also an Easter proclamation.  With the Cross comes the Resurrection, not to replace the Cross, but to turn death into life.

If, like the crowds at Pentecost, we turn back to look at the Cross, we too may be cut to the heart.  But if we look with the light of Easter, then in the midst of the shame, confusion, and scandal of the Cross, we may find the seeds of new life.

—William Manaker, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Central-Southern Jesuit province, is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

 


Fearful Yet Overjoyed

In the musical Into the Woods, Little Red sings a song about the lessons she has learned on her journey. Grappling with the conflicting emotions evoked in moments of self-realization, she feels “excited! Well, excited and scared.”

Today’s Gospel highlights two women experiencing similar feelings in the face of discovery; they are “fearful yet overjoyed.” God empowers Mary Magdalene and the other Mary by revealing to them the Risen Christ, who sends them alone to spread the word to the apostles. In doing so, God gives the women a glimpse into God’s identity and, perhaps less obviously, a glimpse into their identity. These women, like us, are beloved disciples whose voices are needed to share the Good News. Exciting and scary. Yet Jesus assures us, “Do not be afraid.”

In this Easter season, amidst joy and fear, how can we use our authentic voices to spread the Gospel?         

 —Katie Davis is passionate about spirituality, social justice, and the arts. Hailing from the Philadelphia area, she studied musical theater at Catholic U., and then served as a Jesuit Volunteer in Houston and Chicago. Katie earned her M.Div. at Loyola Chicago and currently works as a Chaplain at St. Ignatius College Prep.

 


Dawning Grace

“While it was still dark Mary Magdala comes to the tomb in a garden, just a few footsteps away from where Jesus was crucified.  Good Friday’s gloom is still thick in the air. But she, Peter and John encounter something totally unexpected: the stone rolled away, the tomb empty, the burial clothes neatly folded.  Not the chicanery of grave robbers, but what is it?  

Unprecedented! Incomprehensible! Inexplicable!  Just as the light of a new day dawns, so does their understanding. Slowly, silently, Jesus’ predictions about rising from the dead” water their withered hopes.

Resurrection is just too much to take in all at once. Faith is so often like this. There’s an occasional big bang, but most often it’s slow growth, just like in nature.  First tiny shoots peek through the ground, then full stalks, young buds, and only then the full flowering of faith.  This story of joy is just beginning to dawn.

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a Retreat Master and Spiritual Director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago. He blogs weekly at  www.heartoheart.org/Lent

 


Come and Remember

This is the night different from all other nights. We light a new fire in the dark. A single lit candle draws us into the assembly and its light passes among everybody, a community of open ears and hearts. This is the night of Christ’s standing in full life, out of the darkness, out of his dying. Faces in the candlelight, Christ risen in the assembly.

And there is more, the story read out again, from the first darkness before the First Day of creation. The stories of our many hesitations and miracles, continually claiming God’s mercy, this too we hear, we remember. We hear the liberation of the families out of Egypt, and remember through the years our own families, how they walked their hard road of faith, and now in a great communion they too surround us in this light. We are a free people, God’s always.

And there is more. New families begin this night, from the baptismal water and the anointings, from the promises and faith we all declare. And there is the bread of life, the cup of transformation, ours fully. Yes, such a fulness! Just as we belong at the table and the hill of the cross, we belong in this light, this vigil meal. We have a place with all these connections reaching around our shoulders and our hearts in peace. Christ among us breathing “Peace.”

Come and remember. There is nothing in the way.

—Fr. Richard Bollman, S.J., a Jesuit of the Chicago-Detroit province, is currently engaged in pastoral ministries in Cincinnati and at the Jesuit Center, Milford, OH.

 


The Depth of Love

Personally, I don’t like to think about Good Friday because it reminds me that Jesus’ suffering and death were violent. I don’t like to think about crucifixion as violent. Yet how could it not be. As Isaiah offers in the 4th suffering servant song, the servant endured these sufferings for us…for our offenses, for our sins.  St. Ignatius invites us to ask to feel shame that Jesus had to endure this for our sins. Now I know why I don’t like to think about this.

But I must. It is in looking at the human suffering of Jesus at his death that we are aware of our participation in the suffering of others in this world. And then, while looking at how Jesus responds to others during his death, we may learn how to respond to the violence and suffering here and now, with compassion, with mercy, with forgiveness. In Jesus’ death we see his love for us. The severity of the experience invites us deeper into the humanness. Lord, grant the grace to feel shame that you would do this for our sinfulness. May we know the depth of your love.

—Fr. Kevin Schneider, SJ is the director of adult spirituality programs at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE. He is a spiritual director and offers parish missions and retreats in the style of Ignatian Spirituality.

 

 

 


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Imagine Touching Divine Mercy!

Who can’t identify with Thomas – demanding that we see and touch the wounds of Christ before we believe?  Yet St. Ignatius taught us how to go to these places in our imagination. We can not force the experience to  happen.  But we can set the conditions to allow God to profoundly touch our hearts through our imaginations in an utterly personal way. This can be powerfully healing.

In our Sacred Heart Chapel, there is a painting of St. Ignatius and St. Robert Bellarmine gazing intently at Jesus – His sacred heart ablaze with divine love.  These two saints never met and lived many centuries after Christ.  Yet the artist expresses a deep truth in depicting all three of them together.  We can each encounter the heart of Christ in prayerful imagination. This becomes more real than history.  Here we can still touch His hand and side and feel His divine mercy touching us.

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a Retreat Master, writer, and Spiritual Director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago.  His video blog can be seen weekly at: www.heartoheart.org/Easter

 


Out Into the World

Easter week ends with a very human gospel scene. Jesus appears to the eleven apostles and takes them to task because they could not come to believe. Perhaps they simply couldn’t imagine the first-hand experiences described by Mary Magdalene and their two companions who saw the Risen Jesus while walking towards Emmaus. Clearly their world had been turned upside down; understandably they did not know how to react to the reality of Jesus now alive and risen.

What about each of us — how has this week’s experience of Easter affected my attitude and daily living? Within our family? Amongst those I meet each day? In practical ways, how has the Easter faith and hope and new life Jesus offers made a difference…at home? At work?  In my daily routine?

—The Jesuit prayer team

 

 

 


Sharing and Believing

Imagine the seven friends fishing all night and catching little. The frustration they must have felt. Then someone from shore suggests dropping nets again. Their thoughts might have been; “Don’t you think we’ve done that?” They then think… “Why not?” and they catch more than they could imagine.

Upon recognizing that it was the Lord, Peter jumps into the water. The boat must have arrived long before Peter does. Yet his abundant excitement to be in the presence of his friend, the risen Lord caused him to do something crazy.

Then they share a meal, again. The community that is built through friends eating together is an important community. The conversations and the compassion shared as the friends prepare and eat together are significant.

Do you feel that compassion with those with whom you eat? Are meals what you do together of alone as you are running from one thing to the next? This Easter Season (all 50 days) try to eat more often with others…and imagine the Risen Lord eating with you. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourselves so excited to get to those meals that you might do something crazy, like jump out a boat.

—Fr. Kevin Schneider, SJ is the director of adult spirituality programs at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE. He is a spiritual director and offers parish missions and retreats in the style of Ignatian Spirituality.

 

 

 

 


Witnesses On Mission

In today’s Gospel, the resurrected Jesus explains to the disciples how he is the fulfilment of Scripture. Believing that his wounds were not evidence enough, Jesus reveals the full significance of what has happened. Having been thus enlightened, the disciples are now to be witnesses to the Resurrection.

We Christian believers are also called to be witnesses. How seriously do we take this responsibility? During our daily routines we must ask ourselves, “Am I accomplishing this duty entrusted to me? Have I taken the time to notice, understand, and witness to Jesus’ continual revelation through Scripture, Sacraments, and prayer?

We are all witnesses of Christ’s selfless sacrifice and glorious resurrection. Then what are we doing to show our gratitude and appreciation? When the disciples realize the fullness of what Christ has done their life and mission change completely. Last week we once again celebrated this event. Has our mission changed?

—Brian Cisneros is a 9th Grade student, Verbum Dei High School, Los Angeles, CA.

 


Eyes to See

As much as I rejoice that God or Jesus or a saint makes the blind see or the lame walk, my question long has been “Why not heal them all?” If the response is that these particular people’s faith is the factor, I can’t help but imagine that there have been many good and faithful people who begged for the lives of their children or an ease of terrible suffering only to have those requests denied. So I was initially heartened by the first part of the reading from Acts 3 which indicates that Peter and John tell the “crippled man” not to expect anything from them other than faith in Jesus.

But then the reading tells us that the man “leaped up, stood, and walked around.” Maybe I am paying attention to the wrong part of the story. Maybe the important thing is that Peter and John did not just walk by this man who had long sat by the gate, passed by thousands on their way to Temple. Maybe the important thing is that they acknowledged him as a human being; they touched him, raised him up, and invited him in.

—Bren Ortega Murphy, PhD is a faculty member in Communications Studies at Loyola University Chicago. She holds a joint appointment in Loyola’s Women’s Studies program.


New LIfe

Easter does not erase the Cross.  Easter transforms it.

The Jews who listened to Peter’s preaching on Pentecost learned this firsthand.  Peter’s speech ends with an indictment: you crucified Jesus, the Lord and Messiah.  Peter does not gloss over this point; if anything, he emphasizes it. The crowd knows what Peter says is true; each knows he or she is not completely innocent.  And so, “they were cut to the heart.”

But this is also an Easter proclamation.  With the Cross comes the Resurrection, not to replace the Cross, but to turn death into life.

If, like the crowds at Pentecost, we turn back to look at the Cross, we too may be cut to the heart.  But if we look with the light of Easter, then in the midst of the shame, confusion, and scandal of the Cross, we may find the seeds of new life.

—William Manaker, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Central-Southern Jesuit province, is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

 


Fearful Yet Overjoyed

In the musical Into the Woods, Little Red sings a song about the lessons she has learned on her journey. Grappling with the conflicting emotions evoked in moments of self-realization, she feels “excited! Well, excited and scared.”

Today’s Gospel highlights two women experiencing similar feelings in the face of discovery; they are “fearful yet overjoyed.” God empowers Mary Magdalene and the other Mary by revealing to them the Risen Christ, who sends them alone to spread the word to the apostles. In doing so, God gives the women a glimpse into God’s identity and, perhaps less obviously, a glimpse into their identity. These women, like us, are beloved disciples whose voices are needed to share the Good News. Exciting and scary. Yet Jesus assures us, “Do not be afraid.”

In this Easter season, amidst joy and fear, how can we use our authentic voices to spread the Gospel?         

 —Katie Davis is passionate about spirituality, social justice, and the arts. Hailing from the Philadelphia area, she studied musical theater at Catholic U., and then served as a Jesuit Volunteer in Houston and Chicago. Katie earned her M.Div. at Loyola Chicago and currently works as a Chaplain at St. Ignatius College Prep.

 


Dawning Grace

“While it was still dark Mary Magdala comes to the tomb in a garden, just a few footsteps away from where Jesus was crucified.  Good Friday’s gloom is still thick in the air. But she, Peter and John encounter something totally unexpected: the stone rolled away, the tomb empty, the burial clothes neatly folded.  Not the chicanery of grave robbers, but what is it?  

Unprecedented! Incomprehensible! Inexplicable!  Just as the light of a new day dawns, so does their understanding. Slowly, silently, Jesus’ predictions about rising from the dead” water their withered hopes.

Resurrection is just too much to take in all at once. Faith is so often like this. There’s an occasional big bang, but most often it’s slow growth, just like in nature.  First tiny shoots peek through the ground, then full stalks, young buds, and only then the full flowering of faith.  This story of joy is just beginning to dawn.

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a Retreat Master and Spiritual Director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago. He blogs weekly at  www.heartoheart.org/Lent

 


Come and Remember

This is the night different from all other nights. We light a new fire in the dark. A single lit candle draws us into the assembly and its light passes among everybody, a community of open ears and hearts. This is the night of Christ’s standing in full life, out of the darkness, out of his dying. Faces in the candlelight, Christ risen in the assembly.

And there is more, the story read out again, from the first darkness before the First Day of creation. The stories of our many hesitations and miracles, continually claiming God’s mercy, this too we hear, we remember. We hear the liberation of the families out of Egypt, and remember through the years our own families, how they walked their hard road of faith, and now in a great communion they too surround us in this light. We are a free people, God’s always.

And there is more. New families begin this night, from the baptismal water and the anointings, from the promises and faith we all declare. And there is the bread of life, the cup of transformation, ours fully. Yes, such a fulness! Just as we belong at the table and the hill of the cross, we belong in this light, this vigil meal. We have a place with all these connections reaching around our shoulders and our hearts in peace. Christ among us breathing “Peace.”

Come and remember. There is nothing in the way.

—Fr. Richard Bollman, S.J., a Jesuit of the Chicago-Detroit province, is currently engaged in pastoral ministries in Cincinnati and at the Jesuit Center, Milford, OH.

 


The Depth of Love

Personally, I don’t like to think about Good Friday because it reminds me that Jesus’ suffering and death were violent. I don’t like to think about crucifixion as violent. Yet how could it not be. As Isaiah offers in the 4th suffering servant song, the servant endured these sufferings for us…for our offenses, for our sins.  St. Ignatius invites us to ask to feel shame that Jesus had to endure this for our sins. Now I know why I don’t like to think about this.

But I must. It is in looking at the human suffering of Jesus at his death that we are aware of our participation in the suffering of others in this world. And then, while looking at how Jesus responds to others during his death, we may learn how to respond to the violence and suffering here and now, with compassion, with mercy, with forgiveness. In Jesus’ death we see his love for us. The severity of the experience invites us deeper into the humanness. Lord, grant the grace to feel shame that you would do this for our sinfulness. May we know the depth of your love.

—Fr. Kevin Schneider, SJ is the director of adult spirituality programs at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE. He is a spiritual director and offers parish missions and retreats in the style of Ignatian Spirituality.