Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Poem: The Guest House by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival,
a joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing your out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and welcome them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sp. Exx.: Formula of the Institute

September 27, 1540 is the date in which Ignatius and his early companions received formal approval by the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, to be instituted as a new religious Order called the Society of Jesus.

The Formula of the Institute is the basic original expression of the way of life envisioned for the Society by Ignatius and his companions. It laid down the fundamental structure of the new Jesuit religious order, providing for its general to write, with the advice of his companions, the fuller statutes which became known as the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus. The Formula captures the fundamental, original inspiration of the Society.

The Formula arose out of the deliberations of Ignatius of Loyola and his companions in 1539 as a ‘First Sketch of the Institute of the Society of Jesus.’ That sketch consisted of five ‘chapters,’ or paragraphs, which, with some minor revisions, became the substance of the two papal documents which formally approved the Society Regimini militantis (1540) of Pope Paul III and Exposcit debitum (1550) of Pope Julius III.

The Formula of the Institute

"Whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the cross in our society,
which we desire to be designated by the name of Jesus, and to serve the Lord alone and the Church, his spouse, under the Roman pontiff, the vicar of Christ on earth, should, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity, poverty and obedience, keep what follows in mind. He is a member of a Society founded chiefly for this purpose:

to strive especially for the defense and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine, by means of public preaching, lectures, and any other ministration whatsoever of the word of God and further by means of the Spiritual Exercises, the education of children and unlettered persons in Christianity and the spiritual consolation of Christ's faithful through hearing confessions and administering the other sacraments.

Moreover, he should show himself ready to reconcile the estranged, compassionately assist and serve those who are in prisons or hospitals and, indeed, to perform any other works of charity, according to what will seem expedient for the glory of God and the common good."

So if you run into a Jesuit on September 27th, wish him a Happy Birthday!

Birth anniversary of the Jesuit Order

On September 27, 1540, at the Palazzo San Marco in Rome, Pope Paul III signed the Bull Regimini militantis ecclesiae that established the Society of Jesus as a new religious order of the Catholic Church.

Ignatius of Loyola and his companions had made their way to Rome in October 1538, to offer their priestly services to the Pope. As they were about to be dispersed by the various missions given them by the Pope, the question arose as to whether they wished to remain spiritually "one." After prayer and discussion they decided positively, as Christ had brought them together, they felt it was His will they remain united. A charter was proposed to the Pope, which was received favourably and ultimately given solemn approval in this Regimini Militantis Ecclesiae of 1540. The final approval, with the removal of the restriction on the membership number, came in the bull Exposcit debitum of July 21, 1550 issued by Pope Julius III.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2009

September 27, 2009

September 27th is the date of the first papal confirmation of the Society of Jesus in 1540. Pope Paul III signed the Bull, Regimini Militantis Ecclesiae, which established the new religious institute.

We do get very territorial with our ministries in the Church. Understandably, the church is going to conserve and preserve the message of Jesus’ life and resurrection, but we sometimes take it too far. Yes, it is good to have boundaries that limit and protect the various official functions and roles, but we have to be cognizant that we might unintentionally limit the workings of the Spirit of Christ that blows where it will.

Joshua is distressed that Eldad and Medad receive the Spirit of God and are prophesying alongside those who gathered to receive the Spirit. After all, Moses is feeling the weight of ministry and has asked for reinforcements, but when the Spirit selects the chosen people, two who are not present in the tent receive the same blessing from the Spirit. The same event happens in the Gospel when an unexpected exorcist is ministering in the name of Jesus. Jesus, like Moses, reassures his friends that it is indeed a blessing to have others doing the Lord’s work. In no way does it diminish the authority or pose a threat to the ones who are officially chosen by the community. Jesus and Moses are delighted to have the help and the Spirit is in ultimate control. As James tells us, we are rich when we receive the Lord’s blessings – it matters how judiciously we use these riches.

These readings pose interesting challenges to our assumptions. Yes, we need and demand validly, properly trained ministers, and we also can use all the help we can in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus. In fact, as Christians we all are commanded to go to the ends of the earth to preach the Gospel. We want to tell the world about God’s deep love for us; we are all called to be prophets. Let’s not get in the way of the Spirit for Jesus has stern words for those who become obstacles to another’s faith.

Quote for the Week

"See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. Be attentive to him and heed his voice. Do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your sin. My authority resides in him. If you heed his voice and carry out all I tell you, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.”

Exodus 23:20-22 on the Feast of the Guardian Angels

Themes for this Week’s Masses

In the Old Testament readings we continue to see how Israel rebuilds itself and its temple in an effort to become the type of people that God has called them to be. God wants to dwell within Jerusalem surrounded by a faithful, just people. The kind king Artaxerxes grants Ezra’s request to rebuild Judah and helps him achieve safe passage. Ezra, the priest, opens the book of the law of Moses at the Water Gate and reads from daybreak to midday in the presence of all who could understand. It is a day of rejoicing. Baruch reminds people that in their anger, God handed them over to their foes, but this same God wants to bring enduring joy back to the people

Luke continues to reveal to us the instructions of Jesus to his disciples. Hospitality to vulnerable ones is essential; proclaiming God’s kingdom is the task of everyone; leaving behind one’s attachments to follow Jesus is healthy; and proclaiming peace and good news is consistent with bearing his message. Those sent out by Jesus in pairs return with marvelous stories ripe with meaning about the work that Jesus is doing through God’s power. They return rejoicing for their names are written in heaven.

Saints of the Week

Monday is the feast of Wenceslaus, ruler of Bohemia, introduced strict reforms and political actions that became the cause of his martyrdom by the forces of his brother, Boleslaus. The Filipino Lawrence Ruiz and companion martyrs are also celebrated this day for their martyrdom in Nagasaki, Japan as missionaries trained by Dominicans.

Tuesday is the Feast of the Archangels – Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, who usher in a triduum (three days) of celebration for the angels. The archangels have names that represent their function: Michael – “Who is like the Lord?” fights against evil, Gabriel – “God is mighty” announces to Mary the Messiah’s conception, and Raphael – “God heals” guards Tobit on his journey.

On Wednesday, we honor Jerome, priest and Doctor, for his work in scripture scholarship and for translating the Bible into Latin for use by the common people. Ironically, Latin was at one time the vulgate.

Therese of the Child Jesus is honored on Thursday as a Doctor of the Church for her Autobiography of a Soul. At age 15, Therese, called the Little Flower, applied for entrance to the Carmelite monastery

Friday is the Feast of the Guardian Angels that completes the three days of prayer in honor of the angels. Popular piety tells us that each of the faithful ones in Christ has a guardian angel to protect one and to aid that person in the spiritual life while on earth.

Jesuit saint Francis Borgia is celebrated on Saturday for his leadership as the 3rd Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Francis was noble trained, but his passion for Christ led him to the Jesuits after his wife died. As General, he founded the Gregorian University, sent missionaries to the ends of the earth, advised kings and popes, and oversaw the growth of the rapidly expanding order.

This Week in Jesuit History

Sep 27, 1540. Pope Paul III signed the Bull, Regimini Militantis Ecclesiae, which established the Society of Jesus.
Sep 28, 1572. Fifteen Jesuits arrived in Mexico to establish the Mexican Province. They soon opened a college.
Sep 29, 1558. In the Gesu, Rome, and elsewhere, the Jesuits began to keep choir, in obedience to an order from Paul IV. This practice lasted less than a year until the pope's death in August, 1559.
Sep 30, 1911. President William Howard Taft visited Saint Louis University and declared the football season open.
Oct 1, 1546. Isabel Roser was released from her Jesuit vows by St Ignatius after eight months.
Oct 2, 1964. Fr General Janssens suffered a stroke and died three days later. During his generalate, the Society grew from 53 to 85 provinces, and from 28,839 to 35,968 members.
Oct 3, 1901. In France, religious persecution broke out afresh with the passing of Waldeck Rousseau's Loi d'Association.

Prayer


Creator God, may we love you in all things and above all things and reach the joy you have prepared for us beyond all our imagining. May the angels and those who serve you constantly in heaven keep our lives safe from all harm on earth. Guide us as we learn of your will for us. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Prayer: The Prayer of Oscar Romero

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the church's mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spirituality: Beginning Prayer

Present your genuine authentic self to God
Invitation from God
We simply respond to this invitation.
You have simply been invited. Simply relax now.

What is going on here?
You are developing your relationship with God
And we need to do things with God as we would a friend
What do we do when we make new friends?
We spend time together, call them on the phone, share a meal,
Reveal some parts of our life and listen as the other reveals to us.
There is excitement, intrigue, fascination and perhaps fear and insecurity.
What if the other doesn’t like me enough?
What is my history with relationships?
What are my joys and disappointments?
What is my spiritual history of relationship with God?

How do I pray?
Just show up. If you tell God you will come to the chapel to be with God at 9:30, show up.
Don’t stand God up. It is always nice to be courteous.
When you get there, don’t do that much.
As we have heard before, prayer is at God’s initiative.
This isn’t something we can control or achieve

Recall that you are in God’s presence.
Perhaps read Scripture to ground you and then you have to trust God.
Let God work in your imagination.
Let God be in your thoughts.
The difficult thing to do is to embrace those thoughts.
Trust that God wants you to consider certain things.
They may be the stuff of your dreams, or fears, or troubling behaviors, or bad relationship. It could be a call to flourish in new ways. It could be to give you peace and comfort.
Maybe God just wants you to be still in God’s presence.

Crunch and munch – John’s Gospel
Enter fully into your experience of God
When you come to the Eucharist – chew and drink
When you come to prayer – savor, search for the flavors, swirl it around, don’t analyze it, but notice and detect.
See in new ways – Discover
Senses – application
Composition of place
Notice that’s you might take for granted – the color of Jesus’ eyes, the quality of Mary’s voice, the attire of the disciples. Is it the 21st century or the 1st century?
Own the scriptures. Make it your own
Taste, see, touch, hear and smell Avoid making judgments.
Then notice the energy. What words or phrases charge your or bring you tension.
This is grist for the mill. This is the food of your prayers.
All the other stuff was done in preparation for you.
Conversation with God, with Christ, with Mary or any other person you have met in your imagination in SS.
Maybe a question you have has nothing to do with SS. Fine. Ask the question.
If Jesus wants you to ask another question, he can speak for himself.
He will eventually get you to the questions you want to ask.

Distractions
If a good person is moving toward greater good, the evil spirit will be there to derail you.
Your soul is the battleground for the evil and Good spirits.
Our immediate reaction is to push away bad thoughts.
Maybe what we think is bad is God’s way of getting us to look at something painful.
I’d like to invite you to do the following:
Embrace the distraction
Pick it up, hold it, examine it, look at its power and then gently place it aside.
If you are to look at it more deeply, God will tell you that.
If you own the distraction, its power over you is broken
You can decide with God when it is good and right to talk about the distraction.
Listen for God’s voice; you will hear many others
Identify them if you can, but go back to God’s voice.

Lastly, enjoy your experience. Be yourself..
People come on retreat thinking they need to solve problems or overcome something that holds one down.
We come with objectives and agendas.
Let your objective be “finding delight with God.” Enjoy
Anthony de Mello had a quote “Behold God beholding you and smiling.”
Not bad, huh? Peace be with you on your retreat.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sp. Exx.: Further Set of Guidelines for Discernment

As we progress in our relationship with Jesus, we are often called to a generosity of heart that embraces as many of God’s people as we can hold. The hallmarks of Jesus’ mission are spiritual poverty (detachment), powerlessness, and humility.

As we move deeper into prayer, we can expect the Evil Spirit to try more strongly, more skillfully and seductively to entice us away from commitment and generosity. Ignatius inserts a prayer into his Spiritual Exercises where he indicates the powerful strategy of the Evil Spirit (Lucifer) to use riches, (attachments) reputation, (power) and pride (self-importance) to separate us from, or at least to make us lukewarm in our commitment. Notice that these are the same temptations that Jesus faced in the desert.

Ignatius responds to this strategy of the Evil Spirit:

With the Good Spirit, the inner movements go toward true gladness and spiritual joy.
With the Evil Spirit, the inner movements fight against true gladness and spiritual joy.

The Good Spirit “touches the soul gently, lightly, and smoothly, like a drop of water into a sponge.” The Evil Spirit “touches the soul sharply with a noise and disturbance like a drop of water on stone.” (Spir. Ex. #335.7)

With the Good Spirit, we are making, or begin to make, choices, great or small, which lead to greater inner joy and deeper peace. However, we need to pay attention to the beginning, middle and end of any decision made in a time of consolation because the Evil Spirit can appear as an “angel of light.” Hence, we stress the need for a Spiritual Director to discuss what is happening within us.

Times for making a Decision


These are not ordinary decisions and choices of daily life. These are decisions at a deeper level, which concern our growing love-relationship with God and our desire to express that love in service to others. How do we choose rightly?

A strong movement and attraction from God which leaves no doubt. Paul on road to Damascus.
Sufficient light and knowledge are received through experience of consolation and desolation. Pay attention to those inner movements.

A tranquil weighing of pros and cons in prayer until one is drawn to a certain conclusion.

When the decision is difficult, Ignatius gives us three suggestions.
What would you advise another person?
On your death bed, what decision would you have wanted to have made?
Imagine yourself talking to Christ after death: What choice would give you joy in presenting it to Christ?

Never make a decision in desolation.

Adapted by Fr. Ken Hughes, S.J.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sp. Exx.: Christ the King and his Call

(These are to be done in two separate prayer periods. Ask for the same grace each time. Finish with a colloquy with God, Mary and Jesus.)

Grace: I ask our Lord that I might be able to hear his call and that I might be ready and willing to do what he wants.

Setting 1: I imagine a human leader, selected and raised up by God our Lord himself. Every woman, man and child of goodwill is drawn to listen to such a leader and is inspired to follow his call.

His address to all rings out in words like these: “I want to overcome all diseases, poverty, ignorance, oppression and slavery – in short, all the enemies of the human race. Whoever wishes to join me in this undertaking must be content with the same food, drink, clothing, and so on, as mine. So, too, she must work with me by day and watch with me by night, that as she has had a share in the toil with me, she may share in the victory with me.” If a leader so attractive and inspiring and so much a man of God makes such a call, what kind of person could refuse such an invitation? How could anyone not want to be a part of so challenging and noble an adventure?

Setting 2: I consider Jesus, our Lord, and his call. If a human leader can have such an appeal to us, how much greater is the attraction of Jesus Christ, our leader and king? His call goes out to all people, yet he specially calls each person in a particular way. He makes the appeal: “It is my will to win over the whole world, to conquer sin, hatred and death – all enemies between people and God. Whoever wishes to join me in this mission must be willing to labor with me, so that by following me in suffering, he may follow me in glory.”

Persons who are of great heart and are set on fire with zeal to follow Christ will not only offer themselves entirely for such a mission, but will act against anything that would make their responses less total. They would want to express themselves in some words such as these:

“Eternal Lord and King of all creation, humbly I come before you. Knowing the support of Mary, your mother, and all your saints, I am moved by your grace to offer myself to you and your work. I deeply desire to be with you in accepting all wrongs and all abuse and poverty, both actual and spiritual – and I deliberately choose this, if it is for your greater service and praise. If you, my Lord and King, would so call me and choose me, then take and receive me into such a way of life.

(Spiritual Exercises #91-98 translation: David Fleming, SJ)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pope Benedict Recommends Spiritual Direction for All

from Zenit.org on 9/16/2009

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 16, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Everyone -- priests, religious, laypeople -- and especially youth, should have a spiritual director to help them in the Christian life, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today when he reflected on Symeon the New Theologian during the general audience held in Paul VI Hall.

The Holy Father mentioned how important spiritual direction was in the life of the 11th century monk, and affirmed that the invitation to seek guidance in the spiritual life "continues to be valid for all."

The Bishop of Rome encouraged especially young people, but also priests, consecrated persons and laypeople"to take recourse to the counsels of a good spiritual father."

He mentioned that a spiritual guide should help to grow in knowledge of oneself and lead a person "to union with the Lord, so that one's life is increasingly conformed to the Gospel."

"We always need a guide, dialogue, to go to the Lord," Benedict XVI affirmed. "We cannot do it with our reflections alone. And this is also the meaning of the ecclesiality of our faith, of finding this guide."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2009

September 20, 2009

Once again, the words of Jesus are hastily glossed over by the Twelve in his second Passion prediction. Instead they argue about who is the greatest among them –presumably wondering who might be a worthy successor to him. Jesus turns their understanding upside-down for he gives them a new style of leadership that is based on giving up one’s ambition, self-interest, and influence so they can serve the most vulnerable in society. Life won’t be easy; they have to do the grunge work in order to receive their reward in eternal life.

The first reading tells us that many actively work for us to fail and they test God to see if God will be faithful to the righteous who try to live in his ways. The second reading reveals the failings of those who do not walk in the path of righteousness but are guided by self-interest and jealousy. In the Gospel, a child – in essence, one who needs the greatest care from others – becomes the pulled from the margins of society into the center. While we uphold these readings are virtuous and noble, we often still seek our own glory and sense of importance. It just seems natural for us to do. We want to achieve meaningful things and do good works and yet for every person we reach, another is excluded by our choices.

How can we free ourselves from our own need for achievement and preservation so we can become more kingdom-centered people? It may mean a life of hardship where we always place our very selves (our egos, desires, and needs) into radical risk and vulnerability. We become like the child who has to depend upon others. I sense that when we free ourselves to love the world in the way that Jesus loves us, we will have a more complete level of intimacy with him that will make sense of everything else and all will be well – not quite what we wanted – but entirely sufficient. We, and those we have helped, will become the blessed ones.

Quote for the Week

When we teach our children to be good, to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous, to love others, to regard this present age as nothing, we instill virtue in their souls, and reveal the image of God within them. This, then, is our task: to educate both ourselves and our children in godliness; otherwise what answer will we have before Christ’s judgment seat?

John Chrysostom

Themes for this Week’s Masses

In the first readings we return to the Old Testament to learn of the return of the Jews from exile at a time when they can begin to rebuild the Temple. In dedicating the Temple, they re-establish the cultic role of the priests and Levites in the service of God in Jerusalem. In God’s mercy, new life has been given to restore the house of God. God in the temple will become the glory of the people and the center of their lives.

In Luke, we hear his account of the calling of the Twelve with instructions for mission. Herod becomes perplexed about all that was happening and is intrigued with the person of Jesus. Jesus quickens the curiosity the disciples have of him by asking them personally, “Who do you say I am?” and then he instructs them about his fate for being obedient to God’s mission for him. Suffering is an essential part of his work.

Saints of the Week

Monday is the feast of Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. Noted for his Gospel that appears first in the New Testament canon, Matthew relies heavily upon Mark’s Gospel for details. We know little about the Apostle or the Evangelist, but Matthew appears in his Gospel as a tax collector, while in Mark and Luke, he is called Levi. In imagery, Matthew’s Gospel is represented by a man because of the genealogy that appears at the beginning.

Wednesday is the memorial of Padre Pio, the Capuchin Franciscan Friar from the village of Pietrelcina who is noted for receiving the stigmata while praying before a cross, much in the same way that Francis of Assisi received the wounds. Because of his piety, the prayer groups he founded continued to flourish. He founded a hospital, was a spiritual advisor, confessor and intercessor.

Saturday is the day we honor Cosmas and Damian, twins who were martyred under Diocletius. They were doctors who practiced without charging for services. Many cures are attributed to their intercession, most notably Emperor Justinian.

This Week in Jesuit History

§ Sep 20, 1990. The first-ever Congregation of Provincials met at Loyola, Spain on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the approval of the Society and 500th anniversary of the birth of St Ignatius.
§ Sep 21, 1557. At Salamanca, Melchior Cano wrote to Charles V's confessor accusing the Jesuits of being heretics in disguise.
§ Sep 22, 1774. The death of Pope Clement XIV, worn out with suffering and grief because of the suppression of the Society. False stories circulated that he was poisoned by the Jesuits.
§ Sep 23, 1869. Woodstock College of the Sacred Heart opened. With 17 priests, 44 scholastics, and 16 brothers it was the largest Jesuit community in the United States at the time. § Sep 24, 1566. The first Jesuits entered the continental United States at Florida. Pedro Martinez and others, while attempting to land, were driven back by the natives, and forced to make for the island of Tatacuran. He was killed there three weeks later.
§ Sep 25, 1617. The death of Francisco Suarez. He wrote 24 volumes on philosophy and theology. As a novice he was found to be very dull, but one of his directors suggested that he ask our Lady's help. He subsequently became a person of prodigious talent.
§ Sep 26, 1605. At Rome, Pope Paul V orally declared St Aloysius to be one of the "Blessed."
Prayers

Wish me luck this weekend as I climb Mount Katahdin in northern Maine. Katahdin is a Penobscot Indian word for “the greatest mountain” and is the tallest mountain in Maine at 5268 feet. It is a terminus on the great Appalachian Trail.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sp. Exx.: The Discernment of Spirits for The First Week

In the Principle and Foundation, we see that we and all creatures belong to God. All is gift and all is goodness in itself. Our primary response to God is thanksgiving, praise and a desire to serve God in others. We can also see that because of inner unfreedom, we can use God’s gifts selfishly. Our goal is to grow in inner freedom so as to choose to be more loving people.

Sin: In some of our prayers, we see sin, the movement toward selfishness and away from God. Sin is ancient (Adam and Eve) and pervasive (read the newspapers). We all share in sin and we will always be enticed by the evil spirits to sin. But we also see more deeply that God continues to love us, that we are loved sinners. That is a foundational grace for Ignatius: I am a sinner loved by God.

Love and sin indicate the presence of the Good Spirit and the Evil Spirit struggling for our souls. How do we know which one is acting on us?

1. If a sinner moves to more sin, the Evil Spirit gives pleasure, but the Good Spirit stings the conscience with remorse.

2. If a good person move to being better, the Evil Spirit causes gnawing anxieties, sadness, and sets up obstacles, while the Good Spirit stirs up courage, consolation, tears, inspiration and tranquility.

Consolation:

a. moves to being inflamed with love of God.
b. moves to tears out of love for God or grief for sin.
c. moves to every increase of faith, hope, love and every interior joy.

Desolation:

a. moves to darkness and disturbance of soul.
b. moves to the low and earthly.
c. moves to anxiety arising from various agitations and temptations,
d. moves to a lack of faith, hope and love.


Joy is not the same as consolation:

Patriots’ Super Bowl victory (joy) vs. dreaming about this Lenten prayer (consolation)
Depression (or sadness and grief) is not the same as desolation, but it can feed it.
A rainy day can be depressing

Examples:
After his conversion, Ignatius was attached by scruples. (desolation)
A woman seeing a ray of light at the burial of her mother and feeling overwhelming consolation.
An experience when I have felt both miserable and greatly consoled.
Consolation in giving, doing and sacrificing?
Desolation after wasting time on computer games, TV, etc.

Adapted by Fr. Ken Hughes, S.J.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Saint: Robert Bellarmine, S.J.

Robert Bellarmine is a theologian, bishop and Doctor of the Church. He entered the Jesuits in 1560 and did his ecclesiastical studies in Rome, Padua, and Louvain. As professor of the University of Louvain, he became the professor of Controversial Theology and garnered much respect from Protestants as he carefully and systematically defending the Catholic faith in a rational manner. This was a time in which the Reformation doctrines of Luther and Calvin were quickly spreading throughout Europe. He civilly taught his classes to answer the objections the Reformers brought against the Church.

In 1577 he was transferred to Rome where he again taught theology, which became the basis for his book Disputations on the Controversies of the Christian Faith against the Heretics of this Age. He also helped to revise the Latin Bible, prepared two catechisms, directed the Roman College, supervised the Vatican library, and acted as the Pope’s theologian.

He was appointed Cardinal (1599) and Archbishop of Capua (1602). Pope Pius XI declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1931.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sp. Exx.: The Two Standards (Banners)

Ignatius uses medieval military imagery in this meditation in which we see two people and two banners: Jesus and Lucifer (lightbearer – because he disguises his dark schemes under light). Two huge armies. Two voices and two messages: Lucifer – wealth and renown, which leads to pride. Jesus – spiritual poverty (perhaps actual poverty), contempt or humiliation, which leads to humility. (Don’t let the language get in the way)

Ignatius wants us to see three important truths:

a. We are in a life and death struggle between light and darkness, good and evil.
b. The resources of Lucifer are huge.
c. The strategies of the evil spirit are very clever

The evil spirit seduces us in small ways. We cannot eradicate evil. The weeds will always grow along with the wheat. The temptation of money and reputation is always lurking (money and reputation are neutral, but the evil spirit uses them to entice us to see ourselves as better than others.) We can build our self-worth and esteem on having more or being more than someone else. Most of us are tempted to be more self-sufficient, independent and to see ourselves as better than others. That is pride, which separates us from our true-self, from our neighbors and from God.

The way of Jesus is spiritual poverty (detachment from possessions), even actual poverty (if God asks us), and humiliation (being laughed at for not seeking more privileges and material things), which lead to humility. Humility means seeing and accepting myself as beloved of God and with dignity. The two standards can look like this:

Lucifer: Riches – what is possessed defines me
Jesus: Poverty – Freedom from possessions

Lucifer: Renown, Honor – approval of others defines me.
Jesus: Humiliation – freedom from validation of others.

Lucifer: Pride – self-sufficiency
Jesus: Humility – freedom from independence (separate) or supremacy (above)

To follow Jesus more closely means entering into conflict with Lucifer for two principal reasons: 1.) Lucifer is afraid of the power of good which you have, and 2.) you are joining Jesus’ mission to encourage all people to turn to one another in compassion and love. Humility is foundational for compassion as it acknowledges our need for one another. The mission is cosmic.


The Two Standards Meditations

Consider how Christ calls and wants all under his standard; Lucifer, on the contrary, under his.

A composition, seeing the place. It will be here to see a great field of all that region of Jerusalem, where the supreme Commander-in-chief of the good is Christ our Lord; another field in the region of Babylon, where the chief of the enemy is Lucifer.

Ask for what I want: and it will be here to ask for knowledge of the deceits of the bad chief and help to guard myself against them, and for knowledge of the true life which the supreme and true Captain shows and grace to imitate Him.

Imagine the chief of all the enemy seated himself in that great field of Babylon, as in a great chair of fire and smoke, in shape horrible and terrifying. Consider how he summons innumerable demons and how he scatters them, some to one city and others to another, and so through all the world, not omitting any provinces, places, states, nor any persons in particular.

Consider the discourse which he makes them, and how he tells them to cast out nets and chains; that they have first to tempt with a longing for riches -- as he is accustomed to do in most cases -- that men may more easily come to vain honor of the world, and then to vast pride. So that the first step shall be that of riches; the second, that of honor; the third, that of pride; and from these three steps he draws on to all the other vices.

So, on the contrary, one has to imagine as to the supreme and true captain, who is Christ our Lord.

Consider how Christ our Lord puts himself in a great field of that region of Jerusalem, in lowly place, beautiful and attractive. Consider how the Lord of the entire world chooses so many persons -- apostles, disciples -- and sends them spreading his sacred doctrine through all states and conditions of persons.

Consider the discourse which Christ our Lord makes to all his servants and friends whom he sends on this expedition, recommending them to want to help all, by bringing them first to the highest spiritual poverty, and -- if his Divine Majesty would be served and would want to choose them -- no less to actual poverty; the second is to be of contumely and contempt; because from these two things humility follows. So that there are to be three steps; the first, poverty against riches; the second, contumely or contempt against worldly honor; the third, humility against pride. And from these three steps let them induce to all the other virtues.

Adapted by Fr. Ken Hughes, S.J.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Poem: In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver

“To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

Against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”

Monday, September 14, 2009

Song: Do you realize?

Do You Realize - that you have the most beautiful face?
Do You Realize - we're floating in space?
Do You Realize - that happiness makes you cry?
Do You Realize - that everyone you know someday will die?

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes,
let them know you realize that life goes fast.
It's hard to make the good things last.
You realize the sun don't go down.
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

The Flaming Lips

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Poem: Leaf by Leaf by Leaf (Unknown Poet)

Leaf by leaf by leaf
They tumble and fall
All my haggard hurts.

Like a cottonwood tree
Ever so slowly letting go,
So the heartache of my heart.

There goes a bit of sadness,
Now a leaf of anger flies;
Then it’s the dropping of self-pity.

The leaf of unforgiveness
Takes forever to fall,
Almost as long as non-trusting.

Leaf by leaf by leaf
They fall from my heart
Like a tree in its own time.

Old wounds don’t heal quickly,
They drop in despairing slowness,
Never looking at the clock.

It seems a forever process,
This healing of the hurt,
And I am none too patient.

But a quiet day finally comes
When the old tree with no leave,
is decidedly ready for the new.

And in my waiting heart,
The Branches with no leaves
Have just a hint of green.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

September 13, 2009

My heart is attuned to the effect of meaningful hearing that occurs in the readings this week. Isaiah’s passage begins with “The Lord God opens my ear that I may hear.” The Psalmist sings out “I love the Lord because he has heard my voice in supplication, because he has inclined his ear to me the day I called.” The reading from James reminds us that once we compassionately hear the voice of our neighbor, we are called to act with kindness and mercy.

Even Jesus, in Mark’s Gospel, shows that he listens deeply to his disciples and uses it as a way of leading them to deeper insights. However, once Peter confesses Jesus to be the Christ, he fails to listen to the deep significance of that which Jesus is telling him. Jesus wants his disciples to share in his understanding of God’s mission for him, but Peter just does not listen well. Imagine the bond the two would have felt if Peter was able to convey that he understood what Jesus was trying to tell him. Instead, Jesus reacts angrily because Peter discounted his words.

The barebones message of Jesus is that we may be asked to take up the cross because we are his followers just as he is destined to pick up his cross. He is telling us so that we will not be afraid when it is our time to choose him. He wants us to fully understand the consequences of discipleship because they are nothing in light of the rewards. We will have to deny ourselves in our pursuit of placing Christ at the center of our lives – a choice we make out of love for Christ rather than merely for an ascetical spirituality. We can do this when we have a healthy sense of self and a wise knowledge of Christ’s love for us.

These are difficult words to really hear, but they are the words that prove our faith. As James tells us, “demonstrate your faith to me with works.” Listen to Christ’s words today. How does your heart respond?

Quote for the Week

The Stabat Mater is a Medieval hymn that reflects upon the sorrow of Mary as she watches her son die on the Cross. The hymn is sung during the Sequence prior to the proclamation of the Gospel during Mass on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The first four stanzas are shown below.

At the Cross her station keeping,stood the mournful Mother weeping,close to Jesus to the last.
Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,all His bitter anguish bearing,now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressedwas that Mother, highly blest,of the sole-begotten One.
Christ above in torment hangs,she beneath beholds the pangsof her dying glorious Son.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

Paul’s letter to Timothy contains instructions about the characteristics that are to exist in bishops and deacons for they are to serve well to advance the kingdom of God. The people likewise are to respect authority and to resist greed. Everyone is to pay attention to sacred scripture so that one’s conscience can be formed well – for the Word of God is truth that leads to life. A Christian is to seek righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.

As Luke continues from his Beatitudes, he likens this generation to a fickle people that are never satisfied, but the physician-author shows a woman who depicts behavior worthy of the kingdom of heaven. This sinful woman shows her great care for Jesus by anointing his feet with alabaster oil and drying it with her hair. Jesus is moved beyond words and finally tells his hosts that her behavior proves her worth as a daughter of God. Jesus then moves onto another town to proclaim the good news and he spends time with the Twelve and with women who had been healed. He begins to tell parables about the nature of the kingdom of heaven likening it to seed that falls on fertile ground.

Saints of the Week

Monday is the celebration of The Triumph of the Holy Cross, which commemorates the find of the true cross by Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was dedicated in Jerusalem. Constantine is responsible for making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal 6: 14)

Our Lady of Sorrows, remembered on Tuesday, follows the Triumph of the Cross to symbolically remind us that suffering and Christ’s victory are linked together. Mary’s suffering is told in seven ways: Simeon’s prophecy, the flight into Egypt, losing the boy Jesus in the Temple, Calvary, the crucifixion, the deposition, and the entombment.

Wednesday is the memorial of Cornelius (d. 253), Pope, and Cyprian (d. 258), bishop. Both served during the Decian persecution. Novatian, a charismatic priest, tried to usurp Cornelius’ position as the Bishop of Rome, but the powerful Cyprian came to his defense. Cyprian served in the important see of Carthage where he wrote on church unity, the role of bishops, and the importance of the sacraments. He was killed during the Valerian persecution.

Thursday is Robert Bellarmine, S.J. day – a famous theologian, Jesuit priest, bishop and doctor of the church. He wrote his famous Disputations to combat heresies in the 17th century. He assisted in revising the Latin bible, is the patron saint of cathechists, was the director of the Roman College and the Vatican Library and was made Cardinal. It is rare for a Jesuit to be named bishop or Cardinal.

Saturday is the day in which Januarius is remembered. As bishop of Benevento, he was martyred during the Diocletian persecution, but his blood was captured and saved into a flask and stored in the cathedral in Naples, Italy. Several times a year, it is reported that his blood liquefies and bubbles in the vial.

This Week in Jesuit History

· Sep 13, 1773. Frederick II of Prussia informed the pope that the Jesuits would not be suppressed in Prussia and invited Jesuits to come.
· Sep 14, 1596. The death of Cardinal Francis Toledo, the first of the Society to be raised to the purple hat. He died at age 63, a cardinal for three years.
· Sep 15, 1927. Thirty-seven Jesuits arrived in Hot Springs, North Carolina, to begin tertianship. The property was given to the Jesuits by the widow of the son of President Andrew Johnson.
· Sep 16, 1883. The twenty-third General Congregation opened at Rome in the Palazzo Borromeo (via del Seminario). It elected Fr Anthony Anderledy Vicar General with the right of succession.
· Sep 17, 1621. The death of St Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor of the Church.
· Sep 18, 1540. At Rome, Pedro Ribadeneira, aged fourteen, was admitted into the Society by St Ignatius (nine days before official papal confirmation of the Society).
· Sep 19, 1715. At Quebec, the death of Fr Louis Andre, who for 45 years labored in the missions of Canada amid incredible hardships, often living on acorns, a kind of moss, and the rind of fruits.

Prayers

Let us take some time this week to remember all those who are sick and in need of healing. Many need our prayers. Please add your prayers to the comment line on the blog so that our friends in our online community may pray with you.

Let us also remember all students who return to school and their teachers and professors who try their best to reach deep into the lives of students. May all of us gain more knowledge and wisdom about the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Poem: Experience by Gene Gendlin

Experience is a myriad richness.
We think more than we can say.
We feel more than we can think.
We live more than we can feel...
...and there is still much more.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Prayer: Prayer for September 11th

Loving God,

Today is a sobering reminder of the violence in this world. We remember our brothers and sisters who died in the tragedy of the September 11th attacks. Our national consciousness is forever changed. The memories are painful and our wounds that may never heal will be a reminder of all the suffering that exists among people of every nation.

Help us to be aware of the ways you build up your kingdom on this earth. Help us to live for your truth, firm in the hope of your salvation. May we live for you in imitation of your Son, so that we may be an example to our friends and family, and the family of nations.

May we find deeper meaning in our suffering, for we know that your death makes sense of all our suffering. We need courage in our times of trial and tribulation. May your Spirit console us and strengthen us so that we may point others to you who are our true hope.

Shape us to become better people and to make the world a better place because of our experience of this tragic event. Thank you for the lives of our national heroes. May we learn from their courage and valor. But mostly, I want my life to be worthy of you so that you may use my gifts and talents for what you most desire.

Remind us that the darkness of our suffering will cause us to do more good works on this Earth so that we can help others see your light in the darkness. Increase our belief in you. May we help engineer a peace in this world that is lasting. May we create a world that knows no more war, hatred, violence, or inequitable distribution of our finite world’s resources. May we learn to love our brothers and sisters in a manner like you love them.

Amen.

Poem: Das Stundenbuch by Rainer Maria Rilke

You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.
So many live on and want nothing
and are raised to the rank of praince
by the slippery ese of their light judgments.
But what you love to see are faces
that do work and fell thirst.
You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.
You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Memorial of Peter Claver, S.J.

Jesuits celebrate the memorial of St. Peter Claver, S.J.(1581-1654) on September 9th. Claver left his native Spain forever in 1610 to be a missionary in the colonies of the New World. He first ministered in Cartagena, Colombia and was ordained there in 1615.

The slave trade had been established in the Americas fornearly 100 years, and Cartagena was a chief center for it. Ten thousand slaves poured into the port each year from West Africa under conditions so foul and inhuman that an estimated one-third of the passengers died in transit. Although slave-trading was condemned by Pope Paul III, it continued to flourish.

As soon as a slave ship entered the port, Peter Claver ministered to the ill-treated men and women by providing them with medicine, food, bread, brandy, lemon and tobacco. Slaves were often herded in nearby yards like chained animals to be gazed at by the crowds. With the help of interpreters he gave basic Christian instruction and assured his brothers and sisters of their human dignity and God's saving love. During his 40 years ofministry, Claver baptized over 300,000 slaves.

Claver became a moral force in Cartagena. He preached in the city square, gave missions to sailors and traders. When he gave missions to the planters and property owners in the country, he lodged in the slave quarters.

He died on September 8th 1654 after a lengthy illness from his tireless work. The city magistrates, who had previously frowned at his solicitude for the African-born outcasts, ordered that he should be buried at public expense and with great pomp. He was canonized in 1888,and Pope Leo XIII declared him the worldwide patron of missionary work among black slaves.

Peter Claver often said, "We must speak to them with our hands before we try to speak to them with our lips."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sp. Exx.: Colloquy with Jesus on the Cross

St. Ignatius realized that we cannot talk about God’s abundant mercy and unconditional love for us without having us sit or stand or kneel before Jesus on the cross. This is the love that transcends all sin. “What greater love does one have than to lay down his life for his friends?” In the presence of such love, in the presence of Jesus on the cross, we talk with him as a friend talks to a friend.

Paragraphs 53 and 54 from the Spiritual Exercises

Imagine Christ our Lord suspended on the cross before you, and converse with him in a colloquy: How is it that he, although he is the Creator, has come to make himself a human being? How is it that he has passed from eternal life to death here in time, and to die in this way for my sins?

In a similar way, reflect on yourself and ask:

What have I done for Christ?

What am I doing for Christ?

What ought I to do for Christ?

In this way, too, gazing on him in so pitiful a state as he hangs on the cross, speak out whatever comes to your mind

A Colloquy is made, properly speaking, in the way one friend speaks to another, or a servant to one in authority – now begging for a favor, now accusing oneself of some misdeed, now telling one’s concerns and asking counsel about them. Close with an Our Father.


Turn the questions around if that helps:

What has Christ done for me?
What is Christ doing for me?
What ought Christ to do for me?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time 2009

September 6, 2009

Labor Day is upon us and the new academic year begins in earnest once again. The fresh faces, whether of schoolchildren or hardworking adults returning with vigor to their jobs, bring excitement and renewed energy to our lives. The fullness of summer is behind us and we have good work to do. We settle into the ordinariness of life with a keen attitude of hope in new beginnings.

We see that most clearly in Mark’s Gospel passage when Jesus heals a man with a hearing and speech impediment. We marvel at the new beginning for this man who can now take in the audible world and can speak of the goodness that he has encountered. I can only imagine the amazing stories he has to tell.

Notice that Jesus takes the impeded man away from the crowd for a brief moment together before the healing. So many voices assault our sensibilities and Jesus wants this man to hear clearly his own voice first. This is a remarkable display of compassion for it is Jesus’ voice that matters most to him. We have to likewise get to know the sound of Jesus’ voice so we can tune out those many voices that compete for our attention. By caring for this man in a most personal way, Jesus is able to pray that the man be opened (Ephphatha) to God’s power and benevolence.

We need that very openness if we are to understand the meaning of James’ letter that tells us that God has no partiality. James’ words are difficult to hear because he reminds us that our nature is to favor the wealthy and influential; it is just customary for us to do. We favor those we like or are like us and we judge those who are different from us and we seldom realize that we make natural judgments that James labels as “evil designs.” No one likes to be imputed with dark motives. When we read the Gospel in light of James’ letter, we see that we need to be opened to God’s view of the world in order to adjust our human tendencies that often hurt another or place someone on the outside of our inner circle. No, we are not evil, but we could stand to become more aware of the ways or choices affect others.

Think of the ways this week that you would like Jesus to pull you aside and give you the same cura personalis (good individual pastoral care) that he gave the man with the hearing and speech impediment. Consider the ways that Jesus would like you to be opened to God’s possibilities for you in relation to your neighbors. Let the words from Isaiah’s first reading stick in your consciousness: “Be strong. Fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.”

Quote for the Week

Since Mary is celebrated twice in the liturgical calendar this week, it seems fitting to remember one of the most famous prayers to her – her Memorare.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your intercession, was left unaided.

Inspired with this confidence, I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

Paul suffers greatly for the people of Colossae so that they may be encouraged and brought to love in Christ and he exhorts them to seek those things that are from above. The test of the love of Christ that binds them together is how well they show their unity amidst their differences. As one Body in Christ, they are to practice moral perfection to show their gratitude for the magnificent gift of God to them – the faithfulness of Jesus that brought about their redemption and calls them to become a new community.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus cures the man with the withered hand on a Sabbath day and he raises his eyes to God and declares the Beatitudes, which also contains “woes” to those who do not follow the way of righteousness. His Sermon on the Mount contains the golden rule and teachings on forgiveness. The people are to mirror the ways of Jesus whose good works testify to the power of God present within him.

Saints of the Week

Monday is Labor Day, the unofficial beginning of a new academic year and the end of summer. It is celebrated on May 1st in most of the world as International Workers’ Day. It is still a day to remember the economic and social achievements of workers and it founding date coincides with the advent of the eight-hour work day.

Tuesday is the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, as you would expect, nine months after the Immaculate Conception on December 8th. In the readings from Matthew’s genealogy, Mary’s holiness and purity is upheld as the virtues that lead to her vocation as mother of Jesus and Mother of God.

Wednesday is the memorial of Peter Claver, S.J., a Spanish-born Jesuit who volunteered for the missions in the New World where he worked among the newly arrive African slaves in Cartagena, Columbia. Because of his incredibly humane treatment of the slaves, the townspeople raised funds to give him a proper burial though most of his religious brothers shunned him because of his work with the most neglected in their society.

Saturday is the day in which Mary received her name a few days after her birth. The Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary was probably taken from the Egyptian name ‘mry,’ which means beloved.

This Week in Jesuit History

· Sep 6, 1666. The Great Fire of London broke out on this date with the Jesuits and the Papists receiving the blame. King Charles II banished all Catholic priests from England.
· Sep 7, 1773. King Louis XV wrote to Clement XIV expressing his heartfelt joy at the suppression of the Society.
· Sep 8, 1600. Fr. Matteo Ricci set out on his journey to Peking experiencing enormous difficulties in reaching the royal city, getting stopped on his way by one of the powerful mandarins.
· Sep 9, 1773. At Lisbon, Carvalho, acting in the king's name, ordered public prayers for the deliverance of the world from the "pestilence of Jesuitism."
· Sep 10, 1622. Charles Spinola and his companions were martyred at Nagasaki, Japan.
· Sep 11, 1681. At Antwerp, Fr. Geoffry Henschen, a man of extraordinary learning, died. He was Fr. Jan von Bolland's assistant in compiling the Acts of the Saints.
· Sep 12, 1744. Benedict XIV's second Bull, Omnium Sollicitudinum, forbade the Chinese Rites, ushering in a period of persecution in China.

Book Recommendations

Left to Tell: Discovering God amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza with Steve Irwin is an autobiographical story about survival during the 1994 Rwandan massacres. Immaculee tells of her struggle as a University student who watched her friends and neighbors get caught up in evil and hatred of their ethnic rivals. She is a Tutsi, whose party was the ruling elite, that was being exterminated by the Hutus, the overwhelming majority of the people. Despite the incredible thirst for blood and unbridled hatred, Immaculee trusted in God and was able to forgive those who took the lives of her countrymen, family and friends – all for a cultural distinction imposed upon them by the Belgian colonizers. This book is disturbing because we see both the human potential for good and evil.

Prayers

Happy Labor Day to you all. May it be a day of rest and relaxation in honor of the good work that you do throughout the year. Also, let us remember and pray for the victims and their families of the September 11th attacks on the U.S. eight years ago. Let us pray for a lasting peace that maintains harmony and good will throughout the world.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Prayer: Jesuit Constitutions

The contemporary mission of the Society of Jesus
is the service of faith and the promotion in society
of that justice of the Gospel that is the embodiment
of God's love and saving mercy.

General Congregation #34, decree 2, number 3


We should recall that mediocrity has no place in Ignatius'
world view; he demads leaders in service to others in
building the Kingdom of God in the market place of
business and ideas, of service, of law and justice,
of economics, theology and all areas of human life.
He urges us to work for the greater glory of God
because the world desperately needs men and
women of competence and conscience who generously
give of themselves for others.

Peter-Hans Kolvenback, S.J., former Superior General

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Poem: The Avowal by Denise Levertov

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit's deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

Song: Amazing Grace by Il Divo

Il Divo performed "Amazing Grace" in the beautiful arena in Pula, Croatia.

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1785324681?bclid=1338935106&bctid=1913313052

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Prayer: A Prayer by Thomas Merton

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.