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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spirituality: General Congregation #35 highlights

Fr. Adolfo Nicholas, S.J. was elected 30th Superior General of the Society of Jesus at the 35th General Congregation in the winter of 2008 succeeding Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. who served as leader of the Jesuits for 25 years.

Jesuit delegates and provincials from across the globe gathered to discuss timely issues for Jesuit governance. The list of decrees appears below. Go to: www.sjweb.info/35/documents/Decrees.pdf for a detailed description of the decrees.

Decree 1: “With Renewed Vigor and Zeal” – The Society of Jesus responds to the invitation of the Holy Father.

Decree 2: “A Fire That Kindles All Others” – Rediscovering our Charism.

Decree 3: “Sent to the Frontiers” – Challenges to our Mission Today.

Decree 4: Obedience in the Life of the Society of Jesus.

Decree 5: Governance at the Service of the Universal Mission.

Decree 6: Collaboration at the Heart of Mission.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Song: The Lord's Prayer by Andrea Bocelli

Click on the link below to listen to a rendition of the Lord's Prayer sung by Andrea Bocelli with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Andrea Bocelli's "The Lord's Prayer"

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

January 31, 2010

People who I find truly interesting are those who build up one another and seek out creative opportunities in life. They re-imagine the potential of the world because they find greater amounts of good in it instead of obstacles. In Luke’s Gospel today, Jesus encounters in his hometown those who seek only superficial curiosities in the marvels he has done. They want to see a flash of the extraordinary regardless of whether it comes from the power of God. This is not enough for Jesus who is telling them that faith is required for miracles and that they are not exhibiting the depth of faith to bring it about. He gives an example of two Old Testament figures whose faith was a significant dimension for healing – foreigners and those excluded from mainstream society. Their desperate hope in their faith would bring about conditions for real belief.

Paul, to me, is one of the richest personalities of our faith precisely because of his tenacity to create communities centered on the faith that Jesus is the Lord of all. In First Corinthians, he speaks in a mature way of the necessity of love as a difference-maker in life. He describes the qualities of love that make a believer noticeably different from others – for we are a people once known for our mercy. Paul sifts out the essential ingredients of a maturing faith-filled person and is left with faith, hope and love as the common denominators. Above all of the possible spiritual gifts we desire is to be the pursuit of the type of charity about which Paul writes; these theological virtues are to be that which we seek most fully in prayer.

Unfortunately, the people of Jesus’ hometown – those who you might expect would know him and love him best, are unable to build him up or to love him well. In the end, we hear that they rose against him and sought to kill him – his own townspeople! It does not seem like it took all that much to unleash their hatred and fury. We have to learn how to love better. We have to learn how to speak with greater charity. We have a great model to follow for when God speaks, God creates, therefore, when we speak, we ought to build up the goodness in the world. When we do, we show the faith that Jesus desires; we show to the world the type of love that Paul tells us reveals the depths of our faith. I know that my faith, hope and love still must become deeper.

Quote for the Week

On February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, we bless candles in Church and are available for the faithful to take home. Christ’s light penetrates the darkness. Many times in Scripture, Jesus reaches out to help those in need of healing. As Blaise became known for a miraculous healing, people throughout the ages sought his intercession, especially those afflicted with throat ailments.

This blessing of the throats, which takes place during or after Mass, asks for God's healing and protection. Two blessed candles, joined in the form of a cross and usually tied with a red ribbon, as as sign of the martyrdom of Blaise, are placed around the throat of each person asking a blessing.

The minister then prays, "Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: David sees that his people switched their allegiance to his estranged son, Absalom, who seeks to kill his father. After conducting a military census, David repents and awaits word from the Lord of his punishment. He chooses three days of pestilence upon the land, but cannot bear the destruction of innocent people when he was the one who had sinned. As his hour of death has come, David transfers his kingship to his son Solomon with instructions to be faithful to the laws of Moses. Sirach 47 contains a hymn to the life of the great king. Solomon takes over and makes ritual sacrifices when the Lord tells him in a dream to ask for anything he wants. The humble Solomon asks for an understanding heart to judge the people and to distinguish right from wrong.

: Jesus encounters the Gerasene demoniac and reveals that his words have authority over the spirits, legions of them, in fact. He returns home where words has spread of his great deeds, but his people do not believe that he can do great things because of their lack of faith. Next, he calls the Twelve into ministry and gives instructions of proper conduct for a missionary in his kingdom. Herod learns of Jesus’ fame and wonders about the nature and identity of his power. John the Baptist was beheaded for his opposition to Herod’s marriage. Jesus retires with his apostles, but his heart was moved with pity for their hunger. In response to their seeking him out, he begins to teach them about the kingdom of God.

Saints of the Week

Tuesday: The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple is a crossroads between the two testaments. Mary was ritually unclean after pregnancy for 40 days and had to purify herself by making offerings at the temple. The parents of Jesus met Anna and Simeon who represent that passing of the Old Testament to the New. This day is also called Candlemas because candles were brought forward in procession to be blessed.

Wednesday: Blaise is honored for curing a boy who was choking to death on a fishbone. On this day, we bless throats with candles that have been presented at Candlemas at the Presentation of the Lord. Blaise lived in Armenia and was martyred during persecution in 316. Angsar was a French bishop who led missions to Sweden and Denmark. He is known as the Apostle of the North for his perseverance in bringing the faith back to lands conquered by pagan invaders.

Friday: Agatha, martyr, died during the Decian persecution in 251 for failing to give up her faith after unsuccessfully sending her to a brothel. She is credited for her interceding work at stopping the eruption of Mount Etna.

Saturday: Brother Paul Miki and 25 companions, martyrs, were native Japanese Catholics who were murdered in Nagasaki, Japan by upside-down crucifixions. From 1597 to 1865, Japan closed itself to the rest of the world, but the Catholic remnant survived without ordained priests with only the sacrament of baptism.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jan 31, 1774. Fr General Laurence Ricci, a prisoner in Castel S Angelo, claimed his liberty, since his innocence had been fully vindicated. He received from the Papal Congregation the reply that they would think about it. Pope Clement XIV was said at this time to be mentally afflicted.
• Feb 1, 1549. The first Jesuit missionaries to go to Brazil set sail from Lisbon, Portugal, under Fr Emmanuel de Nobrega.
• Feb 2, 1528. Ignatius arrived in Paris to begin his program of studies at the University of Paris.
• Feb 3, 1571. In Florida, the martyrdom of Fr Louis Quiros and two novices, shot with arrows by an apostate Indian.
• Feb 4, 1617. An imperial edict banished all missionaries from China.
• Feb 5, 1833. The first provincial of Maryland, Fr William McSherry, was appointed.
• Feb 6, 1612. The death of Christopher Clavius, one of the greatest mathematicians and scientists of the Society.


We remember in prayer, Archbishop Laurence Burke, S.J. of Jamaica, a member of the New England province, who died in prayer this past week.


Please note that I will keep my blog updated during my tertianship program, but there might be times when I cannot send out the weekly distribution of email. Check online predmore.blogspot.com for the weekly and daily updates. I will also include news of my tertian program at predmoresj.blogspot.com.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Prayer: Ignatius' Prayer for Generosity

Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,
teach me true generosity.

Teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give without counting the cost,

to fight heedless of wounds,
to labor without seeking rest,

to sacrifice myself without any thought of reward,
save the knowledge that I have done your will. Amen.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Prayer: Anthony de Mello, S.J.

Recall the presence of the Risen Lord with you...
Tell him you  believe he is present here to you...

Reflect on the fact that he loves and accepts you just as you are now....
Take time out to sense his unconditional love for you as he looks at you lovingly and humbly.

Speak to Christ...or just lovingly stay in silence and communicate with him beyond words.

The devotion to the Heart of Christ, so vigorous some years ago, so much on the decline today, would flourish once again if people would understand that it consists essentially in accepting Jesus Christ as love incarnate, as the manifestation of the unconditional love of God for us. Anyone who accepts this is bound to experience fruits beyond all his expectations in his own prayer life and in his apostolate. The great turning point in your life comes not when you realize that you love God but when you realize and fully accept the fact that God loves you unconditionally.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Prayer: Santa Teresa de Jesus

La tierra que no es labrada llevara abrojos y espinas aunque sea fertil; asi es el entendimiento de hombre.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Prayer: Pope Benedict XVI

Living by the truth takes time, effort, and perseverance: It has to begin in our own hearts, in the small daily sacrifices required if we are to be faithful to God's law, in the little acts by which we demonstrate that we love our neighbors, all our neighbors, regardless of race, ethnicity, or language, and by our readiness to work with them to build together on foundations that will endure.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Prayer: I Choose to Breathe the Breath of Christ - Joseph Tetlow, S.J.

I choose to breathe the breath of Christ
that makes all life holy.

I choose to live the flesh of Christ
that outlasts sin’s corrosion and decay.

I choose the blood of Christ
along my veins and in my heart
that dizzies me with joy.

I choose the living waters flowing from his side
to wash and clean my own self and the world itself.

I choose the awful agony of Christ
to charge my senseless sorrows with meaning
and to make my pain pregnant with power.

I choose you, good Jesus, you know.

I choose you, good Lord;
count me among the victories
that you have won in bitter woundedness.

Never number me among those alien to you.

Make me safe from all that seeks to destroy me.

Summon me to come to you.

Stand me solid among angels and saints
chanting yes to all you have done,
exulting in all you mean to do forever and ever.

Then for this time, Father of all,
keep me, from the core of my self,
choosing Christ in the world. Amen.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Recommended Jesuit Readings

1. God and You, William Barry, S.J.
2. Eyes to See, Ears to Hear: An Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality, David Lonsdale
3. Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, Michael G. Harter, SJ, ed.
4. Inner Compass, Margaret Silf
5. Contemplatives in Action: The Jesuit Way, William A. Barry, SJ & Robert G. Doherty, SJ
6. Pedro Arrupe: Essential Writings, Kevin F. Burke, SJ ed.
7. All Saints: Daily Reflection on Saints, Prophets and Witnesses for Our Time, Robert Ellsberg
8. The First Jesuit: St. Ignatius Loyola, Mary Purcell
9. He Leadeth Me, Walter Ciszek, SJ
10. The First Jesuits, John O’Malley, SJ
11. A Pilgrim's Journey: The Autobiography of Ignatius of Loyola, Joseph Tylenda, SJ
12. Bread of Life, Cup of Salvation: Understanding the Mass, John F. Baldovin, SJ
13. A Faith You Can Live With: Understanding the Basics, John O'Donnell, SJ
14. Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action, Thomas Massaro, SJ
15. The Mystery of Faith: An Introduction to Catholicism, Michael J. Himes
16. Who is Jesus? Why Is He Important? An Introduction to the New Testament, Daniel J. Harrington, SJ

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

January 24, 2010

The unimaginable suffering of the people of Haiti has gripped the attentive hearts of the world community. Horrific images of devastation cause many of us to be generous in response to their national calamity, but as charitable as we can be, we feel the confines of our powerlessness. The best some of us can do is to come together to pray and to receive comfort from the word of God. We see this is the first reading when Ezra, the prophet Nehemiah’s scribe, assembles the people as the return from exile to rebuild and repopulate their city. They naturally weep – in mourning and sorrow, but also in joy for the goodness that they see in others because of their own calamity. In times of challenge, we get nourished through hearing our scripture – the reassuring words of God’s care for us.

Paul’s words to the Corinthians are a balm to our ears today. The Body of Christ has many parts and each part contributes wholly to its healthy functioning. Though Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, they are by no means less than any other nation. Our scripture reminds us that when one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and today we are all suffering. For the past several weeks, we have looked at the gifts that have been given to us. Gratefully, many of us have already stepped out of ourselves to use our gifts well in response to Haiti’s crisis. Forget about how insignificant you may feel your contribution may be. It is vitally important for you and for those who are suffering. Your gift in whatever form it takes, because it stems from your compassion, is fully appreciated.

Do note however that before Jesus began to use his gifts for the good of the community he spent time in the desert to pray. It was his time of solace and a place where he needed to chew on the dimensions of the ministry that he was to undertake. We likewise need this time away to help us unpack the nuances of our response to God’s invitations. As we decide how we will use our gifts, let us first take time to pray for the suffering people of Haiti. Let us look for Christ standing in their midst and comforting them as he tells them that he is their real hope and the fulfillment of all their desires.

Quote for the Week

Gerard Manley Hopkins provided a translation of Adoro Te Devote, a medieval hymn written by Thomas Aquinas about the hidden nature of God who reveals himself in the Blessed Sacrament:

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at Thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth Himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: This week we appropriately pause in our schedule to remember Paul’s work as a missionary to the Gentiles. We resume on Wednesday with David’s desire to build a fitting and glorious house for the Lord, but the Lord promises David to make of his house a great nation in which the Lord shall act as a caring father. David shows that even as king he needs parental correction as he acts in a debased way with Bathsheba and treacherously to her husband, Uriah. The prophet Nathan helps David see his sinful actions, but he lets him know that the Lord has forgiven him. However, the child of David and Bathsheba would take ill as punishment. King David weeps.

Gospel: Jesus alarms many people as he begins his ministry in Mark’s Gospel. His brothers and his mother think he is out of his mind, but Jesus sets about to create a new family based on doing the will of God. He begins to teach by use of parables and he explains that in his ministry he will be like a sower of seeds on various soils. The one who truly hears and accepts the word will bear fruit like a seed planted in fertile soil. The kingdom of God is a mystery that he can observe but never know why or how it comes about. After teaching the crowds, Jesus takes a boat to the other side of the lake with his disciples. When a violent squall assaults the boat, Jesus demonstrates power over the natural elements of the earth. He shows he is mighty in both deed and word.

Saints of the Week

Monday: The Conversion of Paul was a momentous event in the life of the church because Paul’s theology, missionary work and pastoral leadership defined Christianity beyond the realm of Jerusalem. He built the foundation of Christianity. Three accounts of his conversion are recorded by the author of the Acts of the Apostles and he speaks of its significance in a few of his letters.

Tuesday: Timothy and Titus, bishops, were Paul’s disciples who were left to build up the churches that Paul founded in the Mediterranean world. Timothy oversaw Ephesus, while Titus looked after Crete. Paul’s pastoral letters to each helped them govern the fledgling communities of faith.

Wednesday: Angela Merici founded the Ursuline order of nuns in the 16th century. Since she was orphaned, Angela devoted her time to educate the poor and to gain beneficence for her efforts, she invoked the intercession of Ursula, the patron of medieval universities.

Thursday: Thomas Aquinas, priest and Doctor, compiled a summary of theology that became the bedrock for catechesis and seminary formation for centuries. Thomas, a Dominican who studied at Benedictine monasteries, wrote many brilliant works on scripture and theology. He also compiled beautiful hymns that are still used today for solemn occasions, like the Pange Lingua, Tantum Ergo, and Adoro Te Devote.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jan 24, 1645. Fr Henry Morse was led as a prisoner from Durham to Newgate, London. On hearing his execution was fixed for February 1, he exclaimed: "Welcome ropes, hurdles, gibbets, knives, butchery of an infamous death! Welcome for the love of Jesus, my Savior."
• Jan 25, 1707. Cardinal Tournon, Apostolic Visitor of the missions in China, forbade the use of the words 'Tien' or 'Xant' for God and ordered the discontinuance by the Christians of the Chinese Rites.
• Jan 26, 1611. The first Jesuit missionaries sailed from Europe for New France (Canada).
• Jan 27, 1870. The Austrian government endeavored to suppress the annual grant of 8,000 florins to the theological faculty of Innsbruck and to drive the Jesuit professors from the university, because of their support of the Papal Syllabus.
• Jan 28, 1853. Fr General John Roothaan, wishing to resign his office, summoned a General Congregation, but died on May 8, before it assembled.
• Jan 29, 1923. Woodstock scholastics kept a fire vigil for several months to prevent the Ku Klux Klan from setting the college on fire.
• Jan 30, 1633. At Avignon, Fr John Pujol, a famous master of novices, died. He ordered one of them to water a dry stick, which miraculously sprouted.

Haiti Relief

As we continue to stand in sorrowful solidarity with the people of Haiti and all who come to support them in their national trauma, we pray and we respond generously in the relief efforts. I direct you to the website of the Jesuit Relief Services at jrsusa@jesuit.org. Thank you in advance for your spiritual and financial aid.


Please note that I will keep my blog updated during my tertianship program, but there might be times when I cannot send out the weekly distribution of email. Check online predmore.blogspot.com for the weekly and daily updates. I will also include news of my tertian program at predmoresj.blogspot.com.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Prayer: Personal Prayer of Pedro Arrupe

Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes,
to discern and test the spirits
that help me read the signs of the times,
to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate them to others.
Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave Ignatius.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Prayer:Teach Me Your Ways by Pedro Arrupe

Teach me your way of looking at people:
as you glanced at Peter after his denial,
as you penetrated the heart of the rich young man
and the hearts of your disciples.

I would like to meet you as you really are,
since your image changes those with whom you
come into contact.

Remember John the Baptist’s first meeting with you?
And the centurion’s feeling of unworthiness?
And the amazement of all those who saw miracles
and other wonders?

How you impressed your disciples,
the rabble in the Garden of Olives,
Pilate and his wife
and the centurion at the foot of the cross. . . .

I would like to hear and be impressed
by your manner of speaking,
listening, for example, to your discourse in the
synagogue in Capharnaum
or the Sermon on the Mount where your audience
felt you “taught as one who has authority.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Prayer: For Justice and Mercy

Jesus, united with the Father
and the Holy Spirit,
give us your compassion for those in prison.
Mend in mercy the broken in mind and memory.
Soften the hard of heart,
the captives of anger.
Free the innocent;
parole the trustworthy.
Awaken the repentance that restores hope.
May prisoner's families
persevere in their love.

heal the victimes of crime.
They live with the scars.
Lift to eternal peace those who die.
Grant victims' families the forgiveness that heals.
Give wisdom to lawmakers and to those who judge.
Instill prudence and patience in those who guard.
Make those in prison ministry
bearers of your light,
for all of us are in need of your mercy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Poem: believe in all that has never yet been spoken by Rainer Maria Rilke

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
Into the open sea.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Spirituality: GC 34 Decree 2 highlights

No service of faith without
• promotion of justice
• entry into cultures
• openness to other religious experiences

No promotion of justice without
• communicating faith
• transforming cultures
• collaboration with other traditions

No enculturation without
• communicating faith with others
• dialogue with other traditions
• commitment to justice

No dialogue without
• sharing faith with others
• evaluating cultures
• concern for justice.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Poem: The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice -
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.

"Mend my life"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do
determine to save
the only life you could save

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

January 17, 2010

Just two weeks ago we saw the three magi offer gifts to the parents of the infant Jesus. I invited you then to consider listing a brief inventory of your spiritual gifts. Which of your gifts came to mind? How often do get to you use them? This week, in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, we are reminded that “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit,” with the all-important clause, “to the common good.” In other words, the special gift you have received is to be shared, and some of you, like Jesus in the Gospel at the wedding in Cana, might need a firm, but gentle nudge from someone who knows you well so that you can be generous with your gift to us.

Think back on how a gift gratefully received binds you relationally to the giver, in this case with the Spirit of God. The giver typically takes delight in seeing the expression of wonder and surprise on the face of the one who receives the gift. It is terrific when the gift suits the person perfectly or even when an unexpected gift bemuses the recipient. Let’s face it. Life is too short not to use our gifts well and to find the fulfillment of our lifelong desires. If you are befuddled about your purpose in life, maybe it is time to devote more energy in prayer with the Spirit of God so that you can open your soul to more fully seek out and trust in the gifts you are to use – for our good. Look again at your spiritual inventory and note those areas that give your energy. That is the place to begin your prayer.

When you find the right career, vocation, or purpose and you know that you are becoming that which you are called to be, news of how you rightly use your gifts will travel fast; it self-advertizes. It will most likely burst forth like Isaiah’s words today when he sings out, “For Zion’s sake, I will not be silent; for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not be quiet.” For God’s sake and ours, use your gifts fully. When you do so, you will allow the Lord to magnify your essence. Then, you will be able to offer yourself in response so fully to the Lord, as in the newness of marriage or in a covenantal commitment just like the couple in Cana, and the Lord will unite himself back to you and will call you, “my delight.” I think we all want to hear those words.

Quote for the Week

A hymn of thanksgiving from the 24 elders in the Book of Revelation to the Lord God Almighty:

“We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty, who are and who were, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath has come, and the time for judging the dead and rewarding your servants, the prophets and the saints and all who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: This week we follow the kings of Israel beginning with Saul who lost favor with the Lord for his disobedience. The Lord favors obedience over sacrifice. Samuel, the prophet, searches for another king and enters Bethlehem to find David, a shepherd son of Jesse, on whom the Lord’s favor rests. Upon entering battle against the Philistines, the youthful David is overmatched against the skilled veteran warrior. Through the use of his slingshot, David takes down the Goliath. The victorious David returns to find a jealous Saul plotting his death. Saul’s son, Jonathan, persuades his father to save David’s life. Months later, Saul seeks David’s death again, but David pays honorably pays him homage and pledges obedience to both Saul and the Lord. Saul, seeing the nobility in David, acknowledges that David will soon be king of Israel. In a battle against the Amalekites, Saul and Jonathan die at enemy hands; David weeps and mourns for the king and his son.

Gospel: Jesus, the anointed one at his baptism, reveals a new way of behaving in accord with the laws of God. Fasting is an important observance, but his disciples are not to fast when they are celebrating the presence of the Lord’s anointed. He declares the laws are made for human freedom and are not to unnecessarily restrict one in desperate times. Jesus challenges Sabbath observance by healing a man with a withered hand; the Pharisees and Herodians begin to plot his death. News of Jesus’ words and deeds spread throughout the whole land and his following greatly increased. Jesus chooses those he wants to be with him and goes up a mountain to pray. There he appoints the Twelve to preach and have authority over demons. When he returns home, the relatives of Jesus want to set him straight because they think he has lost his mind.

Saints of the Week

Wednesday: Little is known about Fabian, pope and martyr, but, as a foreigner, he was elected pope because a dove settled on his head at the time of his election. This reminded the people of the dove from heaven that descended upon Jesus’ head at his baptism and was seen as a position of divine favor. Sebastian, martyr, is a favorite image of artists depicting the early martyrs. He is known for being pierced with many arrows as a sign of his martyrdom. Killed in the year 300, he was buried in the catacombs.

Thursday: Agnes, martyr, a contemporary of Sebastian, was killed when she was 12 or 13. Her death at an early age caught the attention of many people. Her name means lamb in Latin. Her life became a reminder of the sacrifice and innocence of Jesus.

Friday: Vincent, deacon and martyr, a contemporary of Agnes and Sebastian, was killed for his refusal to worship pagan gods and to turn over the sacred books to the Roman authorities. As a deacon in Zarragosa, Spain, he excelled in his preaching and works of charity.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jan 17, 1890. Benedict Sestini died. He was an astronomer, editor, architect, mathematician, and teacher at Woodstock College.
• Jan 18, 1615. The French Jesuits began a mission in Danang, Vietnam.
• Jan 19, 1561. In South Africa, the baptism of the powerful King of Monomotapa, the king's mother, and 300 chiefs by Fr Goncalvo de Silveira.
• Jan 20, 1703. At Paris, the death of Fr Francis de la Chaise, confessor to Louis XIV and a protector of the French Church against the Jansenists.
• Jan 21, 1764. Christophe de Beaumont, Archbishop of Paris, wrote a pastoral defending the Jesuits against the attacks of Parliament. It was ordered to be burned by the public executioner.
• Jan 22, 1561. Pius IV abrogated the decree of Paul II and kept the life term of Father General.
• Jan 23, 1789. John Carroll gained the deed of land for the site that was to become Georgetown University.

Return to Ordinary Time

Our return to Ordinary Time allows us to observe the life, teaching, and ministry of Jesus. The color green returns to our worship spaces and vestments as the sign for hope and life. Ordinary time does not mean common, routine everyday happenings, but they are a sequential marking (ordinal numbers) of Jesus’ life in our daily world.


Jesus and Prayer: What the New Testament Teaches us by Dan Harrington, SJ allows us to examine the prayers about Jesus as well as the prayers Jesus may have prayed. Harrington gives important points about the Jewish origins of prayer and he sheds light on the significance of certain points of important passages. A solid recommendation.

The film Precious is an heroic story of an obese, illiterate African-American teenager who cards are stacked against her. The story reveals the birth of her two children from the incestuous abuse from her father with a condoning monstrous mother. This is a difficult movie to watch because of the amount of great suffering in it, but the moments of goodness far exceed the horror that Precious faces. Sadly, there are too many instances of this type of life in the world today and horrifically, too many people refuse to look at this suffering in the face. Go see it.


We continue to pray for the people of Haiti. Let us remember those who have died and those who are struggling to rebuild their lives in the wake of the massive earthquake that devastated much of the country. Haiti’s woes were massive even before the earthquake. We pray for the charity and goodwill of many people who are providing much needed relief in the Caribbean nation.


Please note that I will be traveling to my tertianship program for Jesuits. I will keep the blog updated, but there might be times when I cannot send out the weekly distribution of email. Check online predmore.blogspot.com for the weekly and daily updates. I will also include news of my tertian program in Australia at predmoresj.blogspot.com.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Spirituality: Enzo Bianchi

Listening is the fundamental attitude call for in prayer. The one who truly prays is the one who listens.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Prayer: Claude La Colombiere

O God, what will you do to conquer
the fearful hardness of our hearts?

Lord, you must give us new hearts,
tender hearts, sensitive hearts,
to replace hearts that are made of
marble and of bronze.
You must give us your own heart, Jesus.
Come, lovable Heart of Jesus.
Place your heart deep
in the center of our hearts
and enkindle in each heart a flame of love
as strong, as great,
as the sun of all the reasons
that I have for loving you, my God.

O holy heart of Jesus,
dwell hidden in my heart,
so that I may live only in you
and only for you,
so that, in the end, I may live with you
eternally in heaven.

Memorial: January 15

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Song: Cancion de Francisco Javier by Cristobal Fones, S.J.

When the world shuts the sun in darkness
When all dreams are swallowed deep beneath the sea
When no one is so caring to dare cross the ocean
That corners the poor and the broken
Rise my light, my Jesus! Set me soaring, flying
Let me trust your promises, let me do your will

Jesus, fire in my heart. My heart, aflame in love for the world
Feels no limits, sees no boundaries. Only God, my hope
Feels no limits, sees no boundaries. Only God, my hope

Even if I gained the whole world
It’s nothing to me if it takes me not to you
May no tides pull me under, no dark swells engulf me
In lifting my gaze to your star
There, in the eyes of the hungry, I see you looking back at me
And your love fills up my soul, now my soul sets sail.


Jesus you give joy to your people
Jesus, you free them, giving pardon and your peace
It’s such love that impels me, embracing a people
That longs for your kingdom to come
All is yours, you’ve given me. None is mine, but all is grace
In your hands, take all of it. You’re my land, my sea.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Book: Recommended Readings

History of the Jesuits
Jesuit Saturdays by Fr. William Byron, S. J.
The First Jesuits by Fr. John O’Malley, S. J.
Jesuits: A Multibiography by LeCoutre
On the Suppression of the Society of Jesus by John Murphy, S.J.

Ignatius of Loyola
Saint Ignatius of Loyola: Personal Writings by Penguin Classics
Ignatius of Loyola: The Pilgrim Saint, transl. and ed. by Michael Buckley, S.J.

Jesuit Spirituality
Contemplatives in Action by William Barry, S.J.
God and You by William Barry, S.J.
Eyes to See, Ears to Hear by David Lonsdale, S.J.
God’s Passionate Desire by William Barry, S.J.
The Spiritual Humanism of the Jesuits by Ronald Modras

The Catholic Church
Dynamics of Theology by Roger Haight, S.J.
Vatican Council II by Xavier Rynne
What Happened at Vatican II by John O'Malley, S.J.

Faith Beyond Resentment by James Alison
Simply Christian by NT Wright
The Challenge of Jesus by NT Wright
Four Cultures of the West by John O’Malley, S.J.

The Passion of Jesus in the Gospel of John by Donald Senior, O.P.
The Passion of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark by Donald Senior, O.P.
The Passion of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew by Donald Senior, O.P.
The Passion of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke by Donald Senior, O.P.
Why do we Suffer? By Daniel Harrington, S.J.
Paul: His Story by Jerome Murphy O’Connor

Moral Theology
Virtue Ethics by James Keenan, S.J.
Spirituality of Liberation by Jon Sobrino, S.J.
Catholic Social Teaching: Our best kept secret by Edward DeBeeri and James Hug, S.J.
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen
We Drink for our Own Wells by Gustavo Gutierrez
Reason Informed by Faith by Richard Gula

Liturgy and Sacraments
Living Bread, Saving Cup by Kevin Seasoltz
History of the Liturgy: The Major Stages by Marcel Metzger
A Time for Embracing: Reclaiming Reconciliation by Julia Upton
The Ministry of Reconciliation: Spiritualities and Strategies

Monday, January 11, 2010

Prayer: Henri J. M. Nouwen

God, give me the courage to be revolutionary as your Son Jesus Christ was. Give me the courage to loosen myself from this world. Teach me to stand up free and to shun no criticism. God, it is for your kingdom. Make me free, make me poor in this world. Then will I be rich in the real world, which this life is all about.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Prayer: Teach Me to Listen

Teach me to listen, O God, to those nearest me, my family, my friends, my co-workers.
Help me to be aware that no matter what words I hear, the message is,
"Accept the person I am. Listen to me."
Teach me to listen, my caring God, to those far from me --
the whisper of the hopeless, the plea of the forgotten, the cry of the anguished.
Teach me to listen, O God my Mother, to myself.
Help me to be less afraid to trust the voice inside -- in the deepest part of me.
Teach me to listen, Holy Spirit, for your voice -- in busyness and in boredom,
in certainty and in doubt, in noise and in silence. Teach me, Lord, to listen. Amen.

(Adapted by John Veltri, S.J.)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Baptism of the Lord

January 10, 2010

It is odd that a traditional Advent reading is proclaimed on this last day of the Christmas season. Isaiah exclaims, “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.” Israel’s guilt is expiated and the people can return home to their land of promise. God will prepare the way home by filling in valleys and making the mountains become like the plains. The route will be easy because God wants everyone to hasten back to their cherished land. What makes this reading different from its placement in the Advent season is its fulfillment in the Gospel with Jesus approaching John for baptism. The great herald, the voice crying in the wilderness, moves aside because his days of prophesying are no longer needed. Isaiah’s prophecy is being lived out in historical events.

I admire John the Baptist for stepping aside from his central role. I can imagine the shock, disbelief, and the reluctance of his great number of followers who placed much hope in his message only to hear that he has to move to the sidelines because a more obscure man is the one who will save them from their sins. Even after John’s death, many continued to believe that John was a stronger prophet than Jesus. John’s deference shows great magnanimity and he stood true to his prophetic role by pointing his disciples to Jesus as the Messiah.

Through Jesus’ baptism, “heaven was opened,” and therefore united with earth. The great chasm that once existed is now connected with a particular pathway. Notice that Jesus was baptized after all the people received their baptism. They too can access the grace of heaven just as Jesus did. We have to model our lives on the attitude of Jesus and of God, the Father, who have a disposition of being “open.” Our openness to our faith will bring us a great reward and we then permit ourselves to hear the word that God so much wants to speak to us, “You are my beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Quote for the Week

The revelation of God’s glory in his son was predicted in Isaiah 40:

"The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see, that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken."

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: We listen to Hannah’s plight as Elkanah’s barren wife who goes through torments from his other wife, Peninnah. She was tormented by Peninnah’s harassment even though Elkanah loved her more. Hannah presents herself to Eli, the priest, and makes a vow to the Lord to offer her son to the temple if the Lord would only give her a child. When Samuel, Hannah’s longed-for son, is sleeping under Eli’s care, the Lord calls to him three times. Eli becomes aware that Samuel is receiving special care from the Lord. Eli lost his two sons in a fierce battle with the Philistines, who also captured the ark of God and wiped out thirty-thousand soldiers from Israel. After defeats and a longing to belong to the community of nations, the people turn to Samuel to ask him to appoint a king over them, thus rejecting Samuel’s own rule. Samuel seeks out the seer, Saul, and anoints him as king over all of Israel.

Gospel: As a continuation of the baptismal narrative, Jesus begins his ministry proclaiming the Kingdom of God is at hand and he calls his first disciples. Jesus enters a synagogue and begins to teach in a remarkable way; he encounters a man with an unclean spirit and in his healing he demonstrates that he has power over the supernatural world. Many sick are brought to him, including Simon Peter’s mother. He cures them, but reminds the people of his mission to preach the kingdom of God to all the tribes of Israel. Out of mercy he cures a leper resulting in his inability to preach in the main cities and villages because he has become ritually unclean. Healings are one thing, but forgiving sins is too much for the priests and religious leaders to bear. They demand to know the source of his authority as only God can forgive sins. He continues to call his inner circle together and chooses a tax collector, who is the object of contempt for every Jew. Jesus’ work is provocative.

Saints of the Week

Wednesday: Hilary, bishop and doctor, was a staunch defender of the faith against the Arians in the fourth century. The Arians pressured the emperor to exile him to the East, but his positions created hostility and he was sent back to Poitiers in Gaul.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jan. 10, 1581: Queen Elizabeth signed the fifth Penal Statute in England inflicting heavy fines and imprisonment on all who harbored Jesuits and Seminary priests.
• Jan 10, 1567. Two Jesuits arrived in Havana, Cuba, as a base for evangelization.
• Jan 11, 1573. At Milan, St Charles Borromeo founded a college (the Brera) and placed it under the care of the Society.
• Jan 12, 1544. Xavier wrote a long letter on his apostolic labors, saying he wished to visit all the universities of Europe in search of laborers for our Lord's vineyard. The letter was widely circulated and very influential.
• Jan 13, 1547. At the Council of Trent, Fr James Lainez, as a papal theologian, defended the Catholic doctrine on the sacraments in a learned three-hour discourse.
• Jan 14, 1989. John Ford SJ, moral theologian and teacher at Weston College and Boston College, died. He served on the papal commission on birth control.
• Jan 15, 1955. The death of Daniel Lord SJ, popular writer, national director of the Sodality, founder of the Summer School of Catholic Action, and editor of The Queen's Work.
• Jan 16, 1656. At Meliapore, Fr Robert de Nobili, nephew of Cardinal Bellarmine, died. He was sent to the Madura mission, learned to speak three languages, and for 45 years labored among the high caste Brahmins.

Meditation on the Baptism of the Lord

The significance of the Baptism is stated in the second reading for Mass from the 2nd chapter of Titus:

“For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.”


Please note that I will be traveling to my tertianship program for Jesuits. I will keep the blog updated, but there might be times when I cannot send out the weekly distribution of email. Check online predmore.blogspot.com for the weekly and daily updates. I will also include news of my tertian program in Australia at predmoresj.blogspot.com.

Poem: Love (III) by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack,
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lack'd anything.

A guest, I answer'd, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marr'd them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and tast me meat:
So I did sit and eat.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Prayer: The Prayer of a First Jesuit

With great devotion and new depth of feeling,
I hope and beg, O God, that it finally be given me
to be the servant and minister of Christ the consoler,
the minister of Christ the redeemer,
the minister of Christ the healer,
the liberator, the enricher, the strengthener.
To be able through you to help many -- to console, liberate and give them courage;
to bring them light not only for their spirit but also for their bodies,
and bring as well other helps to the soul and body of each and every one of my neighbors.
I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

- Blessed Peter Faber, S.J., from his Memoriale

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Epiphany (Date of celebration for the Eastern Churches)

The feast of Epiphany in the Catholic Church is traditionally celebrated on January 6th. Epiphany is the 12th day of Christmas, hence the origins of the song, "Twelve Days of Christmas."

Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of God as a human. The Roman church commemorates the visitation of the Magi (three kings or wise sages) to the infant Jesus. This is the day of recognition that the whole world, beyond the Jewish people, would come to know Jesus as their Lord and Messiah.

The magi brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh as gifts to the child, Jesus. In the Western Church some households celebrate this feast by getting water, gold, frankincense and chalk blessed at church. The chalk is used to write the initials of the three magi over the doors of churches and homes. The letters, CMB, stand for Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, the three magi, but also Christus mansionem benedicat, which translates as "may Christ bless the house."

Finally the ancient custom on solemnly announcing the date of Easter and the church year occurs on the feast of Epiphany. This was done in a time when reading and writing was not widespread. It set the celebrations of the liturgical years once the priests determined the date of Easter.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Spirituality: Resolutions for a New Year

1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants..
4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
5. Make time to pray.
6. Play more games
7. Read more books than you did last year.
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day
9. Sleep for at least 7 hours.
10. Take a 10-30 minute walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

11. Refrain from comparing your life to others. You have no idea what goes on in their journey.
12. Refrain from holding negative thoughts about matters you cannot control. Instead invest your energy positively in the present moment.
13. Be reasonable. Do only what you can. Know your limits.
14. Laugh at yourself. Be open. Take yourself lightly.
15. Avoid precious energy on gossip or speculations.
16. Dream more while you are awake.
17. Envy is a waste of time. Settle for what you already have.
18. Remember the past gratefully. Encourage your partner to make better choices.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Find something good to say about that person.
20. Make peace with your past. We only really have the present to enjoy.
21. You make choices that lead to your happiness. Feel the power in choosing what you want.
22. “The style is the man.” How we do something is more important than what is done.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. Decide what is important to you. Allow yourself to be wrong sometimes.

25. Call your family often.
26. Each day say something nice to others.
27. Learn that forgiveness is a process. Allow yourself to be angry and use that anger in a constructive way to resolve tensions.
28. Spend time with people. Solidarity is a tremendous gift.
29. Your job will not take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Form good relationships.

30. Know the difference between the good and the right. Do the right thing!
31. Use appropriately what is not useful, beautiful or joyful.
32. God heals everything. You are not God.
33. In the end, all will be well. If it is not well now, it is not the end.
34. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
35. Know your emotions. They are signals of God at work within you.
36. Understand that suffering and love are part of life.
37. When you awake alive in the morning, thank God.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Spirituality: Guidelines for Small Group Sharing

1. Respect privacy and confidentiality. Refrain from repeating to others what another person shares.
2. Listen carefully. Allow the person to complete his or her sentence or thought. Be patient with another.
3. Remember that some people process thoughts and ideas interiorly; some also process as they speak. Accommodate both types of people.
4. Shy away from commenting directly on what another says.
5. Withhold your advice. If you feel inclined to give advice, ask the person’s permission to talk about the situation or ask if he or she wants to receive advice.
6. Refrain from criticizing or judging what another person says.
7. Embrace the silence. People need time to process ideas and form their thoughts.
8. Give others a chance to speak. Everyone who wants to share ought to have sufficient time to do so. Limit your own time. Speak pithily. Use brevity.
9. Respect another’s desire for privacy. No on has an obligation to share.
10. Use “I” statements rather than “we” statements. I can speak for myself. You can represent yourself.
11. When you feel yourself beginning to say, “You should….” or “What you need to do is…,” stop yourself. Just stop.
12. Use connecting words like “yes…and” instead of phrases like “but” or “not.”

Notes for Facilitators for Faith-Sharing Groups

1. Allow everyone to have a chance to speak.
2. Ask someone to be the time-keeper.
3. Ensure confidentiality.
4. Help them stay focused on the reflection questions. Feel free to choose whatever is conducive to the group’s sharing.
5. Use the “Faith Sharing” guidelines as your guide.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Poem: Mary Oliver from West Wind

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives --
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?

Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left --
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!

To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird's pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened

in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn't ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean's edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.

Excerpts: The Real Gifts Parents Can Give - Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

Faith is a gift truly given, and always to be cherished, guarded and nurtured. As Catholics we believe deeply in the power of prayer. We know the peace of heart and mind which can come from prayer, no matter what the danger, perplexity and confusion.

Whatever his religion, with faith, a child knows exactly why he was created, he has well-defined obligations to God and humans. He has sure direction, ever-courageous because he knows God is directing him for his ultimate destiny, helping him to dedicate his faculties and opportunities for best fulfilling God's plans. If he can pray, he will have that peace of mind and heart which accompanies prayers, regardless of how heavy is his cross. I have always felt and I think all my children did, too, that God never sends a Cross too heavy for us to bear.

God wants a different thing from each of us, laborious or easy, conspicuous or quite private, but something which only we can do, and for which we were created. What a beautiful gift in only parents could pass along this concept to each of their children, and each could realize how important was his individual contribution.

Another gift which we have always tried to bestow is the gift of zest - of curiosity and interest and enthusiasm for life. Children should be stimulated by their parents to see, and touch, and know, and understand, and appreciate. I believe in explaining family rules and requests, so that children will trust their parents' reasoning and experiences, and have confidence in their judgment.

How can parents give children an interest and ingenuity to cope with life? One way is to encourage hobbies: stamps, antiques, gardening, painting, a musical instrument, sports...any sort of activity which distracts, releases tension, gives more channels to energies. There is no place for boredom in a mind that is constantly seeking new horizons.

Some people collapse under strain, disillusionment, and problems. Others respond to challenges and difficulties and are excited by them. I will never allow myself to be vanquished or annihilated. I have always enjoyed living and working, and I believe I have had a great life.

Which brings me to my last gift: the gift of service. God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission - I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good. I shall do his work.

God has bequeathed on us pleasures as well as sorrows, laughter as well as tears. May He give us the capacity to enjoy all these gifts and to share them.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Epiphany of the Lord

January 3, 2010

Epiphany marks the date in which Gentiles, represented through the three kings from the East, encounter the newborn Jewish infant who will become the king of all kings. They bring gifts to honor his divinity and humanity, but their greater gift is in offering him homage. The Jewish acceptance of Gentiles into the community of faith was a difficult, but essential step toward truly accepting the gift that Jesus brought us. We have such fear of the ‘other.’ Fear closes down and rejects. Fear makes the ‘other’ alien. Fear stops us from finding the hidden plan of God within the presence of another person. Rather, our faith invites us to be open to the gifts of God that we would otherwise shun.

Gift-giving or respectfully receiving a gift is a tricky art – a form that many of us have not yet mastered well. The Christmas season allows us to ease up on these rules. We are a complicated people who might not fully understand the consequences of gift-giving, but our desire to respond in gifts speaks appreciatively of the relationship that we have or want to establish with another. The gift is a tangible manifestation of the bonds that we feel towards one another. It tells the other than we want to continue to deepen our relationship and be meaningful to the other. This is the message of the three wise men, the foreign ‘others,’ who want to deepen their relationship not only with the God who has just given us his son, but also with the Jewish people.

As we enter this new year and we have the model of the wise men as healthy gift-bearers, let us reflect upon the gifts given to us by God. Take some time to do an inventory of the spiritual gifts you have received by God and can offer the world. List out your talents and skills that you would like to offer more freely. Be open to the possibility that God might call you to do more with those gifts this year. God gave them to you because you are a treasure. After all, this is a God whose divinity is hidden and revealed in humanity. On this week of Epiphany, let us decide to reveal our gifts more fully to ‘others.’

Quote for the Week

"Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true."

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day."

Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: We stay with 1 John during this Christmas season. John asks us to believe in Jesus as the Christ and to follow his commands. He suggests that we test the spirits to see if they acknowledge Jesus as Lord. The presence of true love attests to the Spirit of God who abundantly blesses us by giving the world his Son, and because he has done that, we are to love one another in the same way. We love God because God loved us first; God also loves our brothers and sisters so if we belong to God, we are to love our brothers and sisters. God has worked a wonderful event through Jesus, one that gives us eternal life. We are to ask God for what we need in the name of Jesus and to avoid all deadly sins.

Gospel: Christmas leaves us asking, “Who is this King?” Scripture answers by telling us about Jesus’ work of proclaiming the Kingdom of God and healing all sorts of illnesses. His heart is moved with pity for their conditions and he generously provides for their great needs, especially through miraculous feedings. He has power over the natural (storms) and supernatural worlds (demons.) He proclaims that scripture attests to his words and deeds by proclaiming a year of favor and he heals the outcasts and brings them back into society. Even the strong John who baptizes defers to the power of Jesus as the one sent from heaven.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious, founded the Sisters of Charity in 1809 after the death of her husband and her conversion as an Episcopalian to Catholicism. She was instrumental in forming the curriculum for the American parochial system of education. She is the first native-born U. S. saint.

Tuesday: John Neumann, bishop, joined the Redemptorists in 1840 after he migrated from Bohemia to the US. He became the bishop of Philadelphia in 1852 and oversaw the construction of many churches and parish schools in the diocese.

Wednesday: Andre Bessette, religious, became a brother of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1870 in Quebec and worked at Notre-Dame College for 40 years. He cared for the sick and was known for many healing miracles. He built a chapel that would later become St. Joseph’s Oratory.

Thursday: Raymond of Penafort, priest, was a Dominican priest who taught philosophy and law. He organized papal decrees into what we now know as canon law. He wrote guidelines for the sacrament of reconciliation and preached to both Moors and Christians in Spain.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jan. 3, 1816: Fr. General Brzozowski and 25 members of the Society, guarded by soldiers, left St. Petersburg, Russia, having been banished by the civil government.
• Jan. 4, 1619: The English mission is raised to the status of a province.
• Jan. 5, 1548: Francis Suarez, one of the greatest theologians of the church, was born at Granada.
• Jan. 6, 1829: Publication of Pope Leo XII's rescript, declaring the Society to be canonically restored in England.
• Jan. 7, 1566: Cardinal Ghislieri was elected pope as Pius V. He was a great friend of the Francis Borgia and appointed Salmeron and Toletus as apostolic preachers at the Vatican. He desired to impose the office of choir on the Society and even ordered it. He was canonized as St. Pius V.
• Jan. 8, 1601: Balthasar Gracian was born. A Spanish Jesuit, he wrote on courtly matters. He is the author of "The Compleat Gentleman" and "The Art of Worldly Wisdom."
• Jan. 9, 1574: Fr. Jasper Haywood died at Naples. He was superior of the English mission. As a boy he was one of the pages of honor to the Princess Elizabeth. After a brilliant career at Oxford, he renounced his fellowship and entered the Society in Rome in 1570. An able Hebrew scholar and theologians, he was for two years professor in the Roman College.

Meditation for Epiphany

Isaiah’s 60th chapter provides a jubilant prayer for our new year.

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.

You shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.

Raise up your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Feast of the Giving of the Name of Jesus to the Society

January 1st is the titular feast of the Society of Jesus, a day which honors Mary as the Mother of God and of the Society. It is a day which celebrates the giving of the name of Jesus to the infant boy.

The giving of the name "Company (Society) of Jesus" occurred in September 1540 when the early companions and Ignatius were founded as a religious institute.

Ignatius and two of his companions, Peter Faber and James Lainez, decided to go to Rome to place themselves and the other companions at the disposal of the Pope. A few miles outside of Rome at a chapel at La Storta, the companions stopped to pray. At this spot, Ignatius had the second most significant of his mystical experiences. In his vision, God the Father told Ignatius, "I will be favorable to you in Rome" and that he would place him with His Son. Ignatius did not know what his experience meant for it could mean persecution as well as success since Jesus experienced both.

While in Rome, the Pope joyously put them to work teaching scripture and theology and preaching. On Christmas morning, 1538, Ignatius celebrated his first Mass at the church of St. Mary Major in the Chapel of the Manger, which was thought to have the actual manger from Bethlehem. If Ignatius was not going to be able to say his first Mass at Jesus' birthplace in the Holy Land, then this would be the best substitute.

During Lent in 1539, Ignatius convened all of his companions in Rome to discuss their future. They had never thought of founding a religious order, but now that going to Jerusalem was out, they had to think about how they would spend their time as companions. After many weeks of prayer and discussion, with the Pope's approval, in which they would vow obedience to a superior general who would hold office for life, they would place themselves at the disposal of the Holy Father to travel wherever he should wish to send them for whatever duties. A vow to this effect was added to the ordinary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Formal approval of this new order was given by Pope Paul III on September 27, 1540. Since they had referred to themselves as the Company of Jesus, their order became known as the Society of Jesus in English. Ignatius was elected on the first ballot of the group to be superior, but he begged them to reconsider, pray and vote again a few days later. The second ballot came out as the first, unanimous for Ignatius, except for his own vote. He was still reluctant to accept, but his Franciscan confessor told him it was God's will, so he acquiesced. On the Friday of Easter week, April 22, 1541, at the Church of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, the friends pronounced their vows in the newly formed Order.