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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spirituality: The mystical illumination of Ignatius at the River Cardoner

After a period of intense prayer, Inigo de Loyola sat on the banks of the Cardoner River in Manresa, Spain where he daydreamed. He received an illumination from God that was so intense that he personally appropriated the mysteries of the faith.

He writes in his autobiography:

While he was seated there, the eyes of his understanding began to be opened; not that he saw any vision, but he understood and learned many things, both spiritual matters and matters of faith and scholarship, and this with so great an enlightenment that everything seemed new to him.

This left his understanding so enlightened that he felt as if he were another man with another mind.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Spirituality: Candle Light at House Dedication

We dedicate this home to love and understanding.
May its joys and sorrows be shared
and the individuality of each person
who lives and visits here appreciated.
We light a candle to love. (Light a candle.)

We dedicate this home to work, and rest, and play.
May our home have joy and high fellowship,
with kindness in its voices and laughter running within its walls.
We light a candle to joy. (Light a candle.)

We dedicate this home to friendly life.
May its doors open in hospitality
and its windows looks out with kindness toward other homes.
We light a candle to friendship. (Light a candle.)

We dedicate this home to cooperation.
May its duties be performed in love.
Its furnishings bear witness that the work of others
ministers to our comfort,
and its table remind us that God works with us
for the supply of daily needs.
We light a candle to cooperation. (Light a candle.)

We dedicate this home to appreciation
of all things good and true.
May the books brings wisdom,
the pictures symbolize things beautiful,
and the music bring joy and inspiration.
We light a candle to appreciation. (Light a candle.)

We dedicate the time and talent of those who live here
to help build a world in which every family
may have a home of comfort and fellowship.
We light a candle to Christian service. (Light a candle.)

We dedicate this home as a unit in the Church universal,
an instrument of the Kingdom of God,
a place of worship and Christian training
and a threshold to the life eternal.
We light a candle to spiritual enrichment. (Light a candle.)

As the flames point upward, so our thoughts rise in gratitude
to God for this home, and in prayer for God’s blessings upon it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Prayer: Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.

When I entered the Catholic Church I made a venture that appeared foolhardy in the eyes of most of my family and friends. As a vowed religious, I took up a career that would make no sense unless the Catholic faith were true. If the Kingdom is the pearl of great price, the treasure buried in the field, one should be prepared to give up everything else to acquire it. It has always seemed to me that if God is God, his honor and glory must be the first priority. Although I cannot rival the generous dedication of Sts. Paul and Ignatius of Loyola, I am, like them, content to be employed in the service of Christ and the gospel, whether in sickness or in health, in good repute or ill repute. I am immeasurably grateful for the years in which the Lord has permitted me to serve him in a society that bears as its motto: Ad majorem Dei Gloriam. I trust that his grace will not fail me, and that I will not fail his grace, in the years to come.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 29, 2010

The elders of the community wrote instructions within Wisdom literature to help a young man or woman, who is about to start out in life, follow the path of righteousness so that one would enjoy a long life with many descendants. Humility would be a key ingredient in the recipe of success and happiness for the Lord God would favor one who rightly knows his or her position in God’s world. Humility was regarded as an especially a key element in an honor/shame/status-driven society of the ancient world. Jesus gave instructions at a dinner banquet in such a world. First, Jesus addresses the invited guests about choosing places of honor at the table that would defy societal conventions and would reveal humility as a new honored value. (I wonder at which seat Jesus was assigned.) Next, Jesus addresses the dinner party host with instructions on how to assemble a guest list that is compatible with one’s religious assertions.

I thought about these passages as I observed people queuing up to board a plane. Everyone hoped for the best or most comfortable seat assignments. No one wanted to sit in the back because it meant that you did not want to pay for better seats or you were late in purchasing the tickets. The most honorable people could afford first class or business seats. These were the categories of people you hoped you could sit near because they obviously achieved a higher degree of status. If you sat in the back, you dreaded who might sit next to you because you would not be able to escape. We seem to be caught up in a similar type of honor/shame/status-driven society that existed in biblical times and we seek affirmation and glory from humans, rather than from God. When we work hard, we desire comfort, honor, status and power and we want to hang out with those who can benefit us. We want to live in the best city, to be in the best community, attend the most prestigious schools, or work at an esteemed institution. We simply want the best – and it elevates our esteem. We share the same types of desires as our biblical cousins. We operate by the same principles as found in any human society: Grab what you want first before all the selfish people take it.

Jesus challenges us to care for those who sit at the back of the plane. These are the people who do not advance our position and are people with whom few would want to associate, but we know of the unexpected delights that we might experience when we open our attitudes up to the unexpected. We might find that we profit through mutual enrichment, that we might become a friend to someone who can give us nothing back but friendship, or that we simply might like the person beside us. Jesus is teaching us about God’s attitude towards us because all people, no matter their situations in life, are equally loved by God. God wants the best for us and God wants us to know that we are all connected to each other in our humanity. Sure, equality does not exist in human standards, but in the kingdom of Christ, this new order is a preview of the kingdom of heaven. Let’s try out this humility thing a little more often to see what we can learn from it. I bet our unsuspecting neighbor’s life will be touched deeply by our compassionate actions, and the enrichment that we create will help bring about the desired social order of the kingdom. It is worth the risk to step outside ourselves to see the opportunities.

Quote for the Week

From Luke 14:14

Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Paul continues in 1st Corinthians by saying that the community’s faith is a demonstration of God’s power and spirit. The Spirit searches for other similar spirits and finds a home, which allows us to speak, not with human wisdom, but though as taught by the Spirit. Paul calls the people to become people of the Spirit and he outlines the way in which they still act as people who follow the ways of the flesh. God uses the ways that the world finds foolish as an example of wisdom, therefore we are to refrain from making judgments against our neighbor because the judgment of the Lord is the one in which we are to be concerned. When we believe in Christ, we are not to draw distinctions among ourselves so as to earn favor from men. Become fools for Christ.

Gospel: Upon reading the scroll of the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue, Jesus declares that in the people’s hearing of the scripture, it is being fulfilled in their presence. Jesus leaves for Capernaum and amazes the people as he teaches with such authority that even supernatural demons recognize his great power. Jesus then heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law and all the townspeople who come to him. When the crowd leaves and Jesus goes to Lake Gennesaret, he calls Peter as a disciple, who protests because he knows he is a sinful man. The scribes and Pharisees notice that Jesus does not observe the dietary customs and practices as other teachers do, by which he answers, “can the wedding guests fast while the bridge-groom is with them?” The Pharisees again approach him. This time they ask about his disregard for Sabbath observance of dietary laws to which he responds, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Saints of the Week

Friday: Gregory the Great, pope and Doctor of the church, was a wealthy judge who resigned to become a monk, where he later became abbot of his monastery and then pope in 590. He was acclaimed for his greatness because of his exceeding charity to the poor, his commitment to justice, and his protection of Jewish rights. He produced a document that dealt with guidelines for pastoral care and wrote many scriptural commentaries, homilies, and explanations for liturgical rites.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Aug. 29, 1541: At Rome the death of Fr. John Codure, a Savoyard, one of the first 10 companions of St. Ignatius.
• Aug. 30, 1556: On the banks of the St. Lawrence River, Fr. Leonard Garreau, a young missionary, was mortally wounded by the Iroquois.
• Aug. 31, 1581: In St. John's Chapel within the Tower of London, a religious discussion took place between St. Edmund Campion, suffering from recent torture, and some Protestant ministers.
• Sep 1, 1907. The Buffalo Mission was dissolved and its members were sent to the New York and Missouri Provinces and the California Mission.
• Sep 2, 1792. In Paris, ten ex-Jesuits were massacred for refusing to take the Constitutional oath. Also in Paris seven other fathers were put to death by the Republicans, among them Frs. Peter and Robert Guerin du Rocher.
• Sep 3, 1566. Queen Elizabeth visited Oxford and heard the 26-year-old Edmund Campion speak. He was to meet her again as a prisoner, brought to hear her offer of honors or death.
• Sep 4, 1760. At Para, Brazil, 150 men of the Society were shipped as prisoners, reaching Lisbon on December 2. They were at once exiled to Italy and landed at Civita Vecchia on January 17, 1761.

Last Days of Summer/Winter

As winter brightens to early spring in the southern hemisphere, the northern hemisphere savors the last days of summer that customarily end on Labor Day, September 6th. Enjoy this transitional time as the calendar moves into a new phase of life.

Pray and Give Alms - Pakistan Relief Efforts

The floods in Pakistan continue to devastate one-sixth of the country’s population leaving many people displaced and without adequate food and shelter. Worldwide aid has been a pittance compared to the response we gave to Haiti and Chile in their disasters. We acknowledge that we may sometimes have ambivalent feelings toward the inhabitants because they are men and women of a different faith tradition halfway around the world and the U.S. and its military allies have been engaged in an armed conflict with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban for almost a decade. Nonetheless, our brothers and sisters need our aid. If we can reach them first and take care of their basic needs, we can gain their sympathies before our enemies promise to take care of them and devote them to their militant cause. Regardless of all of that, they are our brothers and sisters in need. If you would like to make a donation, please consider contacting the Jesuit Refugee Services USA at www.jrsusa.org or to Catholic Charities in your diocese.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Literature: from Confessions, Augustine, about 400

Let them praise Thy Name, let the praise Thee, the supercelestial people, Thine angels, who have no need to gaze up at this firmament, or by reading to know of Thy word. For they always behold Thy face, and there read without any syllables in time, what willeth Thy eternal will; they read, they choose, they love. They are ever reading; and that never passes away which they read; for by choosing, and by loving, they read the very unchangeableness of Thy counsel. Their book is never closed, nor their scroll folded up; seeing Thou Thyself art this to them, and art eternally; because Thou hast ordained them above this firmament of the lower people, where they may gaze up and learn Thy mercy, announcing in time Thee Who madest times. For Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens, and Thy truth reacheth unto the clouds. The clouds pass away, but the heaven abideth.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Literature: Augustine (about 400 CE) from the Confessions

Blessed are all thy Saints, O God and King, who have travelled over the tempestuous sea of this mortal life, and have made the harbor of peace and felicity. Watch over us who are still in our dangerous voyage; and remember such as lie exposed to the rough storms of trouble and temptations. Frail is our vessel, and the ocean is wide; but as in thy mercy thou hast set our course, so steer the vessel of our life toward the everlasting shore of peace, and bring us at length to the quiet haven of our heart’s desire, where thou, O our God, are blessed, and livest and reignest forever and ever.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Prayer: Prayer to the Sacred Heart by Saint Francis De Sales

May Thy Heart dwell always in our hearts!
May Thy Blood ever flow in the veins of our souls!
O sun of our hearts, Thou givest life to all things by the rays of Thy goodness!
I will not go until Thy Heart has strengthened me, O Lord Jesus!
May the Heart of Jesus be the King of my heart!
Blessed be God. Amen.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Prayer: Emmanuel D’Alzon

Lord, open our eyes to our true destiny and make us understand that seeking to glorify you on earth in our first duty and is the surest means of reaching our true greatness in eternity.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Prayer: Claude la Colombiere, S.J.

Jesus, you are the only and true Friend; not only do you participate in all my sufferings but you take them on yourself and know the secret of how to change them into joy for me. You listen to me kindly and when I tell you my afflictions you never fail to sweeten them.

I find you everywhere, you never go away, and if I am obliged to change dwellings I find you everywhere I go. You do not suffer from boredom when you listen to me, nor are you ever weary of doing me good.

If I love you, I am sure of receiving your love; you do not need my belongings nor are you impoverished by giving me yours.

Even though I am a poor man, nobody (however noble, intelligent or holy) can steal your friendship from me. Death itself, which divides all friends, will reunite me with you.

No adversity of age or change will succeed in drawing you away from me; on the contrary, I will never so fully enjoy your presence and you will never be close to me as when everything seems to conspire against me.

Only you, with wonderful patience, can bear with my faults. Even if my unfaithfulness and ingratitude offend you, they do not prevent you from always being ready, if only I want it, to grant me your grace and your love.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Poem: from Our Lady of Walsingham, Robert Lowell, 1946

Our Lady, too small for her canopy,
Sits near the altar. There’s no comeliness
At all or charm in that expressionless
Face with its heavy eyelids. As before,
This face, for centuries a memory,
Non est species, neque décor,
Expressionless, expresses God: it goes
Past castled Sion. She knows what God knows,
Not Calvary’s Cross nor crib at Bethlehem
Now, and the world shall come to Walsingham.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 22, 2010

The hopeful message of Isaiah’s reading gets twisted when pitted against Luke’s gospel passage. The Lord God tells Isaiah that some people from every nation will come to Jerusalem and see the divine glory and that some of these newly elect will become priests and Levites. The disciples of Jesus ask him if they will be saved as they realize only a few will be allowed into the kingdom. The closest friends of Jesus are unsure about their salvation even though they have listened to him, watched his wondrous miracles, heard his powerful words, and have left family and home to be with him. After all this they still are not assured. They hope and have faith and have practiced great acts of charity, but these very essential questions linger. This is a good disposition to have after all. Do you agree?

It is a confusing time to be a Christian because we know we do not have many of the answers or perhaps even the proper questions to many questions about our faith. The beliefs many Christians have about today’s complicated social issues are often at odds with the religious leaders who are trying to teach us, and we understand that a solid pedagogical model incorporates understanding our contexts, prudently choosing our action plan, and then taking the time to ponder and reflect upon the rightness of our choices. All too often the teacher becomes the student as both teacher and student are bound to learn from each other. We recognize that no side really possesses the truth, but the best disposition to have is to strive and pursue the truth as contained in God’s will for me here and now. God’s will is manifested in the here and now. What exists today as truth for me may change tomorrow. Learning and enrichment are so paradoxical because we find out that we know less than we thought we would than when we first began. Like the disciples of Jesus, we may err if we presume to know more than we do. Rightly, they wonder and do not presume that they are among the saved who will enter into the kingdom. The question remains, “Do we know if we are saved?”

Who makes it into the kingdom? The words of Jesus may upset us if we pay attention to the criteria he lists in the readings. People who are at the end of the line might get in before us. Merely knowing Jesus is not a qualification; the degree of being his friend however is significant. Those who we have rejected as unqualified might have the better seats than we do. Presuming we are in is an opposing vice to the virtue of hope. Finally, acting with humility and serving others seems to be the key to enter into the narrow gates. Together, these are difficult conditions to accept in today’s climate. What are we to do then? Developing our spiritual life and enriching our prayer experience with Jesus Christ will lead us into making the best choices we can. Our friendship with him will help us make the most prudential, merciful decisions we can because we will know what he wants from us and for us. If we learn to pay attention to both our needs and his, he will take care of us and we will learn to trust his way of being above all other inferior criteria in life. We will find that we like this way of goodness and we will want to be like him to a greater degree. It is just amazing what he will do for you when you realize how much he likes you.

Quote for the Week

From “The World According to Mr. Rogers” by Fred Rogers

I hope you are proud of yourself for the times you’ve said “yes,” when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to someone else.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Paul’s 2nd letter to the Thessalonians is inserted into the first reading when he bolsters the courage of the persecuted believers to persevere in prayer and good works. He calls everyone to act in a way that is in order with the imitation of Paul and Jesus so that we can be a model for others to come to belief. In 1st Corinthians, Paul gives thanks for the Greek-based community that is richly blessed by God’s grace. Paul declares that Christ sent him to preach the Gospel and its message of the cross, which is foolishness to those who don’t understand. Paul glorifies the crucified Christ as the power of God. Paul illustrates how those assembled also are foolish in the world’s eyes, but glorified in God’s.

Gospel: Jesus unleashes his criticism upon the scribes and Pharisees whose actions mocks God and set the wrong example for discipleship. He encourages the people to be vigilant for the coming of the kingdom of God. They must build a relationship with God and be attentive to the divine will. He likens our disposition to receive the kingdom of heaven to be like the ten bridal virgins who are awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom and have their lamps prepared for his return. He then tells the parable of the man on a journey entrusting his possession to three servants, two of which invested the money, the third hid the talents and received no profit. For to everyone who has, more will be given and this person will grow rich.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Rose of Lima joined a Third Order of St. Dominic in Lima, Peru, a daughter of Spanish immigrants during the late 16th century. She practiced a life of penance, food deprivation and other harsh austerities, which brought about a few mystical experiences, but great periods of darkness and desolation. She was the first canonized saint from the New World.

Tuesday: Bartholomew, Apostle, is one of the Twelve Disciples, but we know little about his identity. The Synoptics link his name to Philip, but John’s Gospel links Nathaniel’s to Philip. All we really know is that he was one of the chosen Twelve who was a friend of Jesus from the beginning and witnessed his resurrection.

Wednesday: Louis of France became regent at age 12 and king at age 22 and ruled at a time of peace and prosperity. He is said to have been a fair man who acted justly, with mercy, and with great concern for the poor. He reigned for 44 years until his death in 1270.

Friday: Monica is the mother of Augustine who encouraged him to convert to the Christian faith. Previously, he had abandoned his faith in favor of the Manichean tradition, but her prayer and fasting is attributed to aiding his conversion. They lived in North Africa, but Augustine later moved to Milan where he met and was baptized by Ambrose in 387. Ambrose introduced a Milanese Eucharistic rite called the Ambrosian rite.

Saturday: Augustine, Bishop and Doctor, was the author of his Confessions, his spiritual autobiography, and The City of God, which described the life of faith in relation to the life of the temporal world. Many other writings, sermons, and treatises earned him the title Doctor of the church. In his formative years, he followed Mani, a Persian prophet who tried to explain the problem of evil in the world. His mother’s prayers and Ambrose’s preaching helped him convert to Christianity. He was named bishop of Hippo and defended the church against three major heresies.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Aug. 22, 1872: Jesuits were expelled from Germany during the Bismarckian Kulturkampf.
• Aug. 23, 1558: In the First General Congregation, the question was discussed about the General's office being triennial, and the introduction of choir, as proposed by Pope Paul IV, and it was decreed that the Constitutions ought to remain unaltered.
• Aug. 24, 1544: Peter Faber arrived in Lisbon.
• Aug. 25, 1666: At Beijing, the death of Fr. John Adam Schall. By his profound knowledge of mathematics and astronomy, he attained such fame that the Emperor entrusted to him the reform of the Chinese calendar.
• Aug. 26, 1562: The return of Fr. Diego Laynez from France to Trent, the Fathers of the Council desiring to hear him speak on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
• Aug. 27, 1679: The martyrdom at Usk, England, of St. David Lewis, apostle to the poor in his native Wales for three decades before he was caught and hanged.
• Aug. 28, 1628: The martyrdom in Lancashire, England, of St. Edmund Arrowsmith.

My Return to the U.S.

My period of formation called tertianship has come to an end. It has been a very rich time with incredibly happy memories during a period in which I formed strong bonds of Jesuit fraternity. I will miss many of my tertianmates as we disperse throughout the world into the ministries to which our provincials assign us. I am grateful for the terrific hospitality of the Australian province and their colleagues and friends. My prayer life and my heart are much richer for this special time. I am just incredibly happy.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Spirituality: The Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith

Chapter 2: On revelation

The same holy mother Church holds and teaches that God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known from created things, by the light of natural human reasons: “For ever since the creation of the world, God’s eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made” [Rom. 1:20]; nevertheless, it has pleased his wisdom and goodness to reveal to the human race, in another and supernatural way, himself and the eternal decrees of his will, as the Apostle says: “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son [Heb. 1:1 f, can.1].

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Prayer: Damien Joseph de Veuster

Holy Communion keeps me full of joy. Without constant presence of our divine Master in my humble chapel, I should never have been able to continue to link my life with the lepers of Moloka’i.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spirituality: “Prayer and Desire” from Primary Speech by Ann and Barry Ulanov

Desire leads to more desire. Prayer articulates our longing for a fullness of being, our reaching out of the mind for what is beyond it, and helps us find and love God and grow with our love. It is like the sun warming a seed into life, like the work of clearing away weeds and bringing water to the interior garden of St. Teresa’s inspired imagery. Prayer enlarges our desire until it receives God’s desire for us. In prayer we grow big enough to house God’s desire for us, which is the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Prayer: Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

If we follow Christ, persecution will come, as we have discovered through experience in so many countries when we try to serve faith and promote justice. Not all of us will witness to Christ by shedding our life’s blood in sacrifice, but all of us should unreservedly offer him our whole lives. The essential thing, the Jesuit thing, is to always confess him before people. As I said to the General Congregation in December 1971, “The thing that counts is that we really resolve to follow Christ even without knowing what sacrifice this following of him will certainly demand of us.”

To be able to carry out this vocation of ours, the Society today must count on men and on communities imbued with the “mind of Christ” who serve Christ without limit or reservation, who joyfully lead lives of evangelical simplicity and continuing self-sacrifice, thus offering to our contemporaries an ideal for living, and to the generous youth of our day a model and way of life.

This is the real secret of success in our mission in the Church. This will be the source of new vocations: “the blood of martyrs is the seed of vocations.” This is the Jesuit that St. Ignatius, that the Pope, and above all that the Eternal King wishes today to find in each one of us.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Prayer: Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J.

May the comfort and grace of the Holy Spirit be yours forever, most honored Lady. You letter found me lingering still in this region of the dead, but now I must rouse myself to make my way on to heaven at last and to praise God forever in the land of the living; indeed I had hoped that before this time my journey there would have been over. If charity, as Saint Paul says, means to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who are glad, then, dearest mother, you shall rejoice exceedingly that God in his grace and his love for you is showing me the path to true happiness, and assuring me that I shall never lose him.

The divine goodness, most honored lady, is a fathomless and shoreless ocean, and I confess that when I plunge my mind into thought of this it is carried away by the immensity and feels quite lost and bewildered there. In return for my short and feeble labors, God is calling me to eternal rest; his voice from heaven invites me to the infinite bliss I have sought so languidly, and promises me this reward for the tears I have so seldom shed. Take care above all things, most honored lady, not to insult God’s boundless loving kindness; you would certainly do this if you mourned as dead one living face to face with God, one whose prayers can bring you in your troubles more powerful aid than they ever could on earth. And our parting will not be for long; we shall see each other again in heaven; we shall be united with our Savior; there we shall praise him with heart and soul, sing of his mercies forever, and enjoy eternal happiness. When he takes away what he once lent us, his purpose is to store our treasure elsewhere more safely and bestow on us those very blessings that we ourselves would most choose to have.

I write all this with the one desire that you and all my family may consider my departure a joy and favor and that you especially may speed with a mother’s blessing my passage across the waters till I reach the shore to which all hopes belong. I write the more willingly because I have no clearer way of expressing the love and respect I owe you as your son.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Prayer: Anthony de Mello, S.J. - At a Loss for Words

Dag Hammarskjold, the former UN Secretary-General, put it so beautifully: "God does not die on the day we cease to believe in a personal deity. But we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance of wonder renewed daily, the source of which is beyond all reason." We don't have to quarrel about a word, because "God" is only a word, a concept. One never quarrels about reality; we only quarrel about opinions, about concepts, about judgments. Drop your concepts, drop your opinions, drop your prejudices, drop your judgments, and you will see that.

"Quia de deo scire non possumus quid sit, sed quid non sit, non possumus considerare de deo, quomodo sit sed quomodo non sit." This is St. Thomas Aquinas' introduction to his whole Summa Theologica: "Since we cannot know what God is, but only what God is not, we cannot consider how God is but only how He is not." I have already mentioned Thomas' commentary on Boethius' De Sancta Trinitate, where he says that the loftiest degree of the knowledge of God is to know God as the unknown, tamquam ignotum. And in his Questio Disputata de Potentia Dei, Thomas says, "This is what is ultimate in the human knowledge of God -- to know that we do not know God." This gentleman was considered the prince of theologians. He was a mystic, and is a canonized saint today. We're standing on pretty good ground.

In India, we have a Sanskrit saying for this kind of thing: "neti, neti." It means: "not that, not that." Thomas' own method was referred to as the via negativa, the negative way. C. S. Lewis wrote a diary while his wife was dying. It's called A Grief Observed. He had married an American woman whom he loved dearly. He told his friends, "God gave me in my sixties what He denied me in my twenties." He hardly had married her when she died a painful death of cancer. Lewis said that his whole faith crumbled, like a house of cards. Here he was the great Christian apologist, but when disaster struck home, he asked himself, "Is God a loving Father or is God the great vivisectionist?" There's pretty good evidence for both!

I remember that when my own mother got cancer, my sister said to me, "Tony, why did God allow this to happen to Mother?" I said to her, "My dear, last year a million people died of starvation in China because of the drought, and you never raised a question." Sometimes the best thing that can happen to us is to be awakened to reality, for calamity to strike, for then we come to faith, as C. S. Lewis did. He said that he never had any doubts before about people surviving death, but when his wife died, he was no longer certain. Why? Because it was so important to him that she be living. Lewis, as you know, is the master of comparisons and analogies. He says, "It's like a rope. Someone says to you, 'Would this bear the weight of a hundred twenty pounds?' You answer, 'Yes.' 'Well, we're going to let down your best friend on this rope.' Then you say, 'Wait a minute, let me test that rope again.' You're not so sure now."

Lewis also said in his diary that we cannot know anything about God and even our questions about God are absurd. Why? It's as though a person born blind asks you, "The color green, is it hot or cold?" Neti, neti, not that. "Is it long or is it short?" Not that. "Is it sweet or is it sour?" Not that. "Is it round or oval or square?" Not that, not that. The blind person has no words, no concepts, for a color of which he has no idea, no intuition, no experience. You can only speak to him in analogies. No matter what he asks, you can only say, "Not that." C.S. Lewis says somewhere that it's like asking how many minutes are in the color yellow. Everybody could be taking the question very seriously, discussing it, fighting about it. One person suggests there are twenty-five carrots in the color yellow, the other person says, "No, seventeen potatoes," and they're suddenly fighting.

Not that, not that! This is what is ultimate in our human knowledge of God, to know that we do not know. Our great tragedy is that we know too much. We think we know, that is our tragedy; so we never discover. In fact, Thomas Aquinas (he's not only a theologian but also a great philosopher) says repeatedly, "All the efforts of the human mind cannot exhaust the essence of a single fly."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Prayer: Alfred Delp, S.J. (martyr at the hands of Nazi Germany)

About the 15th of August I was on the verge of despair. I was brutally beaten and then returned to my cell late in the evening. The guards accompanying me left me with these words: “You won’t sleep tonight. You can pray as much as you wish but no God or angel will come to deliver you. We, however, will sleep well and early tomorrow will be ready to work on you with renewed strength.”

How I recall that night when I asked God for death, for I could no longer continue. I found myself incapable of carrying such a cross and standing up against such violence. All night I struggled with God and wept before Him in my misery. But it was not yet morning when a deep peace enveloped me – light, courage, and great strength let me clearly see my duty, ‘to endure,’ and it brought me this hope, ‘you will endure.’

Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

August 15, 2010

An apocryphal text from the Book of Revelation shouts out the message to the faithful believers who are under threat of persecution that the kingdom of the Christ has begun. Though many readers may attribute the “woman” in the text to be Mary, the Mother of God, the “woman” is more probably in reference to the nation and people of Israel, who gives birth through its pains to the Messiah. The huge red dragon that is ready to devour the newborn is most likely a foreign nation that has conquered the nations of the earth and threatens Israel, sending her into the desert for safety. However, with all that said, it is comforting for many to read this as Mary’s protective care of her son who would become the Messiah. In apocryphal language, it is also consoling to consider Mary’s protective concern for us who are left on this earth subject to the great forces of evil that threaten our lives and stability.

Mary’s joyful song at the dawn of her motherhood is a preview of what God will do for all humankind and it is sung on this day as a way of showing that God was true to Mary’s belief about the Lord. For her fidelity to her vocation, God rewarded her in a way that truly lifts up the lowly. She is able to express the heart of God poetically to reveal God’s overarching preferential concern for us who are the poor of the world. Her magnificat previews the order and structure of life in God’s kingdom. The beauty of Mary’s life was that she lived a completely earthly life as mother of Jesus, which caused her to continuously outwardly extend her compassionate care for others. In the Gospel we see her rejoicing with Elizabeth about their common experience of pregnancy. Though there were divine interventions in their situations, their experiences of pregnancy were fully human and they praised God for the sacred reality that is motherhood. By cherishing what was fully human, they were able to find God in the midst of it.

For her fidelity, Mary is said to have been assumed body and soul into heaven like other holy men of the Jewish Scriptures. We struggle over what this really means for our salvation and we ponder what our own resurrection means. I wrestle with this particularly this week as I reflect upon the tragic death of my cousin’s 16 year old son. We Christians place our hope in the resurrected life that allows us to live in a world that is both ‘now and one that is to come.’ We know that death of a loved one still hurts. We also know Christ has destroyed death and precedes us into the everlasting kingdom, and while that is enough for us, it is consoling to know that Mary, who bridged his world with the next by her assumption, is with her Son and Lord in the eternal kingdom watching over us and making sure that we continue to escape the grips of the evil one. I know for my part, I want to belong to Christ so I may join him in the life that is to come.

Quote for the Week

To celebrate Mary’s principal feast, I attach a poem called “Mother and Maiden,” Anonymous, early 16th century

I sing of a maiden that is matchless.
King of all kings for her son she chose.

He came all so still where his mother was,
As dew in April that falleth on the grass.

He came all so still to his mother’s bower,
As dew in April that falleth on the flower.

He came all so still – There his mother lay,
As dew in April that falleth on the spray.

Mother and maiden was never none but she;
Well may such a lady God’s mother be.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Ezekiel’s wife, the delight of his eyes, died and he remained faithful to the instructions of the Lord to refrain from mourning. The prophet is instructed to tell the prince of Tyre that he is merely a man and not a god and that the foreigners will rise up against him to put him in his rightful place. Ezekiel then tells the leaders of Israel that they have not been true shepherds so God will come against these shepherds and God will save the sheep from those selfish shepherds. To prove God’s holiness, he will take the sheep of his flock and will sprinkle clean water on them to cleanse them of all their impurities. In his prophecy Ezekiel is brought to a field of dry bones that upon hearing the word of the Lord are brought back from the grave. He then finds himself at the East Gate of the Temple where the Lord makes a magnificent entrance and God declares “this is where my throne shall be.”

Gospel: Jesus has compassion on the young man who approaches him with a desire to enter into eternal life, but walks away saddened when he cannot live up to the demands of discipleship. The disciples of Jesus are perplexed because they wonder if they will be saved. Jesus replies that the one who has given up everything for the kingdom will inherit eternal life. Jesus tells a difficult parable about workers at a vineyard who arrive late to begin work and get the same wage as those who have toiled laboriously from the beginning. Though it may seem unfair, the kingdom is open to all. He tells another parable to the chief priests and elders about the wedding feast for the king’s son in which messengers went out in search of guests. One ill-attired guest was chastised for not properly being disposed for such a wedding and was cast into darkness. The Pharisees set out to test Jesus and asked him about the greatest commandments. Jesus addresses the audience by telling them to beware of the actions of the Pharisees but to follow their words.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Stephen of Hungary, became the first King of Hungary and is responsible for uniting the Magyars, of which he is a member of one of the families. He established the church in Hungary under the direction of Pope Sylvester II. Stephen reformed the government, trained priests, built churches, and initiated programs that care for the poor.

Wednesday: Alberto Hurtado, priest, was a Chilean Jesuit priest who was a lawyer, social worker, writer, and founder of Hogar de Christo that provided shelters for children in need of food and safety. Inspired by Catholic social teaching, he entered the labor movement where he combined intellectual reflection with practical actions.

Thursday: John Eudes, priest, became an Oratorian in 1623 and spent years in pastoral work while helping women found a new religious congregation called Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge, which has several spin-off congregations. John founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary in 1643 that was set up to train clergy.

Friday: Bernard, Abbot and Doctor, entered the Benedictine order at age 22 and was appointed abbot of a new monastery in Clairvoux three years later. His strict observance of monastic life dominated the religious life of Western Europe. He wrote many letters, treatises, sermons and commentaries that helped define Catholic Europe.

Saturday: Pius X, pope, was elected to the papacy in 1903 and is known for his strict interpretations of doctrine. He encouraged pious devotions and frequent reception of communion for adults.

This Week in Jesuit History

· Aug 15, 1821. Fr. Peter DeSmet sailed from Amsterdam to America. He hoped to work among the Native Americans. He became the best known missionary of the northwest portion of the United States.
· Aug. 15, 1955: The Wisconsin Province was formed from the Missouri Province and the Detroit Province was formed from the Chicago province.
· Aug. 16, 1649: At Drogheda, Fr. John Bath and his brother, a secular priest, were shot in the marketplace by Cromwell's soldiers.
· Aug. 17, 1823: Fr. Van Quickenborne and a small band of missionaries descended the Missouri River to evangelize the Indians at the request of the bishop of St. Louis. On this date in 1829, the College of St. Louis opened.
· Aug. 18, 1952: The death of Alberto Hurtado, writer, retreat director, trade unionist and founder of El Hogar de Christo, a movement to help the homeless in Chile.
· Aug. 19, 1846: At Melgar, near Burgos, the birth of Fr. Luis Martin, 24th General of the Society.
· Aug. 20, 1891: At Santiago, Chile, the government of Balmaceda ordered the Jesuit College to be closed.
· Aug. 21, 1616: At Pont a Mousson in Lorraine died Fr. William Murdoch, a Scotsman, who when only 10 years of age was imprisoned seven months for the faith and cruelly beaten by the order of a Protestant bishop. St. Ignatius is said to have appeared to him and encouraged him to bear the cross bravely.

Vows of Jesuit Novices

Jesuit novices from across the U.S. will profess perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience this weekend completing a two-year period of formation and probation. Following vows, most will be sent to a First Studies program in which a Jesuit scholastic will begin philosophy studies.

August 15th is the date that Ignatius and his first companions pronounced First Vows at Montmartre outside of Paris following their studies at the University of Paris and before they set out for their intended pilgrimage to the Holy Lands. They chose the Feast of the Assumption to honor Mary, Queen and Mother of the Society.

Please pray for the vovendi as they ready themselves to be received as Jesuit scholastics and brothers.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Prayer: Litany of God's Names by Joseph Sobb, S.J.

O God of silence and quietness, you call us to be still and know you -
O God of steadfast love, your Spirit is poured into our hearts –
O God of compassion, your Word is our light and hope –
O God of faithfulness, you fill our hearts with joy –
O God of life and truth, from you we receive every gift –
O God of healing and peace, you open us to divine grace –
O God of all creation, our beginning and our end –
O God of salvation, you reconcile all things in Jesus, your son -
O God of Jesus, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit –
O God of Jesus, who invites us, “Come and see” –
O God of Jesus, who was tempted as we all are –
O God of Jesus, who is like us in all things except sin –
O God of Jesus, who is your pledge of saving love –
O God of Sarah and Abraham, from whom came Jesus, your Son –
O God of Anna and Simeon, who recognized Jesus, your Son, as Messiah –
O God of Mary, who bore Jesus, your Son –
O God of Joseph, to whose fatherly care was entrusted Jesus, your Son –
O God of all generations, of all times and seasons and peoples –
O God of our mothers and fathers, of all who have loved us –
O God of our past; O God of our future –
O God of our present, O God in our present -

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Prayer: An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum

There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there too. But more often stones and grit block the welll, and God is buried beneath. Then God must be dug out again.

I imagine that there are people who pray with their eyes turned heavenwards. They seek God outside themselves. And there are those who bow their heads and bury it in their hands. I think that these seek God inside.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Prayer: Origen

The more we go up and rise Christward and expose ourselves to the splendor of his light, the more wonderfully and brilliantly we too shall be flooded with his brightness.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Poem: Mother and Maiden, Anonymous, early 16th century

I sing of a maiden that is matchless.
King of all kings For her son she chose.

He came all so still where his mother was,
As dew in April that falleth on the grass.

He came all so still to his mother’s bower,
As dew in April that falleth on the flower.

He came all so still – There his mother lay,
As dew in April that falleth on the spray.

Mother and maiden was never none but she;
Well may such a lady God’s mother be.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Spirituality: Desires within the Spiritual Exercises

The desires or grace for which we pray in the Spiritual Exercises are:

• Ask for a growing and intense sorrow and tears for my sins;

• Beg for a deep sense of the pain which the lost suffer, that if because of my faults I forget the love of the eternal Lord, at least the fear of falling into sin;

• Ask of our Lord the grace not to be deaf to his call, but prompt and diligent to accomplish his most holy will

• Ask for an intimate knowledge of our Lord, who has become a man for me, that I may love him more and follow him more closely;

• Ask for knowledge of the deceits of the rebel chief and help to guard myself against them; and also to ask for a knowledge of the true life exemplified in the sovereign and true Commander, and the grace to imitate him;

• Beg for the grace to choose what is more for the glory of his divine majesty and the salvation of my soul;

• Beg God our Lord to deign to move my will, and to bring to my mind what I ought to do in this matter that would be more for his praise and glory;

• Ask for sorrow, compassion, and shame because the Lord is going to his sufferings for my sins;

• Ask for sorrow with Christ in sorrow, anguish with Christ in anguish, tears and deep grief because of the great affliction Christ endures for me;

• Ask for the grace to be glad and rejoice intensely because of the great joy and the glory of Christ the Lord.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Song: Gabriella's Song from "As it is in Heaven"

Gabriella's Song from As It Is In Heaven with lyrics below

Gabriella's Song in Swedish.

Gabriella’s Song – As It Is In Heaven

It is now that my life is mine
I’ve got this short time on earth
And my longing has brought me here
All I lacked and all I gained

And yet it’s the way that I chose
My trust was far beyond words
That has shown me a little bit
Of the heaven I’ve never found

I want to feel I’m alive
All my living days I will live as I desire
I want to feel I’m alive
Knowing I was good enough

I have never lost who I was
I have only left it sleeping
Maybe I never had a choice
Just the will to stay alive

All I want is to be happy
Being who I am
To be strong and to be free
To see day arise from night

 I am here and my life is only mine
And the heaven I thought was there
I’ll discover it there somewhere
I want to feel that I’ve lived my life!

Prayer: Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J.

The special quality of the commitment to which Christ calls His Society… consists in saying “yes” to the promotion of justice in saying a personal “yes” to the Incarnate Word. For it is through participation in the mystery of His cross and His paschal glory that His reign of justice and peace comes about. And it is this personal adherence to Christ – going far beyond a simple assent to the ethical values promoted by the Gospel and by the teaching of the Church – which grounds the union of minds and hearts in a Society which bears his Name, and roots our fidelity to this Society in a love prepared for ordeals, not in a shallow, passing feeling. It is this personal adherence to Christ which makes us grown into oneness with a Church which, despite so many appearances and near proof to the contrary, is a “communion of love in Christ.”

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus

August 7th is the anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus following its suppression in 1773. During this period, Jesuits were not allowed to function as a religious order priest except in Russia under the aegis of Catherine the Great. As you will recall the American Revolution and the French Revolution occurred creating massive changes in the social structures in Europe and the New World. The Age of Enlightenment was ushered in. In the newly restored Society, the Jesuit Order adopted a more conservative approach in its governance to ensure that it would no longer fall out of favor with Rome and the governments of Europe.

Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

August 8, 2010

“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”  The author of Hebrews describes the chronology of our ancestors’ faith in God and God’s steadfast response to us. The Book of Wisdom also tells us about the story of our forebears’ faith. In Luke, Jesus outlines how we are to live by our faith – that is, by being obedient to the will of God, but first we have to figure out the ways that our fears and attachments ensnare us, be courageous in letting go of them, and then in becoming vigilantly attentive to our personal God. It is in focusing our attention upon this God with whom we are in a steadfast relationship that we can follow the right path as the vigilant servant. We will naturally act justly because God calls the best out of us.

I watched a 2004 Swedish movie this week called “As it is in heaven” that illustrates this teaching perfectly. An ill symphony conductor retires to his boyhood home where he agrees to be the cantor for the local Lutheran church. He brings this dead town back to life by helping people find their natural, dignified voice with such raw beauty and lets the best emerge out of each person. In contrast, the pastor and one particular parishioner cannot move. They are held back by fear, their attachments to church teaching and ideals, and their inability to accept the life-giving example of others who are becoming happy because their true selves are breaking the boundaries that have long kept them silent. This happy group is attentive to every movement of the cantor who only does the right and the good for each of them. The pastor’s wife has a moment in which she recognizes that her husband is inextricably bound by his role and that he cannot see the God who is in the midst of the simple townspeople. He can’t see God undeniably pulling their beauty forth. She makes a choice: she wants to feel as if she is alive and she alters some very fundamental aspects of her life. She realizes she is finally and irretrievably happy to the core. In fact, each character in due time chooses his or her own happiness and lives according to the will of God for each one of them.

This is the message of Jesus to us through these passages. We have to notice our insecurities, fears and attachments and we have to let Jesus free us from these conditions. It may proceed on a slow pace at first, but when we see it happening we choose to go along with this grace. We also notice they ways that others are bound and we do not give up on them, but our first obligation is to come to know the God who wants our happiness. Each day we have to choose to be happy. Each and every day. When we obey this simple choice, all of our struggles are put into proper perspective. We become models for others because happiness is both contagious and attractive, and we like to be attractive people. Each day when we wake up, we have to put on our face – and when we obey God’s designs for us, it is really a beautiful face. It may get us into trouble with those who do not like to see us happy, but we have no real choice. We act in faith and trust that God is working some miracles in our lives and we know deep down in our consciences that we are alive through the power of God. And we sing and use our voices, and we dance and let our bodies glide with grace, and our lives are filled with gratitude to the One whose power calls our true selves to emerge with such beauty. We become alive with God’s life – life that cannot be contained.

Quote for the Week

Mother Mary MacKillop, religious, who worked in Australia and New Zealand to assist the poor, needy, and new immigrants to the country, will be canonized on October 17th. August 8th is chosen as the day in which she will be memorialized on the Roman calendar. In honor of that day, I offer the following prayer:

Bountiful and loving God,
You have filled the heart of Mary MacKillop
with compassionate love for those
who are in need at the margins of our society.
Deepen that love within us
that we may embrace the mystery of the Cross
which leads us through death to life.
We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus
who having broken the bonds of death
leads us to everlasting life. Amen.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Ezekiel is called to be a prophet in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s exile and he sees a mighty vision from heaven in which the righteous are marked to be passed-over from the destruction that comes from the hand of God. After the wicked are slain, the glory of the Lord will shine in the temple. The son of man is to leave Jerusalem as if going into exile so the rebellious houses of Israel may see this as a sign of their waywardness. The Lord retells the story of how he fashioned the people Israel as his own and gave them such care that they reached perfection, but the people saw their beauty and turned themselves into harlots. They have turned away from the covenant and now live in their shame. The Lord will judge each in the house of Israel according to his ways.

 Gospel: Jesus declares that he is to be handed over and raised up by his enemies; he skillfully answers a question about his allegiance to secular authorities and his religious believes when asked whether he is to pay the temple tax. He then teaches about the necessity of forgiveness because what we bind or loosen on earth will be bound or loosened in heaven as well. The discussion of forgiveness goes even deeper when Jesus gives examples of how we have been forgiven. He illustrates this in the parable of the debtor who exacts punishment on a debtor after the king has forgiven his debt to him. Jesus is then questioned about the resurrection and divorce; he explains the humans made laws that were necessary because of the hardness of their hearts. At that time, children are brought to him and he receives them joyfully.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), martyr, converted from Judaism after reading Teresa of Avila’s autobiography. She earned a doctorate in philosophy in Germany and taught at a Dominica high school for girls before joining the Carmelites in 1933. Because of her Jewish roots, she moved to Holland to escape interrogations and persecution, but in 1942 she was caught up in a renewed persecution of Jewish-Christians where she and her sister were murdered in a gas chamber in Auschwitz.

Tuesday: Lawrence, deacon martyr, was a companion to Pope Sixtus II during the Valerian persecution. He was burned alive at the stake because he taunted his persecutors by bringing the poor to the authorities when they asked him to turn over the church’s treasures to them.

Wednesday: Clare, religious, heard Francis of Assisi preach and adopted her lifestyle to be one of gospel poverty. She became a Franciscan on Palm Sunday in 1212 when Francis received her into the community and found a place for her to live in a nearby Benedictine convent. She was made Abbess of the Poor Clares of the community at San Damiano near Assisi.
Thursday: Jane Frances de Chantal, religious, founded the Congregation of the Visitation for women in 1601 after serious spiritual reflection after the death of her husband. Francis de Sales was her spiritual advisor. Her congregation was designed for women who wanted life in a religious community but without such austerity of existing monasteries.
Friday: Pontian, pope and martyr and Hippolytus, priest and martyr, were persecuted under the persecution of Maximinus in 235. Pontian served as pope for five peaceful years, but Hippolytus was a rival to him until he later sought reconciliation. He rejoined the mainline church and suffered martyrdom in 236.

Saturday: Maximilian Kolbe, priest and martyr, was a Franciscan priest of Russian Poland and was ordained in 1918. He spread the devotion to Mary to Poland and Japan. When he returned to Poland in 1936, he helped many refugees including Polish Jews during the Nazi occupation. After a prisoner escaped, ten men were randomly chosen to die and Kolbe offered to be sacrificed instead of a young father with small children.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Aug 8, 1604. St Peter Claver takes his first vows at Tarracona.
·         Aug 9, 1762. The moving of the English College from St Omers to Liege.
·         Aug 10, 1622. Blessed Augustine Ota, a Japanese brother, was beheaded for the faith. He had been baptized by Blessed Camillus Costanzi on the eve of the latter's martyrdom.
·         Aug 11, 1846. The death of Benedict Joseph Fenwick. He was the second bishop of Boston, twice the president of Georgetown, and the founder of the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts.
·         Aug 12, 1877. The death of Fr. Maurice Gailland. He was an expert in languages and spent many years at St Mary's Mission in Kansas. He wrote a 450 page dictionary and grammar of the Potawatomi language.
·         Aug 13, 1621. The death in Rome of St John Berchmans. He died while still in studies, preparing for a public disputation.
·         Aug 14, 1812. Napoleon I and his army arrived at Polosk, in White Russia. They plunder the property of the Society and violate the tombs of the Generals.

Vows of Jesuit Novices

August 15th is the date that Ignatius and his first companions pronounced First Vows at Montmartre outside of Paris following their academic studies. The first companions were laymen except for Peter Faber, whose memorial we celebrated on August 2nd, who was ordained a priest prior to the vow ceremony.

In remembrance of those vows, Jesuit novices in the United States (vovendi – those who are approved for vows) profess their first vows near the Feast of the Assumption, just like our founders. Please pray for the vovendi as they ready themselves to be received as Jesuit scholastics and brothers.

Prayer for the Dominican Order

August 8th is the date on the Roman calendar (August 5th in New Zealand and Australia) that honors Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order. As this date falls on a Sunday, the Lord’s day takes precedence. In honor of our Dominican friends, I offer this prayer called “O Spes Miram” to Dominic, which is part of Matins on his feast day.

"O wonderful hope which you gave to those who wept for you at the hour of your death, promising after your departure to be helpful to your brethren. Fulfil, father, what you have said and help us by your prayers. You who shone by so many miracles worked on the bodies of the sick, bring us the help of Christ to heal our sick souls. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Spirituality: Pedro Arrupe on the Hiroshima Bombing

As usual, Father Arrupe had risen at 4:30 a.m. He opened the window. The smell of night soil, used as a fertilizer, greeted him. After adding the finishing touches to making his bed, he would, with no shoes on, sit on his heels, in Japanese fashion, on a tatami mat in the chapel, his eyes closed as he prayed and meditated.

After Mass Father Arrupe went into the garden. It was a bright, clear, summer morning, just a few cumulus clouds flecking the sky. The air was fresh and clean. The leaves moved in the gentle breeze. Dew still clung to the red flowers of the sycamores and the camellias that grew in abundance in the garden tended so lovingly by the novices. He made a special point of inhaling deep the sweet fragrance of many flowers, the azalea, iris, rhododendron, blue anemone. He gazed with increasing awe at the wonderful colours of the delicate flowers and leaves. His weeks in solitary confinement in Yamaguchi prison had taught him to appreciate nature to the full. Even such a common sight as the terraced rice-fields beyond now held a special magic for him.

At 8:15 two planes were sighted by anti-aircraft spotters of a battery on Hiroshima Harbour. They were B-29s, one following the other, but separating rapidly. ...

The two aircraft acted oddly. When the first was almost a half-mile ahead of the other, it banked violently toward the right. At the same time, the second aircraft banked left; below it two tiny parachutes blossomed white against the blue. The men in the battery let out a cheer; obviously the second plane was in some kind of trouble and the crew was bailing out.

A group of factory workers from the Mitsubishi Works were pedaling along merrily on their bicycles. "B-san,"   one of them shouted, B-29, pointing upwards with his left hand. Some others looked up as well. Then suddenly they all stopped pedaling and dismounted.

'Look! Something's dropped from that plane,' one of the men shouted. They also cheered and clapped, a few even threw their cloth caps in the air, as they saw the two parachutes descend from the planes. The crew of one of the B-29s had baled out! The men on the ground rejoiced. And what they would do to the crew when they touched land! The men kept gazing up at the parachutes.

While the men on the ground were gazing up into the sky, Major Thomas Ferebee, a poker-playing Southerner, was looking down on them from a height on 30,000 feet. He was the bombardier of the Enola Gay.


Captain Robert Lewis, Enola Gay's co-pilot, looking down from thousands of feet, murmured aloud,

'My God! What have we done!'

Prayer: Bernard of Clairvaux

The name of Jesus is more than a light, it is also food. Do you not feel increase of strength as often as you remember it?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Spirituality: Fr. Joseph Ratzinger

Here is a quote from Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope, when he was a peritus, or expert, at Vatican II:

"Over the Pope as expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there stands one's own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, even if necessary against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him [or her] with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even the official church, also establishes a principle in opposition to increasing totalitarianism."

The Southern Hemisphere

As the church is moving to a new translation of its liturgical language, it would also seem prudent at some point to address the calendar and other liturgical issues that face the rest of the world. For instance, the liturgical language holds a northern hemisphere bias. The church asks us to keep the Passover on the first full moon following the spring equinox, but the southern hemisphere is not allowed to do that. They must hold fast to the northern hemisphere's solar and lunar calendar. This also affects some of the movable holidays like Christmas, which had taken over the ancient northern European pagan custom of worshiping the return of the sun. Christmas is held by Christians as the victory of light over darkness, but in the southern hemisphere daylight decreases after December 25th. Just like with the feast the celebrates the Birth of John the Baptist, who must decrease so Christ can increase. Light increases in the southern hemisphere after June 25th! Oh, it would be good to respect the conditions of our brothers and sisters who are asked to conform to our calendar.

Prayer: Elizabeth Ann Seton

Human passions and weaknesses are never extinct, but they cannot triumph in a heart possessed by peace. She is lovely; make acquaintance with her. She will not be angry that you neglected her so long.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Song: Stand by Me

Here is a version of the song "Stand by Me" that shows its universal appeal.

Click on the link to hear the song: Stand By Me

Prayer: Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)

O eternal God, light surpassing every light,
Because all light comes forth from you!
O fire surpassing every fire,
because you alone are the fire that burns
Without consuming!
You consume whatever sin and
selfishness you find in us.
Yet your consuming does not distress us, but
fills us with insatiable love,
For though you satisfy us,
We are never sated,
but long for you constantly.
The more we possess you,
the more we seek you and desire you,
the more we find and enjoy you,
Eternal Fire and Abyss of Love. Amen.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

GC 35, Decree 2: A Fire That Kindles Other Fires

The Society of Jesus has carried a flame for nearly five hundred years through innumerable social and cultural circumstances that have challenged it intensely to keep that flame alive and burning. Things are no different today. In a world that overwhelms people with a multiplicity of sensations, ideas, and images, the Society seeks to keep the fire of its original inspiration alive in a way that offers warmth and light to our contemporaries. It does this by telling a story that has stood the test of time, despite the imperfections of its members and even of the whole body, because of the continued goodness of God, who has never allowed the fire to die.

Similarly today the Society, in carrying out its mission, experiences the companionship of the Lord and the challenge of the Cross. Commitment to “the service of faith and the promotion of justice”, to dialogue with cultures and religions, takes Jesuits to limit-situations where they encounter energy and new life, but also anguish and death – where “the Divinity is hidden”. The experience of a hidden God cannot always be avoided, but even in the depths of darkness when God seems concealed, the transforming light of God is able to shine. God labors intensely in this hiddenness. Rising from the tombs of personal life and history, the Lord appears when we least expect, with his personal consolation as a friend and as the centre of a fraternal and servant community. From this experience of God laboring in the heart of life, our identity as “servants of Christ’s mission” rises up ever anew.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Prayer: from Time and Myth by John S. Dunne

As I explore the height and depth and the breadth of life, each discovery I make about life is a discovery about God, each is a step with God, a step toward God.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Prayer: Peter Faber

I beg you, O Lord,
to remove anything which separates
me from you, or you from me.
Remove anything that makes me unworthy
of your sight, your control,
your reprehension;
of your speech and conversation,
of your benevolence and love.
Cast from me every evil
that stands in the way of my seeing you,
hearing, tasting, savoring, and touching you,
fearing and being mindful of you;
knowing, trusting, loving,
and possessing you;
being conscious of your presence
and, as far as may be, enjoying you.
This is what I ask for myself
and earnestly desire from you. Amen.

Memorial: August 2